US embassy cable - 90KUWAIT4267

KUWAITIS CALM, CONFIDENT, AND UNIFIED (FOR THE MOMENT) IN THE FACE OF IRAQI THREATS

Identifier: 90KUWAIT4267
Wikileaks: View 90KUWAIT4267 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kuwait
Created: 1990-07-26 10:08:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV KU IZ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 261008Z JUL 90
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0460
INFO USIA WASHDC 5512
ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
AMCONSUL DHAHRAN
AMCONSUL JEDDAH
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
CJTFME
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 04267 
 
ALSO FOR POLAD 
LONDON FOR MILLIKAN 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PGOV, KU, IZ 
SUBJECT:  KUWAITIS CALM, CONFIDENT, AND UNIFIED (FOR THE 
          MOMENT) IN THE FACE OF IRAQI THREATS 
 
1.  (C)  SUMMARY.  FOLLOWING MUBARAK'S MEDIATION BLITZ 
THROUGH BAGHDAD, KUWAIT, AND JEDDAH JULY 24, THE KUWAITI 
PUBLIC IS CALM AND CONFIDENT THAT TENSION BETWEEN KUWAIT 
AND IRAQ WILL EASE OFF.  SOURCES INDICATE THAT KUWAITIS, 
WHILE CONCERNED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF ARMED CONFLICT, 
HAVE TAKEN SADDAM'S BLUSTER IN STRIDE AND ARE HOPEFUL 
THAT MEDIATION EFFORTS WILL PRODUCE A SETTLEMENT, IF 
ONLY TEMPORARY, TO THE IMMEDIATE CRISIS.  KUWAIT'S 
CABINET REFLECTED THIS MOOD IN A CAREFULLY WORDED 
STATEMENT JULY 22 CALLING FOR A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF 
THE CRISIS WITHIN AN ARAB FRAMEWORK.  EVEN THOSE 
KUWAITIS WHO HAVE EXPRESSED OPPOSITION TO THE GOK'S 
RECENT POLITICAL TACTICS CONTINUE LINING UP TO EXPRESS 
SUPPORT FOR THE LEADERSHIP.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C)  IN CONVERSATION WITH EMBOFFS JULY 24, A 
WELL-INFORMED AL-SABAH SOURCE ASSERTED THAT ALL HOPES 
FOR AVERTING ARMED CONFLICT NOW REST ON MUBARAK.  (NOTE: 
CONVERSATION WAS HELD BEFORE THE JULY 25 ANNOUNCEMENT 
THAT KUWAIT-IRAQ TALKS WOULD BEGIN SOON IN JEDDAH.) 
WHEN ASKED IF HE FELT SADDAM MIGHT RESORT TO FORCE, THE 
SOURCE SAID MOST KUWAITIS, HIMSELF INCLUDED, THOUGHT IT 
HIGHLY POSSIBLE.  THE FUROR OVER OIL POLICY WAS CLEARLY 
ONLY A PRETEXT FOR SADDAM TO TAKE WHAT HE HAS ALWAYS 
WANTED - WARBA AND BUBIYAN ISLANDS AND, PERHAPS, THE 
RUMAILAH OIL FIELDS ON THE KUWAITI SIDE OF THE BORDER. 
ONLY FAST DIPLOMATIC ACTION WOULD SAVE THE DAY. 
 
3.  (C)  THE SOURCE EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE THAT SHAIKH 
SABAH, THE FOREIGN MINISTER, WOULD BE ABLE TO PULL THIS 
OFF THROUGH THE EGYPTIANS, THE SAUDIS, AND OTHERS.  HE 
CLAIMED THAT THE IRAQI PRESS HAD LAUNCHED PERSONAL 
ATTACKS ON SABAH, BECAUSE "SADDAM KNOWS HE HAS THE 
CAPABILITY TO CHECK HIS EVERY MOVE.  IF ANYTHING, THOSE 
ATTACKS ARE AN INDIRECT COMPLIMENT TO SHAIKH SABAH'S 
ABILITIES."  SADDAM'S BLATANT ATTEMPT AT TRYING TO 
DIVIDE THE AL-SABAH FAMILY AND TO PIT THE KUWAITI 
POLITICAL OPPOSITION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT WERE 
"LAUGHABLE."  WHEREAS SHAIKH SABAH AND THE AMIR ARE 
INTELLIGENT AND HAVE REMAINED COOL THROUGHOUT THE 
CRISIS, SADDAM HAS NOT.  HE ONLY KNOWS ONE LANGUAGE, THE 
LANGUAGE OF FORCE.  THE PROBLEM IS HE THINKS HE CAN GET 
AWAY WITH USING IT. 
 
4.  (C)  CITING THE VISIT OF IRAQI INTERIOR MINISTER 
SAMIR ABDULWAHHAB TO BAHRAIN AND QATAR JULY 24, THE 
SOURCE SAID HE EXPECTED FURTHER IRAQI "ULTIMATUMS" TO 
KUWAIT TO BE DELIVERED THROUGH OTHER GULF STATES. 
THOUGH IRAQI PRESSURE IS CONTINUING, HE ASSERTED THAT 
MOST KUWAITIS, INCLUDING HIMSELF, ARE REMAINING 
CONCERNED YET CALM.  OLDER KUWAITIS REMEMBER THAT KUWAIT 
WEATHERED QASIM'S RANTINGS OVER THE BORDER IN 1961-63; 
YOUNGER KUWAITIS HAVE PLACED THEIR CONFIDENCE IN THE 
AMIR AND SHAIKH SABAH; AND EVERYONE HAS "AN ALMOST 
RELIGIOUS CONVICTION" THAT SADDAM'S DAYS ARE NUMBERED. 
THE GENERAL FEELING, HE SAID, IS THAT "KUWAIT WILL BE 
HERE TOMORROW, SADDAM MIGHT NOT." 
 
