- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Kuwaitis support war
Kuwaitis yesterday expressed overwhelming support for plans to remove Saddam Hussein and his entire regime and denounced the killing of Americans in the name of Islam.
The country that Saddam invaded and brutally occupied 12 years ago is now serving as a base for U.S. forces poised to remove the Iraqi dictator. Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and was driven out in February 1991 by a U.S.-led coalition.
A public opinion poll released yesterday found that 89.6 percent of those surveyed support removing Saddam's government, with 8.2 percent opposing an invasion.
"This is a genuine feeling in Kuwait," said Tareq Eid al-Mezrem of the Kuwait Information Office in Washington. "Saddam was a disaster."
The poll was conducted by Shafeeq Ghabra, former director of the information office and now president of the American University in Kuwait, which is scheduled to open for classes next year.
Mr. Ghabra's survey of 616 Kuwaitis 366 men and 250 women also found that 86.3 percent of those polled favored Kuwaiti government support for military action against Saddam.
A surprising 74.3 percent favored helping the Iraqi people, even though Iraq's occupation was marked by murder, rape and widespread looting.
More than 90 percent of Kuwaitis rejected claims made by Muslim terrorists that Islam sanctions the killing of Americans and other foreigners.
About 2.5 percent believe killing for Islam is justified, a finding demonstrated by the small number of attacks on Americans. Since October, terrorists have killed one Marine and one civilian in separate attacks.
The survey was conducted by the university's Media and Dialogue Center, a new think tank dedicated to increasing the "understanding about Kuwaiti and Arab issues," Mr. Ghabra said.
"The center also seeks to bridge the gap between East and West and to reach out to non-Islamic and non-Arab cultures in the spirit of debate, understanding and mutual tolerance," he said.
Uzbekistan's hope
Uzbekistan's former ambassador to the United States has been promoted to foreign minister in what observers saw as an attempt to improve the image of the authoritarian central Asian country.
Sodiq Safaev, ambassador here from 1996 to 2001, replaces Abdulaziz Kamilov, a former chief of the Uzbek secret police. President Islam Karimov named Mr. Kamilov a special presidential adviser.
Mr. Safaev was considered an enlightened diplomat while he was in Washington, appearing frequently at public policy forums. His appointment as foreign minister shows that the government is reacting to criticism of its hard-line policies against Islamic extremism and restrictions on press freedom, an opposition politician said.
He is expected "to strengthen the Foreign Ministry's work in lobbying for Uzbekistan's interests in the West at a time when criticism of the Uzbek authorities is growing," Atanazar Arifov of the Freedom Democratic Party told the Agence France-Presse.
The State Department's human rights report on Uzbekistan calls it "an authoritarian state with limited civil rights."
Nuclear North Korea
The United States has only just begun to apply diplomatic pressure to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, while Washington worked for 12 years to try to get Iraq to disarm peacefully, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea said yesterday.
"We are concerned about North Korea's nuclear programs," Ambassador Thomas Hubbard told South Korean business leaders.
"We have just begun talking about a multilateral approach," he added, defending the Bush administration's different approach to North Korean threats to develop nuclear weapons.
"We think we still have some time to work with North Korea. By applying a multilateral approach, we do have a possibility of resolving that problem peacefully," he said.
Mr. Hubbard warned the isolated Stalinist nation that it will never gain security or restore its bankrupt economy through nuclear blackmail.
"I think North Korea, the North Korean leadership, is profoundly wrong if it believes that the road to security and prosperity lies through the development of nuclear weapons," he said.

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