SPECIAL ANALYSIS - IRAQ: PROSPECTS FOR INSTABILITY

Created: 1/1/1986

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Special Analysis

I

tor Instability

Discontent In Iraq willranajor victory In its expected offensive.ajor Iranian defeat would be able to revive Iraqi morale. I

Iraqis are weary of the war. .They" can see no end to the fighting that has costasualties in sixso lar this yoar. The losses are starting to strain the ability ol Iraq to keep Its lorces at fighting

Iran's capture of the Iraqi port of Al Faw In February and recapture of the Iranian town of Mehran in July have caused the Iraqis' morale to decline, although the success of Iraq's recent air campaign against Iranian economic targets may have taken some of the sting out of

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Austerity measures stemming from lower, oil revenues are compounding the burden on traqPcltlzans. Rising prices, shortages of consumer goods, and reduced public services have made il more difficult for the regime to sustain support for.the war.|BfHfH|

These setbacks have led to sharply increased grumbling among Civilians and military personnel about President Saddam Husayn's inaqoment ot the worl

lams firm control the ruthless security servicesjhas nevertheless discouraged direct challenges to his rule. |

If Iraq experiences another major battlefield defeat like Al Faw, however. Saddam will face mounting opposition from senior civilian and military officials. At an extraordinary Ba'thist Party congress last summer, critics wrested from him some economic and military decision making powers|

Assassination attempts

lossesaddam's grip on power is perceived lo be weakening.

A significant battlefield victory would raise Iraqi spirits sharply, particularly if it cost lew Iraqi lives. If there were no subsequent Iranian preparations tor another major offensive, Iraqi enthusiasm would probably last for several weeks or months. Nonetheless, without some sign that the war will end, continuing casualties will eventually take their ton and increase the likelihood of internal instability.

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