One man's lament: 'We have a worse Kuwait than before'

October 04, 1992|By Doug Struck

KUWAIT CITY -- When an Iraqi was about to shoot one of hi workers, Riad Sultan claimed the man as his son and bribed the soldier not to kill him.

When other Iraqi soldiers came for Mr. Sultan, his employees hid him and took blows intended for their boss.

The endurance of the Kuwaiti supermarket owner and his workers during the Iraqi occupation was a lesson in courage. But liberation has not well-rewarded their sacrifice.

"We have a worse Kuwait than before," Mr. Sultan says. "Kuwaitis really worked together during the invasion. But after the invasion, they thought the government would do everything for them."

His house was burglarized two weeks ago, a rare event before dTC the war. Worse crimes happen.

"Everybody walks around with a gun -- a 'piece.' Or a machine gun," he says. "Kuwaitis got used to killing . . . I think they got a taste for it from the Iraqis."

After liberation, much of his Palestinian staff had to leave: "We did the same thing the Iraqis did to us." He sees corruption, laxity, payoffs.

"I thought everyone was going to come back to work with sleeves up," he says. "I expected them to kiss and smile and start working. I expected the best of Kuwait, from the government and the people. Unfortunately, none of it happened."

"This is my country, whatever happens, worst or best. I think what happened made me feel how much I love it," he says. "If the Iraqis come back, I'm going to be on the front line this time."

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