Unease, resolve and open outrage echoed across a connected world yesterday as the United States opened its war against Iraq.

“This is the beginning of the end of the domination of Western nations,” filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said in India. Iran’s foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, called the military action “unjustifiable and illegitimate.”

Support for Washington came from, among others, staunch U.S. allies Britain and Japan.

“Iraq has continued to ignore the United Nations resolutions and has not acted sincerely. Therefore, I understand and support U.S. action to disarm Iraq,” Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said as hunger strikers protested outside the American Embassy in Tokyo.

Weeks of tension and failed diplomacy produced immediate reactions of dismay and fear,

“It’s a wrong war at a wrong time,” said 35-year-old Sean Bowman of London, drinking beer in a Hong Kong bar and – like much of the world – watching events unfold on CNN.

In Beijing, officers cordoned off the street in front of Iraq’s embassy and demanded identification for all passing. A few blocks away, at the American Embassy, security was its highest level since the Sept. 11 attacks

Stocks were higher in markets across the Asia-Pacific region after the United States launched its attack on Iraq early today, with traders betting the war will end quickly. Tokyo’s 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average was up by 1.90 percent at 8,204.25 in the afternoon, while prices rose by 3.25 percent in Seoul.

In Afghanistan, where the U.S. military is still hunting al-Qaida members, residents of the capital, Kabul, condemned the United States and its allies.

“Today is a dark day for Muslims,” said Sher Aga, 50, who teaches military aviation at the Air Force Academy in Kabul. “My heart is crying for the nation of Iraq. I hope the aggressors will be buried.” He added: “The United Nations is nothing anymore.”

The Muslim Council of Britain, which worries that military action against Saddam will sour relations between Britain and Islamic countries, called it a “black day in our history.

“Our government should not have been a party to this conflict which has only undermined the United Nations, our own democracy and the rule of law,” said its secretary-general, Iqbal Sacranie.

In Mexico City, demonstrators outside the American Embassy waved signs reading “No to the imperialist war against Iraq” and “Bush, calm your thirst for blood.”

War protests continued in places as far-flung as San Francisco, Tokyo and Sydney, Australia.

“The war has begun so we are protesting,” Sydney University activist Simon Butler said. “We will not sit in class and pretend everything is normal while our government helps carry out this massacre in our name.”

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