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A different sort of damage.

The after effects of the Iraqi invasion are still keenly felt in Kuwait. Much has been said and written about the high costs of the war and what it will cost the Kuwaitis financially to repair the damage.

The speculation could continue for years, but eventually Kuwait wih restore its financial fortunes. What will never be fully repaired is the psychological damage the Iraqis left behind and the deep-seated fear that what happened once might somehow, some day be allowed to happen again.

Before August 1990 border skirmishes between Kuwait and Iraq were not unusual but Saddam Hussein was not considered a serious threat. Kuwait and Iraq were after all neighbours, both Arab countries, part of the great Arab nation and with Islam in common, not to mention almost a decade of generous financial support from the former to the latter during its protracted war with Iran. Today the feeling in Kuwait is very different.

Invasion fears haunt the population. Official statements by Kuwaiti officials emphasis that Iraq still represents a threat, not only to Kuwait but to the whole region. Baghdad has often said it still considers the country to be Iraq's 19th province.

Kuwait's crown prince and prime minister, Sheikh Saad al Abdallah al Sabah, warned during a recent visit to Bahrain: "Those who thought the Iraqi agression was over are wrong because Baghdad's regime does not miss an opportunity to reiterate its aggressive intentions against Kuwait."

Iraq has frequently mounted incursions across the Kuwaiti border since the country's liberation. Kuwait, in retaliation, has started to construct a wall between them. So far the "wall" is a five-metre deep, three-metre wide trench which will run along 207 kilometres of the northern desert border with Iraq. Electronic monitoring devices are also to be installed along its length.

"The wall might be a real one, it might be an electronic one or just a line of barbed wire or trenches," explained Saud al Usaimi, who heads a committee with responsibility for seeing the project completed.

The wall will be paid for by public subscription. Even though the Kuwaiti public is aware the barrier will not be able to prevent military incursion by the Iraqis, it is willing and enthusiastic to finance construction. Twenty-year old Badr al Nasrallah, a Kuwaiti who survived the seven months of Iraqi occupation, summed up popular feeling. "I know it will not stop an attack like the invasion but I feel relieved to know there will be a barrier between me and them".

According to Dr Adnan Shatti from the Psychology Department of Kuwait University, the wall symbolizes the prevailing psychological condition of Kuwaitis. "People are beginning to hate everything about Iraq even to the extent of changing the name of a popular recipe from Iraqi kebab to Arabian kebab. They still live with the memory of the invasion. It [the trench] is more of a psychological fence to fend off fear, but it will have no value... it only further betrays the feeling of fear", Dr Shatti notes.

At Kuwait city's Amiri hospital, Dr Islam Al Bahou believes that psychological stress contributes greatly to the illnesses suffered by many of the patients he sees. Dr Bahou explained that 75% of people treated in Kuwaiti hospitals complain of ailments which could be attributed to psychological factors resulting from the Iraqi invasion.

A sharp increase in crime, particularly among juveniles, has also been recorded since the invasion. This, say the experts, is directly attributable to the vulnerable position of many hundreds of children and young people whose orderly lifes were thrown into total disarray when the Iraqis invaded. Those that did not personally witness violence undoubtedly listened to lurid reports of rape, murder and pillage. Regrettably, it causes them to call into question the whole issue of previously firmly-held moral beliefs.
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Title Annotation:Iraqi attacks on Kuwait
Publication:The Middle East
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Kuwait's road to recovery.
Next Article:Prisoners in Baghdad.

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