ABU DHABI Ñ Kuwait expects to be a major launching pad for any war
against Iraq but continues to question U.S. strategy regarding the successor to
the current regime led by President Saddam Hussein.
Kuwait has expressed concern over the prospect of a powerful pro-U.S.
regime in Iraq that could dominate the region. Officials said they want to
ensure that any post-Saddam ruler would pledge to end hostilities toward and
shelve territorial claims against Kuwait.
"The government still does not have a final perception on how to deal
with the Iraqi regime that would replace that of Saddam Hussein should
it be toppled," Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah said.
The United States has been building up its forces in Kuwait. Officials
expect close to 20,000 U.S. troops and equipment over the next few weeks in
preparation for a war against Baghdad. Most of those troops are expected to
be deployed in Kuwait.
Kuwaiti officials said the sheikdom does not have a clear picture of
what type of regime would replace that of Saddam. They said other questions
include Iraq's future role in the Persian Gulf region and Baghdad's
relations with Kuwait.
Al Sabah told the Al Rai Al Aam daily on Thursday that the sheikdom is
closely monitoring such developments as U.S. talks with the Iraqi opposition
regarding a post-Saddam Iraq. He said Kuwait is examining the prospect of
future relations with a post-Saddam regime.
The foreign minister said Kuwait, as Iraq's immediate southern neighbor,
would have to review security ties with any post-Saddam regime. The two
countries have long had tense relations even before Saddam seized power in
"Our perception is not frozen," Al Sabah said. "But we deal with the
event thoroughly and prefer to wait before announcing any step as a
precuationary measure for the sake of fully comprehending and analyzing the
"What goes on in Iraq is an issue of paramount importance to Kuwait,"
the foreign minister said. "So, it is natural for Kuwait to discuss all
possibilities regarding its relations with the Iraqis Ñ currently and in
future. We are just waiting until the picture becomes more clear and