International Papers

Hiccups in Iraq

Tuesday, Britain’s Financial Times presaged the latest Iraqi brouhaha with a brief account of Iraq’s objections to the current weapons monitoring program. According to the U.N. chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, the Iraqis had asked for an accelerated schedule of inspections so that sanctions could be lifted immediately. They recoiled at the specifics of Butler’s plan, with Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz reportedly saying U.N. inspectors were up to their “old games and tricks.” The conservative Daily Telegraph saw the widening clash–in which Iraq announced it would no longer cooperate with U.N. inspectors–as a Middle East vs. West face-off, prompted by Saddam Hussein: “Iraq maintains that the inspection regime is being abused by the Americans and by Britain to maintain the embargo indefinitely.” The Telegraph also voiced the United Nations’ reaction to the scenario, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling it a “hiccup.” The hiccup could lead to “another stand-off with the United States of the sort that almost led to war in February, and before that last November,” the paper speculated.

By Thursday, the liberal Guardian had united with its conservative counterpart to accuse Iraq of prompting another confrontation. The Iraqis continue to attack the U.N. program for “serving United States and British interests,” rather than the world’s.

The appointment of a new minister of finance in Japan–Kiichi Miyazawa, who also served as finance minister in the 1980s–will do little to pull that country out of its economic mudslide, wrote the Financial Times. Japan’s is “an economy from which confidence is being drained by the minute.” The gravity of the crisis is underlined continually, and the growing concerns are (appropriately) illustrated on a global scale, since any injury felt by Japan would also be felt internationally. The Japan Times reported that the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry had called on the government for a bailout “for small- and medium-sized companies, which have been hit especially hard by the prolonged economic slump.” The paper also noted that Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi that he “may be one of the most globally criticised prime ministers in Japan’s history.” As the crisis escalates, the critics pile on further.

Uganda’s New Vision (“For a Better Uganda”) scored a scoop of sorts in its coverage of the rebellion against President Laurent Kabila by Congolese troops in the eastern regions of Congo. New Vision reported that rebel front man Arthur Z’Ahidi Ngoma had announced on the radio that the uprising was a nationwide movement, even though the rebellion is led by the Tutsi minority that is closely allied with Tutsi-dominated Rwanda. Ngoma insisted that the fighting was not an incipient attempt by the Rwandans to colonize Congo. No paper appeared to have collected any comments by Kabila himself on the uprising.