Nov 25, 2002
On November 21, two uniformed U.S. Army soldiers were shot and seriously wounded by a Kuwaiti policeman, who was then reported to have fled to Saudi Arabia.
According to Kuwaiti and U.S. officials, this attack against U.S. soldiers in Kuwait is an aberration. Said Kuwaiti Defense Minister Sheik Jaber al-Amad al-Sabah after the attack, "... the [Kuwaiti] people share the government's position about seeking help from the American forces to bolster Kuwait's security and independence."However, this was not the first attack in Kuwait against U.S. troops. Six weeks before, one marine was killed and another was wounded when several Kuwaiti gunmen opened fire on U.S. marines on the Kuwaiti island of Faylakah, while the marines were carrying out training exercises in urban warfare. Access to the island had been restricted to U.S. forces and only those Kuwaitis with special security clearances.
There have been several other incidents like these in the past few months. In addition, U.S. troops have regularly complained that they have been fired on near their bases. U.S. and Kuwaiti officials dismiss these as gun shots from hunters or people celebrating.
In fact, there has been an undeclared war going on in Kuwait. The number of U.S. troops inside the country has more than doubled to over 12,000 in just a few short months. The U.S. military has already taken over the entire western part of the small country, about 750 square miles, and the U.S. is building a massive new military base in Arifjan to house the newly arriving new troops.
U.S. and Kuwaiti officials may try to portray the U.S. as the supposed "liberator" of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. They may claim that the U.S. is merely protecting Kuwait from Iraq. But, obviously, many in Kuwait do not agree. This is reflected not just by the shootings of U.S. forces by Kuwaitis, but by the actions of the Kuwait government itself. Earlier this fall, for example, the Kuwaiti government bowed to the Kuwaiti population's opposition, announcing that it opposed any U.S.-sponsored war against Iraq. Of course, the Kuwaiti government was not really going to oppose the Bush administration, and it quickly fell into line. But the real mark of the situation in Kuwait is the government crackdown inside the country against all opposition. The Kuwaiti government even closed down the local news bureau of the Al Jazeera satellite television station, simply because it reported that the U.S. military had taken over a quarter of the country's territory for military exercises.
A day after the most recent incident, the U.S. news media covered the deployment to Kuwait of several hundred combat-trained marines from Camp Pendleton in California. While the flags waved and the brass bands played, one wife confided to a reporter from the Los Angeles Times that "everybody's worried sick."And well they should be. For U.S. troops are being sent thousands of miles away to a region where undoubtedly most of the population considers them to be the invaders and occupiers of their country.