ABU DHABI Ñ Kuwait's new government plans to win the confidence of
parliament and the public for the sheikdom's defense and military policy.
The new government of Prime Minister Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has
launched a campaign to stress the need for a strong military and security
force for Kuwait. After its first meeting on Tuesday, Sabah visited the
National Guard in a discussion that focused on the need for public support
of the military and security services as well as government plans for the
"The discussion concerned the demands for the future phase and the
crossroad for the new government," Kuwaiti sources told the Al Rai Al Aam
daily on Wednesday.
The Defense Ministry wants to complete plans that involve the military
and security forces. They include the future presence of U.S. troops in the
sheikdom, the imposition of a draft, the civilianization of the Defense
Ministry and Interior Ministry and the completion of negotiations for new
Kuwaiti Defense Minister Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah has been wooing the new
50-member parliament elected earlier this month in an attempt to ensure the
continuity of defense programs. The parliament is dominated by Islamic
deputies who have opposed Kuwait's large-scale weapons purchases from the
United States as well as the U.S. military presence in the sheikdom.
Mubarak, who was reappointed defense minister, stressed that he would
make Kuwait's defense a priority in cooperation with parliament. He said his
ministry plans to increase the sheikdom's military capabilities in wake of
the fall of what he termed hostile regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"The defense minister's message is that the fall of the Sadam regime has
not affected any military programs," a Kuwaiti military source said. "The
minister does not yet see the elimination of any significant threats to
Kuwait. There is no room for complacency."
In meetings with officials and military commanders, Mubarak said the war
in Iraq demonstrated Kuwait's ability to defend the nation. Kuwaiti PAC-2
Guided Enhancement Missile batteries were said to have intercepted at least
seven Iraqi short-range missiles.
Mubarak, who met the commanders of all of the military services, said
the Kuwaiti military is a vital element in plans to develop the sheikdom.
The statement was believed to have been issued a response to critics of high
Kuwaiti defense spending.
Kuwaiti defense sources said the sheikdom has relayed to such allies as
Britain and the United States that the new Cabinet and parliament would not
change Kuwait's defense policies. The sheikdom has ordered AH-64D Apache
Longbow helicopters and discussed the procurement of the F/A-18
Mubarak has also reviewed a British-U.S. proposal for a command,
control, communications, computer and intelligence [C4I] system in an
estimated $1.2 billion project. The ministry has also decided to maintain
the delivery of French naval boats amid accusations of bribery.