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term strategic gains for America and
Israel. Saddam's capture dramatically
enhances America's credibility in the
region, and that, he says, "is a boost
for American deterrence and, by asso-
ciation, for Israeli deterrence too."
If, despite the expert assessments,
the United States is able, within a
year or so, to put into place a gen-
uine, functioning democracy in Iraq,
that would send a very important
message across the Middle East.
There's even an outside chance that a
pro-American Iraq might even seek
relations with Israel. And that, in
turn, would be certain to impact on
Bashar Assad's Syria.
In a recent New York Times inter-
view, Assad spoke of peace with Israel
as a strategic choice his father had
made, and one he intended to pursue.
A democratic Iraq, at peace with
Israel, would give him added incen-
But, say the experts, capturing
Saddam is only one necessary step in
that direction. There is still a long
way to go.
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deep and the feet are heavy. He wants
to, but it's not easy for him."
In congratulating President Bush,
Sharon suggested that Saddam's cap-
ture could herald the beginning of the
end for dictatorships throughout the
Middle East, with major strategic
benefits for Israel.
In a veiled allusion to neighboring
Syria, Sharon said, "The dictator-
ships, and especially those tainted by
terror, learned an historic lesson
today: The enlightened international
community showed that it can defend
freedom and defeat terror when it has
But the analysts have their doubts.
They are skeptical about the chances
of a democratic Iraq emerging from
the chaos, let alone setting off a
domino effect of democratization
across the region
Yediot Achronot's Alex Fishman
wrote that "Saddam's capture is not
an earthquake, not in Iraq and cer-
tainly not in the Middle East. Its
impact on our regional conflict is
marginal, at most."
Alpher assumes that Saddam's cap-
ture will not have an appreciable
impact on the terrorist attacks against
U.S. forces in Iraq. "After watching
Saddam on television, my initial sense
is that he has been in deep hiding and
that he could not have been a major
moving force in the guerilla attacks,"
"And we all know that a good por-
tion of the elements fighting the
Americans in Iraq today have nothing
to do with Saddam and the Ba'ath
Alpher pointed out that the Sunni
Muslims who have ruled Iraq for 13
centuries are a minority and, even
without Saddam to egg them on, they
fear that American-style democracy
would lead to their removal from
power — reason enough to continue
a rearguard action to resist democracy.
"It takes a stretch of the imagina-
tion that Saddam's capture is going to
put the democratic domino effect
back on track," Alpher said. "That I
don't see happening."
Still, Alpher says he sees major short-
them, h depar t u re from the scene
could strengthen the Arab moder-
ates in Iraq and elsewhere. Those
are leaders most willing to compro-
mise in making peace with Israel.
This has potential to end decades of
enmity and anti-Jewish education
and incitement in the Arab world.
--- Allan Gale, Jewish Community
Council of Metropolitan Detroit