World Reacts to Iraq Attacks

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The initial stages of war in Iraq have caused reactions from the streets of Pakistan to the beaches of Barbados to the halls of various state governments.

The response echoed the long debate over whether war with Iraq was justified. Leaders worried and lamented, protesters condemned and demonstrated, friends of the United States proclaimed that it was ugly but sadly necessary.

But now, military action is a reality.

"There's nothing good about war," said Ngai Sik-wai, a restaurateur in Hong Kong, watching with some customers as President Bush announced the attacks. "What is America thinking?" said Hong Ji, a Muslim shopkeeper in Beijing. And from Alexei Barenov, 24, an interior designer in Moscow: "The Americans don't listen to anyone."

Governments also put in their two cents, although most reactions came as no surprise.

Britain and Japan, staunch U.S. allies, expressed immediate solidarity, with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi saying Iraq "has not acted sincerely."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the Foreign Press Association on Thursday that the military action was long in coming.

"For many months, we have sought to persuade Saddam Hussein … but have stressed all the way through that if the threat was credible. We had to be prepared to use force.

"Our message to the people of Iraq is that we are with you, we support you … to rid yourselves of the leadership of Saddam … we want to see your suffering come to an end."

"The war in Iraq is a reality that we expected," said Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a U.S. ally. "The Philippines is part of the coalition of the willing."

Australia, which has contributed 2,000 soldiers to the U.S.-led force, said its warships and fighter jets were involved in combat support operations Thursday.

China said the action against Iraq was "violating the norms of international behavior" and demanded a halt to the attack.

Germany expressed "great concern and consternation" that its anti-war diplomacy with France and Russia had failed, but it offered help dealing with the humanitarian consequences.

"Soon the United States will have to reap the fruits of what they are doing now, and the fruits won't be sweet," Russian legislator Vladimir Lukin, a former ambassador to Washington, told Russia's state-controlled ORT television.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged that the United States quickly end its attack, and said the use of military force wasn't justified.

Russia, along with France and Germany, opposed any resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would have sanctioned the use of force.

"Russia demands the swiftest end to military action," Putin said at the start of a meeting with top officials. "The military action against Iraq is a big political mistake."

Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, called the military action "unjustifiable and illegitimate."

Israeli civilians began carrying gas masks to protect them from a possible retaliatory Iraqi attack.

Iran, Iraq's neighbor and longtime enemy, issued immediate condemnation, calling the U.S. action "unjustifiable and illegitimate." Neutral Finland weighed in, too, with President Tarja Halonen calling military force outside the U.N. Security Council "not acceptable."

"The ongoing war must not result in the marginalization of the United Nations," she said.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri said the government of the world's most populous Muslim nation fiercely opposed the U.S.-led attack and asked the United Nations to call an emergency meeting.

Across Muslim nations, outrage simmered.

In Pakistan, one religious-political coalition called the attack "barbaric," and others demanded immediate intervention.

"It is open tyranny," said Mohammed Asghar, his hand trembling with anger as he prepared tea in his ramshackle stall. "Every Pakistani Muslim should go to help the Iraqi people."

In Afghanistan, people on the street seemed to be against Washington. "Today is a dark day for Muslims," said Sher Aga, 50, who teaches aviation at Kabul's Air Force Academy. "The United Nations is nothing anymore."

The legislature in Jammu-Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state, adjourned Thursday in protest. "This is a war of self-interest launched by the sole superpower," said the state's law and parliamentary affairs minister, Muzaffar Beig.

In the Palestinian areas, a group of 700, mostly schoolchildren, waved Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam Hussein and burned American flags. Demonstrators in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun shouted: "We will sacrifice our soul and our blood for Saddam."

"American soldiers, whenever they step on Iraqi soil, they will be defeated," said Kamal Abou Ayta, an Egyptian political activist.

Security was tightened around the world, especially in embassy districts.

In Beijing, paramilitary officers checked the IDs of Chinese passing the Iraqi Embassy, and already-stringent procedures outside the American Embassy were tightened. In the Pakistani capital, soldiers with assault rifles hunkered down in sandbag bunkers outside embassies.

In Manila, where anti-war protesters clanged pots near the U.S. Embassy, Arroyo said the military and police were on a high state of alert and urged local communities to prevent "terrorist incursions."

Others, meanwhile, worried about precedents being set.

"What America has done in Iraq could become the benchmark for all governments which do not like regimes in other nations," leading attorney Vibhav Krishna said by telephone from Bombay, India.

Caribbean leaders worried war would keep tourists away and crush economies. But on a white-sand beach in Barbados, Guthier Gilbert, 50, of Montreal wasn't concerned.

"I don't think it will affect my vacation," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.