We are approaching the 19th anniversary of the infamous meeting between April Glaspie, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990. Sadly, this incident has been virtually eliminated from the history of Iraq-U.S. relations. After the cease-fire agreement between the U.S. and Iraq in February 1991, some media attention was given, but that quickly disappeared.
April Glaspie met with Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990 to discuss the future of Kuwait and Iraq
Before we discuss her meeting, let’s look at background information that led to the point where Iraq was on the verge of invading its Arab neighbor to the south. For many years, the country known as Kuwait was culturally, geographically, racially and economically a part of the area known as Iraq today. Iraq has been identified by different names over the centuries and has been a part of various empires, but present-day Kuwait was always a province of Basra, the southernmost component of Iraq.
In the early part of the 20th century, the British laid the boundaries that led to the current Middle East. Many of those overran traditional cultures and identities, making the area a hotbed of violence from then until the beginning of the 21st century. Today, it looks like the conflicts created by these borders may yet spill over into the next century. The Kuwaiti-Iraqi border created hostility and mistrust. Despite the British placing of stooges in power in Iraq during their 20th century occupation of the country, two of the quisling governments protested the status of Kuwait as an independent country.
Until 1990, the Ba’ath government of Iraq and the emirate of Kuwait held an uneasy truce. At times, both countries experienced amiable relations, but at others, there was an aloofness. The common denominator was that both were populated by Arabs and both used this brotherhood to keep peace.
In 1980, Iran and Iraq went to war. The two countries fought a bloody eight-year conflict that ended in a stalemate. Iran wanted to spread its own Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East and Iraq was the only country in the area that could stop the territorial designs of Iran. Iraq was the buffer that stopped the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, including Kuwait, from falling into Iranian hands. Unlike the hostile attitude of neighboring countries brought on by U.S. intervention in the area, during the 1980s, Iraq’s Arab neighbors stood solidly behind the country that was sacrificing its soldiers to keep the independence of Gulf Arabian countries. In the 1990s, with forceful persuasion by the U.S., countries like Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Qatar, and others turned against their former ally. Kuwait, with much U.S. assistance, was the first to betray Iraq and others followed. Some, however, such as Yemen and Jordan, kept cordial relations with Iraq because the people of these countries forced their leaders not to ostracize the Iraqis.
By the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq’s economy had been greatly weakened. The incidents leading to Desert Storm began to emerge.
Kuwait lent money to Iraq during the war. The money was allocated for the defense of Kuwait, as well as that of Iraq, and the Iraqi government did not expect to be hard-pressed to repay the loans after the hostilities ended, especially because much of the money was used in thwarting Iran from invading Kuwait.
Soon after the cease-fire, Kuwait demanded repayment. Saddam Hussein was shocked that Kuwait would apply so much pressure after his country had spent eight bloody years defending Kuwait from Iranian aggression. When Iraq attempted to discuss the matter of repayment with Kuwait, the Kuwaitis became ever more insistent about immediate remission. The Iraqis knew at that time that the CIA and Kuwait had already instituted measures to further undermine the Iraqi economy, yet they did not realize the severity and progress of those plans.
After Iraq crossed the Kuwaiti border on August 2, 1990, many aspects of this anti-Iraq scheme came out in the open. The Iraqis found a copy of a letter dated November 22, 1989 and marked "Top Secret and Private" that was sent by Brigadier Ahmed Al Fahd (Director General of the State Security Department of Kuwait) to Sheikh Salem Al Sabah Al Sabah (Minister of the Interior of Kuwait). The letter mentions the coalition of the CIA and the Kuwaiti government and their plans to undermine the Iraqi economy. Here are a few highlights:
In accordance with Your Highness’s orders, as given during our meetings with you on October 22, 1989, I visited the headquarters of the United States Intelligence Agency, together with Colonel Ishaq Abd Al Hadi Shaddad, Director of Investigations for the Governorate of Ahmadi, from November 12 to 18, 1989. The United States side emphasized that the visit should be top secret in order not to arouse the sensibilities among our brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran and Iraq …
We agreed with the United States side that visits would be exchanged at all levels between the State Security Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, and that information would be exchanged about armaments and social and political structures of Iran and Iraq …
We agreed with the American side that it was important to take advantage of the deteriorating economic situation in Iraq in order to put pressure on that country’s government to delineate our common border. The Central Intelligence Agency gave us its view of appropriate means of pressure, saying that broad cooperation should be initiated between us, on condition that such actions are coordinated at a high level.
This letter proved the Iraqi allegations of a definite U.S. plan to keep Iraq’s economy weak so Kuwait could benefit. The release of this letter put a different look on the events of August 2, 1990 and the following few months. Iraq did not enter Kuwait simply to stake claim to Kuwait’s oil. It did so to stop Kuwait and the U.S. from permanently damaging its economy.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz quickly spread the word about the U.S.-Kuwait collusion, but the agenda was written by Bush I and barely a peep was heard about the damning evidence. The world was hearing about "naked aggression" and "another Hitler." In an October 24, 1990 letter to the United Nations, Aziz highlighted the actions of the U.S. and Kuwait that led to the eventual occupation of Kuwait by Iraq. Many crucial points are brought up, so it is important to publish the entire letter:
I am sending you a copy of a letter dated November 22, 1989, from the Director-General of the State Security Department to the Minister of the Interior of the former Kuwaiti regime. This dangerous document proves the existence of a conspiracy between that government and the government of the United States to destabilize the situation in Iraq.
