Daily Telegraph, London, Feb. 2: The American Congress and State Department and the European Parliament have declared that the Sudanese government's military campaign in Darfur amounts to genocide. The United Nations begs to disagree, accusing Khartoum and its allied militias of atrocities that fall short of that crime as defined by the 1948 convention. It is probably true to say that the government did not embark on operations in the western region with the intention of eliminating its sedentary population.
It was, rather, doing what it has done in many other parts of the country: seeking to crush an insurgency through terror tactics. Yet each day the line between that brutal campaign and genocide becomes thinner. Despite numerous appeals for peace, Khartoum is stepping up an offensive aimed not so much at the two rebel groups as the civilian population.
Studying data from various sources, Jan Coebergh, a doctor who has worked in Darfur, estimates that the death toll there is about 300,000, well above the commonly quoted figure of 70,000. Whatever the truth, the escalation of the conflict is rapidly pushing up the total.
Daily Star, Beirut, Feb. 1: To hear President George W. Bush's triumphant speech on Sunday, after Iraqis had cast their ballots in that country's historic elections, one could be forgiven for concluding that victory is at hand -- victory in the struggle to remake Iraq in the mold of a Western democracy, and victory in the war against the insurgency.
Despite statements such as "Terrorists and insurgents will continue to wage their war against democracy" and "There's more distance to travel on the road to democracy," the tone came across as a vindication of U.S. policy and the speech as a whole came across as a quick fix to anyone who knows a little more about the situation in Iraq than what White House spin doctors would have the world believe. There was, in fact, more than a hint of peacock feathers and puffed-out chest in the speech.
Against the odds
While Iraqis braved their way through a tough and lethal situation and took risks for their country, it was against the odds that they did so. It was against the odds created by the history of tyranny in Iraq, and by that tyranny carried into the present day by the vicious thugs who would kill hope and all who believe in a better future for Iraq. It was also against the odds of U.S. blundering.
The United States took dictator Saddam Hussein out of the equation, and that was a good thing. However, everything since then has been mismanaged, mishandled and bungled.
Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Feb. 1: Upon hearing an explosion apparently caused by terrorists, a middle-aged man in Baghdad headed for a polling station, saying, "I will challenge the criminals." In Mosul in the northern part of Iraq, a Sunni leader went to a polling station earlier than anybody else, declaring that casting a ballot was a citizen's duty, and thus moving his fellow citizens to action.
In Kirkuk in an oil-producing region, the Kurds celebrated the election with an ethnic dance. In Basra in the south, Shiite women in black chador formed long lines around polling stations.
News media sent reports to the world about the eagerness of the Iraqi people to build a new nation with their own hands in the face of fierce violence by insurgents.
According to an estimate by the independent election management commission, voter turnout in the election to pick an interim National Assembly held under tight security reached approximately 60 percent. This is an outcome by which the interim government can claim legitimacy.
Arab TV stations, which are often heavily tinged with anti-American and anti-occupation sentiment, reported on the enthusiasm of voters who went to polling stations.
The Asahi Shimbun has criticized the Iraq war and the Iraq policy of the U.S. administration of George W. Bush. But we have wished the Iraqis great success in the election.