War May Last More Than 3 Months: Poll

RIYADH, 3 April 2003 — The war on Iraq will last more than three months, according to a majority of people polled by Arab News.

The poll, conducted in the last two days by telephone, covered a cross-section of senior professionals of 17 nationalities including Saudis, Western expatriates and Asians living in Riyadh. Some of them spoke on condition of anonymity.

Out of 150 respondents, 45 percent said the war will last for more than three months, while 15 percent said the war will continue for three weeks and the remaining 40 percent believed the war will go on for one to two months. These were the three options given to the respondents, many of whom fear that a lengthy war could create problems for the local economy and also undermine global economic recovery.

Saudi executive Muhammad Al-Debas said it was obvious from the tough Iraqi resistance the US forces were encountering that war would take longer than three months. “It will not be a swift victory for the US,” said Al-Debas.

Jordanian executive Abdul Lateef Imran said the fierce resistance from Iraqi troops had taken the allies by surprise. “In such a situation, war is likely to go on for more than three months,” said Imran. He called the war illegitimate and said it would fuel Arab and Muslim anger. “There have been worldwide protests against the war,” he said.

But local German diplomat Elmar Jacobs said: “It is in the best interest of the international community that the US-led war on Iraq should end as quickly as possible.”

Jacobs, whose country has opposed the war together with Russia and France, also called on the warring nations to avoid humanitarian disasters and to work for building a stable, prosperous and peaceful Iraq.

Ameer Alam, a Pakistani commercial manager, warned that a lengthy war will not only depress Arab financial markets but also the global financial sector. “A steep fall in the price of the dollar could destabilize markets that are already struggling to recover,” he said.

“Even if the war were to end quickly, the geopolitical situation might remain troubled for a while,” said Alam, quoting a report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said the uncertainty in the weeks leading up to the war caused global equity markets, which suffered steep losses in 2002, to fall further, while oil prices surged. A long war will undoubtedly threaten global upturn, he added.

All the respondents disapproved the US-British action in Iraq, with almost as many saying that France, Russia and Germany were right in opposing the war on Iraq.

The respondents also called on the Gulf governments to do more to restore peace.

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