5.  (C)  KUWAIT UNIVERSITY POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR 
DR. ABDULLAH AL-SHAYJI, A FORMER POLICY ADVISOR TO THE 
KUWAITI DEFENSE MINISTRY, TOLD EMBOFFS JULY 25 THAT 
KUWAITIS ARE GENERALLY CONFIDENT THAT THIS CRISIS WILL 
PASS.  THE TALK IN THE DIWANIYAS IS THAT KUWAIT WILL 
LIKELY GIVE SADDAM SOME OF THE CASH HE WANTS, AS WELL AS 
PROMISES ON OIL POLICY, BUT NOT AN INCH ON THE BORDER. 
AL-SHAYJI ASSERTED THIS WOULD PLACATE SADDAM, FOR NOW. 
ASKED IF GIVING INTO THE IRAQIS ON MONEY DEMANDS WOULD 
PUT KUWAIT ON A "SLIPPERY SLOPE" OF TENSIONS WITH IRAQ, 
AL-SHAYJI SMILED AND SAID "IT'S TOO LATE, WE'VE BEEN 
SLIDING FOR YEARS NOW.  KUWAIT'S A SMALL COUNTRY.  WE 
HAVE TO ACCEPT BEING PUSHED AROUND A LITTLE, ESPECIALLY 
IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD." 
 
6.  (C)  AL-SHAYJI NOTED THAT SADDAM'S EFFORTS TO 
MANIPULATE THE POLITICAL OPPOSITION IN KUWAIT WERE A 
THROWBACK TO 1938, WHEN IRAQ PRESSURED AMIR AHMED 
AL-JABER, THE PRESENT AMIR'S FATHER, TO ACCEPT A 
PRO-ARAB-NATIONALIST ELECTED COUNCIL.  THE 1938 COUNCIL 
LASTED A FEW MONTHS BUT SADDAM'S ATTEMPTS HAD NOT EVEN 
GOTTEN OFF THE GROUND.  ACCORDING TO AL-SHAYJI, A GROUP 
OF KUWAITI LEFTISTS HAD REFUSED AN INVITATION EARLIER IN 
THE WEEK TO FLY TO BAGHDAD AND PUBLICLY MEET WITH 
SADDAM.  "THEY'RE NOT THAT STUPID," AL-SHAYJI ADDED. 
 
7.  (U)  THE CALM MOOD IN THE COUNTRY WAS REFLECTED IN 
THE KUWAITI CABINET'S JULY 22 STATEMENT, WHICH EXPRESSED 
SATISFACTION WITH THE POSITION OF OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES 
ON THE DISPUTE AND WITH THE LEADERSHIP'S EFFORTS TO 
CONTAIN IT THROUGH MEDIATION EFFORTS WITHIN "THE ARAB 
HOUSE." 
 
8.  (U)  NUMEROUS KUWAITI SOCIETIES AND ORGANIZATIONS 
HAVE PAID PERSONAL CALLS ON OR WRITTEN LETTERS TO THE 
LEADERSHIP EXPRESSING FULL SUPPORT FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S 
EFFORTS TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE.  MOST NOTABLY, KUWAIT'S 
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY JULY 24 ISSUED A 
STATEMENT, SIGNED BY CCI CHAIRMAN ABDULAZIZ AL-SAGER, 
CALLING FOR CONTAINMENT OF THE KUWAIT-IRAQ DISPUTE 
THROUGH NEGOTIATION AND AVOIDING INCLUSION OF "FOREIGN 
CIRCLES" (I.E., NON-ARABS) IN SETTLING THE DISPUTE.  THE 
STATEMENT EMPHASIZED THAT "THE KUWAITI PEOPLE FULLY 
STAND BEHIND THEIR AMIR AND THE CROWN PRINCE, ESPECIALLY 
WHEN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF KUWAIT IS IN QUESTION." 
 
9.  (C)  COMMENT.  WHILE THE FOCUS OF DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS 
SHIFTS TO JEDDAH, KUWAITIS CONTINUE TO EXPRESS THEIR 
CONFIDENCE IN AND SUPPORT OF THE GOVERNMENT.  THE 
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE STATEMENT IS ESPECIALLY HELPFUL TO 
THE LEADERSHIP AT THIS TIME BECAUSE IT IS SIGNED BY 
AL-SAGER, THE WELL-RESPECTED DE FACTO HEAD OF THE 
POWERFUL SUNNI MERCHANT COMMUNITY.  AFTER LEADING A 
MERCHANT FAMILY BOYCOTT OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL 
ELECTIONS IN JUNE, AL-SAGER'S LETTER OF SUPPORT IS 
PERHAPS THE BEST EXAMPLE YET OF HOW SADDAM'S VITRIOL HAS 
BEEN RECEIVED HERE.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
HOWELL 

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