RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA -- In waging war to force Iraq from Kuwait, the United States risks entering a period of extreme danger in its relations with the Arab and Moslem worlds that could turn a U.S. military victory into political adversity, according to Arab and Western analysts in the region.

The risks include immediate attacks on U.S. facilities and citizens through terrorism and violent demonstrations, as well as greater instability in the Middle East over the longer term because of popular revolts, an increase in Islamic fundamentalist influence and sabotage aimed at Arab states that joined Washington in the conflict.

The extent of damage to U.S.-Arab relations will depend, these analysts said, on several factors. These include the length of the war, the number of casualties, the duration of any U.S. occupation of Iraqi territory following battle, and the degree to which Iraq's military capabilities, which undergird its role as a regional power, are destroyed.

The anti-U.S. backlash also will be greatly influenced by postwar developments, including how Iraq is treated after defeat, the role of the United States in regional security arrangements, and, most important, Washington's handling of the Palestinian issue after the crisis, the officials added.

"A short war will arouse emotions to fever pitch and the effect will be cathartic and will not be lasting," said a Western envoy here. "A long, grinding war, which takes a large number of casualties, would have a more fundamental and lasting impact," he said. "Then I think you have beyond {the gulf} region, a more fundamental long-term poisoning of U.S. relations with these countries."

"If there is complete or harsh destruction of Iraq, Moslem people from Bangladesh to Morocco are going to blame the Americans and the Saudis, not during, but afterwards," said a Saudi official.

Many senior military and political officials in Egypt and Saudi Arabia display confidence that a rosier scenario will prevail. In their "best-case" scenario, a war to free Kuwait will be short, deaths will be few and the Iraqi military will crumble into mass surrender, leaving it a ready-made core on which to rebuild Iraq's conventional military capability, minus its chemical weapons and nuclear program.

If so, they say, the political fallout for the United States will be far less bleak. And many gulf Arabs, reflecting the self-confidence of their petrodollar wealth that is financing a half-million-strong multinational military force ready to do battle with Iraq, say fears of hostile Arab reaction are exaggerated.

"People are putting too much stock in the Arab world boiling," said one Saudi official. "What are you going to do? Let Iraq stay in Kuwait because you are afraid of the consequences? You have no choice. We don't think the fallout in the Arab world will be as dramatic as some people think. There is only one way to find out. And we think the risk is worth taking because {Iraqi President} Saddam {Hussein} cannot be allowed to keep Kuwait."

A short, low-casualty conflict that leaves Iraq tamed but intact could pave the way for the moderate Arab states of the gulf and Egypt to exert greater influence in intra-Arab affairs, a gulf-based Western diplomat added. Their influence "would be greatly strengthened, and the essential irrelevance of the poorer . . . countries will be illustrated," he said. "After going through hysterical tantrums, these poorer countries will have to make their peace with this new core in the Arab world," he added.Unleashing Emotions Against the West

What makes a U.S. military assault such a delicate decision for Washington is that the Arab world, always volatile and unpredictable, is so bitterly riven and psychologically traumatized by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. With their old assumptions of Arab unity and intra-Arab relations shattered, and no clear vision yet of what ideals should replace them, Arab populations are confused, angry and quick to blame outside powers for their political and economic calamities.

"In a war, you're going to have a visual exercise of imperial power which is going to unleash, in a matter of minutes, emotions stored for years against the British, the Americans and the French," said a Jordanian cabinet minister. "It's going to be hard."Addressing the Palestinian Question

Against such a background, a U.S.-led war that results in Iraq's military evisceration and a high toll in civilian deaths and injuries will be widely seen by Arabs as an attempt by the United States to tip the regional balance of power decisively in favor of Israel. And the moderate Arab allies risk being seen, even by their own populations, as accomplices in this and in permitting an American "double standard" toward Israeli-occupied Arab lands versus Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, Arab analysts said.

The only way to blunt this, these analysts said, is for Washington to move quickly to reach a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on what it has touted as the rules of a "new international order."

"Outrage and hatred of America" are "bound to spread if the war is long or protracted," said Egyptian sociologist Saadeddin Ibrahim. But these feelings "could be contained," Ibrahim added, "if at every point along way, the United States declares its willingness to end unilateral {military} action upon an Iraqi withdrawal" from Kuwait, and "most important of all, if {it} declares its commitment to dealing with the other big issue in the Arab world, settlement of the Palestinian question."

The most dramatic and hostile anti-U.S. reactions could come during the initial, emotion-laden days of war "when pictures of dead Iraqi children are broadcast in the United States and around the Arab world, showing the aggressive American policy against an Arab country to impose {U.S.} dominance," said one European military observer in Cairo. "Sure, it's only propaganda, but how long {after that} do you think you can continue the war?"

If the war becomes bloody and protracted, lasting weeks or months, and cripples Iraq, "the Iraqi people will feel the rest of the Arab world have colluded with the Americans to kill Arabs and they did it in a rush, and {in a way} that benefits Israel and Iran," said former Egyptian presidential spokesman Tahseen Bashir, who argues that economic sanctions are the better way to force Iraq out of Kuwait.

Saddam has threatened to strike against U.S. interests all over the world if Washington attacks, and some radical Palestinian factions allied to Baghdad have declared they will carry out such attacks.

"They mean it. They love it," said Asad Abdul Rahman, an Amman-based Palestinian political analyst. "Whether they can do it or not, hatred has reached a peak. There is an emergence now of new ideology in the Middle East which I call anti-Americanism," Rahman said. It is rooted "in despair and disillusionment" and leads to "a strong feeling for revenge . . . and political nihilism," Rahman added.

A broken Iraq also could lead to popular uprisings that force governments to take a more anti-American line or challenge current rulers, some analysts said. Syrians, for example, are extremely ambivalent about their government's decision to send troops to the U.S.-led multinational force gathered in Saudi Arabia, and are deeply concerned about participating in the destruction of another Arab country.

Former Arab League official Jamil Matar predicts that even in Egypt, the strong popular support for President Hosni Mubarak's anti-Iraq stand "will wither away" if there is a long, bloody war that devastates Iraq. "This would leave Israel the only superpower in the area and it will be difficult to make people swallow that fact, no matter how much they hate Saddam Hussein," Matar said.

Such perceptions also could fuel Islamic fundamentalism, a particularly strong fear in Jordan, where Islamists have become a significant bloc in parliament and, more recently, the cabinet. "If Iraq is destroyed," said one senior adviser to the royal court, "we believe Islamic fundamentalists will find it easy to speak to the masses and convince them that the Americans have done a great destruction in the Arab, Islamic world. Then we feel the interests of the West, as well as the interests of people who are not fundamentalists, will be endangered."