Sunday, March 02, 2008

Kuwait National/Liberation Days 2008

"Borrowed" photos of Kuwait of the past: A kinder, gentler form of celebration than we have witnessed in recent history. Note the mural of Saddam in front of the Liberation Tower. If it weren't for the Allied Forces, it would still be there...

Mark posted on his blog ("Never Again") about how this year was his last year on the Gulf Road for National Day/Liberation Day holidays. Last year was my last year (See post). It now just disgusts me and I feel sad for Kuwait. Sad that people don’t remember their own history. Sad that kids are being taught that it is ok to do bad things to other people for the sake of “fun”; during holidays when they should spend time remembering their history/forming character.

I live 2 blocks from the Gulf Road and thankfully, I was able to stay completely off of it during the 2 days of holidays. Last year, young men (not really boys) tried to open the doors of my car on several occasions; we witnessed them doing the same to pull out young Kuwaiti women from their cars. “Kids” put urine in super-soaker water guns and use hair remover instead of “fun” foam. Is this a “celebration” or an opportunity for criminals to band together and create havoc? Faced with growing numbers of disturbing mobs, the police are really helpless to do anything; although their presence was increased substantially this year (note the new helicopters and officers on motorcycles and horseback – thank you MOI).

Bobarino got into a car accident on Liberation Day. Bobarino was one of the FIRST American troops on the ground during the liberation. He was with the Airborne Rangers (which unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot about) who parachuted into Kuwait. He left a kushy job at the Pentagon, his family, and his friends to kick Iraqi ass (like many other troops did).

On February 26, 2008, he sat in a police station with several Kuwaitis insulting him, obviously a bit of resentment/prejudice going on against him, as an “Amreeki”. The 50+ year old woman wearing niqab (mother of the woman who made an illegal left turn from the middle lane to make a U turn out of a mall – causing the accident) shouted insults in Arabic for over an hour before she was finally thrown out of the police station. The first policeman he encountered at the station chastised Bobarino on the “correct way to speak nicely to Kuwaiti women” (although B was polite and remained quiet during the tantrum).

Gee, let’s think back to what Iraqi soldiers were doing to Kuwaiti women at police stations during the occupation…. I have friends who lived close to police stations who could hear the women’s screams all night long as they were being raped and tortured by the Iraqi soldiers. (Could, perhaps, some of the more violent 15 year old Kuwaiti kids now have Iraqi soldier parentage...)

Allies (again - not just Americans) fought to liberate Kuwait. They helped families here, when their own families were left alone in their home countries facing difficulties.

I have heard over and over through the years, “We don’t want to remember those times.” Well, you should. History defines a country. And…

You can't know where you are going
without first knowing where you have been.

(Parents: For a history refresher, have your kids do a Google search of Desert Storm if you aren’t into books.)

By-the-by: Does anyone know the name of the famous patriotic song that Nabeel Shael sang during the occupation? I had a cassette years ago and lost it. That was probably his most moving/emotional song ever. I had American friends that I played it for during the occupation and although they didn’t understand the words, they cried. Powerful. If you do know it, or know where to find it online, please let me know (


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. You took me back to that time. And you made me cry remembering how it was.

I feel like an old lady sometimes when I consider how I remember the occupation so vividly, like it was yesterday.

I will try to find out the name of the song for you Desert Girl. That I promise.

And thank you for loving Kuwait.

Desert Girl said...

I love you, Ms. Baker. You made my day. I am teared up.

I am incredibly proud to have been with your sister during those days in Washington - working hard at doing anything that would assist Kuwait.

Let some say that women are the weaker sex. What I saw during those days changed my attitude profoundly about the power of women - particularly the group of Kuwaiti women (of which your sister was a part)who had to literally fight to be able to fight.

It really does feel like just a short time ago and yet, so many people have seemed to have forgotten.

Some of us will NEVER FORGET.

Unknown said...

its called 'free Kuwait'i think..we all loved it!

thanks for the post..a real eye-opener

Anonymous said...

I think its called Raj3een.

Jewaira said...

What a shame.

Anonymous said...

We Kuwaiti's may not be the nicest people in the world, but lets not get it twisted. The Allies were not here cuz of the kindness of their hearts or since a huge attrocity was committed. They were here for the black gold and a big fat check at the end of the day.

Since the downfall of the iraqi regime, I have come into contact with many Americans here in Kuwait, and many of them find it necessary to talk down to me like I was in a special needs school. They think the stupid arab with the rag on his head is not educated, but I always do my duty to remind them that I have a better understanding of the English language then they do themselves (which really scares them).

