By Fawaz Esmairan
KUWAIT: US Ambassador in Kuwait Alina Romanowski on Sunday hailed US-Kuwaiti relations as having been steadfast since the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq’s occupation in 1991, looking forward to more future partnership.
In an interview marking the 30th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the ambassador said next year marks 60 years of US-Kuwaiti diplomatic relations, which reflects strong bonds between both countries. She said that she was working at the US Department of Defense during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, recalling seeing the “devastating” impacts of the invasion during a visit she made later to Kuwait.
Citing his famous quote: “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait,” Romanowski said that it was a critical and sensitive stage when late US President George HW Bush addressed the US Congress to approve military intervention to free the Kuwaiti people, restore their territorial integrity and sovereignty and ensure the return of the then legitimate government of Kuwait.
In this regard, she cited a set of resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council (UNSC), including economic sanctions on Iraq, and then Resolution 678 in November 1990 giving the former Iraqi regime a deadline until January 15, 1991 to withdraw from the State of Kuwait otherwise “all necessary means” would be used to restore international peace and security.
The US ambassador elaborated on UN efforts that enabled the US to send thousands of US troops to the region, to set up a US-led coalition of 35 countries, and prepare for the Operation Desert Storm with the participation of forces from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab and friendly countries. She cited relevant UNSC resolutions and the international coalition as “clear demonstration of the international community’s rejection of the principle of aggression and occupation of countries.”
She noted that the US and Kuwait had strengthened their military bonds by signing a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement, under which the United States maintains thousands of military personnel in country.
The top US diplomat in Kuwait went on to say that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait represented a defining moment in bilateral relations, adding that Kuwait has now flourished into a regional leader promoting peace and security.
She spoke highly of Kuwait’s effective role during Operation Iraq Freedom in 2003, providing major logistical support for the US and other allied countries.
Romanowski also lauded the vital and main role of Kuwait in the Global Coalition to Defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS or Daesh), citing the proclamation of Kuwait as a key non-NATO ally in 2004 as proof of deep US-Kuwaiti ties.
Meanwhile, she said, the US embassy in Kuwait is preparing for a six-month long program to mark the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait, which falls on February 2021. She elaborated that the program includes collaboration between Kuwaiti and American artists to produce music videos and sculptures to honor the liberation, bearing in mind the current health conditions due to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).The embassy will also use technology and online communication to host some of those who lived during the invasion and liberation period to speak about their experience, role and sacrifices during the liberation of Kuwait, as well as producing testimonials by Kuwaitis and Americans about their experiences during the liberation.
She said there will be coordination with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard, as well as the participation from the business community in Kuwait and the US. Romanowski pointed to a project approved by the US Congress and US President Donald Trump in 2017 to build the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial; a national monument to be built on Washington DC’s famous national mall. Fundraising is underway for this monument with the hopes that ground can be broken before February 2021, according to the Ambassador.
On trade exchange between both sides, she said it hit $4.6 billion last year, pointing to the important role of both economic and trade sectors in the promotion of US-Kuwaiti relations, including Kuwaiti investments in the US, which falls under the umbrella of the US-Kuwaiti strategic dialogue. She added that the US has been a main destination for Kuwaiti students for 70 years, stressing that she is aware of the ongoing challenges related to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), urging everyone to be more patient until the current circumstances are over. The US ambassador believed that Kuwaiti students are key to helping the American people better understand this region and would even bolster social relationships between both countries, citing recent statistics of 12,000 Kuwaiti students in the US.
She noted that the visit of Commander of the US Central Command Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie to Kuwait on July 13 and the tour of Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor of the US Department of State Brian Hook on July 27, reflect Kuwait’s vital role in maintaining regional security and stability. She underlined the significance of communications with people via social media in spite of relevant negative and positive aspects, emphasizing that the Covid-10 pandemic should not affect diplomatic activities. She affirmed that due to the novel Coronavirus, the US and Kuwait are now focusing on cooperation to settle crises and fight pandemics, in addition to the areas of medical care and cyber security. She added that the US backs efforts to develop Kuwaiti-Iraqi relations and Iraqi-Gulf relations, while supporting the new Iraqi government. – Kuna