As the U.S. military encircled Baghdad, English-language Arab and Muslim newspaper editorials pivoted attention away from the invasion to the occupation of Iraq.
The Yemen Times expressed suspicion about the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />U.S. claim that the invasion’s purpose was democracy and freedom. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“Iraq may become a colony without explicitly saying so,” read the editorial. “After all, the Afghanistan example is clear. Its leader was appointed by the US directly out of orders from the White House. Whether we want to admit it or not, Iraq would be seen by the world as a US colony.”
Pakistan’s Frontier Post said U.S. aggression “is the first hit of a rising imperial power.”
The Monday editorial said the Bush administration’s position was that only those who liberated Iraq will “administer and reconstruct it.”
“How things finally work out on the Iraqi front will be a measure of whether American imperialism will have an impeded or free run and whether this world would remain unipolar or become bipolar or multipolar,” said the Post.
Another Pakistani paper, Dawn, said, “Those planning to rebuild and reshape Iraq following the eventual ouster of the Saddam regime would do well to draw a lesson from Afghanistan, a country ‘liberated’ by US-led forces some 18 months ago.”
The editorial said that Afghan government controls only the capital, Kabul, while warlords “are in full control” of the northern part of the country.
Advocating a strong military presence in Afghanistan, the editorial said, “The Americans must realize that it is far easier to win a war than to deal with the problems of post-war reconstruction.”
Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English language newspaper, questioned why the U.S.-led coalition had been unable to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
“If the coalition cannot produce any WMDs, they will have lost their main reason for attacking Saddam in the first place,” read the Sunday editorial.
Three Arab newspaper editorials focused on President Bush’s road map for peace between Palestinians and Israel.
“While all the world’s attention is focused on Iraq, the Israelis are working hard to derail the … plan for peace in Palestine,” read an editorial in Gulf News, an online newspaper of the United Arab Emirates.
Monday’s Jordan Times accused the Israeli government of creating numerous stumbling blocks to peace.
The Palestinian problem “was the main focus on Arab anger against America until the Iraq war began and will probably continue long after the guns fall silent in Iraq,” said Arab News.
Noting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted action on the road map for peace, the Saudi editorial said, “If, after the war, attention does indeed turn to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Blair may find that [Israeli Prime Minister] Sharon has more influence in Washington than he has.”