French press writes off allied control of Iraq

12th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 12 (AFP) - French media took a sharp swipe Monday at US President George W. Bush's policy in Iraq, where US troops are struggling to regain control over several cities that have become flashpoints of insurgency.

PARIS, April 12 (AFP) - French media took a sharp swipe Monday at US President George W. Bush's policy in Iraq, where US troops are struggling to regain control over several cities that have become flashpoints of insurgency.

Newspapers presented the violent opposition to the US-led occupation as a failure of Bush's attempt to reshape the Middle East by force, and warned of chaos if Washington does not reach out soon to the United Nations for help.

They also expressed concern over the abduction of foreign civilians by Iraqi insurgents and the potential for regional instability.

The left-leaning Liberation said the Americans were in "dire straits".

Bush was seeing his support at home plummet, it noted, adding: "Each worsening of the situation only underlines the mediocrity of that figure (Bush), as well as the haphazard character of his strategic choices."

Bush's "incompetence" was weakening the governments of other countries that followed him into Iraq, it said, asking how they were now evaluating the transformation of their "war of liberation" into the "dirty war that seems to be looming with its hostage-taking and the photos of dead children?"

The United Nations now seemed the only option "to offer a reasonable exit from the current crisis," it said, adding that time for Bush and his top ally Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain was running out.

Another daily, Le Parisien, said the situation had clearly changed from post-war reconstruction to all-out conflict.

"The Americans don't dare use the word... but it's well and truly a new war which has started," it said.

The tone of the coverage in the newspapers and other outlets bordered on we-told-you-so, and recalled the hostility between Paris and Washington that occurred just over a year ago when France led an international grouping that ultimately blocked US hopes of winning a UN mandate for the invasion.

"In 12 months, the Americans and their allies have accumulated military and political errors," Le Parisien said.

The 135,000 US soldiers involved in the occupation are now hopelessly outnumbered by the combined numbers of Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis opposed to their presence, and the "coalition of the willing" is crumbling, the newspaper said.

"Only Tony Blair is remaining faithful to his ally. The Spanish are about to leave. What are the Japanese going to do? The Italians are divided on the issue. In Poland, a serious domestic political crisis is brewing...."If the Americans leave, today or June 30 (the date for a scheduled handover of powers to an interim Iraqi administration), there will be chaos, maybe even civil war," it said.

Le Figaro, a conservative newspaper sympathetic to French President Jacques Chirac's government, largely limited itself to factual reporting of a shaky truce in one of Iraq's rebellious cities, Fallujah, the shooting down of a US helicopter and the kidnapping of several foreigners.

But its correspondent in Baghdad, Georges Malbrunot, wrote that Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites were increasingly setting aside their own differences to confront the US troops.

The Americans, who he said had been pursuing a policy of dividing the two confessions to better control the country, "are now going to have to revise their strategy. To avert the nightmare of a hasty departure."


© AFP
       
                                                                 Subject: French news

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