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By Alan Munro

As Iraqi troops swarmed Kuwait in 1990, British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Alan Munro performed an essential function in placing, and keeping, jointly a powerful coalition to evict them. He finds the following all of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that made this attainable. With Western armies once again deployed within the Gulf, this new up to date paperback variation of Munro’s booklet offers a well timed reminder of the pressures, pitfalls and power of foreign international relations within the zone.

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It was this same solid building which 30 years later would serve as both refuge and prison for our ambassador and consul during the months when they stuck out Iraq's occupation of Kuwait prior to Operation DESERT STORM. In the hot June of 1962 I found the compound humming with unwonted activity, as military personnel came and went and urgent telegraphic communications were laboriously coded and decoded with the aid of the time-consuming manual cipher system then in use. The arrival of British forces sufficed to block any Iraqi idea of an attack on a fledgeling Kuwait.

As I assured Prince Saud, the allegations might sound like something out of Hollywood, but they were in dead earnest. He made it clear that Saudi misgivings over Iraq's continuing militancy following the 1988 ceasefire were again on the increase, though Saddam's intentions were as ever difficult to read. By the latter part of 1989 the Gulf states which had shown support for Iraq in the war with Iran were beginning to sense fresh danger. In particular there were signs that Saddam had the intention of putting the The Saddam Hussein Factor 13 screws on Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Iraq had therefore to make do with what she could get, in effect a club of nations each deeply in debt and in no position to help each other with more than rhetoric. The establishment of the ACC had the effect, however, of sending warning signals to Iraq's Gulf neighbours, and particularly to Saudi Arabia, who saw in this move an attempt to encircle her with potentially hostile states. Jordan were as ever uneasy, and those with Egypt were only beginning to come out of the deep freeze. Elsewhere in the circle Iran pursued her attempts to subvert Saudi Arabia's guardianship of Mecca and Medina, while Sudan had adopted an extremist Islamic tone of hostility towards the A1 Saud, despite the Kingdom's strict practice of religious orthodoxy.

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