- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

Assassination of Sheik Yassin

TOKYO — Peace has even less of a chance in the Middle East after Israeli missiles on Monday killed Sheik Ahmed Yassin, founder of the militant group Hamas, in the Gaza Strip.

Why did Israel kill him now? Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given up hope of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians and suggested a unilateral dismantling of Jewish settlements in Gaza. It appears that he planned to crush the Hamas movement before Israel pulls out of the settlements and thus eliminate the threat of terror.

But exactly the opposite is likely to result from this killing. All Yassin’s death will do is add fuel to the fire.

The Sharon government characterizes the attack on Palestinians as part of the fight against terrorism, which it conducts with the United States. On the other hand, it also says it aims at coexistence with a Palestinian state. But will responding to terror with terror lead to reconciliation?

The situation is grave. This endless cycle of violence must end. Concrete action should be taken promptly through the United Nations Security Council for effective intervention.

Straits Times

The U.S. occupation of Iraq

SINGAPORE — The failure to find WMD [weapons of mass destruction] has severely harmed U.S. credibility. Washington’s unwillingness to admit it was wrong has worsened matters. The Western alliance, badly divided in the run-up to the war, has since drifted further apart.

One of America’s strongest allies, Poland’s President Aleksander Kwasniewski said last week that he had been “misled” about Iraq’s WMD, and that Polish troops might be withdrawn from the country next year. The new Spanish leader has threatened to do the same, unless the United Nations is given a significant role in Iraq by June 30, when an interim Iraqi government is due to be installed.

The U.S. is still supported by many countries — including Singapore, Japan and South Korea from Asia — but public opinion in most countries has turned against America and its occupation of Iraq seems to have become a new recruiting tool for Islamic terrorist groups.

The top priority now is to deny these groups a beachhead in Iraq. Whatever the merits or demerits of war a year ago, the U.S. cannot withdraw until Iraq is stabilized.

Indeed, the force strength it has in the country now — 130,000 troops, soon to be reduced to 110,000 — is woefully inadequate. But it is not going to get more troops unless the U.N. gains a greater say in Iraqi affairs.

Washington’s reluctance to cede real authority to the world body has prevented many countries, especially Muslim ones, from sending peacekeeping troops. With the June 30 deadline looming, Washington should do what it didn’t a year ago: Involve the world.


Zapatero’s election in Spain

BUENOS AIRES — First and foremost, the Spanish elections were an exemplary civic retort to the terrorist threat.

Spaniards turned out massively at the polls and, in so doing, showed not only that they are willing to demonstrate in the streets in repudiation of terrorism — but to use the instruments of democracy to make their will manifest … the voters decided to hand victory to the Socialist party candidate, Jose Luis Zapatero. The outcome underlined voter intent to punish the official Popular Party candidate for presumed government manipulation of information about the origins of the attack ahead of the elections … and the outcome of the Spanish election is sure to have repercussions on other political stages … Zapatero has already promised a frontal assault on terrorism but also said he will withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

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