Table of Contents

 

 

 

The Gulf War:

Overreaction & Excessiveness

By Hassan A El-Najjar

Amazone Press, 2001

The Root of Subsequent US Invasion of the Middle East

How America was dragged into conflict

 with the Arab and Muslim worlds

========

CHAPTER X

PALESTINIANS IN KUWAIT:

 TERROR AND ETHNIC CLEANSING

 

Following the 1991 Gulf War, Palestinians in Kuwait were reduced from a thriving immigrant community of more than 400,000 to less than 30,000 in 1998. Kuwaitis forced them out of the country using a systematic and violent campaign of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinian official support for Iraq during the crisis was used as an excuse for that campaign.

     The Kuwaiti atrocities[1] started during the crisis in 1990 but intensified as soon as the war ended in February 28, 1991. The terror campaign was shielded in the West by a censored and euphoric media. While television networks were extensive in their coverage of the war, they did very little to cover the Kuwaiti campaign against Palestinians. A few number of newspapers covered major events but they were not systematic. More important is that this subject is still avoided not only by the media but also by the coalition leaders. This chapter explores that dark stage of inter-Arab relations. It starts with an introduction about how Palestinians came to Kuwait to become the largest Palestinian community outside Palestine and Jordan. This is followed by a comprehensive documentation of the campaign that has been avoided so far by the authors who wrote about the Gulf War. The chapter ends with an analysis of the Kuwaiti official explanations of the atrocities. 

Coming to Kuwait 

     Palestinians came to Kuwait early in the twentieth century. In 1932, the Mufti of Palestine, Haj Amin Al- Hussaini, toured Islamic countries collecting donations for repairing Al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem. Muslims everywhere competed for participating in that endeavor. Shaikh Ahmed Al-Jaber, ruler of Kuwait at that time, invited the Mufti to come to Kuwait for that purpose. Following that visit, the Shaikh requested him to send a number of Palestinian educators to Kuwait.[2] In response, the first Palestinians arrived in 1936, as explained in Appendix X.A.

     However, the first major wave of Palestinian immigrants came as a result of the 1948 war. The establishment of Israel in that year changed the vast majority of the Palestinian people into refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In order to remove them from the borders of Israel, the United Nations (UN) planned for their emigration to other parts of the Middle East. An ambitious educational program was adopted to prepare them for integration in the economies of the area, particularly those of the oil-rich Arab states. The UN educational program was so successful that the Palestinian level of higher education in the 1970s was among the highest in the world. The ratio of Palestinian college students to the general Palestinian population was 20/1000 in 1977. Among the refugee segment of the population, it was even higher reaching about 47/1000 in 1986.[3] For other leading societies, the ratio was 30/1000 for the U.S., 18/1000 for USSR, 9/1000 for France, 8/1000 for England, and 4/1000 for the Arab states as a whole.[4]

     Majority of the early Palestinians who emigrated to Kuwait, in the 1950s, were men. While many of them were young and unmarried, most of the married had left their families in Palestine or other neighboring Arab states. They came to Kuwait to make a living and to save up some money to send back home. They did not think about settling there. Therefore, they led a restricted social life that contributed little to their integration into the Kuwaiti society. The Palestinian teachers in the Kuwaiti island of Failaka represented this category of early immigrants. They lived together in one home in order to save up some money to help their families or their parents, back home. Once, they invited a British social anthropologist, Peter Lienhardt, to their place of residence. To his surprise, he discovered that they were not thinking about their life in Kuwait. Rather, it was Palestine that was living in their minds. It was very important for them to explain to him how the problem of Palestine started. They told him that Britain was responsible for the Palestinian problem. Through the 1917 Balfour declaration, Britain adopted the Zionist project that aimed at the establishment of Israel on the expense of the Palestinian people. They also blamed the United States for supporting Israel.[5] The behavior of these Palestinians in Kuwait, in the 1950s, may be considered representative of the behavior of Palestinians elsewhere until the late 1960s. They could not believe the injustice committed by Britain, the U.S., and Israel against them. Their country was taken from them by force; then, they were evicted from their towns and villages to live in refugee camps. Moreover, they were expected to forget the whole problem and live quietly in their camps. However, they have not accepted that unjust arrangement and decided to become self-reliant. Education enabled them to achieve that goal through getting jobs abroad. They were the pioneers who inspired younger generations of Palestinians to pursue higher education as the salvation from the humiliation and poverty in the refugee camps.

     Throughout the 1950s, Palestinians were treated very well by Kuwaitis to the extent that the first Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman, Ahmed Al-Shukairi, expressed his gratitude for that treatment during his visit to Kuwait in 1964. His host Shaikh Sabah Al-Salem, then Foreign Minister and later the Emir, replied that Palestinians deserved to be well treated because of their skills and hard work. "Look at them. Among them is the best surgeon, the best doctor, and the best administrator. Without these skills, they would not have been appointed to these positions," he said.[6] In recognition for their sincere services, about two thousand of the Palestinian pioneers were granted the Kuwaiti citizenship.[7]

     These pioneers in Kuwait and other Gulf states played a major role in leading the Palestinian people in the struggle for their rights in Palestine. They participated in the establishment of various Palestinian political parties and organizations. Actually, Yasser Arafat and several other Palestinian leaders worked in Kuwait. Like other oil-rich Arab states, Kuwait was also the destination of many Palestinians who were looking for employment. Some of these reached Kuwait through very long and dangerous underground roads since several Arab states restricted their movement following the 1948 war. They ventured through the deserts of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq in order to avoid border checkpoints. Many of them died or were arrested then brought back to their camps, villages, or towns. The stories of these men inspired the Palestinian writer, Ghassan Kanafani, to write his novel, "Men under the Sun," in which he described these adventures.[8] Kanafani himself was an example of these pioneer leaders, as explained in Appendix X.B.

     By the end of the 1960s, Palestinians graduating from colleges and universities constituted the major Arab group of contenders for jobs in the economies of the oil-exporting Arab states, including Kuwait. The 1967 war convinced Palestinians that their stay in these states was becoming permanent. Their behavior started to change from using practical tactics for temporary stay to adopting strategies that aimed at permanent residence there. This meant that after getting jobs, Palestinian employees would get married or bring families, rent homes or apartments, and spend most of their income wherever they lived. In spite of their attempt to be permanent residents, Kuwait and the other Gulf states did not grant the vast majority of immigrants, including Palestinians, a permanent-resident status or citizenship. They had to live officially as temporary residents no matter how long they stayed in the country, even if they were born there. 

Four Waves of Palestinian Emigration 

     Palestinians experienced four main waves of emigration as a result of the 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1982 wars. The first wave followed the 1948 war, which was the culmination of developments that go back to the beginning of the century. On November 2, 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration in which it promised to help create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This led to the Palestinian struggle in order to gain independence from the British and to protect the unity of the country. Neither of these goals was achieved. Instead, the 1948 war resulted in the biggest Palestinian suffering. About one million Palestinians became refugees. Their homes and possessions were either destroyed or confiscated by the Israelis. After the war, they were neither allowed to return to their towns and villages nor were they compensated for the loss of their possessions, as called for by the UN resolution 194. Thus, they have remained in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria ever since.[9]

     The second wave of Palestinian emigration was in 1956 when Israel participated with Britain and France in attacking Egypt. On their way to the Suez Canal, the Israelis occupied the Gaza Strip. As a result, hundreds of Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured. This led many Palestinians to leave the Strip to Jordan and other countries, including Kuwait. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had to go through the same bitter experience for the third time, a decade later. During the 1967 war, Israel occupied the Arab territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai, and the Syrian Heights. The Israeli occupation split families and made their union impossible. People had to choose between being under the Israeli occupation, thus staying separated from other migrant members of their families, or leaving the occupied territories to be united with other family members or relatives abroad. A new wave of Palestinian emigration started first to Jordan, then to other countries, particularly to the oil-exporting Arab states. This was the time when the largest influx of Palestinians to Kuwait happened. That wave of immigrants was different from the previous ones in that it included more women and children. Additionally, more temporary immigrants became permanent. Successive Israeli governments adopted a policy of uprooting Palestinians. People were given travel permits for three-year periods. As a result, many of them lost their residence status in the occupied territories when they stayed abroad for more than three years.[10]

     The fourth Palestinian wave of immigration resulted from the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Many Palestinians left Lebanon to several countries all over the world but few of them went to Kuwait, as Kuwaitis were determined not to receive them this time. By 1982, the 4.4 million Palestinians were uncomfortably dispersed in the Middle East and around the world. Various countries tried hard to keep the status quo by restricting their movement. Kuwait, for example, had 299,710 Palestinians who constituted about 22 percent of the population. This was the second largest Palestinian community outside Palestine and Jordan. Lebanon had the largest community, which numbered 358,207 constituting about 11 percent of the population (Table X.1).

