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> This rides on the presumption that Saddam Hussein commands > loyalty amoungst the Iraqi people or even armed forces. This is > clearly not the case. If the people and army saw that the US was > totally serious then hardly anyone would stand and fight 'to > defend Saddam' - from the experience of '91 it would probably be > quite the opposite. The only loyalty he has is the Republican > Guard and to a lesser extent his Security Apparatus. Dear Sama, I fully agree: if Iraqis decide not to resist the country that has assisted in making their lives hell over these past two decades, then there may be no casualties. If, however, a war is fought like the one in 1991 - far away from the cities, no effective resistance to the US, without non-conventional weapons, damaging infrastructure, preceding civil war - then there may be 200,000 casualties. If the war is fought in cities, and if non-conventional weapons are used, then the numbers increase even further. While we can hope that 'things go well', we must recognise that, in doing so, we are betting with innocent lives on a large scale. There seem to be 30,000 - 45,000 Republican Guardsmen around Baghdad, and 15,000 or so Special Republican Guardsmen. Even if these are the only people in the country who would stand and fight against the Americans or for Saddam, 45,000 - 60,000 well trained and armed people fighting for their lives in an urban environment strikes me as presenting a real risk of significant civilian casualties. I don't know if it's an underestimate to believe that they're the only people who would fight. I append an article that suggests that popular feeling in Iraq may be more belligerent than optimists feel it to be. I don't know how to assess this: will discretion be the better part of valour in the event of a war, or will there be a real slaughter? Best, Colin Rowat work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham | Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK | web.bham.ac.uk/c.rowat | (+44/0) 121 414 3754 | (+44/0) 121 414 7377 (fax) | firstname.lastname@example.org personal | (+44/0) 7768 056 984 (mobile) | (+44/0) 7092 378 517 (fax) | (707) 221 3672 (US fax) | email@example.com Some Iraqis See A War Eroding Economic Gains (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18853-2002Sep14.html - unsure if URL stable) By Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, September 15, 2002; Page A01 BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 14 -- The newest craze among well-to-do teenage boys here is to stalk the streets at night, finishing off the enemy with the rat-a-tat-tat of an M-1 carbine. At a few dozen computer centers that have recently sprouted up around the sprawling Iraqi capital, patrons sit at small consoles adorned with posters from the latest Hollywood movies and play the latest shoot'em-up video games on the latest Pentium-powered computers connected to each other with the latest networking technology. For Zaid Abdul Amir, a 34-year-old computer engineer fiddling with his keyboard and surrounded by boys half his age, playing war on the computer is "something fun to do." But, like many people here, he has little desire for the real thing. "Can we imagine living for six months without electricity, without water, without enough food?" said Amir, who was part of an Iraqi army unit that invaded Kuwait in 1990. "Of course we don't want that to happen again. We are all for a peaceful solution with the United States." Without explicitly disagreeing with their government, several Iraqis said in interviews over the past week that they hoped their government would readmit U.N. inspectors to look for weapons of mass destruction, saying that it was the best way to avoid military confrontation with the United States. The lives of Iraqis have been improving, at least in economic terms, and they insist the last thing they want is a war that could erode those gains. "Our government says that it no longer has these weapons, so let them [the inspectors] come back," one Baghdad resident said. "If this is what it takes to stop an American attack, we should do it." Wamidh Nadhmi, a political scientist at Baghdad University, said that "a lot of Iraqis do say the same thing." "I don't think any responsible Iraqi would like to see another military confrontation with the United States of America," he said. "We were witnesses of the 1991 war. It was a war from one side. It was an unequal war. There is no reason to repeat it." President Bush warned the United Nations on Thursday that "action will be unavoidable" against Iraq unless Hussein's government consents to a resumption of inspections to determine whether it possesses nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Bush and other U.S. officials contend that Iraq has resumed its weapons programs since U.N. inspectors left in 1998. Iraq maintains that all its weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed. At a news conference this evening, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, said his country would be willing to consider the return of inspectors if conditions were placed on their activities and if the U.N. Security Council also lifted the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. But Aziz said his government believed that even if it let in the weapons inspectors, the United States and Britain would seek to engineer a confrontation that would lead to military action. "It's doomed if you do, doomed if you don't," he said. It is difficult, if not impossible, to gauge Hussein's support among the Iraqi population. Criticizing the president, who is glorified on billboards at every major intersection, can invite arrest and imprisonment. Even so, some Iraqis have tried to convey to this correspondent -- through furtive glances, by pointing to a passage in a book