Mideast Notebook: Kuwait's newspapers trumpet end of Saddam's regime
April 13, 2003
KUWAIT CITY — The English-language newspapers in Kuwait have trumpeted the entry of troops into Baghdad about as loudly as anything can be trumpeted in print.
Photos of Americans in Saddam’s palaces seem nearly life-size, reproduced to fill an entire page of the broader than normal broadsheets.
The Kuwait Times uncorked the red ink can to embolden its headline Thursday: “Saddam off pedestal.”
The Arab Times lead headline referred to “our liberation.”
Their triumphant tone comes nearly 13 years after their now-humbled neighbor to the north swept across the border and occupied Kuwait.
It is not hard to find reminders of that unfriendly occupation. Photographic records show the damage caused by the invasion, occupation and ultimate retreat.
Several hotels display photos in the now-refurbished grandeur of their lobbies of the place as it appeared a dozen years ago, tattered and torn, before an earlier U.S.-led coalition under orders from a previous President Bush pushed out the Iraqis.
There is no sign here of the angst and anger at this war seen in other Arab nations.
In the pages of the newspapers, at least, the war now being fought in the deserts, mountains and cities of Iraq is simply a continuation of the previous one, picked up again after a 12-year lull.
The newspapers subscribe to many of the world’s wire services, but the stories they produce on their own are the most revealing of the country’s mood.
Kuwait is the “happiest” Arab country, one story claimed. It has no problem with the war and looks forward to whatever comes next, assuming it has to be better than the regime that has kept Kuwait trembling in fear.
Kuwait’s foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, said “our hearts are filled with joy” for the Iraqi brothers, the Kuwait Times reported.
Both newspapers carried stories of Kuwait’s insistence that whatever government takes hold across the border be made to adhere to U.N. requirements forbidding Iraq from buying, building or storing weapons of mass destruction.
Distrust and fear die hard.
In a front-page editorial, Ahmed Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Arab Times, gave his explanation for why the Iraqi military “melted like butter” when facing U.S. Marines.
Saddam’s forces, he wrote, were designed merely to protect the Baath Party regime from the people it ruled.
“They were not intended to protect Iraq and fight the enemy,” Al-Jarallah said. Another point of view came from a column Thursday in the Arab Times by Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli, the former oil minister in Kuwait. He told of Daniel Pepper, an American Jew, as he is described, who traveled to Iraq to act as a human shield.
Pepper’s eyes were opened to the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam’s iron-fisted rule, Al-Baghli wrote. He said Pepper returned home before the war with a new attitude, wondering how many people against the war really understand the situation.
Al-Baghli wondered how many Arabs protesting the war — “shouting brothers,” he calls them — understand what life is like in Iraq.
And, he wondered, how many of them will have the courage of Daniel Pepper to admit their mistake now that Saddam is out.
“I believe,” he wrote, “the answer is nobody.”