They left their Jaguars and Ferraris at home…

The largest contingent so far of soldiers from neighboring Gulf countries arrived in Kuwait on Sunday, February 23. Despite snide remarks that troops from the oil rich sheikhdoms would turn up driving their own Jaguars and Ferraris, several hundred ground troops, sailors and airmen from the United Arab Emirates arrived at a number of locations around Kuwait City throughout the day. The overall impression one group gave when de-planing at Kuwait Int`l Airport was of a smart, brisk, British-style `spit and polish` force. They are part of Operation Peninsula Shield, a mutual self defense effort in which all countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council participate.
Kuwait Armed Forces spokesman Col. Yussef Al-Mulla stressed the defensive nature of their deployment, “Their mission is not to take part in a US-led attack on Iraq, but to defend Kuwait against any aggression.” It took a special meeting of GCC Defense Ministers in Jeddah two weeks ago to hammer out the details before orders could be signed. debkafile has learned that they will be deployed in the tri-border area in the east of the country where the frontiers of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq meet. The full complement of personnel and equipment will be in place by the end of this week. It will eventually comprise a battalion of mechanized infantry, two guided-missile destroyers with support vessels and a squadron of Apache helicopter gunships. Vehicles, including German built Leopard tanks, arrived on board two chartered Dutch cargo ships at Kuwait`s al-Shuwaikh port.
But Kuwait has other concerns beside the threat from Iraq. The shadow of Al Qaeda is never far away from any part of this region.
Kuwaiti officials are attempting to downplay reports that five of their citizens have recently been transferred from Pakistan to the Camp X-ray facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They join another twelve Kuwaiti nationals already in custody at Camp X-ray since the early stages of operation Enduring Freedom. Kuwait is making a big effort to appear as American as Disneyland. Public buses have been plastered with posters showing battle weary G.I.`s posing with smiling Kuwaiti youngsters – photos snapped twelve years ago this week when a US-led force drove Iraqi occupiers out of the city. The caption declares, “We will never forget.”
Kuwaitis tell outsiders that ninety-nine percent of the population supports the United States in their efforts to topple Saddam. That leaves around 8,000 people who might feel motivated to take up arms or otherwise voice their displeasure at the US military build-up. Two of this one percent minority died after an exchange of fire with US Marines on Faylakah Island last November in which two Americans also died. A Kuwaiti policeman is on trial following the shooting dead of a civilian contractor working with the American forces last month. The defendant is pleading insanity.
The authorities have stepped up security around the country and especially in places with high concentrations of expatriates. Units of the National Guard are very visible at major intersections and around hotels favoured by visiting businessmen and the media. At night they man roadblocks carrying out random checks on vehicles. A former Kuwaiti diplomat described being stopped at a roadblock and cast doubt on their effectiveness. “The soldiers asked if we had any foreigners in the car,” he said. “When I replied we were all from Kuwait, he waived us on, but the guys who shot the Americans were Kuwaitis!”

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