Two years on, Iraqis still claim Kuwait

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The Independent Online
BAGHDAD (Reuter) - The anniversary of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 - the picture shows helicopters attacking Bayan, near Kuwait City on that day - was marked in Baghdad yesterday by warnings of a second takeover.

'It will happen again, God willing,' said a headline in the Babil daily, below a large front-page colour photograph of Saddam Hussein praying in October 1990 on the Kuwait City seafront. In the background of the picture are Iraqi fortifications against a United States seaborne assault. 'It goes without saying, Kuwait is part of Iraq,' said the official al-Jumhuriyah newspaper. 'In the end Kuwait will return to its rightful owners. How and when? History will answer.'

The anniversary was largely ignored by ordinary Iraqis, who went to work and scrounged for food. Diplomats said official celebrations were larger than last year, reflecting what Baghdad sees as its 'stupendous victory' over United Nations arms inspectors and its continued defiance of the UN and the West.

'Many Iraqis still respect the US but they hate Kuwait, especially now when they suffer because of the (UN) sanctions,' an envoy said. 'They see the whole invasion as a giant exercise in the redistribution of wealth and would embark on it again tomorrow if they could.'

Some diplomats and UN officials are concerned that Baghdad is determined to reduce the 1,100 UN guards and aid workers based in Iraq. An agreement for them to work in Iraq expired at the end of June. Iraq has accused the guards, who escort aid convoys in Kurdish rebel- controlled northern Iraq, of wasting UN money on beer and acting as spies.

KUWAIT CITY - A jittery Kuwait marked the anniversary of Iraq's invasion by brandishing an emergency plan to deal with any new aggression, while US troops prepared for month-long war- games. Anti-Scud Patriot missiles sat in a suburb on the edge of the city but Dick Cheney, the US Defense Secretary, said that the exercises were aimed only at cooling Iraqi confidence.

(Photograph omitted)