Uneasy peace

30th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

This week might have marked the handover of power in Baghdad to the Iraqi interim government. But Shada Islam and Leon Mangasarian argue world leaders are still struggling to put behind them the deep differences over the US-led war in Iraq.

Forget the handshakes and warm smiles at this past month's NATO, European Union and G8 summits.

World leaders still split over Iraq

The chemistry may be better and leaders are talking again, but there's no real forgiving and forgetting about Iraq war differences among the world's most powerful leaders.

Despite efforts to bridge differences, US President George W. Bush and anti-Iraq war French President Jacques Chirac remained at loggerheads at both the G8 and NATO gatherings, with the French leader sinking American calls for a stronger Alliance role in Iraq.

EU leaders - who were also badly split on Iraq - are finding it equally difficult to bury the hatchet.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was frank on the problem at a news briefing at the summit of 26 NATO nations which ended Tuesday in Istanbul.

"In relation to France and Germany, look, we haven't overcome the disagreement there was about whether the conflict was justified. There is no point in us standing here and saying all the previous disagreements have disappeared. They haven't," said Blair.

Summit highlights of the past weeks confirm Blair's assessment.

At the 8-10 June Group of Eight (G8) summit of industrial nations at Sea Island in the US, France's Chirac torpedoed hopes by Bush that NATO could assume military control for a sector in Iraq.

"We could not agree to a mission of this type for NATO," said Chirac.

G8 host Bush wrapped up the meeting at a luxury beach resort with pledges of moral support for Baghdad - but no commitments of fresh soldiers or funds.

"It's to be expected that nations don't always agree on all issues," admitted the disappointed US leader.

*quote1*The European Union (EU) Brussels summit 17-18 June highlighted European rivalry over Iraq.

Pro-Iraq war Britain and Italy dug in their heels to sink the candidacy of Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt to become the next European Commission president.

Verhofstadt staunchly opposed the Iraq war and had the additional stain of being backed by France and Germany.

A compromise candidate, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, was agreed to at an emergency EU meeting in Brussels Tuesday.

Moving to the 28-29 June NATO summit in Istanbul, Chirac completed his veto of a major Alliance operation in Iraq begun at the G8.

NATO will be allowed to train Iraqi troops but member states will not be required to send forces to Baghdad under a compromise deal.

"We're not at all opening the door for NATO in Iraq," said Chirac, adding: "There's no question of NATO or its forces in Iraq ... I am totally hostile to any NATO installation in Iraq. It would be dangerous, counterproductive and misunderstood by Iraqis."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, although less outspoken, insisted at the NATO summit that Washington had learned its lesson from the Iraq war.

"We have learned a war can be won alone - but not the peace," said Schroeder.

"This was reflected in the US behaviour" at the NATO summit, said Schroeder who stressed that a new found American willingness to cooperate and compromise helped make the summit a success.

Both Schroeder and Chirac concluded the NATO meeting by stressing they would under no circumstances send troops to Baghdad.

Chirac, as usual, had the final word: "There were divisions during the war ... we are friends and allies, we are not servants. When we do not agree on something, we say so."

June 2004


[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: German news

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