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Arab press welcomes power transfer

By CNN's Ammar Ben Aziz

News of the handover dominated the Arab press.
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DUBAI, UAE (CNN) -- Although the majority of Arab countries welcomed the transfer of "limited power" to an interim Iraqi government Monday, most Arabic newspapers warned that many issues must be rectified with urgency.

The London based Arabic daily, Al Sharq al-Awsat, published the handwritten note sent by the U.S. President's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, to George W. Bush informing him of the handover.

The Lebanon-based English newspaper, Daily Star, said "the secrecy with which such an important decision as handing over sovereignty to the first post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi administration was made and executed leads to the conclusion that the style of the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, is an example of what needs to be banished from Iraq.

"Certainly, two days earlier than the much-publicized June 30 handover is far better than two days late which, had it been the case, would no doubt have fueled a rampage of accusations and rumors concerning U.S. designs for Iraq."

Al Nahar Arabic daily in Lebanon, chose the headline: "The handover comes before the terrorism." Its editorial said: "The coming period will be a trial period for the new administration."

In Jordan, the Arabic daily, Adoustour said in its editorial:" We should support the Iraqi leadership in this stage." The paper added: " The Iraqis got the right to be hopeful for a better future."

Most newspapers in the Arab world considered the handover a new era. Al Gumhuriah in Egypt pointed out that "the most important thing is the fact that Bremer has gone, and for us we must accept another fact which is there is a new era in Iraq."

In the United Arab Emirates, the English daily, Gulf News, wrote: "Having witnessed the way the allied forces stormed country, overran major towns and took control of Baghdad last year, how many of us would have expected this power transfer to happen so soon?"

The newspaper added: "And, how curious it was to note the fact that it was the U.S. coalition authority that was more keen on handing over power, and also that the reason why they advanced the ceremony by two days was that the forces of disruption would not get a chance to harm and hurt the civilians on the scheduled day of power handover."

Al Raya in Qatar welcomed the handover, but warned that the important thing "is the post-handover."

The paper also wrote: "The new president and prime minister have a heavy burden on their shoulders, though they are restricted in their powers due to the interim nature of the administration. They have to facilitate the elections after six months."

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