Saddam assured me he won’t invade Kuwait
Cairo – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has disclosed details of his efforts to prevent Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain from invading Kuwait more than three decades ago.
Mubarak, 91, recalled he flew to Iraq on July 24, 1990, days before the invasion and was told by Saddam that he did not plan to invade neighbouring Kuwait.
“When my plane took off for Kuwait, I was informed while in the aircraft by a press statement made by [Iraqi foreign minister] Tariq Aziz who said they held lengthy meetings with me discussing bilateral ties. This made me more doubtful. What bilateral ties? Did I come to you [Iraq] at dawn in order to discuss bilateral ties?” Mubarak said in an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anba published on Monday.
Mubarak said at the time he flew to Kuwait where he met the country’s then ruler Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah.
“I told him Saddam clearly told me he would not embark on any military action, but I also told Shaikh Jaber that he must take precautions,” he remembered. “I told him I am ready to send any defence assistance requested by Kuwait.”
Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, said he was shocked when Saddam invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
“I did not imagine that Saddam would take this action: an Arab country attacks and occupies another sovereign country and annexes it. This is absurd,” he commented.
In 1991, a US-led alliance including Egypt forced Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.
Mubarak, meanwhile, downplayed alleged details of a US plan to achieve Palestinian-Israeli peace, dubbed the “Deal of the Century”.
“These are media talk and unconfirmed leaks,” he said in the same interview. “But there are non-assuring signals,” he added, citing Washington’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its recognition of Israeli sovereignty over occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
Mubarak also warned against Iranian and Israeli ambitions in the Arab region.
“There should be no silence about Iran’s ambitions and threats to the Gulf,” he said. “But Israel’s ambitions are also clear particularly under the current government [of Benjamin Netanyahu]. Both issues should be handled.”