     Kuwaitis started to fear that Palestinians may exceed them in number. This would mean a serious demographic challenge to the Kuwaiti population. Actually, by 1990, Palestinians became very close to Kuwaitis in number. While Kuwaiti citizens were about 564,262, Palestinians reached about 450,000 (Table X.2; Table I.2). The Kuwaiti government could have solved the problem of demographic imbalance by granting citizenship to qualified immigrants. However, it decided not to do so. In addition, it took several measures that aimed at decreasing the entry of Palestinians into the country and making their stay there more difficult. Moreover, Kuwaiti officials started planning to get rid of the Palestinians altogether. The Palestinian official support for Iraq during the 1990 crisis gave them the excuse they were looking for to evict the entire Palestinian community from the country. 

The Campaign of Ethnic Cleansing 

     The Kuwaiti government has succeeded in creating and perpetuating an ethnic identity for its citizens that has distinguished them from Arab immigrants. Hundreds of thousands of these immigrants were subjected to a terror campaign after the 1991 war that led to forcing them out of the country. Thus, the term "Ethnic Cleansing" is not an oversight or an exaggeration. It refers to the eviction of Arab immigrants, mainly Palestinians, from Kuwait following the Gulf War. Actually, the word "cleansing" itself was used by the Emir (ruler) of Kuwait in describing the eviction.[11] Several Kuwaiti officials were cited in the Western media using the same word in their description of the eviction campaign.[12]

Before the war 

     Before the 1990 crisis, some official sources estimated that Palestinians in Kuwait were about 400,000,[13] others estimated them to be about 450,000.[14] Between the beginning of summer of 1990 and the start of the war on January 17, 1991, many Palestinians were either on vacation outside Kuwait or left the country because of the crisis. Majority of them left to Jordan because they were Jordanian nationals. Following the war, the remaining Palestinians were estimated at about 180,000.[15] However, most of them left during 1991, as a result of the campaign that aimed at evicting them from the country. By April, they became about 150,000[16] and by August, they were reduced to about 100,000.[17] Some Kuwaiti officials, like Said Abdul-Aziz Abu-Abbas of the Defense Ministry, revealed from the beginning that only 30,000 would be allowed to stay.[18] According to a Western diplomat, only about 15,000 to 20,000 essential Palestinians would be allowed to stay in the country.[19]  By 1995, there were only 26,000 Palestinians in Kuwait (Table X.1), which confirmed the above-mentioned Kuwaiti plans of eviction.

     Those who remained were mainly from occupied Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and Lebanon. They stayed because they could not find any country that would accept them, particularly the countries which host or control the main Palestinian communities in the Middle East: namely Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

     The Israeli policy focused on dispersing Palestinians rather than allowing them to come back to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[20] Jordan allowed only Palestinians with Jordanian passports to stay. The total number of Palestinians who came to Jordan was about 360,000.  While about 300,000 stayed in Jordan, about 4,000 went to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. About 21,000 immigrated to Canada, Australia, and other developed societies. The U.S. received 2,200 of these, mainly because they had American-born family members, as mentioned in Appendix X.C. The rest returned to the Palestinian occupied territories.[21]

     Egypt and Lebanon, which used to issue travel documents to Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, did not give them return visas. Thus, they could not enter these two states. More important was the fact that these Palestinians did not have any other home than Kuwait. For them, leaving would mean becoming homeless and jobless. Many of them experienced that difficult situation in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1982. They did not want to be exposed to that humiliation again in 1991. This is why they stayed when Kuwaitis were leaving. During the first hours of the Iraqi invasion, the Kuwaiti government left to Saudi Arabia. This encouraged Kuwaitis to leave the country, as well. They received financial aid from their government (in-exile) and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. No government offered Palestinians any help; therefore, they had no other alternative but to stay in Kuwait throughout the crisis, the war, and the stage of persecution that followed.

     A terror campaign against Palestinians in Kuwait started during the Iraqi rule. They were the target of several explosions that also killed Iraqis and workers from other countries. In particular, the Kuwaiti resistance was responsible for four major explosions and several small explosions before the war. The explosions occurred in the predominantly-Palestinian neighborhoods of Al-Adasani, Al-Hassawi, Khitan, and Amman Street. They resulted in Killing 46 and injuring 99 people most of whom were Palestinians.

     The first explosion was in October 1990 in Al-Hassawi neighborhood, which was inhabited by Palestinians and workers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Sudan. The explosion resulted in killing twenty-two and wounding thirty-five people. There were five Palestinians and four Iraqis among the dead. The rest were from different nationalities. The Second explosion was also in October and occurred in Al-Adasani neighborhood, which was inhabited mainly by Palestinians. It resulted in killing three and wounding twenty-three Palestinians and one Indian. The third explosion was in November 1990, in Al-Hassawi neighborhood, killing seven and wounding thirty-seven people. While majority of the injured were Palestinians, the dead were four Iraqis, two Palestinians, and one Kuwaiti. The fourth explosion occurred in Khitan neighborhood, in December 1990. It resulted in killing eleven and wounding eighteen people. Among the dead were six Iraqis, three Palestinians, a Syrian, and an Asian worker. The wounded were eight Palestinians, three Bidoons (without citizenship), two Iraqis, and the rest were Asians. Finally, in January 1991, several small explosions targeted Palestinians in a commercial area known as Amman Street. Six people were killed and twenty were injured the vast majority of whom were Palestinians.[22] 

After the war 

     The terror campaign against Palestinians intensified after the war reaching a persecution stage. The Emir, the Crown Prince, and other senior members of Al-Sabah family led the campaign from the beginning. The Crown Prince reiterated his threats of vengeance against Palestinians of Kuwait in an interview with Robert Fisk of the London newspaper, The Independent, on February 21, 1991. He called for "cleansing" Kuwait of "fifth columnists." On March 13, the Guardian cited government officials expressing the need to "clean out" the Palestinian neighborhoods. On April 3, a Kuwaiti army officer boasted to the American newspaper "USA Today" that the country was being "cleansed" of Palestinians. In his speech of April 8, 1991, the Emir also urged Kuwaitis to continue the campaign of "cleansing" Kuwait of the alleged "fifth columnists." On May 8, 1991, the government newspaper, Sawt Al-Kuwait, claimed that Palestinians committed a collective crime during the crisis when they engaged in a "concerted attempt to cripple Kuwaiti civil disobedience against the Iraqis." In the August 6, 1991 issue, the newspaper stated that Kuwait could not be secure as long as the fifth columnists are still inside the country.[23] Apparently, the "fifth columnists" is a reference to Palestinians, Iraqis, Sudanese, Yemenis, and other Arabs whose countries supported the Iraqi position.

     The terror campaign after the war started as early as the arrival of the Kuwaiti forces on February 26, 1991. Kuwaiti militants were quoted saying that they would shoot suspected Palestinians when they found them in their apartments. Four main militia groups and two state institutions participated in a concerted effort to terrorize and persecute Palestinians in Kuwait. Two of the militias were headed by the state security officers Adel Al-Gallaf and Hussain Al-Dishti. The third was headed by Amin Al-Hindi, a gangster who specialized in rape, torture, stealing, and killing. The fourth was the group known as August 2nd, which specialized in psychological warfare against Palestinians. The army and the police forces represented the two state institutions that were involved in this terror campaign.[24]

     Two Palestinians were shot dead near a traffic circle, on February 27.[25] On March 2, Kuwaiti tanks and soldiers rolled into Palestinian communities, mainly Hawalli. House-to-house searches for weapons and alleged collaborators resulted in the arrest of hundreds of Palestinians.[26] People were also arrested at checkpoints for no reason other than being Palestinians. Typically, they were beaten instantly then taken to police and detention centers where they were tortured for confessions.