or by their reluctance to launch into an immediate glorification of Hussein -- that they are eager for political change. "Our system is not perfect," said a middle-aged man here who works as a trader. "But I cannot say more than that." But even among those who have suggested that they are not happy with their government, there was no discernible support for U.S. military action to overthrow Hussein. Every one of more than two dozen Iraqis interviewed over the past week -- including a few people who spoke out of earshot of a minder from the Information Ministry -- bristled at the idea of a U.S. invasion to set up a new government. "We do not want the Americans to give us a new government," the trader said. "We do not like the idea of that sort of aggression." Amir, the computer engineer and army veteran, said he would be willing to reenlist. "Everyone here has a gun," he said. "If they don't, they at least have a knife. And if not, we'll throw stones at them like the Palestinians. Bush is crazy if he thinks the Iraqi people will welcome the Americans." Nadhmi said that strong anti-American sentiments among ordinary people did not begin with the Persian Gulf War, but a few years later, as the sanctions began to squeeze the population. Food became scarce, as did medicines. Basic staples either were impossible to find or too expensive for anyone but the ultra-rich. The value of the dinar, Iraq's currency, against the dollar plummeted. "The [Gulf] War was seen in certain circles not as an American aggression but as a reply to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait," Nadhmi said. "But with the continuation of sanctions, and when the sanctions started hurting the civilian population more than the government, the people started to think that Iraqi society at large is the real target of the Americans." Nadhmi and others here also said the U.S. government's deferential treatment toward Israel and its security operations in the Palestinian territories have been seized upon by Hussein to intensify anti-American sentiments. He has made supporting Palestinian militants a key national goal, going so far as to train a militia to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control and to make payments of $25,000, U.S. officials say, to the families of each Palestinian suicide bomber. In April, Hussein suspended crude oil exports for one month to protest Israeli occupation of Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Meanwhile, analysts said, the slow but steady rebirth of the economy has further bolstered Hussein's image. The growth has been driven largely by an expansion in the U.N. oil-for-food program, which has allowed the country to purchase almost $37 billion of humanitarian supplies and oil-industry equipment since 1996. The most noticeable effect of the additional revenue has been an increase in the rations of rice, wheat, sugar and tea that the government provides to every Iraqi. Hussein's government also has sought other ways to jump-start the economy. His government has signed free-trade agreements with nine countries over the past year. Analysts said it also has vastly increased smuggling and other illicit trade in oil, leading to some estimates that the value of Iraq's imports outside the oil-for-food program might total more than half the amount coming in under U.N. monitoring. As a consequence, the country's economy grew by a torrid 15 percent in 2000. Flush with cash, the government has finished repairing almost all of the bridges, factories, utility plants and government buildings that were damaged by U.S. bombs during the Gulf War. Baghdad's shops, once bereft of merchandise, now are replete with imported goods, including Pert shampoo, Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Panasonic videodisc players. Outdoor cafes bustle with customers. Saddam International Airport has reopened for flights to Jordan, Syria and Moscow. Even poor people say they are able to put more food on the table these days. "There were times I never thought I would be able to say this, but life is good," said Jaleel Jabbar, 34, who opened a computer center two months ago with $8,000 he had saved by working as a graphic designer for his uncle's cosmetics business. His small center, sandwiched in a downtown Baghdad strip mall, is packed on most evenings with teenage boys using their mice and keyboards to try to kill each other. Jabbar lives with his grandmother in a comfortable apartment. He drives a full-size, 10-year-old Oldsmobile that was smuggled in from a neighboring country. On Friday, he was dressed in a snappy black Armani polo shirt and Levis. Jabbar said he did not listen to Bush's speech -- it was not televised here -- but said he could not understand why the United States was considering a military strike if Iraq refused to accept weapons inspectors. "We're not a threat to America," he said in rapid-fire Arabic. "We're not going to attack America. Why would we be so stupid to do that?" Across the city, from dusty market stalls to the newly built Mother of All Battles Mosque, many Iraqis voiced similar sentiments. Iraq, they said, might hate the U.S. government, but it has no desire to start a war with a superpower. "It would be very foolish," said Kais Khiruddin, 53, an employee at a cotton factory that he said was bombed in the Gulf War. "We don't want to be bombed again." If the United States invades, Jabbar said he plans to be ready. He said he has been "training" on his computer, playing a game called Medal of Honor, where his character is a World War II-era U.S. soldier assigned to hunt down Nazi forces in North Africa. "We will fight on the street if we have to," he said. "But I would rather just do it on the computer." C 2002 The Washington Post Company _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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