Governments positions pre2003 invasion of Iraq

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This article is about the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. For more information on this particular part of the topic, see Support and opposition for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

This article describes the positions of world governments prior to the actual initiation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and not their current positions as they may have changed since then.

File:Country positions Iraq war.png
Country positions on the Iraq War


In 2002, the United States began to campaign for the overthrow of Iraq's dictatorial president, Saddam Hussein. The United States, under the administration of George W. Bush, argued that Saddam Hussein was a threat to global peace, a vicious tyrant, and a sponsor of international terrorism. The Bush Administration also argued that they had reason to believe that Saddam Hussein was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction, something he had been forbidden to do since the end of the 1991 Gulf War.

Opinion on the war was greatly divided between nations. Some countries felt that the United States failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hussein had an active weapons program. Others felt that Iraq was an insignificant and militarily weak country that was not worth fighting over. Some saw the war as an act of imperialism, and charged that the United States just wanted Iraq's oil.

On the other side, supporting countries argued that Saddam Hussein was one of the 20th Century's worst despots, and that free countries should be obliged to remove brutal dictators from power. Others felt that Saddam's ties to terror groups were well-established, and his weapons programs very real.

Varying levels of support

Analysis of the count reveals the complexities in world diplomacy. Some national governments publicly denounced the invasion plan while at the same time accepting U.S. aid earmarked for the war, or providing to the war effort troops, fueling stations, military support, and/or airspace. Some national governments provided only a semblance of support.

Some nations originally on the White House list disavowed membership in the "coalition". Furthermore, significant opposition to the war exists in segments of the populations and Parliaments in many of the supporting nations. Adding to the complications, the Bush administration claimed to have the support of some 15 nations that wished to remain anonymous. This bloc has been dubbed by some "the shadow coalition" or, sardonically, "the coalition of the unwilling to be named".

Support can be so different in nature, from armed troops to use of airspace and bases, logistic support, political support, to participation in reconstruction efforts, that it appears to some to be difficult to exclude most countries from the official list, except Iraq for obvious reasons (although some might claim some movements inside Iraq will probably also help reconstructing their own country).

After George W. Bush (March 26, 2003) mentioned Warsaw's contribution prominently in a speech, Poland asked that its participation in the coalition not be used for "propaganda purposes".

Countries supporting the U.S. position

Shortly before the Iraq war began, the US government announced that 49 countries were joined in a "coalition of the willing" in favor of forcibly removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, with some number of other countries expressing their support in private. The 49 countries named by the White House were Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan. Of these, the following countries had an active or participant role, by providing either significant troops or political support: Australia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States. Some newspapers and organizations ([1]) questioned what "willing" meant in this context, or whether these countries' populations or even their governments were actually in favor of the plan to remove Saddam Hussein. Many of the supporting countries are extremely poor and, to this day, rely on U.S. military or development aid. In no country other than the U.S. did opinion polls show a majority of the population was in favor of the war when it started. Critics also asked why the United States sought for the support of such questionable governments as those of Azerbaijan (see Politics of Azerbaijan), Colombia ([2]), Rwanda ([3]), Uganda ([4]), Ukraine ([5]) or Uzbekistan (see Politics of Uzbekistan) when trying to install a stable democracy in Iraq.

Four of these countries supplied combat forces directly participating in the invasion of Iraq: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland. Other countries have provided logistical and intelligence support, chemical and biological response teams, overflight rights, humanitarian and reconstruction aid, and political support.


