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Briefing papers

"Iraq: Consequences of War".
Professor Paul Rogers, October 2002

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War with Iraq

  • is likely to result in the deaths of many thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians,

  • carries a high risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction and

  • will lead to substantial regional instability, and increased support for al-Qaida,

according to this new report, a detailed 10,000-word analysis by Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University, one of the foremost authorities on international security and consultant to Oxford Research Group. Using the most up-to-date information on how the US might fight the war, and how the Saddam Hussein regime might respond, the report concludes that:

  • the regime will aim to draw the US forces into urban warfare in Baghdad. A civilian death toll of at least 10,000 is likely, three times as many as died in the 11 September attacks;

  • this is a low estimate, the experience of urban warfare in Beirut and elsewhere suggests even higher casualties;

  • evidence of Iraqi military tactics in 1991 shows that the survival of the regime is the core policy and that chemical and biological weapons are almost certain to be used, certainly against attacking troops and possibly against targets in neighbouring countries;

  • severe casualties arising to Iraqi use of chemical and biological weapons could result in a nuclear response - the first use of nuclear weapons since August 1945.

Even on the "best-case" outcome of regime destruction with minimal loss of life, the effect of replacing Saddam Hussein with a client regime would be deeply counterproductive.

A pro-American regime in Baghdad would be seen across the region as a puppet government through which the US seeks to control Iraq's oil, currently four times the size of total US oil reserves including Alaska.

This would be a "gift" to al-Qaida and other paramilitary groups who have longed claimed that the United States in the Gulf solely because of the region's oil reserves. Support for such groups would rise, with an increased risk of further paramilitary attacks on the US and other states involved in the war.

The report concludes that destroying the Iraqi regime by force is a highly dangerous venture and that alternative policies should be urgently developed.

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