I mentioned this conspiracy in a letter dated September 4, 1990, that I addressed to foreign ministers around the world. In that letter, I explained the historical background and the machinations of the Kuwaiti leaders against Iraq as follows:
"We must therefore conclude that the leaders of the former regime wished to pursue their plots until Iraq’s economy was destroyed and its political system destabilized. It is impossible to believe that a regime like that formerly in power in Kuwait could have embarked on such an ambitious conspiracy without the support and protection of a great power. That power can only be the United States."
I also made the following remarks in my letter:
"It is evident from my historical account and from the description I have given of events, that the disagreement was not simply about economic or border questions. We had many differences of that nature over 20 years, and we always tried to maintain the best possible relations with the former leaders of Kuwait, in spite of their contemptible behavior and their despicable attitude toward Iraq. The fact of the matter is that there was an organized conspiracy, in which the former leaders of Kuwait deliberately took part with the support of the United States, to destabilize Iraq’s economy and undermine its defense capabilities against the imperialist aims of Israel and acts of aggression on part of the Arab world. To achieve that, it was necessary to undermine Iraq’s political system and to strengthen the hegemony of the United States over the region, especially over its oil resources. In fact, as President Saddam Hussein declared at the Baghdad summit, and as I indicated in my letter to the Secretary-General of the Arab League, it was a war against Iraq."
This document proves, clearly and unequivocally, that the CIA and the intelligence services of the former government of Kuwait were in league with each other in plotting against the national security, territorial integrity, and national economy of Iraq.
I should be grateful if you would kindly circulate this letter and the appended text as official Security Council documents.
Months before the beginning of Desert Storm, Tariq Aziz had exposed Kuwait’s duplicity. Instead of looking at the facts, however, much of the world allowed George Bush I to revamp them and portray a different scenario — one in which the Iraqis invaded Kuwait for no reason other than greed and the acquisition of Kuwaiti oil. Logic would tear holes in this assessment. Iraq already had the world’s second-largest oil reserves, so it did not need to grab those of Kuwait. Iraq’s economic existence had been threatened by the U.S. and Kuwait, but it seemed no one was listening.
In 1989, another strange scenario emerged. Iraq began to lose oil from its wells in the Rumailah oil fields, located in the Iraq/Kuwait border area. Iraq discovered that the Kuwaitis had installed a slant drilling operation on the border, enabling them to drill under the boundary and steal Iraqi oil. At the time, the Iraqi government assessed the oil losses at $2.7 billion, but after discovering the enormity of the operation, losses were re-assessed to about $14 billion. The stealing of Iraqi oil was well-documented by Iraq. On July 15, 1990, Tariq Aziz, in a letter to the Secretary of the Arab League, described the theft in detail.
Because of the cooperative relationship between Kuwait and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein was aghast at the Kuwaiti’s change of heart once the hostilities ceased. Iraq began to find pieces of the puzzle and put them together. The findings were corroborated after August 2, 1990 when the Iraqis found evidence in Kuwait, such as the top secret letter previously mentioned.
Prior to August 2, 1990, the Iraqis had enough facts to present to the Arab world showing Kuwaiti involvement in undermining their economy. To Iraq, this was the beginning of a U.S. intrusion into the area that would not be reversed once put into action. In a speech in Amman, Jordan on February 24, 1990, Saddam Hussein told those assembled of the imminent danger of allowing the U.S. to become involved in regional affairs. (See Appendix XII of the book The Mother of All Battles: The Endless U.S.-Iraq War for the entire speech.) Remember, at the time, the Soviet Union was in existence and was considered a world superpower. The Iraqi president stated:
The country that exerts the greatest amount of influence on the region, on the Gulf and its oil, will consolidate its superiority as an unrivaled superpower. This proves that if the population of the Gulf — and of the entire Arab world — is not vigilant, this area will be ruled according to the wishes of the United States.
Despite this ominous prediction, the Arab world did not take much notice. Most of the countries in the region could not envisage a permanent U.S. presence that would dictate U.S. policy to them. Events since 1990, much to the chagrin of regional Arab countries, proved Saddam Hussein’s statement accurate. Today, countries such as Qatar and Kuwait are virtual U.S. possessions.
Kuwait, despite the wishes of its oil-producing partners in OPEC, began to pump much more oil than its agreed quota, bringing the price of oil down on world markets. Every time Kuwait’s actions forced a decrease in the price of oil, Iraq lost millions, if not billions, of dollars, further eroding its economy.
The situation became more tense and Saddam Hussein called for a meeting with April Glaspie, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. On July 25, 1990, they met and Saddam explained his country’s plight to her. He discussed Kuwait’s breaking of OPEC agreements and that his country was in desperate need of money to help rebuild its infrastructure that was damaged in the eight-year Iran-Iraq War. (See Appendix I of The Mother of All Battles for the full transcript.)