In late January 2003, a statement released to various newspapers and signed by the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic showed support for the US, saying that Saddam should not be allowed to violate U.N. resolutions. The statement went on to say that Saddam was a "clear threat to world security", and urged Europe to unite with the United States to ensure that the Iraqi regime is disarmed. Later ten more Eastern European countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia,—all now members of the EU—Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Croatia, and the Republic of Macedonia issued another statement on Iraq, in general support of the US's position but not commenting on the possibility of a war without support of the UN Security Council. However, as Donald Rumsfeld stated that Slovenia and Croatia were members of the US led coalition, Slovenia's government rejected this statement and its Prime Minister Anton Rop reiterated that Slovenia has conditioned the decision to go to war upon a UN Security Council go-ahead to the attack; Croatia's President Stjepan Mesic called the war illegal. French President Jacques Chirac commented on the statement of the ten Eastern European countries saying: "It is not well brought up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet". It was believed by some that Jacques Chirac's criticism could be presumed to imply that Romania and Bulgaria, which were not yet official EU members, should not be allowed to join because of the statement. After criticism by the media, Chirac's remark was taken back, and, consquently, the issue has not affected Romania or Bulgaria's chances for EU accession. Romanian President Ion Iliescu called Chirac's remarks irrational, saying "such reproaches are totally unjustified, unwise, and undemocratic". Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov told reporters "it is not the first time that pressure is being exerted upon us in one or another form but in my opinion this is not the productive way to reach unity and consensus in the Security Council".

In the Netherlands the first Balkenende cabinet supported the USA. After that government fell in October 2002, there were new elections in January, which were won by the Second Balkenende cabinet who chose to continue their predecessors' policy. Dutch soldiers were sent to Iraq, and it was recently announced that they would stay at least until after the summer of 2004. So far two Dutch soldiers have died in Iraq.

European Public Reaction

While millions demonstrated on the streets of Britain (London, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford, Southampton, Trimdon, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow); Ireland (Belfast, Derry, Strabane, Dublin, and Omagh); Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Santa Cruz, Valencia, Málaga, Sevilla, Girona, Santander, A Coruña, and Santiago de Compostela); Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, and Evora); Italy (Rome, Venice, Milan, Naples, Bologna, Turin, and Palermo); the Netherlands (The Hague, Amsterdam, and some 13 other Dutch cities); Turkey (Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir); Austria (Vienna and Salzburg); France (Paris, Rennes, Toulouse, Montpellier, Lille, Marseille, Strasbourg, and Lyon); Switzerland (Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, Bern, Zürich, Lucerne, Basel, Winterthur, Rheinfelden, and Brigue); Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and Iraklion); and Germany (Berlin and "a half-dozen other German cities" (The Washington Post, March 23)); as well as in Helsinki, Finland; Lund, Stockholm and several other cities in Sweden; Oslo, Norway; Brussels, Belgium; Copenhagen, Denmark; Reykjavík, Iceland; Prague, Czech Republic; Sofia, Bulgaria; Bucharest, Romania; Nicosia, Cyprus; Moscow, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; and Kiev, Ukraine, Donald Rumsfeld tried to downplay the French and German governmental criticism, most prominently heard because both countries at that time were members of the United Nations Security Council, as the opinion of "Old Europe", while he relied on a new situation after the EU enlargement. Although, opinion polls showed that the war was not supported by a majority of the public in eastern Europe either, despite most of their governments' support.

United Kingdom

Throughout the conflict, the United Kingdom's government remained the strongest supporter of the U.S. plan to invade Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair frequently expressed support for the United States in this matter, while Members of Parliament (MPs) were divided. Blair experienced a significant rebellion from many Labour MPs and in a debate in the House of Commons, he achieved a parliamentary majority with the support of most Conservative MPs and Ulster Unionists. Although the Conservatives were supportive of the Government's stance as a whole, a significant minority of their MPs rebelled against the party line, including figures such as Kenneth Clarke. The Liberal Democrats opposed the war, and their MPs were visibly unanimous on the issue. One former cabinet minister delivered a stinging personal attack on the Prime Minister, calling his behaviour 'reckless'. Robin Cook MP and a few other government ministers resigned to the backbenches over the issue, and one of them - Clare Short MP. Cook, a former Foreign Secretary and at the time Leader of the House of Commons, delivered a resignation speech, which was received with a standing ovation. Cook indicated that while he agreed with most of Blair's policies, he could not support the war.

The United Kingdom has sent 45,000 personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force, including the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal to the Gulf region. The ground component included 100 Challenger tanks. The First Armoured Division's 7th Armoured Brigade and 4th Armoured Brigade took part in the war.

