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Chinese experts surprised at Iraqi regime collapse
   CCTV.COM   2003-04-11 13:04:25   
    After 22 days of war on Iraq, the US-led allied forces have achieved some of their major objectives -- a relatively small force has seized nearly two-thirds of a country, the size of California, including its capital, suffering just over 100 killed in combat and accidents. The dramatic occupation of Baghdad has surprised many, including Chinese experts.

    The scene only took a matter of seconds, but for the Baghdad's 5 million residents, the world changed. Onlookers watched as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's statue toppled to the ground, symbolizing the collapse of the Iraqi government.

    Many are in disbelief including several Chinese experts. Some say if the disappearance of Iraqi resistance was all part of a planned military tactic, then Saddam Hussein has made a strategic mistake, for occupation of Baghdad is seen as the beginning of the end.

    Tao Wenzhao, professor and political analyst: "Baghdad is the capital and symbol of Saddam's regime. If the capital is occupied, I can hardly imagine the resistance from other cities, including Sadam's hometown of Tikirit, has any important meaning."

    For the past three weeks, the US-led coalition forces prepared for an urban war in Baghdad. But it has so far turned out to be a false prediction. Allied forces did not meet organized resistance in Baghdad, nor did they receive organized surrender or welcome. The Iraqi government, its army, intelligence services and information centers have simply vanished. Where are the Iraqi fighters? And where are his elite troops and equipment hidden?

    Many think the uncertainty could bear a potential threat of revenge from Saddam's loyalists. And others believe that Iraq simply does not have the capability to resist.

    Despite their immediate success, American military officials have remained cautious about declaring victory in Iraq. Even in Baghdad, fighting has not subsided entirely. US Marines patrolling the center of the capital are faced with constant scattered attacks.

    Some Chinese military analysts say it is just too early to say the war is over. Some even predict more tough fighting ahead.

    Zhang Zhaozhong, military analyst: "There still could be major battles in the north, with small-scale actions likely to continue. The major cities of northern Iraq, are still in the hands of Saddam Hussein's government, and the battle for Tikrit, the Iraqi president's hometown about 90 miles north of Baghdad, could be particularly fierce."

    Military analysts say that though many have collapsed without a fight, an enormous arsenal of conventional weapons, such as guns, tanks and missiles, are still hidden around the country.

    The final phase of the campaign could be held in Tikrit, where Saddam's troops might use anything as a last resort. But the US forces can counter with more intensified bombings. The city could also become testing ground for the US Fourth Infantry Division, the most advanced troops en route to the north. For Saddam Hussein and his troops, Tikrit is the best city to stage a last stand.

    Despite the dramatic collapse of authority in Baghdad, there has been a sense that Saddam's three decades of rule in Iraq won't be easy to rid. Many say winning peace and stability in the country may prove to be more difficult than winning the war.

Editor: Yang Feiyang

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