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Keeping American public opinion behind a long war won't be easy, and Yugoslavia knows it. Such incidents as NATO's unintentional bombing of refugees on Wednesday could erode support, especially when Yugoslavia knows how to put a media spin on such events. NATO, too, has tried to highlight Serb atrocities in Kosovo, sometimes falsely. The war has a hidden second front: a battle for Western opinion. Quote of note: "The propaganda from CNN is just as strong as ours. The only difference is that they're better at it." - Dragana Disic, director of a Belgrade firm making anti-NATO spots.

Another potential front for Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic is in his own backyard: the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro . The war over the Yugoslav province of Kosovo might provide an opportunity for Mr. Milosevic to bring down Montenegro's government and end its increasing independence. But he risks much to do that.

In two Islamic countries, elections are testing whether democracy, a strong military, and radical Muslims can coexist . Governments in Algeria and Turkey have recently suppressed Islamists, and are now trying to see if they can win support through elections.

Israel calls its recent diplomatic exchanges with Russia part of a long warming trend. But some observers chalk it up to electioneering - specifically, Prime Minister Netanyahu's need to win over the votes of Israel's Russian Jews. Quote of note: "It's not necessarily wrong to warm relations with Russia. But do they have to do it in the period when the US has the worst relations with Russia since the end of the cold war?" - a US official.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *THE BODYGUARD INDEX: Mideast bureau chief Scott Peterson, who compares democracy's stirrings in Turkey and Algeria, has often traveled to Ankara and Algiers, their respective capitals. Reporting is especially tough in the Algerian capital, though Scott says there are signs that conditions in the dangerous city may be improving for visitors and residents alike. Algiers is one of the most beautiful cities in north Africa, with its white French-colonial style buildings lined up along the corniche that faces the Mediterranean Sea. But if the city is beautiful, some of the large park-like embassy compounds are pristine. Which is a good thing, because Western diplomats have been largely confined to those compounds for years. Until recently, Scott points out, to travel beyond the high walls required crews of armed guards in convoy - hardly a scene that put ordinary Algerians at ease. But that may be changing, as security improves in the capital. One diplomat says armed details may soon be cut back.

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