     Despite the military censorship, newspapers began to report a dramatic rise in the number of injured Palestinians in Mubarak Hospital.[27] Scores of people were treated from severe beating and torture. Six Palestinians were brought to the Hospital shot dead in the head, execution style.[28] By the third week of March, hundreds of people were treated from torture injuries and thousands stayed in detention centers for interrogation.[29] Amnesty International reported that the torture of Palestinians was continuing in Kuwait by the third week of April. A 24-year-old Palestinian had been beaten for hours, had acid thrown over him, and had been subjected to electric shock torture.[30]

     The terror campaign continued throughout 1991 achieving its main objective: terrorizing Palestinians enough so that they would leave the country. To expedite the process, the government took several other measures to evict those who did not leave. First, Palestinians working for the government were fired or not rehired. Second, Palestinian children were kicked out of public schools and subsidies for their education in private schools were stopped. Third, new fees became required for health services. Fourth, housing rents increased and people were asked by Kuwaiti landlords to pay rent for the entire crisis-period.[31]

     More important were the feelings of injustice and insecurity Palestinians began to experience as a result of the terror campaign. It became unsafe to walk in streets or to stay at home. Rape stories functioned as a decisive pushing factor for the remaining Palestinian families. The "censored" Western media rarely reported on this part of the campaign. The CNN TV network covered one of these rape stories. Lubbadah[32] told the same story together with many others. The Middle East Watch group also told several stories of rape.[33]

     On May 27, 1991, several members of a Kuwaiti militia group entered the apartment of a newly married Palestinian couple. They divided themselves into two groups. One group took the twenty-six year old bride, Najah Yusuf As'ad, to one room where they raped her one after the other then they shot her with nine bullets in the head. The other group took the thirty-year old groom, Muhammed Musa Mahmood Mustafa, to another room where they also raped him one after the other then they shot him with four bullets in his spine. When they finished committing their crimes, they sat in the apartment, drank tea, then called the bride's family several times telling them what happened to their daughter. Another story was about A.M.M., an eighteen-year old Palestinian girl. She was kidnapped and gang-raped for two days then was brought to Mubarak Hospital on May 25, 1991. Her family said that she was kidnapped in front of her house by Kuwaiti young men. A third story was about S.M.A.D., a twelve-year old Palestinian girl, who was also kidnapped in front of her house in Al-Rumaithiyah, on June 6, 1991. She was also gang-raped for two days by a group of Kuwaitis. A fourth story was about F.M.A.F, a fifteen-years old Palestinian girl, who was kidnapped in front of her house in Al-Farwaniyah, on June 4, 1991. She was raped for two days then was brought to Al-Adan Hospital. Finally, a Palestinian woman in her fifties was kidnapped and raped by a group of Kuwaiti men about the same age. A Kuwaiti man approached her offering help. He gave her an address where she can receive social assistance. When she went to the address, she was kidnapped and raped for a week by several Kuwaiti men who then left her in a deserted area.[34]

      The government also intensified its efforts to evict the remaining Palestinians directly through deportation. Between the middle of June and the first week of July 1991, about 10,000 Palestinians were deported to the Iraqi border.[35] On July 8, the Minister of Interior Affairs, Ahmed Hamoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, announced that there were about 1,000 more Palestinians in detention camps waiting for deportation.[36] Actually, these deportations forced tens of thousands of other Palestinians to leave, mainly family members, because they could not practically stay when the head of the household or the main bread winner was deported.

     The deportees were dumped at the Iraqi border near Safwan. Gradually, it became known as the Safwan Refugee Camp. Many of the deportees to this camp were tortured and brutally beaten by Kuwaiti troops. In most cases people were simply "dumped" there without any legal deportation procedures.[37] Typically, people were arrested at checkpoints, then beaten and tortured to admit that they were collaborators. If they did not admit, they would be deported to Safwan Camp.[38] One of the Camp deportees was Fayiz Nadir, a 23-year-old Palestinian. He was burned 10 times with an iron on his arms, feet, and head. Another one was Abdul Qadir, a 30-year-old Algerian. He was arrested together with Fayiz Nadir for two weeks. He saw 109 men in the detention center with their hands tied behind their backs, often blindfolded. When the men were brought to the interrogation, they were kicked and jabbed with gun butts. Electrical wires were put on their fingers and temples. They were given water twice a day and food once every four days.[39] A Sudanese truck driver, Mustafa Hamzah, was arrested and blindfolded for two weeks in the Salmiya Girls' Secondary School. He named the Kuwaiti 1st Lt. Abdul Latif Al-Anzi as the person who was in charge of that detention center. A Palestinian deportee told the New York Human Rights Group that he was tortured in that school. They burned him with a cattle brand, beat him, then dumped him by a roadside.[40]

The Crown Prince and the Goon Squad 

     The Crown Prince returned to Kuwait on March 4, 1991, ten days before the Emir. As the terror campaign increased, he became wary of the atrocities committed against innocent people. Therefore, he issued instructions to Kuwaiti police officers not to mistreat Palestinians on nationality basis only. Nevertheless, police centers became headquarters for the oppression and persecution of Palestinians in the country. On March 19, the government resigned under criticism of inefficiency.[41]

     Abdullah Al-Nibari, who was the spokesman of the opposition group "the Democratic Forum," called for the formation of a national-unity government that would include opposition leaders. Moreover, opposition groups called for the removal of the three senior figures of Al-Sabah family who held the portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Interior ministries. These were Sabah Al-Ahmed, Ali Al-Khalifa, and Nawaf Al-Ahmed, respectively.[42]

     The three shaikhs were unhappy when they knew that they were not included in the new government that was formed on April 1991. In particular, Shaikh Sabah Al-Ahmed was the most outraged. Therefore, he backed the defiance of the Younger Sabahs for the Crown Prince. A new wave of terror started by the militias, the army, and the police against innocent Palestinians in an attempt to disturb the peace the Crown Prince was trying to restore. This provoked the Crown Prince to acknowledge the abuses in a speech aired on TV, on May 26, 1991.[43] He also vowed to prosecute anyone responsible even if he were his only son, Fahd.[44] He added that residents of Kuwait were living in the "shadow of terror, fear, and fright," and that certain elements were detaining residents of Kuwait and handing them over to police stations where they would be "tortured." He also urged the senior officers of the Ministry of Interior Affairs to "remove disillusioned and bad elements in the Ministry who do not want security and stability as much as they want fulfill their desires."[45]

     In defiance, a hysterical wave of persecution against Palestinians spread in the streets, neighborhoods, and homes, the following day. People were beaten, harassed, and taken to police centers to be tortured without any reason other than being Palestinians.[46] Moreover, majority of senior police officers (about 80) presented their resignations, in protest to the Crown Prince's speech. The New York Times4[47] reported that they were fired. However, the biggest defiance to the Crown Prince's bid for peace and public order came from the Young Sabahs, known as the "goon squad."

     As early as March 5, 1991, Kuwaitis became aware of the existence of a group composed of members of Al-Sabah family whose aim was to punish and assassinate opponents, as Chairman of the Gulf Bank of Kuwait Abdul Aziz Sultan told the ABC-TV's "Nightline."[48] According to a Western diplomat, six or seven of the younger members of Al-Sabah family shortly after February 27 commandeered armored personnel carriers and took over army checkpoints to "ferret out and abuse Palestinians." They also formed goon squads to carry out special attacks.[49] Although their names were not published in the American media, the American Embassy in Kuwait gave the Crown Prince a list of them.[50] They were Jarrah, Du'aij Al-Salman, Nasser Al-Ahmed, Ahmed Fahd Al-Ahmed, and Fahd Sa'ad Al-Abdullah, the Crown Prince's son. In addition, Bassil Salem Sabah took over the Nugra Police Center in the largest Palestinian neighborhood.[51] Their militias kidnapped, tortured, and killed Palestinians indiscriminately, without trial or due process.[52]

     The Young Sabahs acted as vigilantes despite warnings from the Crown Prince that they would be hanged "from the lamp-posts" if they continued such acts. The defiance attracted more of the attention of the Crown Prince, Shaikh Sa'ad, to the violent activities of this group.[53] During the last week of March, the Crown Prince met with 11 Palestinians for 45 minutes. He gave them assurances that anyone who would break the law would be punished.[54] He also reiterated that if the Young Sabahs continued in their attacks on innocent people, he would "hang them from the lamp-posts."[55] The "goon squad" was suspected of the assassination attempt on the life of the opposition leader, Hamad Al-Jaw'an.[56] He was shot in the chest during the first week after the war. Before shooting him, the gunman wanted to make himself known to the victim by asking him repeatedly: "Do you know me?" The story was very much similar to the assassination story of the Palestinian dentist, Salim Mukhtar. His assassin also repeatedly asked him: "Do you recognize me?" before shooting him twice in the back of the head, once in the neck, and once in the chest. Salim Mukhtar was a 56-year-old dentist, a writer, and a widely respected figure among Palestinians in Kuwait. He was pulled over by a white Mercedes with blinking (police) blue lights before he was assassinated.[57] Mukhtar was known as the dentist of several members of Al-Sabah family and his assassin knew him very well.[58] 

Results of the Terror Campaign 

     The terror campaign resulted in killing and torturing of thousands of people the vast majority of whom were Palestinians. This is very well documented in hundreds of articles published during 1991 in several newspapers, such as (in an alphabetical order) the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Detroit News, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, and the Washington Post.[59] However, a major criticism that can be raised against the media coverage is that it was censored by the coalition military command. The Boston Globe published an Editor's note about the military censorship. It stated that "press restrictions imposed by the U.S.-led military command in Saudi Arabia require journalists with US troops to work under military escort and to submit their reports to military censors".[60] Appendix X.D explains how that military censorship worked.

