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US show of force galls Arab world

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"This is what Pax Americana looks like," comments Mustapha Hamarneh, a political analyst at the University of Jordan in Amman. "Any ruler who makes a couple of statements that Washington doesn't like in the future will find warships diverted to his coast. He'll have to run for cover."

This sort of fear beyond America's shores leads to some brutal conclusions.

"I am sorry to say this, but I do not wish the Americans a quick and easy victory in Baghdad," says Sergei Kazyonnov, an analyst with the Institute for National Security and Strategic Research in Moscow.

"If it is too easy, they will move on to other targets, like Iran and Syria, and the regional crisis will grow worse," he says. "Let them win, but let it hurt enough that they think twice next time."

Russian security officials have been especially shocked at the success of US generals in Iraq, says Vitaly Shlyikov, a former deputy defense minister.

"This is a sharp lesson for Russia's military establishment," he says.

"The Iraqi Army was a replica of the Russian Army, and its easy defeat was not predicted by our generals. Today they are in denial ... but this will strengthen the case of reformers who say we must start thinking about modern armed forces."

One bright spot for Moscow, however, is a report that Iraqi forces used Russian-made Kornet laser-guided antitank missiles to destroy several Abrams tanks during the fighting. This has excited Russian arms manufacturers, who are already receiving inquiries from Syria and Iran, according to Mr. Shlyikov.

Syria fears it could have reason to need such weapons, in the wake of veiled threats from US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has accused Damascus of aiding the Iraqi government during the war, and of sheltering senior regime figures.

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