Iraq Provokes U.S. Warning About Threats
The U.S. Defense Department cautioned Iraq on September 14th not to threaten its neighbors after Baghdad claimed Kuwait was stealing its oil – which brought back reminders of the excuse that Iraq used 10 years ago to invade the emirate.
Iraq said it would take unspecified measures against Kuwait to stop what it claims as Kuwaiti theft of its oil, with Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rasheed saying that the emirate’s drilling in a desert border zone was depleting Iraqi oil.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah immediately rejected the Iraqi charges, saying that: “We haven’t stolen anything. If you take from your own land, it can’t be stealing.” Sheikh Sabah also stated that Iraqi jets had recently become more menacing, coming close to both Kuwait’s and Saudi Arabia’s borders.
In fact, the Defense Department confirmed a report that an Iraqi aircraft had violated the “no fly” zones by entering Saudi air space last week, in what some have interpreted as an effort by Baghdad to provoke a crisis during the U.N. Millennium Summit in New York.
According to Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman on September 14th, “The U.S. maintains a strong and robust military presence in the Arabian Gulf region and remains ready to use it if [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] tries to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, strikes out at his neighbors, challenges allied aircraft or moves against the Kurds.”