How real is Washington's `real coalition' in favour of air strikes?


The US Defence Secretary, Mr William Cohen, claimed yesterday that "a real coalition" was being assembled by the US against Iraq. With new commitments by Germany, Australia, Canada and Spain over the last few days, the US-British team has certainly been strengthened. However, many states are still uncommitted.

Australia: Canberra will send a detachment of its elite Special Air Service regiment to join a US-led military operation against Iraq if diplomacy fails, the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, said yesterday.

Canada: Canada will back the US military threat if diplomatic efforts fail but will not send combat troops, the Prime Minister, Mr Jean Chretien, said on Monday.

New Zealand: The Foreign Minister, Mr Don McKinnon, said New Zealand could offer transport and medical support if military action was taken against Iraq, similar to the assistance given the 1991 Gulf War.

Kuwait: Kuwait prefers a diplomatic solution but, almost alone in the Arab world, will support the US if it pursues the military option.

Bahrain: Bahrain has signalled a readiness to assist and allowed the deployment of dozens of US warplanes in November.

Germany: Bonn says a military strike against Iraq could not be ruled out, but only as a last resort. Chancellor Helmut Kohl says he will allow the US to use German bases in the event of military action.

Central Europe: The US Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright, claimed yesterday that Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were backing the US stance.

France: Paris says it wants a diplomatic solution but Iraq must comply with all UN resolutions. Yesterday, the French expressed fears that time is running out for a diplomatic solution.

Russia: Moscow firmly believes Iraq should abide by UN Security Council resolutions but is equally set against the use of military force.

Italy: Italy made a joint appeal with Russia, during a visit by Mr Yeltsin to Rome yesterday for a diplomatic resolution.

Portugal: Lisbon has authorised the US to use the Lajes in their base in the mid-Atlantic Azores islands in any attack on Iraq, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said yesterday.

Spain: Foreign Ministry officials refused to confirm or deny usually reliable newspaper reports that the government had agreed to permit US aircraft to use a base in Andalucia.

China: Beijing said yesterday it believed that a peaceful resolution was still possible and called on the UN not to be "bullied" by the US.

Egypt: Cairo says all efforts must be made to find a diplomatic solution and that it would not join a US-led military strike.

Syria: Damascus strongly opposes any military strike against Iraq, saying Israel should also be forced to abide by UN decisions.

Jordan: Amman says Iraq would have itself to blame in a flare-up of US-led military operations against it if Baghdad continues to flout Security Council resolutions.

Saudi Arabia: Washington's key ally in the area has refused to allow the US to use its bases for strikes against Iraq.

UAE: The United Arab Emirates, in its first official comment on the crisis, called on Monday for a peaceful solution and urged the US to give more time to diplomatic efforts by France, Russia and the Arab League.

Indonesia: Jakarta has expressed concern over the threatened US strikes, saying any attack would be "a threat to world peace and security."

Vietnam: "Vietnam believes that the use of military measures not only cannot resolve the problem but would make the situation more tense," a foreign ministry spokesman said.