Lets not talk about isolated incidents when Kuwaiti's or Americans treat each other badly. Hell, Kuwaiti's treat Kuwaiti's badly so its not really an "oh there's an American, let me be really mean to him kind of thing".

We are grateful to the Allies for liberating this country. But we don't owe any favours. Evidence of this would be the allies jumping head first into Darfur and any other conflict regions just to "help out" cuz they are so nice.

You are correct about the celebrations during this time, if you can really call them that. They are crap, and the spraying of foam and causing havoc is the one of the dumbest and embarrasing things you can see your fellow citizens do.

Desert Girl said...

Hi National Bank. Thanks for commenting (I believe for the first time).

Respectfully, I don’t believe that I twisted anything in my post. I don’t believe I ever said anything about Kuwaitis not being nice people. In fact, I wouldn’t have spent most of my life with Kuwaitis enjoying their hospitality, humor, and character if I thought that they were not nice people.

I was in Washington trying to lobby support for the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. In fact, I was in front of the White House on August 2nd with Kuwaitis – trying to get the American people to help Kuwait. While I respect your opinion, mine differs slightly from yours. While many people did believe the war was about oil – and I believe that unfortunately to be true to an extent – what I saw from the American people towards Kuwait was genuine compassion and a willingness to help.

Further, the troops that were here helping people in Kuwait weren’t making a “big fat check”, nor were the many many people – like myself – working in volunteer organizations trying to help Kuwait. “Volunteer” meaning working for NO pay after the office hours of many governmental offices (American AND Kuwaiti) during the occupation.

I strongly believe that you should remember what the allies did for you. I personally find your tone offensive as someone who worked hard to help. Maybe you “don’t owe them any favors” but you do damn well owe them your gratitude and respect.

I can’t speak for the “Americans here in Kuwait, and many of them find it necessary to talk down to me like I was in a special needs school”. Unfortunately, was that not your intent in your comment? I have been treated the same way by Americans (and Kuwaitis and other nationalities for that matter) many times. I have also been spoken to by Kuwaitis thinking that all American women are prostitutes. Those are prejudices and you will find them anywhere. You can only try to find a positive way to deal with it; make a connection; form an understanding. Don’t create further ill-will and prejudice by passing it along. Regardless, it really has nothing to do with my post. Neither does the fact that your English is better “then they do themselves” is a bit ironic, as there are several grammatical and spelling mistakes in your comment. Irrelevant.

And again, with all due respect – are you old enough to remember 1990 and 91 -- and what were you doing?

This post has everything to do with remembering what the National Day and Liberation Day holidays are all about: Remembering why. I believe your comment may have just proven my point: Better contemporary history lessons.

Anonymous said...

Amen on your response to National Bank, Desertgirl.

The song is called "Raj3een" or "Rajeen" by Nabil Sheal (as Sunmoon mentioned) and I will post a download link here for you as soon as I finish downloading and uploading (courtesy of my 6arab savvy little 18 year old sister) :)

Anonymous said...

i have all the gratitude and respect in the world for those who took part in liberating this country. However, those people who left "kushy jobs" back home, were ordered to do so since they were in the military. They were doing their job, period.

You are very right about these celebrations having nothing to do with rememberance, or gratitude for those who lost their lives or took part for that matter.

During the invasion I was a volunteer at one of our embassies verifying and documenting the passports of citizens in our respective country. So yes i remember '90-'91 quite clearly.

I don't doubt that you love this country, or else you wouldn't be working here. I am both amazed and proud when we actually win expats over. Especially due to the fact that we seem to have been going backwards ever since the invasion.

Just wanted to put my two cents in as they say.

Anyways any grammatical mistakes, or the like are due to the fact that i didn't bother to proof read either this or my first comment.

Desert Girl said...

I realize (often the hard way) that people's tones through written correspondence don't always reflect their true feelings. It is easy to misunderstand, so I apologize if I did.

Ms. Baker - thanks so much for the info on the song. You're great. It "rips my heart out" whenever I hear it, but sometimes a reminder is necessary.

As National Bank said (and thank you) "...Especially due to the fact that we seem to have been going backwards ever since the invasion." Sometimes I get an energy re-charge when I hear songs like that and remember the things about Kuwait that I really love - even when the country passes through difficult times, like now.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post desert girl. I can't stand this holiday mostly because of the celebrations and use the opportunity to get out of Kuwait. Its unfortunate that the spirit of liberation day itself has been distorted; instead of being quiet, reflective, family-oriented holiday (like Thanksgiving in the US for example), it has turned into this disgusting event where people do horrible, dangerous things to each other... I just don't get it.

I think part of the problem may lay in the demographics: 30% of the population is under 14, and over half is under the age of 20.. this generation doesn't know why we are celebrating in the first place.