Three options for U.S.-Iraqi war, say experts

There are three lines along which tentative warfare on Iraq may go, say Russian and Western experts on international politics, economics and security.

The war may last four weeks to six months, depending on each option, forecasts an analytical report of the research Institute of International Security Problems under the Russian Academy of Sciences. We offer you a gist as a copy of the report has reached Novosti.

A first, and most probable prognosis concerns a prompt and decisive victory over Iraqi forces, within four to six weeks, with probability estimated to 40 to 60%.

Another option, described as intermediate, does not rule out Iraq using mass destruction weaponry against US and Israeli armed forces on a limited scale and to small effect-in which the war may last six to twelve weeks-probability 30-40%.

A third option, the worst for the United States and its allies, forecasts successful Iraqi counterattacks on the United States, Great Britain and elsewhere, with mass destruction weapons. It threatens sweeping political instability in the region, the war to last 90 to 180 days-probability a mere 6-8%.

Each of the three options offers different economic results. The first threatens to remove Iraqi petroleum from the market for no longer than three months, the OPEC to compensate the shortages and rule out panic in the oil market, with prices to get below US$20 a barrel even in the third quarter-year.

The intermediate option may deprive the market of Iraqi petroleum for six months, the exchange to be feverish throughout the year, and average prices leaping up to $30 a barrel by next year's start. The increase of the US gross domestic product will drop pace for six months or so, unemployment sticking at 6%.

The most pessimistic option threatens an US economic recession, unemployment rate closely approaching 7.5%, the world market clean of Iraqi oil throughout this year, prices soaring up to $80 a barrel, January into March, with an average $40 a barrel by next year's start.

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