U.S. Dispatches 1,400 Troops To Kuwait ‘Unusual Movements’ By Iraqi Forces Prompt Early Deployment For Military Exercises
Despite strident denials from Iraq of any aggressive intent, the United States is rushing a brigade of 1,400 troops to Kuwait for military exercises as a reinforced warning to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the Pentagon said Friday.
The U.S. troops, based in Fort Hood, Texas, had been scheduled to take part in joint exercises with Kuwaiti troops in late October or early November. But the Pentagon decided to deploy them in the next few days because of what the Clinton administration calls “unusual movements” by Iraqi forces that could threaten Kuwait.
The official Iraqi press was contemptuous of the American moves and accusations. “The American Administration creates unfounded stories to consolidate its presence in the (Persian) Gulf and terrorize the Sabahs,” the ruling family of Kuwait, said the government-run Iraqi News Agency.
Al-Thawra, Iraq’s government party newspaper, described the Clinton administration’s fears of Iraqi military action as “merely a frog’s croaking” and “a balloon full of lies.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. team headed by Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau moved onto Egypt after trying to persuade King Hussein of Jordan to stop his country’s purchase of 85,000 barrels of oil a day - the main leak in the United Nations trade embargo against Iraq.
Pelletreau, who presumably promised to seek other sources to replace the Iraqi oil, described his talks with Hussein as “very productive and fruitful.”
State Department spokesman David Johnson refused to comment on news reports that the administration anticipated some kind of military maneuver by Saddam Hussein because of information culled from two of his sons-in-law, both high-ranking Iraqi military officers who defected to Jordan a week ago with their wives.
But Johnson did not deny this, saying, “I’ve seen some of those reports myself, but, as I have in the past, I’m not going to get into a discussion of what we may or may not have learned from these individuals.”
The dispatch of the brigade to Kuwait followed announcements by the Pentagon a day earlier that the United States was moving tanks, ammunition and equipment closer to the Persian Gulf for possible use by American troops.
An unspecified number of troops have been instructed to prepare for possible deployment in the gulf area, the Pentagon said.
The exact nature of the threat has not been described in detail by the administration.
A senior military official said the American Army brigade would remain in Kuwait “in the neighborhood of four to six weeks.” The joint exercise will last three weeks, he said.