Before the war, public opinion polls showed that the majority of British people would have supported the war with a clear UN mandate for war, but were strongly opposed to war without another resolution in addition to Resolution 1441, which indicated that Saddam Hussein would face serious consequences if he failed to comply with the resolution.

On May 1, 2005, the Sunday Times published a leaked "Downing Street memo" (full text) from British foreign policy aide Matthew Rycroft to British Ambassador to the United States David Manning, summarizing a July 23, 2002 meeting with Blair and other government officials "to discuss Iraq"[6]. The memo includes discussion of a "shift of attitude" in the Bush administration which made it appear that at this point, while the public was still being told that Iraq could avoid an invasion by agreeing to abide by UN resolutions,

"Military action was now seen as inevitable."

Furthermore, the memo went on to state,

"Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

bolstering the assertions of opponents of Bush and Blair that the invasion had been decided a priori, the intelligence to support the invasion had been slanted towards that purpose, and that there had been insufficient planning for the aftermath. This was even more explicitly stated elsewhere in the memo,

"The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

The effect in Britain was to support Blair's opponents' charges that he was a willing accomplice of Bush in an invasion they felt was in violation of international law, as well as the attempt to conceal it by deliberately misstating the true rationale and feeding the public's fears. Political analysts identify this memo as a "smoking gun" which is responsible for a large part of the reduction in Blair's margin of victory in the election which followed.


In March of 2003, the Polish government announced that it would participate in a U.S.-led Iraq invasion and sent about 200 personnel. Poland also sent 54 soldiers in an elite GROM commando unit, a logistic support ship, "Xawery Czernicki", with a FORMOZA navy commando unit, and 74 antichemical contamination troops. See Polish contribution to the 2003 Gulf War for details. Polls showed that, as in other central and eastern European countries, the population was generally against the war, although not as strongly as in Spain, Italy, or the United Kingdom. One explanation given for this difference of opinion was that the populations of many of the central and eastern European nations remember what it was like living under Soviet Communist rule, which was comparable to Saddam's brutal Iraq regime.


Turkey originally showed reservations, fearing that a power vacuum after Saddam's defeat might have given rise to a Kurdish state. Turkey initially agreed to allow U.S. use of the air base at Incirlik, and to allow the U.S. to investigate possible use of its airports in the cities Gaziantep, Malatya, and Diyabakir, as well as the seaports of Antalya and Mersin.

In December 2002, Turkey moved approximately 15,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq. The Turkish General Staff stated that this move was in light of recent developments and did not indicate an attack was imminent. In January 2003, the Turkish foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, said he was examining documents from the time of the Ottoman Empire in order to determine whether Turkey had a claim to the oil fields around the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

In late January 2003, Turkey invited at least five other regional countries to a "'last-chance' meeting to avert a US-led war against Iraq. The group urged neighboring Iraq to continue cooperating with the UN inspections, and publicly stated that "military strikes on Iraq might further destabilize the Middle East region".

In the end, Turkey did not grant access to its land and harbours as asked for by U.S. officials.



Perhaps the only major regional ally that supported the US' action was Kuwait, whose hostility towards Saddam's Iraq stemmed from the events surrounding the Gulf War. The public appeared to consider Saddam to be as much of a threat in 2003 as he was in the past, and were particularly interested in attempts to repatriate many Kuwaiti citizens who had disappeared during the Gulf War, and were presumably languishing in Iraqi jails up until Saddam's fall from power. However, even in Kuwait, there is increasing hostility towards the United States. [7]

Saudi Arabia

Pre-war, Saudi Arabia's public position had been one of neutrality in the conflict; worldwide media reported that, despite numerous American attempts, Saudi Arabia would not offer the American military any use of its land as a staging ground for the invasion of Iraq. This was later explained to have been a public front, as Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey and Kuwait, was actually one of the most important allies in terms of offering coalition soldiers its land, including military bases. It was also eventually learned that a high-ranking Saudi prince had been at the White House on the day that the Iraq war began, and Bush administration officials told the prince to alert his government that the initial phase of the war had begun, hours before missiles first landed in Baghdad.


