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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 13:00 GMT
Saddam arrest dominates world press
World press graphic

Newspapers around the world lead with the momentous news that Saddam Hussein has been captured, with some commentators viewing it as a triumph and others as a tragedy.

The mood in Europe and the US is a combination of euphoria and relief. In the Islamic world, some commentators hail Saddam as a hero, while others condemn him for not coming out with all guns blazing.

The belief is expressed that the capture could boost President George W. Bush's re-election chances and could herald a new beginning for Iraq. But one influential Egyptian paper warns it could trigger off more resistance against coalition forces.

The hero fell yesterday.

Al-Ayyam - Palestinian territories

Saddam's capture may encourage the Shia, who constitute 60% of Iraq's population, to join the resistance against the occupation forces without fearing the return of Saddam's regime.

Al-Ahram - Egypt

Why has the iron man surrendered without resistance and why did he not blow himself up with the explosives belt he was said to wear around him so he would die an honourable death like the rest of his people or at least like his sons and grandson?

Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah -Palestinian territories

A prisoner of ancient Rome, the barbarian at last cornered.

Commentator in UK's The Independent

Ace in the Hole - one of the most evil tyrants of the 20th century.

Daily Mirror - UK

Saddam Hussein, the wily fox, had been literally run to earth... It is correct for the first time to talk of Saddam in the past tense. Freed from Saddam's lowering menace, Iraqis will grow ever more impatient for an end to occupation.

The Guardian - UK

Rarely do the monsters of history have to account for themselves. Hitler shot himself, Stalin died of a stroke. Pol Pot ran off into the jungle. Not since Eichmann faced a court in Jerusalem has a mass murderer on the scale of Saddam Hussein been captured alive and put on trial.

The Times - UK

Saddam Hussein's capture leaves the United States facing the same profound questions about how best to create a stable and democratic government in Iraq.

The New York Times - US

End of the Beginning - He was found, appropriately enough, crouching in a hole. Saddam Hussein, who will be remembered above all for the hundreds of thousands of people he condemned to mass graves, surrendered in ignominy from a miserable pit near the Tigris River. Unlike many of the mass murderers who preceded him, from Hitler to Pol Pot, he will probably live to stand trial for his crimes.

The Washington Post - US

An event without which the second Iraq war could not be counted as a victory, nor, to some extent at least, justified.

Gazeta - Russia

The capture, trial and subsequent putting to death of the dictator will be a beautiful PR stunt for George Bush, who is facing presidential elections next year.

Kommersant - Russia

According to a source close to Russian intelligence, the capture of Saddam will not have a significant effect on the level of resistance, because the resistance is decentralised, and is increasingly dominated by international Islamic networks.

Vedomosti - Russia

Saddam saves Bush. The capture of the fugitive dictator should stifle discontent about soldiers' graves and the behind-the-scenes row about oil contracts. Saddam should boost Bush's ratings.

Nezavisimaya gazeta - Russia

Although the US may have scored a huge psychological victory with the capture of Saddam, it is very likely that the US troops in Iraq will still need to keep their body armour on and be on constant alert for attacks because the resistance is likely to continue with or without Saddam.

The Star - Malaysia

The end or the beginning? Saddam has been captured after eight months. But why has Osama Bin Laden not been captured after more than two years?

Ukaz - Saudi Arabia

Saddam fell from power as a result of Bush's whim. This is the despotism of the superpower's leader which no one, including the UN, can stop. Seen from this perspective, it is Bush who should be punished, because he has caused chaos in an innocent country.

Media Indonesia - Indonesia

Saddam's capture represents a huge political triumph: President Bush can chalk off one major, completed assignment, now that the Iraqi dictator has been captured.

Ha'aretz - Israel

A humiliated, despised Saddam is an image no one wants to identify with. The objective was to leave Saddam alive, but kill the myth.

Yedi'ot Aharonot - Israel

The capture of Saddam Hussein is fabulous news for Iraq, for the region, and for the world. We celebrate with Iraqi people. Two things are striking: how a single man can have such a grip on a nation, and how large is the debt of gratitude the world owes the US.

Jerusalem Post - Israel

What is important, is that after his arrest there is no need for the US-foreign occupation forces' presence. Traitors, this is your day. Dance to Bush's drum and time your prayers to Sharon's horn but remember that the Arab public - particularly in Iraq - has its back to the wall.

Al-Quds - Palestinian

The capture of Saddam, a bloody dictator, who committed crimes against his country and humanity, is definitely a turning point in terms of establishing a new, stable and peaceful order in Iraq.

Milliyet - Turkey

Saddam has finally been arrested, but perhaps a rethink on US Iraq policy and a test of Iraq's post-war reconstruction has only just started.

Beijing Qingnian Bao (Beijing Youth Daily) - China

Saddam's arrest has great symbolic significance for the US and Britain, but this certainly does not mean that the many problems that Iraq currently faces can be easily solved.

Jiefangjun Bao (People's Liberation Army Daily) - China

The desperate capture of Iraqi former president Saddam symbolizes the bad fate of a corrupt dictator and also the best Christmas present this year for US President George Bush, but for the Iraqis who have undergone a baptism of fire in the war, the days of peace are still far away, and the road of reconstruction is as long and arduous as before.

Sing Tao Daily - Hong Kong

The US should realise that reconstructing Iraq is harder than capturing Saddam.

Wen Wei Po - Hong Kong

With Hussein's capture, Iraqis can at last begin to close this brutal and tragic chapter in their history.

South China Morning Post - Hong Kong

The capture of deposed Iraq leader Saddam Hussein is, no doubt, a major victory for the United States and the coalition of the willing, chief among which is Britain. The curtain has now fallen on one of the world's most ruthless and intriguing leaders

People Daily - Kenya

The very inglorious way Saddam was plucked from the bottom of his hole without a blow being struck may finally destroy the myth he had surrounded himself with, about being the descendant of Saladin.

Liberation - France

A great day for Iraq. Saddam Hussein, the mass murderer, has not only been caught, he has also humiliated his boastful supporters by allowing himself to be led away from a dirty hole in the ground like a sheep.

Der Standard - Austria

This day will go down in history as a great day for Iraq and its population, as perhaps the all-decisive moment for the allies on their way to a post-war society marked by greater liberty, and as the date when George W. Bush probably won the elections early.

Die Welt - Germany

The fact that fear of Saddam gave him mythical powers is no reason for us to create myths around him and to accept the coalition leaders' statements that the age of reconciliation has now dawned in Iraq.

Nepszabadsag - Hungary

Showing degrading pictures of a prisoner, even if he was a cruel tyrant, does not increase the moral authority of those who overpowered him.

De Standaard - Belgium

Even a criminal tyrant has the right to a minimum of human respect.

Le Temps - Switzerland

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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