From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER167

The world is fortunate that it has taken the Pentagon nearly three months to dispatch a quarter million troops and the requisite heavy hardware to Arabia. The interval seems to have allowed for some salutary second thoughts about why they are there in the first place. But the logic of war still prevails. We are entering the period when war on US terms becomes feasible: Forces are in place, the weather is about as hospitable as it is going to be and the Saudis have not yet asked the Americans to leave.

Al Miskin

published in MER168

The first “instant book” on the Gulf crisis has already reached stores across the United States. In his October 22 column in The Nation, Alexander Cockburn related how Judith Miller of the New York Times sought unsuccessfully to induce Samir al-Khalil, the pseudonymous author of Republic of Fear, to collaborate with her on a shlockbuster version for the American public. Instead we now have Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf, which Miller co-authored with Laurie Mylroie, until recently an assistant professor of “government” (i.e. political science) at Harvard.

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A Military Solution Will Destroy Kuwait

An Interview with Ahmad al-Khatib

by Fred Halliday
published in MER168

Ahmad al-Khatib has been active for many years in the Kuwaiti opposition movement and was a member of Kuwait’s parliament until its dissolution in 1986. Al-Khatib attended the assembly of Kuwaitis in Jidda, called by the ruling Al Sabah, in October 1990. Fred Halliday spoke with him in London upon his return from that meeting.

How did the Kuwaiti opposition see the situation within the country before the invasion on August 2? The parliament had been dissolved in 1986, but in early 1990 widespread mobilization for a return to democracy occurred. How did the Sabah family respond to your demands?

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A New Balance of Forces

An Interview with Samih Farsoun

by Joe Stork
published in MER168

Samih Farsoun, a contributing editor of this magazine and professor of sociology at American University, recently visited the Middle East. He spoke with Joe Stork in early November 1990.

What is your assessment of the impact of this crisis on the balance of forces in the region?

Mubarak's Gamble

by Ahmed Abdalla
published in MER168

Egyptians pride themselves on their historic endurance and their ability to survive under almost all conditions. But even before the Gulf crisis erupted in August, there had been a great sense of worry and uncertainty regarding the future. The juncture of a new century with a new millennium is noticed in a nation used to counting its age in thousands of years. [1]

In the ongoing debate, one current argues that Egypt’s future rests in its historic stability, political and otherwise. An opposing current questions the “validity” of the political system, declaring that this “stability” is nothing but a dangerous and lulling inertia.

The Gulf Crisis and the New World Order

by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed
published in MER168

The Gulf crisis cannot be regarded as a purely local or regional issue, or a crisis whose worldwide significance is derived only from the importance of Arab oil. More fundamentally, it has become the main testing ground for the rapprochement between East and West as applied to North-South relations. Can the South be included in the new world game or is it condemned to react violently against it?

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Kuwaiti Rights Are the Issue

by Samir al-Khalil
published in MER168

Are the United States and the Arab world “on the edge of war,” as the editors of Middle East Report put it in their September-October 1990 editorial? I think not. Rather, Iraq, a criminal state, has extended the violence that rules inside its own borders into Kuwait. This act by itself and before the intervention of the United States threatens to destroy the modern Arab state order as we have known it. That order may not be much. But it is all we have. And the overriding issue is how to stop Saddam Hussein from replacing it with something immeasurably worse.

The Mythology of a Conquerer

by Maxime Rodinson
published in MER168

The Gulf crisis? The threats of Saddam Hussein? The Western and other hostages? Two worldviews clash over these questions -- two public opinions, each engaging masses of people, ardently take opposite sides, each with good arguments.

How is it possible for “Westerners” (in the broadest sense) not to evoke Hitler? Saddam remorselessly violates the most elementary rules of international law. He breaks his word repeatedly. His unscrupulous expansionism is a menace to all. Where will he be stopped if the world allows him this first conquest?

Arms Limitations Must Include All Parties

by Rashid Khalidi
published in MER168

As the United States stands on the brink of its first full-scale war with an Arab country, it is incumbent on all of us to share our expertise and our experience with the broader public. The consequences of a major war in this region have not been fully thought out -- by the public, by the politicians or by the administration. This country is going into a major conflict at least half-blind. Yet there is only a feeble public debate on the momentous issues at stake.

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