     As a result, these articles did not give a systematic coverage that would enable researchers to count casualties and injuries. Moreover, they did not publish names of Kuwaitis, including those members of Al-Sabah family, who were commandeering the campaign. However, the Kuwaiti atrocities were documented in several reports published by international organizations. The first was a report written by Aziz Abu-Hamad, Andrew Whitely, Kenneth Roth, and Ann Lesch for the "Middle East Watch," as a result of visiting Kuwait on March and June of 1991.[61] The second was from the testimonies of Kenenth Roth the deputy director of the "Human Rights Watch," John G. Healey the executive director of "Amnesty International U.S.A.," and Michael Posner the executive director of the "Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights."[62]

     Muhammed Khairi Lubbadah was a Palestinian medical doctor who worked in Mubarak Hospital in Kuwait City for sixteen years. Like thousands of the remaining Palestinians in the country, he was fired from his work in July 1991. His book[63] is a documentation of the atrocities that were committed during the first five months following the return of the Kuwaiti rulers, after the war. The book is based on his work in the Hospital's emergency room. In addition, he benefited from his Palestinian social network, which enabled him to know more information about Palestinian victims than did journalists and human rights groups.

     Dr. Lubbadah estimated that about 4,000 people were killed and 16,000 were tortured in the Kuwaiti detention and interrogation centers. Although most of these were Palestinians, they also included Iraqis, Yemenis, Sudanese, and other Arab immigrants. His evidence was based on his observations as well as the discovery of the mass graves in several cemeteries. In Mushrif and Bayan cemeteries, three mass graves were discovered containing 40, 67, and 110 corpses respectively. In Al-Riqqa cemetery, 20 mass graves were discovered with 110-220 corpses found in each.[64] One support for Lubbadah's figures was a list of about 2,000 Palestinians, which was given to Kuwaiti officials by Palestinian leaders. They were missing since February 26, 1991 and their families believed that they were abducted by Kuwaiti police, soldiers, or militias.[65] Since they could not be located in detention centers, then they might have been dead.

     The Western media reported a much smaller number of victims than Lubbadah did. This may be attributed to the military censorship, which made reporting sporadic and less comprehensive than Lubbadah’s account. Jack Kelley reported that 120 Palestinians were killed, 500 missing, 1,500 jailed, and 6,000 detained from February 26 to the first week of May.[66] About 3,500 of these were arrested at checkpoints, until March 13.[67] The Middle East Watch report mentioned that the total number of corpses found in Al-Riqqa cemetery was 240.[68] The Boston Globe[69] reported that Al-Riqqa mass graves were holding 6-10 each, but these figures represented what was discovered until March 27. The New York Times[70] reported that 20 mass graves were discovered in Al-Riqqa cemetery. Apparently, there was an agreement between Lubbadah’s account and these figures on the number of mass graves, but they were different in the number of corpses in each grave. The truth may never be known unless a Palestinian-led investigation is allowed by the Kuwaiti government. Until this happens, the blood and pains of these victims will continue calling for justice. 

Stories of Terror 

     Victims of the Kuwaiti terror campaign, dead or survivors alike, were brutally tortured. An Amnesty International team testified that starting from February 26, 1991, non-Kuwaitis were brutally tortured by Kuwaiti armed forces and members of resistance groups. People were either gunned down in public or taken away, tortured, and killed in secret. Victims were plucked from their homes, taken from streets or arrested at checkpoints, and tortured in police stations, schools, and other makeshift detention centers. The main methods of torture were beating, electric shocks, prolonged deprivation of food and water. Beatings with sticks, hose pipes, and rifle-butts, and whippings with electric cables appeared to be the norm. Other methods of torture included burning with cigarettes, candles, and acid, cutting with knives, biting, and threats of execution or sexual assault.[71] Torture also included pushing bottles up rectums and dropping hot wax on sensitive parts of the body.[72]

     Dr. Lubbadah mentioned a story about a corpse of a Palestinian young man who was brought to Mubarak Hospital by some militia members. For several days and nights, the young man was tied to the wall naked. Prostitutes were used to arouse him sexually, and then he would be hit with an electric stick on his penis until it bleeds. His shoulder was partially dismembered with ax hits, his left eye was taken out, and his body was covered with cigarette burns.[73]

     A Palestinian medical student, Muhammed Al-Aloul who worked in Mubarak Hospital, said that he treated a Palestinian young man's face with 55 stitches. The patient was accompanied by a Kuwaiti soldier. He also treated a 16-year-old Palestinian with a fractured arm and a cut on his head.[74]

     A Palestinian young man, called Azmi, was taken from his house for no wrongdoing. They took him because they could not find his neighbor. They punctured his lung, hit him with ropes, feet, and sticks. His kidneys failed and his back was a morass of black melts and burns caused by cigarettes and lighters. There were also several cuts and a larger wound covered by a surgical dressing. He had injuries to the head and other parts of his body. Another 39-year-old Palestinian, called Shaker Ali, was also never charged, never glimpsed a courtroom or a magistrate. He was found in the street with bruises all over his body and small internal wounds on the jaw and around the eyes. The big toe nail of his left foot was removed. On his back, there were signs of cigarette burns. His left leg was amputated below the knee because of infection resulting from his injuries, which went untreated for a week. He suffered a kidneys failure due to the beating, which will put him on dialysis for the rest of his life.[75]

     The USA Today reporter, Jack Kelly, visited Ward 18 of the Farwaniya Hospital, which housed the beaten and tortured Palestinians and Iraqis. He found a 60-year-old Iraqi whose skin was darkened with welts and bruises. When he asked the reporter for help, a soldier told him to shut up and escorted the reporter out at gunpoint. He found three Iraqis, two Palestinians, and one Egyptian there. All were badly beaten and tortured by Kuwaiti soldiers. After treating them, they took them back where they were more beaten and tortured. The beatings did not stop at the hospital, doctors said. Soldiers frequently slapped patients on their faces and hit them with rifle butts.[76] 

 Public Relations 

     During the crisis and after the war, the Kuwaiti government worked hard to win the public opinion inside the coalition countries. This provided Kuwaitis with sympathy before the war and a cover-up after. In the United States, the Kuwaiti embassy employed three American public-relations firms, dozens of image-makers, a team of lawyers, and a squad of Washington lobbyists. After the war, the Rendon Group for public relations was contracted to improve the image of Kuwaitis that was damaged as a result of the horrors of the terror campaign.[77]

      In order to get more sympathy, several exaggerated stories were told about suffering in Kuwait. While in exile, the Kuwaiti government maintained that 25,000 citizens were killed or missing. After the war, it became clear that the number of Kuwaitis who were both killed and missing during the Iraqi rule was about two thousands.[78] Also during the Iraqi rule of Kuwait, Amnesty International reported that a large number of Kuwaiti babies died after Iraqi troops had removed them from their incubators at the hospital. A huge Kuwaiti public relations campaign capitalized on that story to the extent that most newspapers, magazines, and TV stations reported it. The climax was presenting the story to the Congress in a public hearing. After the war, Amnesty International apologized for its report because "it found no reliable evidence to support that story."[79] The Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, Saud Nasser Al-Sabah was a major player in that public relations effort. On July 3, USA Today quoted him denying the terror campaign in Kuwait. He said: "I'm yet to be confronted with any case that was committed by a Kuwaiti citizen against any others in Kuwait. I have no evidence whatsoever; nobody has ever confronted me with this. These are speculations and rumors."[80]

     What helped Kuwaitis most in their cover-up campaign was the position of the coalition leaders who brought them back to Kuwait. These leaders did not tell Kuwaitis to stop their atrocities against Palestinians in the country. Chairman of the Middle East Watch, Gary Sick, announced that he sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Richard (Dick) Cheney about the Kuwaiti abuses. In the letter, he complained that the U.S. troops watched the abuses and did not interfere to stop them. He also mentioned the report of the British journalist, Robert Fisk of the Independent, about that. Fisk reported that three Kuwaiti soldiers were beating up a Palestinian boy on a bicycle, on March 4. Fisk and another reporter physically restrained the soldiers but the American Special Forces troops accompanying the Kuwaitis did nothing to help.[81]

