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U.S. attack on Iraq may bring big changes in the M.E 
By Ioanns Solomou

Nicosia: U.S. President George Bush's now famous reference to "an evil axis" in his state of the union address on January 29 has caused alarm in many countries and the whole Middle East. If the U.S. carries out its threat to attack Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the repercussions would be far reaching indeed, according to observers.

Bush had said that the next war on terrorism will be aimed at preventing regimes sponsoring terror from threatening America and its friends and allies. He singled out North Korea, Iraq and Iran. He said that "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror, while Iran aggressively purchases weapons of mass destruction and exports terror. North Korea is a regime arming with weapons of mass destruction, while starving its people." 

Many analysts believe that it is now almost certain that the U.S. will attack Iraq, possibly before May. But such attacks are bound to have serious repercussions on Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

They speculate that the U.S. would apply against Baghdad the method they used in Afghanistan. Americans would supply a lot of weapons to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq and the Shiite forces in southern Iraq. At the same time they would resort to heavy bombing and help Turkish ground forces swoop in from the north and reach Baghdad. Saddam Hussein would be forced into hiding and the Iraqi people would welcome their liberators just as the Afghans did.

If this scenario actually takes place, it could have a ripple effect on Iran and other countries. Hard-line theologians would be forced to follow a more moderate line so as to avoid a U.S. attack and allow the liberalisation of the Iranian society.

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and other U.S. allies would also feel the pressure to introduce reforms before events force changes upon them.

Analysts believe that the U.S. led-coalition against terror may survive a U.S. assault on Iraq, but it is quite unlikely to survive if it turns against Iran. It should be stressed that Iran has the most stable political institutions in the Middle East and great oil and gas reserves, which a host of international companies are trying to develop, spending billions of dollars. An attack on Tehran will harm their interests and their governments will surely react.(ANI)

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