Kuwaitis, Iraqis must not inherit the anguish of conflict, say youth

By Khaled Al-Abdulhadi

KUWAIT: Every generation has its own opinion of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, especially those born after 1990. Some Iraqi and Kuwaiti youth believe those born after the crisis should not inherit the anguish of conflicts that preceded them, as in most countries that have engaged in conflict. They believe the neighboring countries should move on and strengthen their relationship towards prosperity, rather than continuing a deteriorating relationship. “Iraq is a fascinating country for me. It’s ancient and diverse ethnically, religiously and culturally. It’s a country I’d love to visit.

When talking about the invasion, I think as a Kuwaiti it is impossible to think of Iraq without thinking of the invasion. It hasn’t necessarily shaped my opinion on the country,” said Ahmad Ali, a 28-year-old Kuwaiti. “It’s nice to know that our relations have improved. Yes, there are occasional disputes here and there, as any country would have, but I am glad that our relationship with our neighbor, with whom we share cultural, historical and social ties, is improving,” he said, stressing, “It is important to know when to move on from conflicts or differences we may once have had. This goes for any form of conflict.”

Regarding the future, Ali said: “Of course, I hope for warm ties in the future. We’re a small nation situated between three regional powers. This can grant us a position of mediation and provide neutral soil for our neighbors to have grounds for dialogue. It would be beneficial for both of us on many levels.” On ways to improve relations, he said starting bilateral agreements with trade and cooperation deals would be the right step to take. “This is similar to what happened in Europe after the Second World War, where Germany and France created the European Coal and Steel Community in an effort to improve cooperation and create a means of dependency in order to avoid another conflict.”

A store at Souq Al-Mubarakiya lies in ruins following the Iraqi invasion.

Regarding public opinion, Ali said: “I can assume that resentment exists, especially in the generation that experienced the invasion and the families affected. However, I am sure that there are people of all ages who don’t carry any hate and recognize the importance of being on friendly terms with our neighbor. It’s important to be aware of Iraqis who also have the same complex views of Kuwait.” Ali stressed the importance of educating future generations about history. “We can look back onto the prelude of war and try to understand what happened for diplomacy to no longer be an option, so that it may never happen again. It’s our duty to remember what happened, and those who disappeared in this period — these are unifying factors for both nations.

However, it is also important to not preach hate. We must teach acceptance of what happened and move on in good faith, as many other countries across the world have,” he said. Hassan Al-Shaikh, 30-year-old Iraqi, concurred. “As an Iraqi, in general, I see Kuwait as an Arab country that is a neighbor to Iraq. As someone from Basra, Kuwait City is the closest city to Basra in terms of dialect, customs, traditions and general culture of the two peoples. Walking around Zubair or Safwan, you will feel that you are walking in Kuwait, because 90 percent of the customs and traditions are the same, with similar dialects,” he pointed out. Shaikh indicated that as a person born after the war, he perceives the relationship between Kuwait and Iraq at the present time as a good one.

“Sometimes I notice coverage of the invasion on social media, and it becomes a trend in the Arabian Gulf, but this is only on social media. Anyone who publishes on social media any sensitive issue that promotes sectarianism, discrimination or hatred between the two countries must be fought,” he said. “In reality, the relationship is very good now, and this is what I noticed during the Khaleeji 25 (Arabian Gulf Cup), and I saw how many Iraqis received their Kuwaiti brothers,” Shaikh said. “It is my hope that the relationship between the two countries will become strong in all social, political, economic and cultural aspects. We are one people, and many Kuwaitis have married Iraqi women. I see cars with Kuwaiti license plates in Basra, and I hope to see the same in Kuwait,” Shaikh said.

Regarding improving the relationship between the two countries, he said: “The simplest thing is to open the borders between the two countries, or to give visas to Iraqis with conditions. Many Iraqis like to visit Kuwait. We could also work to bring investors from Kuwait to Iraq. Many Kuwaiti companies have opened branches in Basra and other governorates of Iraq,” he added. Shaikh also stressed that we must take lessons from Russia and Germany after the Second World War. “When I was living in Russia, Russian citizens traveled to Germany by train without any complications of entry procedures.” He said people need to be educated and generations should be taught about the cultural invasion that is currently taking the Arab and Islamic nation towards the abyss.

“We must teach future generations that the war is over and there is no winner in it — both sides lost. It is a civil war because we are one Arab people. We lost many of our relatives and people. We must build a generation capable of advancing the Arab nation and preserving the authentic Arab cultural and civilizational heritage away from grievances, hatred and wars. We must build an educated generation capable of weathering the coming tribulations,” he said. Abdulrazak Jassim, a 29-year-old Kuwaiti, said: “The relationship between Kuwait and Iraq is a fraternal one that transcends previous differences. This is evidenced by Kuwait’s repeated assistance to the Iraqi government, especially the latest commercial agreement during the visit of the foreign minister in July 2023.

We hope that the relationship will get stronger. We need to see more agreements due to the distinguished and important geographical location that the two countries have, overlooking the Arabian Gulf.” With regards to public opinion, Jassim said most people do not have the same stance. “They have an acceptable excuse as a result of the psychological impact that the brutal invasion left on the souls of martyrs and all Kuwaiti families, as well as the destruction it inflicted during the months of the invasion.

However, after the fall of the tyrannical regime, we must consolidate relations without forgetting the wounds of the martyrs and the positions of the Kuwaiti resistance who bravely confronted the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein,” he noted. “The heroism of the Kuwaiti people during the brutal Iraqi invasion must be studied, and we should also not forget the role of the Kuwaiti government with the Kuwaiti people inside Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion,” Jassim added.

The post Kuwaitis, Iraqis must not inherit the anguish of conflict, say youth appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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