     Officially, the American position was represented by the situation that faced the 29-year-old 1st Lt. Charles Hoskinson, a U.S. Army officer, of Fairfax, Virginia. He was approached by a Palestinian woman asking him about her disappeared son. He did nothing except referring her to Kuwaitis. He was caught between Palestinian requests for aid and the American official policy of letting Kuwaitis take over their own affairs.[82] Lt. Col. Ron Smith was one of the 40-member 352nd Civil Affairs Command. His job as an advisor to the Ministry of Interior gave another example of the American position. He and his assistant, Sergeant John Amico, and their Kuwaiti translator Fayiz spent their days bouncing from police stations to detention centers and hospitals. Their job was nothing more than asking questions about what was going on. When the Palestinian dentist Salim Mukhtar was killed, Smith went to Mubarak Hospital to verify the incident. He sighed saying: "All I can do is ask the question and hope that it has an effect."[83]

      However, several American officials disapproved publicly of the Kuwaiti abuses. The U.S. Ambassador Edward Ghnem acknowledged the Kuwaiti abuses. He said that there were "elements out there taking actions on their own ... launching attacks on Palestinians and others."[84] Ambassador Gnehm also told reporters that he had "furnished the (Kuwaiti) Government with the names of places and people. The Government has never denied that these things are going on."[85] When three months passed and the campaign did not stop, Ambassador Gnehm criticized the Kuwaiti human rights abuses openly on June 6, 1991, during a speech in the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce.[86] California Representative Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Relations, protested the abuses in a letter to the Kuwaiti ambassador. He told him: "Our troops did not fight and die to achieve this end."[87]

     In spite of the concern expressed by ambassador Ghnem and some members of Congress, senior members of the Bush administration did not share with them their concern for human rights. During a June 12 Hearing, Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) commented to Secretary of State James Baker that: "Down in Kuwait, the torture and rape ... continues under the Emir." Secretary Baker responded by emphasizing that the war was fought only to combat Iraq, not to establish respect for human rights in Kuwait. This position was also expressed by President Bush. In an interview published in The Orange County Register, the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S. Saud Al-Sabah told Jonathan Broder that President Bush had told him during a visit to the White House, "We didn't fight this war for democracy or those trials. Don't be intimidated by what's going on."[88]

     Even in their accounts or published books about the Gulf war, the political and military leaders of the coalition did not mention anything about these Kuwaiti atrocities. In his book that he authored with Scowcroft[89] and before that in an interview with the Public TV station, PBS, in January 1996, President Bush never mentioned the issue. Secretary of State, James Baker, followed the same strategy of President Bush. Throughout his book,[90] he never mentioned a word about the Kuwaiti terror campaign against Palestinians. General Colin Powell's book[91] was also void of any accounts or remarks about the topic. The Saudi commander of the Arab coalition forces, General Khaled Bin Sultan, also never mentioned the issue in his book.[92] The American commander of the coalition, General Norman Schwarzkopf, wrote few lines about retaliation against Iraqis but failed to mention Palestinians. He said that Colonel Jesse Johnson was the chief of Central Command's special forces. His "advisors had been attached to the Arab units throughout the campaign and would accompany them into the (Kuwait) City. One of their responsibilities was to remind our allies, the Kuwaitis in particular, not to retaliate against Iraqi prisoners ... We didn't want any war crimes on our hands."[93] 

The Kuwaiti Official Explanation 

     Kuwaitis tried to justify their atrocities against Palestinians in Kuwait as a punishment for their position during the crisis. The Palestinian official support for Iraq in the Arab League and for the "Linkage" argument was used as a pretext for the campaign. Palestinians were also accused of collaboration with the Iraqi authorities in Kuwait. 

Support for Iraq in the Arab League 

     The Arab League Summit Conference of August 9-10, 1990, split the Arab states into two camps: one supporting Kuwait and the other supporting Iraq. The Gulf states, Egypt, and Syria were determined that the conference approve the dispatch of Arab troops to the Gulf to resist the Iraqi invasion. In addition, they endorsed King Fahd=s invitation to Western forces to come to Saudi Arabia. Iraq and its supporters were equally determined to prevent the passage of any such resolution. At the end, 12 Arab League members voted for the resolution. These were Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. Three members  -- Iraq, Libya, and the Palestine Liberation Organization -- voted against. Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen abstained; Sudan and Mauritania expressed reservations, and Tunisia was absent from the meeting.[94] Thus, because of the official Palestinian position in the meeting, Palestinians in Kuwait were classified as enemies. Threats of punishing them started to be heard by Kuwaiti officials in exile. 

Support for the Iraqi "linkage" Argument 

     The Palestinian support for the Iraqi "linkage" argument was also criticized by Kuwaitis. During the first week of August, 1990, the Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister (then) Nizar Hamdoon communicated a proposal to the U.S. government through the former CIA chief Richard Helms. The proposal was presented to Brent Scowcroft and National Security Council officials by August 11. Iraq proposed withdrawal from Kuwait in exchange for access to the Gulf through the islands of Warbah and Bubayan in addition to negotiations on oil prices. However, the proposal was rejected.[95]

      On the following day, August 12, the Iraqi president announced another proposal that became known as the "linkage argument." Iraq offered withdrawal from Kuwait in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories.[96] The United States rejected the initiative instantly and President Bush insisted on the Iraqi unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait. Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular saw in the Iraqi initiative a golden opportunity for the West to pressure Israelis to end their occupation of the Arab territories. Therefore, the Palestinian leadership supported the Iraqi argument, which meant also supporting the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The Kuwaitis became bitter about the Palestinian position although the whole issue was nothing more than a media exchange. As a result, Kuwaiti threats to punish Palestinians in Kuwait increased. The French and the Soviets tried in vain to convince President Bush just to give a promise to address the Israeli occupation after the crisis in return for an Iraqi withdrawal. He rejected all these initiatives because he concluded that the war was a better choice for the United States.[97]

     Palestinians could not afford staying neutral concerning the "linkage" argument. For the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, an Arab leader was capable of uncovering the Western double-standard position towards the conflict. For twenty-three years, the West never tried to enforce the UN Resolutions 242 and 338, which called for the Israeli withdrawal from the Arab territories that Israel occupied in 1967. For forty-two years, the West also never tried to enforce the 1948 UN Resolution 194, which called for the compensation and repatriation of Palestinian refugees. However, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the West became so outraged that, in a few months, it assembled a huge international coalition that ended the Iraqi invasion by force.

     The "Linkage" argument was so strong that the Arab members of the coalition started to pressure Washington to do something concerning the Arab occupied territories. Several Arab diplomats visited Washington directly after the war lobbying for that purpose. However, the Bush administration was afraid that any pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories "could provoke the wrath of the sizable pro-Israeli lobby in Congress."[98] Thus, instead of exerting pressure on Israel to comply with the United Nations resolutions and withdraw from the occupied territories, all what the Bush administration did was asking Israel to attend the 1991 Madrid Peace conference. The conference and the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian agreements related to it resulted in a very slow process of negotiations that led to an Israeli withdrawal from only 3 percent of the West Bank, by the end of 1997. Even with the end of the interim period on May 4, 1999, Israel did not withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories as was agreed upon. The Clinton administration did not pressure Israel to observe its agreements. Moreover, the U.S. Presidential Envoy, Dennis Ross, who is responsible for the Arab-Israeli file in the successive American administrations since Reagan, was always exercising pressure on the Palestinian side to accept whatever the Israelis offered. He ultimately succeeded in convincing the Palestinians to postpone the declaration of their independence, when it was due on September 13, 2000.

       With regard to the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon on May 2000, it was not really a matter of an Israeli willingness to observe the UN Security Council Resolution 425. Rather, it was a result of the increasing losses inflicted on the Israelis by the Lebanese resistance. Another example of the double standard in conducting the American foreign policy in the Middle East was pressuring Syria, throughout the 1990s, to accept the Israeli offers of withdrawal from the Golan Heights, instead of pressuring Israel to withdraw unconditionally.

