Memories from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

I heard the name Kuwait when I was growing up in Aysaita, Awsa-Ethiopia. At that time my area Awsa in Ethiopia was experiencing an economic boom. We were farming cotton, we had an abundance of camels, cows, goats and sheep. We had lakes of salt, bulldozers, tractors, and Cessna planes. The people who saw the abundance of the land referred to Awsa as Small Kuwait. That was in the 1960s during the reign of Sultan Alimirah of Awsa. Later during the early 1970s I went to America to enroll in the American University in Washington D.C.

During my time in the university I met students and immediately became friends with them. I was fortunately noticed by the then extraordinary Ambassador of Kuwait to Washington, Sheikh Salem Sabah Al Salem who was the oldest son of the Kuwait Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al Salim. At that time Sheikh Salem used to hold weekly dinners for Kuwaitis on Saturday nights. The Ambassador told my Kuwaiti friends at the University to bring me with them, we soon became intimate friends and I began considering myself a Kuwaiti. I was very fortunate to meet them and I’m grateful and proud to have been their friend. Abu Basil, may Allah give him Jannah, and Om Basil, his wife, made me feel at home. They welcomed me like one of their own until he left Washington D.C.

After he left the Ambassador position to take another position in the country, his highness Sheikh Saud Nasser Al Sabah continued his tradition of holding Saturday dinners for the Kuwaiti citizens and continued including me. I was the only non Kuwaiti at that dinner and am still grateful to H.E. Ambassador Saud and his wife Sheikha Awatif Al Sabah for everything they did for me. The now late Sheikh Saud, may Allah keep him in jannah, was an Ambassador during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Everyone who was around in Washington D.C at that time knows how hard the Kuwaiti diplomats were working at that time. They were united and well informed. Their unity and hard work helped them rally the American government and people behind Kuwait. I gathered some Africans who were sympathizing with Kuwait to demonstrate against the occupation of the Iraqi Army.

The African demonstration, led by myself and Dr.Ibrahim Fofana, went to the Iraqi embassy. We stood at the door of the embassy shouting at Saddam Hussein and for the freedom of Kuwait. We were met by a large Iraqi security guard who was furious about our demonstration against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. He began yelling derogatory statements at us and calling us African slaves. He said “you abed, what did Saddam do to you? Why are you here? If you don’t move away right now, I will show you!” My friend Ibrahim responded “We are not afraid of Saddam.” We made our point and proceeded to leave. Everything Africans did on behalf of Kuwait was done with the knowledge of the Kuwaiti Embassy, especially the senior diplomat of the Embassy at the time Sheikh Ali Abdalla Al Ahmed Al Sabah.

At that time there were two Iraqi men who were friendly with my Kuwaiti friends and I. I knew them as opponents of Saddam Hussein. They actively told us how bad Saddam was. After Saddam occupied Kuwait, one of the two Iraqi men named Adnan came to me and said: “You and your Kuwaiti friends think my cousin Alaa and I are enemies of Saddam Hussein but that is wrong. I am not the enemy of Saddam, in fact, I love Saddam. This is the watch he personally gave me.” He proceeded to show me the wrist watch he had on him and Saddam's picture was on the watch. I told him how unhappy I was with him but I couldn’t do much except inform my close friends what he told me.

Since what I am writing is about the war time of Kuwait, I have to write about someone I admired so much at the time and to this day. Like all the Kuwaitis I know he doesn’t want popularity or flattery. For that reason, the brave action he took is not published and therefore is not known by many. This man has been my friend for the last 30 years and it has been on my mind for the entire duration of that time. The person I am talking about is a member of the Royal family. When Iraq invaded Kuwait he was with us in Washington D.C. At that time many Kuwaitis were fleeing the country, they were running for their lives, but not this guy. This guy went back to Kuwait to help and be with his people. At that time there were no smartphones but there were satellite phones.

This man went back to Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion and became the source of true information in Kuwait while the actual war was going on. We saw him on television with CNN reporters helping get the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. I admired this guy's courage and bravery. I thought he should have been documented for his strength and bravery but for him it was his duty to his country that superseded everything else. Since he doesn’t want publicity I am keeping his name out of it, but I wanted to document my admiration for my friend and the morals and values we can all learn from his act of bravery. His name will be released at the appropriate time in the book that I am writing about Kuwait.

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