On March 17, 2003, Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi said that he supported the U.S., U.K., and Spain for ending diplomatic efforts against Iraq. He also indicated that no further UN resolution was necessary to invade Iraq. [8]

On March 26, 2003, Japan's ambassador to the UN first stated in the Security Council that Japan supported the acts of the U.S. and allied countries. He said that the Iraqi dictatorship possessed weapons of mass destruction and had been continuously violating UN resolutions for past 12 years. [9]

At home, the prime minister was strongly opposed in this decision both by the opposition and parts of his own coalition government. Most Japanese believe that it was motivated purely to improve Japan's relations to the US government, which had been improving since the beginning of the Bush administration.

Furthermore, the 9th amendment of Japanese Constitution (in place after the end of World War II) forbids any Japanese military involvement overseas. Therefore, Japan did not take part in the invasion itself, but did provide logistical support to the US Navy, which the government considered a non-combat operation, a position that many Japanese disagree with.

Other Asian States

Singapore (who shortly after earned the US Free Trade Agreement), the Philippines, and South Korea all pledged support for the war, as did a number of smaller Pacific island nations.

The Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau (former American trust territories with a combined population of around 186,000) are legally sovereign and are full member states of the United Nations; however, their governments are largely dependent on the United States Congress for their funding through Compacts of Free Association. Some critics of the war assert that if these states took anti-war stances, they would be severely harmed politically and economically because of their reliance on the United States.


The Howard government in Australia has been a strong and uncritical supporter of United States policy. Australia has committed a little over 2,000 military personnel, including a squadron of F/A-18 Hornet fighters and 150 SAS troops (see Australian contribution to the 2003 Gulf War for details). At first, the Australian public was clearly and consistently opposed to their government's joining the war without explicit UN backing (around 60 to 70% of those polled), but once the war began public opinion swayed somewhat: a reputable wartime poll had support at 57% with 36% opposed. The current opposition Labor Party, on the whole, opposes the war. Major anti-war demonstrations were reported from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Hobart, as well as other Australian cities. [10]

Opposing U.S. Position

Some nations that were allies of the United States during the Gulf War were either opposed to the second Iraq war or were reluctant to help with it. Prior to the war, several countries called on the US to wait for the weapons inspectors to complete their investigations. However, the US and its allies maintained that reasonable patience had been given to Saddam and that it was clear that he was not willing to cooperate with the inspectors, as he beat around the bush whenever the weapons of mass destruction issue came up. This, if not the fact that the inspectors had previously been kicked out of Iraq in 1998 alone, was, according to the war's supporters, sufficient violation of UN mandates to justify more severe action. It should be noted that Scott Ritter, chief UN weapons inspector at the time, says that the inspectors were not kicked out by Saddam Hussein, but were withdrawn by Bill Clinton [11]:

Public perception is that the Iraqis were confrontational and blocking the work of the inspectors. In 98% of the inspections, the Iraqis did everything we asked them to because it dealt with disarmament. However when we got into issues of sensitivity, such as coming close to presidential security installations, Iraqis raised a flag and said, “Time out. We got a C.I.A. out there that's trying to kill our president and we're not very happy about giving you access to the most sensitive installations and the most sensitive personalities in Iraq.” So we had these modalities, where we agreed that if we came to a site and the Iraqis called it ‘sensitive,’ we go in with four people.

In 1998, the inspection team went to a site. It was the Baath Party headquarters, like going to Republican Party headquarters or Democratic Party headquarters. The Iraqis said, “You can't come in – you can come in. Come on in.” The inspectors said, “The modalities no longer apply.” The Iraqis said, “If you don't agree to the modalities, we can't support letting you in,” and the Iraqis wouldn't allow the inspections to take place.

Bill Clinton said, “This proves the Iraqis are not cooperating,” and he ordered the inspectors out. But you know the United States government ordered the inspectors to withdraw from the modalities without conferring with the Security Council. It took Iraqis by surprise. Iraqis were saying, “We're playing by the rules, why aren’t you? If you're not going play by the rules, then it’s a game that we don't want to participate in.” Bill Clinton ordered the inspectors out. Saddam didn't kick them out.

