October 24, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 595

President of American University in Kuwait: The Arabs Must do More to Help Iraq

October 24, 2003
Iraq, Kuwait, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 595

Shafeeq Ghabra, president of the American University of Kuwait, writes a regular column for the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star. The following are excerpts from his October 20, 2003 article:[1]

'The Iraqi-Kuwaiti Relationship is Improving'

"The Iraqi-Kuwaiti relationship is improving. Recent events in Iraq have given a big impetus toward the building of good relations between the two states. The Iraqi opposition, which now forms part of the transitional administration in Baghdad, passed through Kuwait on its way to Iraq, and many of the changes being instituted there originated in Kuwait.

"The development of Iraqi-Kuwaiti ties is being reflected on the economic and political levels. For instance, Kuwait has contracted to undertake projects on the Iraqi telecommunications network after a new understanding was reached between the Kuwaiti and Iraqi foreign ministers. And an exchange of visits between both countries reflects a positive trend in relations."

Lack of Arab Assistance is Causing Iraq's Problems

"Meanwhile, the wider Arab-Iraqi relationship has been marked by inactivity and uncertainty. Kuwait recognized the Iraqi transitional council as soon as it was established, and has understood the plight of the Iraqi people through comparison with the suffering of the Kuwaitis in 1990-91. For their part, Arab countries have acted hesitantly in establishing relations with the new authorities in Baghdad, despite knowing how fragile the new order is. Part of the Iraqi problem is due to Arab inactivity and hesitation in dealing with the situation there."

The Arabs Have Not Lifted a Finger to Help Iraq

"While Turkey decided to send its troops to Iraq, the Arabs did not lift a finger. While Arab airports were busy sending one plane after another to bypass the embargo imposed on Iraq during Saddam Hussein's regime, everything has stopped now, as if Iraq did not have any more problems.

"The pre-war enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein seems to have been motivated by a desire to spite the United States, rather than to support the Iraqi people in their plight. Assistance was politically motivated.

"Today, Iraq needs more organized assistance from Arab countries, but the Arab world stands still, as if after the regime was changed an obstacle was placed between it and the Iraqis. One cause of this Arab-Iraqi problem is the presence of the United States, whose role is viewed doubtfully by Arabs. Another cause is fear of what could happen if more power falls into the hands of Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, after the country has been in the hands of Sunnis for decades… and that Turkey and others would seize on the opportunities created."

The Failure in Iraq will Have a Negative Impact on the Arab World

"The biggest danger is that the Arabs will wait on developments in Iraq without taking the initiative to ensure that the country preserves its unity and sovereignty while striving to rebuild. The second danger is that such behavior would reflect on Iraq's neighbors, including Kuwait. Failure in Iraq would not just be an American or international failure, but also an Arab failure that would have negative effects on the Arab world as a whole."


[1] The Daily Star (Lebanon), October 20, 2003.

Share this Report: