Practicing for another war


Kuwaitis: In 1990, Saddam Hussein's forces took this kingdom by surprise. But as a U.S.-led attack on Iraq looms, citizens prepare for the worst.

March 08, 2003|By John Makely | John Makely,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, catching its neighbor unprepared and quickly occupying the country. The United States entered the conflict in January 1991. And within six weeks, Iraqi troops had withdrawn from Kuwait.

The months of occupation were traumatic for Kuwait. Those who could fled, but most lived in fear as Iraqis looted and terrorized the country. Today, 650 Kuwaitis arrested by the Iraqis are still missing.

Now, about 250,000 American troops are setting up camp in Kuwait, gearing up for a possible attack on Iraq. And Kuwait is trying to prepare.

Armored vehicles are scattered through the streets. Residents are buying flashlights, electric generators and bottled water. Cell phone users receive periodic text messages from the Ministry of the Interior, reminding them the country is on alert. "Let us be united against our Enemy," one message says.

This time, Kuwait doesn't fear an invasion but an Iraqi attack using missiles carrying chemical or biological weapons. Organizations throughout the country are undergoing civil defense drills, from the airport to schools.

In one drill, Civil Defense officials set trucks on fire at the Saad Al-Abdullah Police Academy in Kuwait City.

It all looked very real, to the consternation of some passers-by, who wondered if war had started once again.

Wire reports contributed to this article.

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