Many argued that, since Iraq had no connection to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, going to war against Iraq as part of a broader war on terror was illegitimate. Others opposed to US military action argued that insufficient and, as in the case of the uranium Niger deal, even falsified documents might have been produced in order to show Iraq as "an immediate threat". Accordingly, any such exaggeration would have been contrary to international law. They also claimed that the issue of weapons of mass destruction (if indeed there were any left in Iraq by 2003) could have been solved through continued inspections and diplomacy, and insisted that the weapons issue was merely an attempt to hide American desires to seize oil wells, further a military presence in the Middle East, and frighten other OPEC nations into submission. This position was later supported by Bush's former Secretary of the Treasury Paul Henry O'Neill who stated that the administration had sought for a reason to invade Iraq ever since Bush took office, with potential oil spoils charted in early documents. The Bush camp denies these allegations as ludicrous, though they have admitted that the Niger uranium documents were given to them by an source of questionable credibility and it was simply as mistake on their part to have assumed that the documents told the truth.

Since before the war started, the U.S. government has claimed that some of these countries have shown support in private, asserting that they were initially afraid to do so in a public way. Saudi Arabia and Turkey were eventually shown to be two such countries, though none of the others have revealed their true positions, even a year after Saddam's government collapsed.


On January 29, 2003, the European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution opposing unilateral military action against Iraq by the United States. According to the resolution, "a pre-emptive strike would not be in accordance with international law and the UN Charter and would lead to a deeper crisis involving other countries in the region".

France, Germany and Russia were, from the get-go, publicly opposed to US war plans at all levels. As the US took a more militaristic position, these countries became increasingly opposed to the invasion. In the end, France made it clear it would use its UN Security Council veto against any proposed resolution for war in Iraq. (See The UN Security Council and the Iraq war.) On March 17, 2003, the US and Britain stated that they would not submit a resolution to the Security Council, admitting they did not have enough votes to force France or Russia to use a veto. In fact, only Bulgaria and Spain (in addition to the US and UK) declared outright that they wanted to vote for the U.S./U.K. resolution, while a few more nations, such as Chile and Guinea, had only said they would consider supporting it. Though Bush and Blair were optimistic that the 9 out of 15 votes of approval necessary to pass a UN resolution would have been reached, France's threatened veto would have immediately quashed the resolution, as any one of the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, the PRC, and France, has the unilateral power to veto any resolution, even if the vote is 11-1 in favor. Russia and China expressed that they likely would have supported the UN resolution if some more diplomatic channels had been exercised first, but Bush and Blair stopped trying to appease those two nations once France voiced its unconditional opposition to the resolution. Amid US anger at what they considered France's reckless use of its veto power, the French government pointed to example after example of times when the USA had vetoed such resolutions that otherwise had an 11-1 margin. This controversial abuse of power that France, Britain, China, Russia, and USA could, and often do, make use of prompted harsh international criticism of the UN resolution process, with many calling to reform it, as it gives unfair emphasis to those five nations over all other and just one of the five's dissent could, and often does, have drastic effects on international affairs.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made his opposition to the invasion an issue in his electoral campaign. Some analysts credited Schröder's come-from-behind victory on September 22 to tapping a broad anti-war sentiment among the German people. His critics and the proponents of the Iraq war suggested that he was using the controversy of the war and appealing to the anti-American sentiment felt by the German public for the sole purpose of gaining popularity and winning. This notion deeply offended the American people and government and led to a straining of relations between the two nations. However, Schröder met Colin Powell and a rapprochement was established after the Iraqi regime was overturned.[12] At present the governments of the two nations have agreed to put the Iraq issue behind them and move forward.

Belgium [13], Switzerland [14], Sweden [15] [16], Norway [17], Greece [18], Austria, Liechtenstein, and Serbia also condemned the war. The Czech Republic, Croatia [19], and Slovenia [20] were already mentioned above.