     Thus, successive U.S. administrations did not really exercise pressures on Israel to observe the international law and withdraw from the occupied territories. Actually, the Israelis were more pressured to attend the peace conference, in 1991, by regional factors than by external pressures from the Bush administration. They discovered that they were not as "invincible" as they wanted to believe. The Iraqi missiles that were launched against Israel were not provided with biological, chemical, or nuclear heads. However, these missiles convinced them that peace would be a better guarantee than limited air-defense systems. They also concluded that peace would provide more security than their continuous occupation of the Arab territories. Their denial of the Palestinian national rights led to the Intifadha (Uprising), which was going on without signs of weakening.[99]

     Rejecting the "linkage" argument has demonstrated the Western double-standard behavior in international relations. Western countries would rather go to war than pressure Israel to observe the UN resolutions. Even when the Israeli Netanyaho government stopped the peace process for about three years, between 1996 and 1999, it was not exposed to any Western pressures whatsoever to continue the process. Even the Wye River agreement it signed with the Palestinian Authority was not observed. However, in spite of the poor results of the Madrid Peace Conference, it was an effect of the "Linkage" argument that was adamantly denied by the West before the war but it could not be ignored after that. 

Collaboration with the Iraqi Authorities 

     Palestinians who remained in Kuwait were accused of collaboration with the Iraqi authorities during the crisis. The main bases for the accusation were reporting to work, attending schools, and replacing Kuwaiti car plates with Iraqi ones. Kuwaitis perceived these acts as recognition of the Iraqi rule.

    About one-third of Palestinians in Kuwait held travel documents issued by Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. The rest of them held Jordanian passports.[100] These or their parents became Jordanians in 1951 as a result of unifying the Palestinian West Bank with the East Bank of Jordan. A small number of Jordanians (about 5 percent) in Kuwait were not of Palestinian origin.[101] This may be attributed to the fact that East Bank Jordanians had less economic pressure to emigrate than their West Bank refugee fellows.

     The way Kuwaitis defined collaboration represented a continuation of their unjust and discriminatory attitude towards immigrants. They accused teachers and students of being collaborators for attending schools, plumbers and electricians for repairing buildings used by Iraqis, journalists for writing in Al-Nida newspaper, drivers for replacing Kuwaiti license plates with Iraqi ones, and a young man who was seen wearing a Saddam Hussain T-shirt. Actually, rulers of Kuwait were just looking for an excuse to intensify persecution of Palestinians in an attempt to evict them from the country.  

     The Kuwaiti government in-exile never extended benefits or assistance to Palestinians who remained in the country during the crisis as it did to Kuwaiti citizens. At the time of the invasion, on August 2, 1990, about one-third of Kuwaiti citizens were vacationing abroad. The remaining, 380,000, were reduced to about 120,000 by December of that year.[102]

    When the Iraqi authorities threatened to fire teachers if they did not report to their schools, the Kuwaiti government never instructed them to abstain. This would have required the Kuwaiti government to send them money to survive, which actually never happened. Only employees of electricity, health, and oil services, a majority of whom were also Palestinians, were instructed by the Kuwaiti government to report to their work. This demonstrated that the government thought of education as less important than other services. Thus, the remaining Palestinians could neither leave the country, since they were not accepted anywhere else, nor were they expected to work. How were they expected to live then? It was an inconsistent policy that contributed to killing many innocent Palestinian students and teachers, such as those of Tulaitila High School.

     The Iraqi authorities ordered people to report to their jobs by September 1st or they would be fired, legal procedures would be taken against them, and they would lose both their pensions and work rights.[103] Furthermore, the Iraqi authorities called families of students and required them to send their children to school otherwise heads of households would be sentenced for six months in prison. On January 15, 1991, some female students from Tulaitila High School were instructed to participate in a march supporting Iraq. A day after the march was aired on the Iraqi TV, several female students were killed and many were injured by the Kuwaiti resistance. After the war, the female principal of the school, Hamdeh Yunis, was imprisoned and teachers and students of the school were pursued for retribution. About 120 students were arrested on June 4, 1991 and forced to sign deportation papers with their families within three weeks. One of them also reported that she was raped by soldiers. Palestinian teachers as a whole were fired, their residence visas were canceled, and pensions were not given to many of them.[104] Students were also punished collectively when the Minister of Education announced that they would not be permitted to attend Kuwaiti public schools anymore.[105] Moreover, the government withdrew the 50 percent of the subsidies it used to pay to private Palestinian-run schools. Thus, the unemployed Palestinian parents were left with no other option than to leave the country.[106]

     The Kuwaiti government overlooked the fact that Palestinians value education to the extent that teaching continued even during the Intifadha (the Palestinian Uprising of 1987-1993). When schools were closed by Israelis, teachers still managed to teach somewhere else, in a home or a mosque. Furthermore, only 12 out of several hundred schools were opened in Kuwait, which means that only a small number of Palestinian teachers and students actually went to school.[107]

     Initially, the government announced its intention to bring about 600 people to trial. These included 265 Iraqis, 120 Palestinians, and the rest were immigrants from other Arab states. They were accused of robbery, murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, assault, and forgery. None of these accusations could be described as direct acts of collaboration.[108]

     From May 20 through July of 1991, about 200 alleged collaborators were tried in Kuwait. Among these were a plumber and an electrician. These two were tried because they repaired a toilet cistern in the pro-Iraqi Al-Nida newspaper. As a result of their "collaboration," they faced the death penalty on charges relating to "external state security."[109] Several Palestinian defendants said that the Kuwaiti police had beaten and tortured them in order to force them into making false confessions. One of them was Muhammed Ali Shafi who said that he was beaten and tortured with electric shocks to make the confessions the police wanted of him.[110]

     Another group of 22 defendants were tried as collaborators with the Iraqi authorities for writing in Al-Nida newspaper. They pleaded not guilty and said that they were coerced by investigators. The trial lasted ten hours of testimony and summation. The prosecution relied on information provided by an unidentified "secret source," who never appeared in court.[111] The use of this vague hearsay evidence, the lack of appeal, or access to attorneys made the trials lacking any international standards of fairness.[112]

     Palestinians were also accused of collaboration if they replaced the Kuwaiti license plates with Iraqi ones during the crisis. Directly after the war, many people were persecuted just for that. A Sudanese was dragged by militia members because his car had an Iraqi license plate.[113] A 23-year old Palestinian, Samir Muhammed Radwan, was held to the wall with a rifle pointed to his chest because he did not have the proper auto registration.[114]

     The Iraqi authorities ordered everybody to get new license plates or risk punishment.[115] Majority of Kuwaitis who stayed in the country did not work. They hid their cars in their villa-garages. Thus, the Iraqis could not require them to change their license plates. However, most Palestinians who could not leave Kuwait and did not receive any assistance from the Kuwaiti government had to work. They could not use their cars to go to work without replacing license plates. Moreover, most of them lived in apartment buildings, not in villas. Therefore, they did not have private garages to hide their cars, like the Kuwaitis. Thus, they were punished twice, once for work and another for replacing the car plates.[116]

     Actually Palestinians used their cars to provide many Kuwaitis with the supplies that they needed but were unable to get. Moreover, the Kuwaiti government requested that those working in health, oil, electricity, and water services should continue in doing their jobs. They had to replace car plates in order to go to work. After the war, Palestinians who worked in these services were not rehired. They were not paid back by the government while their Kuwaiti counterparts were given seven months of back-pay, whether or not they worked.[117]

     Nothing, however, was more illustrative of the baseless and false allegations of collaboration than the trial of a young man for wearing a Saddam Hussain T-shirt. Adnan Abboud Hussain Ali was sentenced 15 years in prison because some Kuwaitis saw him wearing that T-shirt in 1990. On May 24, 1991, the head of the martial-law court, Muhammed Jassem Bin-Naji, explained the sentence. He accused the defendant of "deliberately agitating propaganda at war-time, which led to weakening of steadfastness in the nation, by boasting publicly, in wearing a 'dress' carrying a picture of the Iraqi President, during the period of the Iraqi invasion of the country."[118]

     Charges of collaboration did not hold because there was no Palestinian military involvement as the accusation was intended to imply. Yet, it was ironical for Kuwaitis to expect allegiance and loyalty from non-citizens who were discriminated against for decades.

Conclusion 

     The Kuwaiti terror campaign that led to the expulsion of Palestinians from Kuwait was a dark page in the history of inter-Arab relations. Palestinians were used as a scapegoat to divert the attention of Kuwaitis from the senior members of the Kuwaiti government who share responsibility for the 1990 crisis. The terror campaign also demonstrated that Kuwaitis were not the victims the Western media portrayed throughout the crisis.

      Although Kuwaitis attempted to explain the atrocities as a reaction to the Palestinian support for Iraq, that was just an excuse to expel Palestinians from the country. The Kuwaiti government had decided and started the implementation of a policy to get rid of them a long time before the 1990 crisis. In particular, the policy aimed at discriminating against immigrants, including Palestinians, so they may not stay in the country permanently.

