Counting Heads on Iraq

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U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, fresh from meetings with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, says that America's allies "are of one mind on this crisis caused by Iraq's defiance of the Security Council." But while they may agree on the cause, they disagree on a solution:

Who's on board for air strikes:

  • Britain - America's staunchest supporter.

  • Bahrain - If Iraq can threaten Saudi oil fields, it can do the same to those in this tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom. It also serves as home to the U.S. 5th Fleet.

  • Kuwait - Still bitter after Iraq's brutal invasion and occupation.

  • Israel - As it distributes gas masks, Israel welcomes any action to reduce the Iraqi threat. If attacked, retaliation can be expected -- unlike during the Gulf War.

  • France - Conflicted as always. Eager to re-establish lucrative oil deals with Iraq, France has agreed that Iraq's flouting of the Security Council can not go unchallenged.

  • Saudi Arabia - The Saudis would be happy to see the leader of their menacing neighbor to the north go. But, mindful of local anti-American sentiment, has yet to give permission for American jet fighters to launch raids into Iraq from its bases.

    Who's not:

  • Turkey - Looks forward to substantial oil deals with Iraq once the sanctions are lifted.

  • Jordan - While condemning Iraq for defying U.N. resolutions, a senior Jordanian official has stated that his country's "airspace and land are completely shut in the face of any side which plans attacks . . . against Iraq." Iraq used to be a major Jordanian market.

  • Egypt - President Hosni Mubarak is strongly against a military strike. Most Egyptians are sympathetic to the Iraqi cause.

  • Russia - Iraq still owes Russia billions of dollars for weapons and is eager to cut huge oil deals with the former Soviet patron. Not surprisingly, it's leading the diplomatic effort to avoid any military showdown and is eager to see the sanctions lifted.