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Nikkei and Dow comparison,1990 and 2002, page-15

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    Agree about ideal time, if there is going to be a Middle east war, but with all that is now going on behind the scenes, I doubt very much the outbreak of war with Iraq.

    Ever since President Mubarak went to the US in mid-May, small signals of a changing foreign policy outlook have sbeen emerging, resulting in President Bush's recent "a State in question" speech.

    Behind the scenes, Israel is now repatriating collected Palestinian taxes, and is looking at what is being done on the West Bank. Resistance to the internal movement of people has softened.

    On the PLA side, the rhetoric concerning Chairman Arafat has erred towards everybody finding an acceptable comromise which, in all likelihood, will see Chairman Arafat move to the role of Head of State (symbolic), whilst ushering in a more involved, and concered leadership (ie: in the quest for peace).

    Even this weekend past, there has been much talk concerning the PLA security chief currently in Israeli custody being released via an all encompassing agreement involving Hezbelloah (including repatriation of prisoners, etc).

    It would, therefore, not surprise me to see an independent Palestinian State talking formative shape before year's end, with a likely independence date of 1 January 2003.

    Immediately upon being formed, the new State would be recognised by the USA and by Israel, as well as by the leadership of most Middle Eastern nations (led by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria), as well as the EU, etc.

    A trade-off against securing the independence of Palestine, however, will be a comprehensive security accord with Israel, as well as a non-agression commitment towards Iraq. Also, as part of the trade-off, the Arab League (as it currently exists) is likely to take matters into its own hands in ensuring Iraqi compliance in the future.

    In effect, through securing the future of Palestine, it is likely that a comprehensive Middle East will emerge, and the former grand alliance involving the moderate Middle Eastern nations and the US will be rekindled.

    Threatening this, however, will be the following:
    aggressive Iraqi behaviour (ie: sabre-rattling towards Kuwait, or the Kurds in the north);
    internal Saudi unrest (ie: internal de-stablisation, including that promoted by Iraq); and /or
    internal Turkish unrest (such as that which Turkey is presently at risk of), but again fuelled by vested Iraqi interests.

    Of these, 1) is unlikely, 2) is probable, and 3) is at risk of happening (leading to south-easterly destabilisation with Iraq, northern destablisation with Greece, and south-westerly destablisation with Syria).

    But, as for war breaking out, I consider this unlikely (at least in the Middle East environment).
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