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Egypt Braces for Political Fallout of Gulf Victory

THE halt of the coalition ground war against Iraq and Baghdad's acceptance of all 12 United Nations resolutions was greeted with apparent relief by most Egyptians. But there was a prevailing sense of unease in the country's political circles. ``We are entering a very sensitive, delicate period,'' a senior Foreign Ministry source told the Monitor yesterday. ``We have to see what happens at the [UN] Security Council, the reaction of Iraq, and the reaction of Iraq's allies.''

The pro-Iraqi populations of Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and the Maghreb countries of North Africa have been stunned by the speedy defeat of Iraqi forces. As one Cairo-based Arab analyst said: ``Iraq has been revealed as nothing more than a paper tiger.''

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Since the start of the land offensive last Sunday, Egypt has had violent demonstrations. For four straight days students have protested against the war and their country's involvement in the coalition campaign. Egypt has more than 35,000 soldiers in Operation Desert Storm, and Egyptian troops were among the first forces to enter Kuwait City.

On Wednesday, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in a bid to break up demonstrations by thousands of students in Cairo.

There were also protests in Amman, where Jordanian Prime Minister Mudar Badran said on Wednesday that Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait was ``not a defeat.'' He said it was part of an Iraqi military plan to defend itself against an invasion by multinational forces.

``Those who go into Iraq will not leave,'' said Mr. Badran. His words, in an address to Parliament, followed an Iraqi military report that coalition forces had landed at an air base near Nasiriyah, about 175 miles south of Baghdad.

A statement by 30 Jordanian deputies later demanded the breaking of diplomatic ties with the United States, Britain, and France.

The Jordanian statement also called on Algeria, Iran, and Libya to end the supply of oil to coalition members.

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