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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Middle East a hotbed of conflict, then and now

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  • Anyone keeping up with world events is aware that a nation in the volatile Middle East has invaded another political entity and people are being killed.
    That is not news from that region, as people living there have been warring with each other for thousands of years.
    The current bloodshed is caused by rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, into Israel. Hamas has also been digging tunnels into Israeli territory and sending fighters through them to kill Israeli citizens. So, Israel invaded Gaza, and fighting continues.
    But, this column is not about the current conflict in the Middle East. Twenty-four years ago, on Aug. 2, 1990, what became known as the Gulf War began.
    It began when a Middle East nation, Iraq, summarily and without warning invaded its tiny neighbor, Kuwait. In a predawn assault, some 100,000 Iraqi troops crossed the border into Kuwait after several weeks of negotiations.
    When negotiations fail, military action usually has resulted. Iraqi infantry attacked, along with some 300 tanks, as another Middle East conflict began.
    The Iraqis had been building up forces along the border in preparation for an attack, but Western intelligence agencies failed to predict a cross-border invasion. Most interpreted the buildup as an incentive for Kuwaiti officials to cave to Iraqi demands at the conference table.
    One who did predict an Iraqi invasion was Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who said so to U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. But, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had assured U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie that Iraq would not invade Kuwait.
    A senior White House official admitted privately that “the administration was confused.”
    To quote one of my favorite TV characters, "NCIS"’s Jethro Gibbs, "Ya think?” Those who plan to do harm to others always preface an action by attempting to confuse the other party.
    The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reported the situation was serious, but did not believe Iraq would invade Kuwait.
    The Central Intelligence Agency, analyzing the same data, believed an invasion was planned, and even imminent.
    On Aug. 1, Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Sadiq Al-Mashat met with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., and downplayed reports of Iraqi troop movements to the border and blamed American rhetoric for causing anxieties among D.C. officials.
    All the posturing and bluster was ended at 2 a.m. Aug. 2, 1990, when the 100,000 Iraqi troops and 300 tanks raced across the virtually undefended border with Kuwait. Why should it have been defended?
    Iraq was a peaceful neighbor. Back to Gibbs: “Ya think?”
    Kuwait City was 70 miles from the border, and as dawn broke Iraqi fighter jets and other attack aircraft flew air cover over the rapidly advancing troops. Another Middle East conflict had begun.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Iraqi onslaught was opposed by Kuwait’s force of some 20,000 men, which pretty much meant it was unopposed. The entire population of Kuwait was smaller than the number of Iraqi soldiers in the invasion force.
    It was no contest.
    Kuwait was quickly overrun, and a brutal occupation ensued. The U.N. met in emergency session and passed 12 resolutions against Iraq, which did nothing to stop the pillage and plunder of the helpless country.
    The Iraqis stripped everything of value from Kuwait and transported it to Iraq. The world was shocked, and slow to react, but react it did.
    More on this later.

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