RIIA report says the US viewed in Arab world as new imperial power

13 March 2003
A report by the Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA), a UK think tank, about the regional fall-out the Iraq crisis says that 'the US is viewed as the new imperial power with a commitment to the defence of Israel' and that war and regime change in Baghdad will have dangerous implications for all neighbouring countries.

The report says there are four scenarios following the start of an attack on Iraq. It might precipitate an early coup d'etat in Baghdad that would leave the US and its partners with limited influence over the Iraqi system. More likely is a late coup d'etat which would leave the attackers in control of the majority of Iraq but not Baghdad. The report says the worst outcome is a protracted conflict and the preferred outcome for the US is complete military victory. 'Regime change in Baghdad will deliver to the US much greater regional and international leverage, but may well not affect the socio-political dynamics within Iraq itself,' the report says. 'If so, both the coup d'etat and the US victory scenarios would preserve the status quo in the region, but would also leave Iraq as a potential source of violence, instability and WMD [weapons of mass destruction] procurement in the medium to long term.'

The report says war has the following implications for neigbouring countries:

Turkey. 'Engagement in an Iraq war will threaten the government's position vis-à-vis the religious core of its political support, but staying out is all but impossible given the level of dependence on the US,' the report says. The prime concern is a collapse of central authority in Iraq and the emergence of a breakaway Kurdish state.

Iran. A protracted conflict would offer advantages to Tehran, while swift American victory would raise fears of attempted regime change in Iran soon after.

Saudi Arabia. 'No matter what the outcome of the current crisis, Saudi Arabia's regional political and economic weight will diminish,' the report says.

Jordan. War will mean the kingdom will have to deal with refugees, loss of trade with and oil from Iraq, a flare-up in Palestine, public anger at the US and the possible growth of extremist groups. 'Consequently, an early coup d'etat in Baghdad would be the least alarming scenario for Jordan.

Syria. 'All the war scenarios threaten Syria's interest in maintaining the status quo, juggling its alliances and relations with regional powers and sustaining its own regime,' the report says.

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