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Emergency crackdown in Kuwait after yet another shooting

Friday, January 31, 2003

ABU DHABI Kuwait has launched emergency security measures that could last until the end of any U.S.-led war against neighboring Iraq.

"The deployment will continue until the tension subsides," Kuwaiti Interior Minister Mohammed Khalid Al Sabah said. "Kuwait is going through a rough period and this won't be a picnic. Kuwait's appearance will change as of Saturday."

On late Thursday, the U.S. Army reported another shooting attack against a convoy near the city of Jahra, Middle East Newsline reported. Nobody was injured.

Kuwaiti officials said the measures include roadblocks throughout the sheikdom, the closure of major highways, bolstered army and police deployment and frequent stop and searches of Kuwaitis.

The interior minister said the security measures will begin in Kuwait on Saturday and will mark unprecedented coordination between the military, police and National Guard. Khalid said security forces will be deployed at major intersections and around U.S. facilities.

Khalid suggested the emergency measures could last for months. He cited the rash of attacks against U.S. soldiers and civilians in the sheikdom and threats of an escalation in a campaign attributed to Al Qaida and Iraq.

Over the next few weeks, Khalid said, the United States will vastly increase its military presence in Kuwait. The minister said the U.S. military presence could reach 100,000 over the next two weeks as the sheikdom is expected to serve as the main launching pad of any attack on Iraq.

The minister said the U.S. presence would include 18 warships and 350 fighter-jets outside Kuwait. He said pro-Iraqi insurgents plan to conduct sabotage operations against U.S. forces.

Kuwaiti officials said security officers have discovered weapons arsenals around Kuwait City. They said the weapons were believed linked to Al Qaida supporters and included anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, AK-47 Kalashnikov assault weapons and a large amount of ammunition.

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The U.S. Army plans to deploy 1,000 soldiers and personnel for the exercise, the sources said. The exercise will include the operation of all three missile defense systems in an effort to test interoperability and interception capability.

The scenarios for the exercise include the firing of a salvo missiles to demonstrate U.S. and Israeli interception capabilities. At one point, Israel had urged that only one missile at a time be fired. But officials said Israel agreed to a U.S. request for an interception attempt of a salvo of missiles.

Israeli defense sources said the two countries hope to complete Jennifer Cobra around Jan. 15. They said exercise was to have taken place in the last week of December, but was postponed for about two weeks.

Under the exercise, Israel and the United States were to have tested a range of low- and medium-tier missile defense systems. They include the U.S. PAC-2 Gem+ system, the Israeli-U.S. Arrow-2 system and the Aegis-class SM-3 interceptor.

On Sunday, Israel succeeded in its first test of the Arrow-2's ability to respond to a salvo of enemy missiles. Four Arrow-2 interceptors, only one of which contained a warhead, were launched in a simulated attack by four Iraqi medium-range missiles.

Later this month, Israel and the United States are expected to complete preparations for the joint production of Arrow-2 interceptors. A delegation from the Boeing Co. will discuss both marketing and production issues with the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries. This will include the prospect of supplying the Arrow-2 to other countries.

Under the agreement, Boeing will manufacture the interceptor. IAI will produce other assets of the missile defense system, such as the Green Pine radar.

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