     What has happened to Palestinians in Kuwait is a documentation of the unresolved inter-Arab conflict that has resulted from the imbalance created by the oil wealth. As an oil-exporting state with surplus capital, Kuwait needs immigrants to work in its developmental projects. However, the royal family, supported by the minority of citizens in the country, denied immigrants any rights for permanent residence or citizenship. As a result, immigrants have been discriminated against, which has created a material and psychological separation between the two population groups (Chapter III).

     When Palestinians began to grow in number reaching a level almost equal to that of the Kuwaitis, the government started thinking about getting rid of them. The chance came after the Gulf War, as the government accused them of collaboration with the Iraqi authorities. In particular, the official Palestinian position was cited as an evidence that Palestinians were not loyal to Kuwait. In spite of these allegations and accusations, the real reason is still the unwillingness of the Kuwaiti government to absorb immigrants and make citizens out of them. Until this happens, Kuwaitis will continue to be suspicious towards immigrants who continue to be mistreated and discriminated against in the country (Chapter III). 

     It is really unfair that about half a million Palestinians be punished for the official Palestinian position towards Iraq. Their contributions to the country for more than half a century have been forgotten. A decade after the war, the Kuwaiti government still has not shown any signs of remorse about the innocent people who were killed or tortured during the terror campaign of 1991. The perpetrators have not been tried for their crimes and the plight of the Palestinians of Kuwait has been ignored as if nothing happened to them. 

 

Appendix X. A

First Palestinians in Kuwait

 

     In 1936, a four-member Palestinian educational mission arrived at Kuwait. Because they were all males, the Kuwaiti Council of Education asked the senior team member, Ahmed Shahabuddin, for two female teachers to start the first modern girls' school in the country. The two sisters Wasifah and Rifqah Udeh joined the educational mission in 1936 for that purpose. Muhammed Nejm, who was a teacher from the Palestinian village of Isdud, joined the team in 1938. He is remembered for the production of the first stage-play in Kuwait. In 1942, he returned to Palestine to teach in Yaffa schools. The Palestinian teachers made a very positive impression on Kuwaitis. Their hard work and honesty contributed to helping other Palestinians to come to Kuwait following the 1948 war. In particular, the president of the Kuwaiti Council of Education, Shaikh Abdullah Al-jaber, and other Council members such as Nisf Al-Nisf were active in hiring Palestinian teachers. Nejm, like many Palestinians from Yaffa, arrived to Egypt by boat in April 1948. The Egyptian government placed them in the Qantara concentration camp. He managed to send a letter to Abdul-Aziz Hussain, director of the Kuwaiti House in Cairo, who helped him out of the camp and sent him to Kuwait. The letter was carried by Khairuddin Abuljubain, another teacher from Yaffa who escaped from the camp earlier. Once in Kuwait, he sent visas to several Palestinian teachers to join him there, including Abuljubain who later became the first representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Kuwait (Ghabra, 1987: 34-37, 54, 58).

 

 

Appendix X.B

Ghassan Kanafani

 

     Ghassan Kanafani was born in Akka (Acre), Palestine, in 1936. He lived in Yaffa until 1948 when his family left to Lebanon then to Syria. He was an art teacher in the UN schools for Palestinian refugees in Syria. When he arrived at Kuwait in 1956, he continued teaching and started writing for newspapers. In 1960, he left to Beirut to work in the Arabic weekly, Al-Hurriya (Freedom). Starting from 1963, he worked in the daily, Al-Anwar, and the weekly, Al-Hawadith (Kanafani, 1981). Kanafani lived and worked for the transition from the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). When the PFLP split in 1969, Al-Hurriya became the magazine of the new Democratic Front (DFLP). Then, Kanafani established Al-Hadaf (The Goal) to be the magazine of the PFLP. He stayed as its editor-in-chief until his assassination by the Israelis in July 1972 (Ahmed Dahboor in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeedah, July 16, 1997).

      Although Ghassan Kanafani wrote many novels, plays, short stories, critiques, and studies, his novel, "Men Under the Sun," which was published in 1963, was among his greatest works. Some literary critics such as Al-Yusuf attributed that to the great symbolic images that the characters represented. The novel portrayed the Palestinian struggle for survival in an impossible situation, in absence of a Palestinian leadership at the time, and under the corrupt and ignorant Arab leaders (Al-Yusuf, 1985). However, the greatness of the novel is in its thorough description of the Palestinian journey from refugee camps to Kuwait. It is a documentation of the Palestinian emigration to the Gulf. It also represents the Palestinian struggle for survival amidst Arab regimes whose major concern has been controlling their borders tightly in an attempt to restrict the movement of Arabs in their own homeland.

 

Appendix X.C

Palestinians Taking Refuge in America

 

     About 2,200 Palestinians were brought to the U.S. from Kuwait, before the war, on the "Freedom Flights." They were allowed to come to America because a member of the family was an American, typically a child who was born in the U.S. About 100 families of them settled in Los Angeles and about 60 families settled in Raleigh, NC, simply because the planes stopped there. They had no other places to go to. When they arrived, they received a hero's welcome, with bands at airports, cheering crowds, and reservations at five-star hotels. After the war, Kuwait refused to grant them return visas and the U.S. government asked them to pay for the flight and the hotel expenses. They could not get suitable jobs because their visas would expire by December 31, 1991. President Bush ended the problem by giving them a four-year reprieve during which they could apply for permanent-residence status in the U.S. through employment, joining relatives, and political asylum (The Los Angeles Times, November 14 & 16, 1991).

 

 

Appendix X.D

The Censored Media

 

     A case study of the media coverage of the Gulf war showed that the government and the media operated a disciplinary system, which sought to maximize the effects of power upon the American public opinion. The military controlled what may be reported through allowing certain reporters from certain news organizations to accompany them to see certain places. If reporters presented the story in a "displeasing" way, they would be excluded from the future pools. During briefing, military commanders would allow only "good" reporters to ask questions. If a bad question was asked, the reporter was made fun of in front of the whole world, which was watching the briefings on TV screens. When journalists tried to find a story on their own, they were detained for hours or days. All of this led to "a self-censorship of the media. The military's operating rules, points of view, and standards were internalized by the reporters lest they risk isolating themselves from the 'story.' This led to maximal exercise of power over the citizenry because the behavior of the reporters was controlled without censorship and their stories contained the message the officials wanted conveyed" (Marullo, 1993: 138-140).

 

      TABLE X.1

DISTRIBUTION OF THE PALESTINIAN POPULATION

Country      1949      1970      1975      1981      1982

Israel      133,000   363,600   436,100   550,800  574,800

West Bank   720,000   683,700   785,400   833,000  871,600

Gaza Strip  278,520   345,600   390,300   451,000  476,300

Palestine 1,131,520 1,392,900 1,611,800 1,834,800 1,922,700

Jordan       70,000   591,000   644,200 1,148,334 1,189,600

Lebanon     100,000   247,000   288,000   358,207   492,240

Kuwait       ------   140,300   194,000   299,710   308,177

Syria        75,000   155,700   183,000   222,525   229,868

Saudi A.     ------    31,000    59,000   136,779   147,549

Egypt         7,000    33,000    39,000    45,605    35,436

Rest of Gulf ------    15,000    29,000   113,643    64,037

Iraq          4,000    30,000    35,000    20,000    21,284

Libya        ------     5,000    10,000    23,759    23,759

Other Arab states      ------    ------    ------    52,683

U.S.A.       ------    25,000    28,000   104,856   108,045

Other Countries        ------    ------   140,116   143,780

Totals    1,387,520 2,665,900 3,121,000 4,446,938 4,739,158

SOURCE: Brand (1988: 9).

 

TABLE X.2

PALESTINIANS IN KUWAIT

(1957-1995)

           MALES   FEMALES  TOTAL    % OF TOTAL           

1957      11,616    3,557   15,173       7.3

1961      25,741   11,741   37,482      11.7       

1965      49,744   27,968   77,712      16.6              

1970      79,934   67,762  147,696      20.0              

1975     107,770   96,408  204,178      20.5

1981      ------   ------  299,710      20.9

1990      ------   ------  400,000*     18.7

1995      ------   ------   26,000**     0.01

SOURCES: Ministry of Planning, Board of Census, Population

        Census 1957; and Annual Statistical Abstracts 1964-

        1975 (cited in Alessa, 1981: 34). 

       Al-Iktissad Al-Arabi, No. 71, June-July 1982, P. 15. 

     * In 1990, Palestinians in Kuwait were estimated at

       about 400,000 representing about 18.7 percent of the

       total population (Al-Yahya, 1993: 114). However, the

       number was estimated about at 450,000 by government

       officials cited by journalists after the war (The

       New York Times, March 14, 1991; USA Today, April 3,

       1991 ). 

