Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Al-Zarqawi's Death Does Nothing to Solve Iraq Chaos, Says France's L'Humanité

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Al-Zarqawi's Death Does Nothing to Solve Iraq Chaos, Says France's L'Humanité

Article excerpt

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on June 7 was described by Britain's Daily Telegraph two days later as "the most spectacularly good bit of news to come out of Iraq since the capture of Saddam Hussain."

"Combined with the appointment of interior and defense ministers to Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet," the newspaper editorialized, "it gives Iraq and the coalition forces a window of opportunity to halt the slide toward civil war."

"A fitting end," said the June 9 London Times. "The event is, potentially, of enormous significance. Al-Zarqawi has been the face of terrorism in Iraq and the inability of the authorities there to capture him mocked the idea that they had security under control," the newspaper continued.

"He has operated in Iraq for the better part of three years and no successor will have the same vicious standing with his peers. He will be difficult to replace," the Times concluded.

"Al-Zarqawi was a vicious pervert who personally slashed the throat of innocent British hostage Ken Bigley," said the British tabloid The Sun the same day.

"His fate coincides with the completion of Iraq's new government," the newspaper noted. "We must pray that the two events will provide the springboard to peace."

However, Financial Times Middle East correspondent Ferry Biedermann was less hopeful.

"The U.S. and Iraqi leaders hailed the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alQaeda leader in Iraq, as a possible turning point in the struggle to bring stability to the country," he wrote on June 8. "But the detonation of bombs in east Baghdad that killed at least 19 people was a reminder that the insurgency was far from defeated."

"It is important to keep this single headline-grabbing event in perspective," cauttioned the UK's Guardian the following day. "The Sunni insurgency has shown no sign of abating since it escalated with the attacks on Samarra in February. Now there are sectarian killings by the Shi'i who hold the reins of power."

Elsewhere in Europe, newspapers were also less jubilant, with France's L'Humanité of June 9 saying that "the death of alQaeda's regional chief does nothing to solve the chaos that has reigned since the U.S. invasion in 2003."

"One terrorist died, the violence continues," read a La Croix headline the same day.

"Washington has relieved Osama bin Laden of a prominent competitor," opined Russia's Kommersant of June 9. "This is unlikely to improve the situation in Iraq... To all appearances, the liquidation of Zarqawi will give the U.S. and the new Iraqi authorities nothing except a short-lived moral satisfaction."

"Nature abhors a vacuum," said that day's Izvestiya, also in Russia. "Zarqawi may very soon be replaced by a new Iraqi 'terrorist number one,' and everything will begin again-explosions, chases and raids."

EU3's Offer of Carrots for Iran Called "Meaningless" Without U.S. Role

Washington's May 31 offer of multilateral talks with Iran on its nuclear program, if Tehran halts its disputed nuclear activities, was widely welcomed by European newspapers.

"The Bush administration's offer to join nuclear talks with Iran is the right move at the right juncture," wrote the June 2 London Times.

"The conditions that Washington has set-the verifiable suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors-are not America's alone," the newspaper said. "They are exactly the terms laid down by the EU3 of Britain, France and Germany and endorsed by the IAEA board and the UN. secretary-general.

"This is thus an offer that Iran initially refused," the paper observed, "but the regime must be aware that to continue to do so would be tantamount to announcing that it has no interest in good-faith negotiations."

"Talk of sanctions is clearly premature until Washington and Tehran make an effort to negotiate," wrote Jonathan Steele in the UK's Guardian the same day. …

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