In Finland, Anneli Jäätteenmäki of the Center Party won the elections after she had accused her rival Paavo Lipponen, who was prime minister at the time, of allying neutral Finland with the United States in the war in Iraq during a meeting with President George W. Bush. Lipponen denied the claims and declared that "We support the UN and the UN Secretary-General." Jäätteenmäki resigned as prime minister after 63 days in office amid accusations that she had lied about the leak of the documents about the meeting between Bush and Lipponen. The Finnish government stated that they took a stronger stand on the Iraq question at a meeting chaired by President Tarja Halonen.

The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy issued a statement according to which the use of force against Iraq would not be acceptable without the authority of the UN Security Council. [21] [22]

Vatican City

The Roman Catholic Church took a firm stance against the U.S. plan to invade Iraq, as violence in all forms goes against the Catholic teachings and the Vatican's politics are directly taken from Biblical teachings. Pope John Paul II's Peace Minister, Pío Cardinal Laghi, was sent by the Church to talk with George W. Bush to express opposition to the war on Iraq. The Catholic Church said that it was up to the United Nations to solve the international conflict through diplomacy. According to the Church, the Iraq war, and indeed most modern wars, did not satisfy the just war requirements set by St. Thomas Aquinas and other theologians. The method of total war, sometimes called terrorism (i.e. any non accidental attacks on non combatants, or civilian infrastructure), which has been used in most modern wars since the Civil War and which was used in Iraq, are not permitted. The Church was also worried of the fate of the Chaldean Catholics of Iraq. The Vatican worried that they might see the same destruction as happened to the Churches and Monastaries after the war in Kosovo. The Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Jean Louis Tauran, said that only the UN can decide on a military attack against Iraq, because a unilateral war would be a "crime against peace and a crime against international law". The Cardinal Secretary of State of the Vatican, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, indicated that only the United Nations Security Council had the power to approve an attack in self-defense, and only in case of a previous aggression. His opinion was that the attack on Iraq did not fall into this category and that a unilateral aggression would be a "crime against peace and a violation of the Geneva Convention". [23]


Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov joined France and Germany and said the council could not ignore the fact that "substantial progress" had been made since chief weapons inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed El Baradei visited Iraq in January.


President Alexander Lukashenko said Belarus unanimously denounced US aggression in Iraq. [24]



While Canada participated in the Gulf War of 1991, it refused to engage in a war on Iraq without UN approval. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said on October 10, 2002 that Canada would be part of any military coalition sanctioned by the United Nations to invade Iraq. With the subsequent withdrawal of American and British diplomatic efforts to gain UN sanction, Jean Chrétien announced in Parliament on March 17, 2003 that Canada would not participate in the pending invasion, though he offered the US and its soldiers his moral support.

While this is the official policy of the government, the Canadian Navy has been engaged in Operation Apollo in the Arabian Sea, escorting American convoys in the "War on Terrorism". During the Iraq war, the Canadian Minister of National Defence, John McCallum, said that if an American ship was attacked while under a Canadian warship's protection, the captain would not have asked if the shells were from terrorists or the Iraqi military before firing back.

Canada has indicated that it would take an active part in the reconstruction of Iraq following the war. Major anti-war demonstrations took place in several Canadian cities, for example: Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Halifax, and Toronto.

Chrétien restates opposition to Iraq war

Latin America and Caribbean

Mexico, Venezuela [25], Brazil [26], Argentina and Chile condemned the UN-opposed war, even though Chile had expressed the likelihood of its voting to approve of a UN war resolution, had one been submitted. In addition to Chile, Mexico also had a seat on the Security Council and had considered approving of the resolution. Major demonstrations were reported from La Paz, Bolivia; Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pierre Charles, the late Prime Minister of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica also condemned the war.

After Costa Rica's Constitutional Court ruled that the war broke international law and that the country's support for the war contradicted its constitution, the government declared its withdrawal of support, which was merely moral anyways as Costa Rica has no army. Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic retreated their troops.


The African Union, with all of its 52 members, condemned the war. Guinea, Cameroon and Angola had seats on the Security Council, and amid talks of American financial donations would have likely voted in approval of a UN war resolution against Iraq. [27] Major protests were reported from Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt; Rabat, Morrocco; Mombasa, Kenya; Mogadishu, Somalia; Nouakchott; Tripolis, Libya; Windhoek, Namibia; Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.



