March 17, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 682

Arabic Media: Member States in the American-Led Military Coalition in Iraq are Staying

March 17, 2004
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 682

The change of government in Spain has triggered special reports in the Arabic media regarding the future of the international forces in the American-led 'coalition of the willing.' [1] It should be noted that Spain itself, according to its incoming Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, will not withdraw its forces until the handover of sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30. The following are reports from the Arabic media of statements by leaders of coalition members, and polls conducted in coalition member states:


Australia sent a contingent of 2,000 soldiers who were part of the coalition. The London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Prime Minister John Howard defended his decision to send Australian military forces to Iraq. He said that the idea that Australia might be subject to acts of terrorism because of its participation in the multilateral military forces in Iraq will not cause the country to "ever change its policy under the threats of terrorism." [2]


The Iraqi daily Al-Zaman reports on a telephone poll conducted by the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbon, which interviewed 1,896 Japanese people regarding the participation of the Japanese military force in Iraq. While the Japanese people continues to be divided between supporters (42%) and opponents (41%), the paper points out the ratio of the opponents has declined from 48% in a February poll. The Japanese contingent consists of 550 soldiers, who are stationed in the city of Samawa, in southern Iraq. [3]

The Ukraine

The prime minister of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanokovitch, expressed to the parliament his concern about the safety of the Ukrainian forces in Iraq. A report in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat says, however, that a foreign ministry spokesman announced that the withdrawal of these forces is not on the agenda, and that his country's position regarding Iraq "has not changed." [4] The Ukraine maintains a force of 1,600 soldiers who patrol Iraq's border with Iran.


Italy maintains a relatively large contingent of 4,000 soldiers, that operates under the British command. Al-Zaman reports on a public opinion poll conducted by the daily La Republica, which suggests that two-thirds of Italians would like to see their soldiers withdrawn from Iraq. However, the Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said that Italy has decided to keep its forces until June 30, after which time it will discuss the matter with the coalition partners. It was pointed out that the Italian government under Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is one of the closest allies of President Bush in Europe. [5]

[1] South Korea, a coalition member, said its forces in Iraq are divided into two groups. One is involved in the reconstruction of the country and the other in providing security to the Iraqi people. A South Korean official told the Iraqi daily Al-Zaman that the Korean forces, unlike others in Iraq, will not resort to the use of force. Al-Zaman (Iraq), March 17, 2004.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 17, 2004.

[3] Al-Zaman (Iraq), March 17, 2004.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 17, 2004.

[5] Al-Zaman (Iraq), March 17, 2004.

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