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March 25, 2003

Israeli military analysts

David Dolan report on Israeli views
Israeli military analysts are encouraged by media reports today that the US 7th Calvary has cut off the main road connecting Baghdad to southern Iraq. This might prevent additional Iraqi reinforcements from arriving in the south, where intense battles have been raging again today in several locations. In fact, the unexpectedly strong Iraqi resistance has prodded British commanders to alter their battle plans, deciding they need to enter Basra in order to quell continuing artillery attacks from inside the city. The original plan was to surround and cut off the Iraqi Shiite city--the second largest in the country--which it was hoped would not put up any significant armed resistance. However Saddam's elite forces are apparently more deeply entrenched in Basra than was expected before the war began, forcing the harrowing change in battle plans.

Fierce fighting is taking place toady as a major sandstorm rages in the embattled Arab country. It is part of the storm that is blowing through Israel, dropping heavy rain in its wake, and even snow showers here in Jerusalem late this morning and again this afternoon. More precipitation is forecast for the next two days, meaning more water for the depleted Sea of Galilee, but also inclement weather in Iraq, due east of the Promised Land. The storm has been a mixed blessing for allied forces, hampering Iraqi artillery and light weapons assaults against them today, but also limiting coalition helicopter attacks and other air action designed to "soften up" key Republican Guard forces stationed around Baghdad.

Israeli analysts are studying American media reports that Saddam has given orders to his elite units to use chemical weapons as allied troops advance toward the sprawling Iraqi capital city, with its estimated five million civilian residents. Most Israeli analysts still believe that Saddam will not deploy his banned non-conventional weapons at this stage in the war, since he is rapidly gaining widespread support for his "valiant struggle against the aggressive infidel invaders" in the entire Arab world, apart from Kuwait. However, whenever it looks like his regime is truly nearing its end--which they say may still be some time away--he will unleash whatever deadly weapons he has upon allied forces; and if he can upon Israel as well. That prospect will keep the world's only Jewish State on a heightened military alert for the duration of the nearby conflict, say Israeli political and military leaders.

Israeli military analysts are recommending that coalition commanders step up the intensity of their offensive attacks, despite the fact that this will undoubtedly increase civilian casualties. They note that political support for Saddam is spreading like gangrene throughout the explosive Middle East, which could spark off a wider regional conflict if not contained. This is mainly the result of the stiff resistance that Saddam's forces have put up in southern Iraq, much stronger than most military analysts had forecast. They are also urging US Commander Tommy Franks to shut down Iraqi state television if he can, which is broadcasting Saddam's defiant message to the entire Arabic-speaking world, with the help of Arab news channels like Al Jeezera.