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US Blasted For Creating Terrorism Quagmire On Anniversary Of Iraq War

AFP | March 21, 2006

Asian newspapers Monday took the United States to task on the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, with one commentator saying it had created the ideal environment for terrorism to fester.

"Three years into the Iraq war, and with no end in sight, it looks as if the United States, in creating a quagmire for itself in the Middle East, has also created the ideal environment in which the terrorism bacillus can fester, and then infect the whole world," said the Sydney Morning Herald.

President George W. Bush planned to head to Cleveland, Ohio, Monday as part of his public relations campaign to defend his Iraq strategy as opinion polls showed approval of the war at a new low.

Bush said Sunday he had been informed by US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad "of the progress the Iraqis are making toward forming a unity government" three months after national elections were held.

But with a mounting death toll from bombs and assassinations and the failure to agree on forming a new Iraqi government, a top member of Bush's own Republican Party said US policy needs "some new thinking".

"It's important that we stop this talk about we're not going to leave until we achieve victory," said Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. "We need some new thinking here."

Thousands of demonstrators in Asia and across the world denounced the US-led war on Sunday.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post Monday said little apart from freedom of expression had been achieved three years after the invasion. "Civil conflict and rising sectarianism mean even that gain is under threat," it said in an editorial.

The Manila Times warned that US policymakers must take "a long hard look at Washington's role as Iraq's shepherd."

"Sooner rather than later, Iraq must be given a free hand to chart its destiny," an editorial said.

In Japan, which had deployed troops in Iraq, small demonstrations demanding a pullout were held over the weekend. However, the country's top spokesman said Tokyo's support for the war remains unchanged.

"Iraqi people have been progressing to build a new country by themselves with steady political steps based on the UN resolution," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Japan is expected to pull its troops from Iraq in the coming months but Abe declined to comment on the timeframe for the withdrawal.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's top-selling daily, called on the United States to remain engaged in the world despite the turmoil in Iraq.

"Although US President Bush dismissed isolationism and protectionism in his State of the Union address, there are signs that the US Congress is being tempted by these doctrines," the Yomiuri said.

The conservative daily cited the stiff opposition in Congress to an Dubai-based company's attempted takeover of six US ports.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily also said international cooperation remained crucial, particularly to fight nuclear proliferation.

The sharpest rebuke predictably came from communist North Korea, which Bush once labeled as part of the "axis of evil" along with Iran and pre-war Iraq.

"The US imperialists provoked wars in ... Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s and the new century, mercilessly destroying peaceful towns and villages and civilian establishments and cruelly killing countless innocent people," said Rodong Sinmun, the party newspaper.

"This clearly proves that the US is a war maniac, the ringleader of evils and the worst human rights abuser."

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