After listening, Glaspie then assured Saddam that the U.S. was on Iraq’s side and that the U.S. was in sync with the desires of Iraq to rebuild. She explained:
I think I understand this. I have lived here for years. I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. I know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border dispute with Kuwait.
Saddam Hussein then complained that the U.S. was blocking most orders his government had placed with the U.S. He said:
There is nothing for us to buy from America. Only wheat. Because every time we want to buy something, they say it is forbidden. I am afraid that one day you will say, "You are going to make gunpowder out of wheat."
Those words were quite prophetic. After Desert Storm, with a full embargo in place, Iraq could not import food, so it had to create more agriculturally-based business. In June 1992, U.S. military jets, with their afterburners, destroyed 23 Iraqi wheat fields.
Getting back to the Saddam Hussein-April Glaspie meeting, she responded to Saddam’s complaints about lack of access to American markets with, "I have a direct instruction from the president to seek better relations with Iraq."
The U.S. administration maintained that it was Iraq’s business and not that of the U.S. in the matter of Iraq’s dispute with Kuwait. On July 26, 1990, the day after the Saddam-Glaspie meeting, Margaret Tutweiler, U.S. Department of State spokesperson was asked by the press, "Has the United States sent any type of diplomatic message to the Iraqis about putting 30,000 troops on the border of Kuwait? Has there been any type of protest communicated from the United States government?" She replied, "I’m entirely unaware of any such protest."
On July 31, 1990, John Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, testified to Congress that the "United States has no commitment to defend Kuwait and the U.S. has no intention of defending Kuwait if it is attacked by Iraq."
These messages are not ambiguous, but they were false. Bush had plans ready to destroy Iraq and the crossing of the Iraq-Kuwait border was an appropriate excuse to implement Bush’s designs.
During the war propaganda buildup of the next few months, the subject of the Saddam-Glaspie meeting was kept under wraps. Few Americans knew of the incident. Adding to the intrigue, Glaspie seemingly disappeared. From August 4, 1990 until May 1991, no government official mentioned her or could account for her whereabouts. A few reporters worked up the nerve to ask, but they were ignored.
In May 1991, April Glaspie appeared before the U.S. Senate. Questions were not asked about where she had been for the prior nine months, and the public will probably never know. During her report to the Senate, she told of warning Saddam Hussein not to take action against Kuwait. Most of the senators believed her because she alleged that the transcripts of her meeting with Saddam were altered by the Iraqi government. (The CIA admitted that the transcripts were accurate and that Glaspie had not issued such a statement to Saddam Hussein.) After her testimony, the Senate virtually granted Glaspie hero status.
In July 1991, Senators Clayborne Pell of Rhode Island and Alan Cranston of California came up with a totally different scenario from the one Glaspie presented. They read the contents of secret messages from Glaspie to the U.S. government and assessed that Glaspie blatantly lied to the U.S. Senate.
Pell and Cranston appeared on national television and called Glaspie’s testimony deceitful and shameful. They vowed to get to the bottom of the incident, all the time lambasting Glaspie and her testimony before the Senate. Pell and Cranston announced that they were putting the machinery in motion for a full investigation to begin in September 1991. By mid-October, there was no word of an investigation.
On October 11, 1991, I called Senator Cranston’s office in Washington D.C. When I asked about the impending investigation, there was silence. After a brief pause, I was hesitatingly told that they knew nothing about it and I was advised to call the Foreign Affairs Committee.
I took the recommendation of Cranston’s office and called the committee. After I gave a brief description of the incident, I asked, "Is there any information available?" The woman, who would not identify herself, snapped "Nope!" After a moment’s pause, she tersely added, "There was a meeting scheduled and then postponed indefinitely." Then, she abruptly hung up.
Somehow, the administration squashed the only chance we had of learning the truth behind the Glaspie affair. The question that will never be publicly addressed and answered is: "Did April Glaspie give Saddam Hussein a green light for invading Kuwait out of incompetence (i.e. was the Arab-Arab statement her own?) or was she instructed to say that by the U.S. administration?"
April Glaspie is a shady character at best. According to the U.S. administration, in 1992, she accepted a position at the University of San Diego. Her phone number was listed, yet there never was an answer when it was called, and, there was no answering machine.
In June 1993, the U.S. involvement in Somalia turned from a "humanitarian" mission to one that attempted to capture the newly-demonized Mohammed Aidid. There was much bloodshed. Shortly before the public denigration of Aidid, Glaspie was re-assigned to Somalia. She wrote the new script.
Soon after the Somalia debacle, Glaspie again disappeared, only to turn up in the Rwanda area, where the slaughtering of more than a million people was just getting underway. Prior to her stint in Iraq, Glaspie was stationed in Lebanon during that country’s bitter and bloody civil war. Is the fact that Glaspie happens to appear in areas in which there is violence shortly after her debut a matter of chance, or, possibly the prelude to destruction?
Former US Ambassador April Glaspie
Source: LAGAUCHE IS RIGHT
Original article published on July 19, 2009
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