The People's Republic of China pressed for continued U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq after two arms inspectors told the Security Council they had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.[28] Although it stated its wish that the situation be resolved peacefully, China did not threaten to exercise its Security Council veto and had abstained in many previous decisions on Iraq. Demonstrations were reported from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and even in mainland China, where exercising free speech is usually shunned, some protests were tolerated. [29]


Major anti-war demonstrations took place in the cities of Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta. General Pervez Musharraf faced already fierce opposition from his mostly Muslim population for his support of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. Pakistan also had a seat on the UN Security Council during the pre-war period, though would not have likely voted in favor of the resolution at the time Bush had planned to present it, in an attempt to quell civilian dissent.


India did not support the war on Iraq. According to a Statement by the Ministry of External Affairs "The military action [...] lacks justification" [30] Delhi, Calcutta, Srinagar, and Mumbai saw major peace demonstrations.

The Middle East

The Arab League unanimously condemned the war, with the exception of Kuwait. [31] Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud publicly claimed that the U.S. military would not be authorized to use Saudi Arabia's soil in any way to attack Iraq. However, this was later revealed to have been a front, as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, and some other Arab states did, in fact, provide support to American troops, but they did not wish to risk offending Saddam pre-war by making those statements publicly.([32]) After ten years of U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia, cited among reasons by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden for his September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on America, most of U.S. forces were withdrawn from Saudi Arabia in 2003. ([33]) For the duration of the war, the Saudi public remained strongly against the US action, even regardless of a UN mandate. Prior to the war, the government repeatedly attempted to find a diplomatic solution, generally agreeing with the US position on Saddam's menace, even going so far as to urge Saddam to go into voluntary exile--a suggestion that angered him a great deal.

Anti-war demonstrations took place in Damascus, Syria;Baghdad, Iraq; Sanaa; Maskat; Amman, Jordan; Widhat, Maan, Irbid, Beirut, Sidon, Lebanon; Bethlehem, Nablus, Tulkarem, Jenin, Ramallah and Gaza, Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Tel Aviv, Israel, and in the nation of Bahrain. As is the case in Egypt, demonstrations are not common in many of these less-than-democratic countries and some regimes saw themselves in danger because of riots.

Other Asian states

Bangladesh, Malaysia [34] and Indonesia [35], all largest muslim countries of world and Vietnam condemned the war. Bangladesh urged to solve the problem through discussion rather than war. Huge anti-war demonstrations took place in Dhaka,Bangladesh; Kathmandu, Nepal; Colombo , Sri Lanka; Kelantan; Jakarta and Java, Indonesia; Surabaya; and Bangkok, Thailand.

New Zealand

The New Zealand government disagreed with its antipodean neighbour, Australia, and did not support the war in principle. However, New Zealand did send a group of non-combatant engineers to "help rebuild Iraq". There were major anti-war demonstrations in the New Zealand cities Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.[36]

Neutral, unclear


The Republic of Ireland is an officially neutral country, with a strong tradition of supporting UN institutions, peacekeeping and international law. Nevertheless, the use of Shannon Airport was allowed for transatlantic stopovers by the US army. Under domestic pressure, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern repeatedly glossed over the particulars of the situation, while emphasising the need for a UN mandate.

Despite large-scale protests, including many at Shannon Airport itself, opinion polls showed that many people broadly supported official policy on the use of the Airport. While the majority of the public did oppose the war, there was a fifty–fifty split on the use of Shannon. Keeping US investment in Ireland safe was the principle reason for allowing US stopovers. Ultimately anti-war allies were appeased by the government's not condoning the war while the situation with Shannon kept Irish-U.S. relations cordial.


Despite public protests in front of the American Institute in Taiwan, leaders of the Republic of China seemed supportive of the war effort, however Taiwan did not appear in the official list of members of the Coalition of the Willing. This was presumably because the Republic of China is not publicly recognized in the interests of not offending the People's Republic of China. [37]

Solomon Islands

As Croatia and Slovenia, the Solomon Islands were claimed to be members of the coalition but wished "to disassociate itself from the report". [38]

See also

External links