    **  United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

        Al-Hayat newspaper (Arabic), July 1, 1997, an

        article titled, "Al-Intishar Al-Filistini."

        The article and the statistics were cited in an

        article by Ahmed Sidqi Al-Dajani in his article,

        “Mustaqbal Filistiniyi Al-Kharij Fi Dhil Itifaq

        Oslo 2-4." Al-Khalij newspaper (Arabic) in October

        17,1997. 

 

 NOTES


[1]. During a June 11, 1991 Congressional hearing, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lee Hamilton, used the word "atrocities" to describe the Kuwaiti terror campaign (Congress, 1991: 87) 

[2]. Al-Shahi, 1993: 10-113. El-Najjar, 1993; El-Najjar, 1988.

4. Hallaj, 1980.

5. Lienhardt, 1993: 44, 87.

6. Ghabra, 1987: 41. 

[7]. Among these were members of the first educational mission, early administrators such as Khaled Al-Hassan who became a PLO leader, Tal'at Al-Ghussain who became an ambassador to the United States, and General Wajih Al-Madani, who became the first commander-in-chief of the PLO Army between 1965 and 1969. Among the pioneering women, who played important roles in the education of Kuwaiti women, were Muyasser Shahin, Fayzeh Kanafani, and Ulfa Qutaini.  

[8]. Ghabra, 1987: 43, 47-50, 66-70

[9]. El-Najjar, 1993.

[10]. El-Najjar, 1988.

[11]. MEW, 1991: 1, 4-5.

[12]. The Guardian, March 13, 1991; USA Today, April 3, 1991.

[13]. Alessa, 1993: 114.

[14]. The New York Times, March 14, 1991; USA Today, April 3, 1991.

[15]. The Chicago Tribune, March 4, 1991.

[16]. USA Today, April 3, 1991.

[17]. The Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 1991.

[18]. The New York Times, March 14, 1991.

[19]. The Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 1991.

[20]. El-Najjar, 1993.

[21]. Van Hear, 1995.

[22]. Lubbadah, 1991: 62-63, 84-99.

[23]. MEW, 1991: 1, 4-5.

[24]. Lubbadah, 1991: 113-116.

[25]. The Boston Globe, March 1, 1991.

[26]. The Chaicago Tribune, March 4, 1991; The New York Times, March 4,     1991.

[27]. The Boston Globe, March 5, 1991.

[28]. The New York Times, March 6, 1991.

[29]. Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1991.

[30]. The Guardian, April 20, 1991.

[31]. The New York Times, June 9, 1991.

[32]. Lubbadah, 1991: 160-168.

[33]. MEW, 1991: 21-22.

[34]. Lubbadah, 1991: 160-168.

[35]. USA Today, July 9, 1991.

[36]. The New York Times, July 8, 1991.

[37]. Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1991.

[38]. The Chicago Tribune, March 14, 1991.

[39]. The New York Times, March 15, 1991.

[40]. The Guardian, March 16, 1991; The Washington Post, March 17, 1991.

[41]. San Fransisco Chronicle, March 20, 1991. 

[42]. In 1997, Abdullah Al-Nibari was the target of an assassination attempt. However, the court found that the agressors were not members of Al-Sabah family. 

[43]. The New York Times, June 11, 1991.

[44]. Lubbadah, 1991: 113-116.

[45]. Healey, 1991: 47; Roth, 1991: 11.

[46]. Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1991.

[47]. The New York Times, June 9, 1991.

[48]. The Boston Globe, March 5, 1991.

[49]. Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1991; The New York Times, April 3, 1991.

[50]. USA Today, May 7, 1991.

[51]. El-Azzuni (1992: 51) mentioned three of them. These were

    Nasser Al-Ahmed, Bassil Salem, and Ahmed Fahd Al-Ahmed.

[52]. Lubbadah, 1991: 113-116.

[53]. Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1991; The Guardian, March 22,

    and March 26, 1991.

[54]. USA Today, April 3, 1991.

[55]. The New York Times, April 3, 1991. 

[56]. In 1985, Al-Jaw'an led a questioning in the National Assembly of the Minister of Justice, Shaikh Du'aij Al-Salman, regarding financial improprieties. This led to the resignation of the Shaikh (Roth, 1991: 32-33). The incident was related to the collapse of the Manakh financial market and how the government compensated the victims. Thus, the assassination attempt on his life was perceived as a retaliation to his daring attempt to seriously investigate the issue.  

[57]. Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1991.

[58]. Lubbadah, 1991.

[59]. The following is a list of the concerned issues of these newspapers in 1991. 

Atlanta Journal and Constitution: March 4,

Boston Globe: March 1, 5, 9, 18, 20, 28,

Chicago Tribune: March 4, 14, 16,

Christian Science Monitor: March 4, 26, April 3, 17,

     August 2, September 6, 17,

Detroit News: March 1, 10,

Guardian: March 6, 13, 15, 16, 22, 26, 31, April 2, 9, 19,

     20, June 30, July 5,  

Los Angeles Times: March 1, 8, 14, 22, 28, 29, April 4, 9,

     19, 28, 29, May 26, June 3, November 4, 16,

New York Times: March 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 15, 31, April 3, 10,

      May 6, June 9, 11, July 8, October 3, 

San Francisco Chronicle: March 20,

USA Today: March 7, April 3, 5, May 7, 30, June 17, July 3, Washington Post: March 9, 17, 19.  

[60]. The Boston Globe, March 5, 1991.

[61]. MEW, 1991.

[62]. The U.S. House of Representatives, June 1991.

[63]. Lubbadah, 1991.

[64]. Lubbadah, 1991: 53.

[65]. USA Today, July 9, 1991.

[66]. USA Today May 7, 1991.

[67]. The Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1991.

[68]. MEW, 1991.

[69]. The Boston Globe, March 28, 1991.

[70]. The New York Times, June 11, 1991.

[71]. Healey, 1991: 43-46.

[72]. The Guardian, March 22, 1991.

[73]. Lubbadah, 1991: 57.

[74]. The New York Times, March 6, 1991.

[75]. The Guardian, March 22 and March 31, 119; The Christian

    Science Monitor, March 26, 1991.

[76]. USA Today, May 30, 1991.

[77]. The Washington Post, March 17, 1991.

[78]. San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 1991.

[79]. The Guardian, April 19, 1991.

[80]. USA Today, July 3, 1991.

[81]. The Boston Globe, March 9, 1991.

[82]. USA Today, April 3, 1991.

[83]. The Guardian, April 9, 1991.

[84]. The Boston Globe, March 18, 1991.

[85]. The New York Times, April 3, 1991.

[86]. MEW, 1991: 55, 57.

[87]. The Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1991.

[88]. MEW, 1991: 55, 57.

[89]. Bush and Scowcroft, 1998.

[90]. Baker, 1995.

[91]. Powell, 1995.

[92]. Bin Sultan, 1995.

[93]. Schwarzkopf, 1992.

[94]. Schwarzkopf, cited in Bin Sultan, 1995: 183-84.

[95]. The Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1991.

[96]. The Guardian, October, 27, 1991.

[97]. Bin Sultan, 1995: 268, 312, 316, 339.

[98]. The Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 1991.

[99]. Peres, 1993: 56-57.

[100]. Ghabra, 1991: 6.

[101]. Brand, 1988: 115; Russell, 1989.

[102]. Ghabra, 1991.

[103]. Ghabra, 1991: 10.

[104]. Lubbadah, 1991; USA Today, June 17, 1991.

[105]. Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1991.

[106]. The Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 1991.

[107]. Ghabra, 1991: 13.

[108]. The Boston Globe, March 18, 1991; The Los Angeles Times,

     April 29, 1991.

[109]. Healey, 1991: 104.

[110]. The Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1991.

[111]. Roth, 1991: 23-24.

[112]. Ten of these were released in April 1997 as a gesture of

     improvement in the relations between Kuwait and Jordan.

[113]. The Boston Globe, March 1, 1991.

[114]. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, March 4, 1991.

[115]. Ghabra, 1991: 11.

[116]. Roth, 1991: 98.

[117]. The Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 1991. 

[118]. The court evaluated the act of wearing the T-shirt as follows: "Undoubtedly this act of cooperation (collaboration) gives rise to the feeling of terror among citizens and weakens their steadfastness and capabilities to resist, and at the same time strengthens the resolve of the enemy and strengthens its resistance ... (It represented to the Kuwaitis) the harshest degrees of punishment and the worst levels of humility" (Roth, 1991: 21-22; The Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1991).

     

Table of Contents, Gulf War: Overreaction & Excessiveness, By Hassan A El-Najjar