Jordan Times, Amman, Aug. 16: As the fighting in Najaf intensifies in the wake of the breakdown of truce talks between Shiite militants loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi interim government, the possibility of the country being further destabilized is real.
It seems that al-Sadr's faction has a special political agenda, over and above its religious concerns. This became all the more evident when he called for the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his government, as well as for the withdrawal of all U.S.-led forces from the holy city.
Interestingly enough, neither Sadr nor any other group waging the current waves of insurgency in Iraq has ever called for the resignation of the president of Iraq, Ghazi Yawer, thus drawing a distinction between the two Iraqi leaders.
There are persistent reports that deep divisions already exist between Yawer and Allawi on policy issues.
The president may indeed hold the key to restoring normalcy in the country once he decides to become more politically involved. As a tribal leader with millions of followers in Iraq, Yawer's role has yet to be fully tested. Maybe now is the time for him to exercise a more visible part in decision making on key policy issues.
The Guardian, London, Aug. 16: Democracy cannot be delivered to the accompaniment of gunfire, and the national conference supposed to take the first step in Baghdad yesterday was marred on its opening day by the renewed fighting in Najaf. No matter how vehemently officials of the Iraqi interim regime blame the dissenting cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for the breakdown of truce talks ... there is no convincing need to deal with this problem now by military means.
Nor is it at all clear what advice -- or instructions -- are being given behind the scenes by the U.S., without whose forces the interim regime would not exist. For a conflict conducted in the full light of international attention, a great deal remains obscure.
Except for military briefings, the U.S. government has said little of substance about the Najaf crisis for the past 10 days, even though nearly all the fighting has been done by 3,000 American soldiers. Responsibility, it is claimed, rests on the shoulders of prime minister Ayad Allawi and his ministers. This is hardly credible: the terms of the U.S.-Iraq June agreement, as notified to the U.N., provide for "coordination and cooperation" in all security operations, and even if Washington does not actually issue orders it is not going to allow Mr. Allawi to go it alone.
Ta Nea, Athens, Aug. 14: We do not dare to believe that our two champions, Katerina Thanou and Kostas Kenteris, deliberately avoided the IOC's drug test and disappeared from the Olympic Village because they were doped.
We do not dare to believe that the accident with the motorcycle was staged only in order to play for time so that they wouldn't appear before the IOC's disciplinary committee on Saturday.
We do not dare to believe that such a fraud would involve doctors violating their medical oath and all rules of ethical conduct.
As we do not dare to believe that officials of the country's athletic leadership or officials of the Greek Olympic mission willingly covered it up or didn't do everything they could to reveal a doping scandal involving Greek athletes.
And of course we do not want to believe that the image of modern Greece as an open and confident country, which comes from being the host of the Olympic Games, can coexist with an inward looking image of claustrophobia that resorts to, or tolerates, such methods in order to win a few more medals.