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April 9, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Coalition Nations Watch Iraq Developments
Nations That Have Offered Soldiers or Other Help Watch Developments in Iraq Closely

The Associated Press


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Albania sent five soldiers off to war, triggering two days of intensive media coverage.

The Czech Republic dispatched anti-chemical warfare specialists to Kuwait, and is now awash in newspaper stories about the soldiers' proud and fearful wives.

And in Romania, which deployed non-combat troops to the Persian Gulf, TV commentators are comparing Saddam Hussein to the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The war in Iraq is being watched closely in many of the smaller countries that are taking part in the U.S.-led campaign or are gearing up for the postwar humanitarian effort. Their contributions may be small, but the impact at home is huge, especially in emerging democracies where memories of conflict remain fresh.

"We all see the resemblance. ... People there feel what we felt. They are released from fear," Petre Roman, a leader of the 1989 Romanian uprising that toppled Ceausescu, told Realitatea TV on Wednesday. Romania has pledged 278 non-combat troops.

In tiny Slovakia, which has sent 73 chemical warfare specialists to Kuwait, retiree Ladislav Lutter was doing his best to take in the extensive coverage of the war and stay abreast of developments.

"I watch all the news on TV, and keep the radio on all day to know what is happening in Iraq," he said while shopping in Bratislava.

Next door, in the Czech Republic, newspapers have been carrying emotional accounts of the wives and children left behind by 400 non-combat troops now in Kuwait, along with the latest on a lively parliamentary debate over whether to send a mobile field hospital to Iraq.

Anti-war sentiment runs high in many coalition countries, again fueling a wide interest in war developments.

In Jordan, one of at least 45 nations whose governments have publicly offered support to the U.S.-led effort to unseat Saddam, there have been more than 150 protests and anti-war rallies. With Iraq just to the east, ordinary citizens have stuck close to radios and TVs since the war began.

Three in four Poles remain firmly opposed to the war and their government's decision to deploy 56 elite commandos to Iraq. Although details about the Polish contingent are scarce, media coverage of the war in general has been heavy and not everyone shares the obsession.

"I'm tired of watching the war all the time," said Katarzyna Pohl, 32, a marketing specialist in Warsaw. "I think that Poland has more important problems than the war in Iraq."

Like Poland, the staunchly pro-U.S. government of Bulgaria has been stung by anti-war sentiment, even though it has not yet deployed the 97-member non-combat unit it promised.

But after decades in the orbit of the former Soviet Union, the country that shook off communism in 1989 has been watching with fascination as long-oppressed Iraqis lash out at the remnants of Saddam's regime.

"I don't want to be the judge in this conflict, but I think Saddam should not be allowed to rule in Iraq until the last Iraqi has died," said Ivan Andonov, 69, a prominent Bulgarian movie director and painter. "In this sense, I think this war is justified."

Volodymyr Chemerys could not disagree more.

A fierce opponent of the Ukrainian government, which has sent a 450-member anti-chemical weapons battalion to the Gulf, he was among a small group of demonstrators who gathered outside the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday. They were protesting the death of TV cameraman Taras Protsyuk, who was killed when U.S. forces bombed a hotel in Baghdad.

"We came to pay our respects to Taras and to say that the war in Iraq is not a good-against-evil war," Chemerys told the Interfax news agency. "It's Bush's personal war."


photo credit and caption:
Jordanians in a barber shop watch a live television broadcast in Amman, Jordan, of the toppling of a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad Wednesday April 9, 2003. Thousands of jubilant Iraqis celebrated the collapse of their longtime ruler Hussein's regime Wednesday, releasing decades of pent-up fury as U.S. armored forces solidified their grip on the city. (AP Photo/Nader Daoud)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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