Amir, top state officials mourn death of Kuwait’s liberation hero
KUWAIT/WASHINGTON: Kuwait paid tribute to former US president George HW Bush yesterday, saying his support during the first Gulf War “will not be forgotten”. Bush, who helped steer America through the end of the Cold War, died Friday at age 94, his family announced. Kuwaitis have long expressed their gratitude to the late 41st president for backing the state following Iraq’s 1990 invasion. In the wake of the war, many stuck bumper stickers on their cars of Bush standing in front of an American flag, and a few even named their children after him.
In a letter to US President Donald Trump, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah praised Bush’s “historic and courageous stance… and his rejection of Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait from the early hours”, including the decisive decisions taken by the American administration under the leadership of Bush and his pivotal role in forming an international coalition mandated by the UN to liberate Kuwait. His support “will remain in Kuwait’s collective memory and will not be forgotten,” he added. “On behalf of the Kuwaiti government and people, I express my deepest condolences and utmost sympathy.”
HH the Amir sent similar cables of condolences to President George W Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America, and the deceased president’s family. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables to Trump. First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah also sent cables of condolences to Trump as well as to the family of the deceased president.
“Bush was an icon,” said Farida Al-Habib, a cardiologist who says she smuggled medicine to Kuwaiti forces during the invasion. “I cried when I heard the news about his death,” she added. After dictator Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait in Aug 1990, Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of US troops to the neighboring kingdom of Saudi Arabia – urging other countries to do the same. A US-led coalition expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait in a lightning campaign at the beginning of 1991.
Abu Fahd, a Kuwaiti army officer during the invasion who declined to give his full name, said he was “very saddened” by Bush’s death. “He stood by us even though he was not a Muslim,” he said. Bush visited oil-rich Kuwait in 1993 and was hailed as a “guest of honor”. Tributes have poured in online for Bush following news of his death. “We will never forget you,” Twitter user Manal wrote. Lights at the landmark Kuwait Towers were shut off yesterday evening and replaced with an image of Bush with Kuwaiti and American flags.
Tributes poured in for the former US leader, a decorated war pilot and onetime CIA chief who also saw his son George follow in his footsteps to the Oval Office. Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife and revered first lady Barbara Bush – his “most beloved woman in the world” – to whom he was married for 73 years. “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” former president George W Bush said in a statement released on Twitter by a family spokesman.
“George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” he said. “The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.” Bush is survived by his five children and 17 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, a family spokesman said. Bush is expected to lie in state in the US Capitol.
Trump, who was in Argentina attending a G20 summit of world leaders, hailed Bush’s “sound judgment, common sense, and unflappable leadership”. “Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service,” Trump said in a statement. “As president, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed.”
Trump will attend the state funeral of Bush, the White House said yesterday. Trump’s spokeswoman said: “A state funeral is being arranged with all of the accompanying support and honors. The president will designate Wednesday, December 5th as a National Day Of Mourning. He and the first lady will attend the funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.” Trump later canceled a press conference planned for yesterday at the G20 summit, saying he wanted to show respect to the Bush family. “Out of respect for the Bush Family and former President George H W Bush we will wait until after the funeral to have a press conference,” Trump tweeted.
Bush – who was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty – put his inevitable political career on hold to join the US Navy during World War II. He flew 58 combat missions and was shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. After a brief career in the oil industry, he entered politics, serving in the US House of Representatives and as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency before being elected Ronald Reagan’s vice president. As he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1988, Bush pleaded for a “kinder, gentler nation”. He went on to easily defeat Democrat Michael Dukakis that November.
Bush was a foreign policy stalwart who declared a “new world order” in 1990 and drove Iraq from Kuwait in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault – and the backing of a coalition of 32 nations. But he suffered the ignominy of being a one-term president, denied a second term over a weak economy when he lost the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton. In his post-presidency, Bush turned to philanthropy – he joined forces with Bill Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
He worked with Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas in 2017. In 2011, Obama awarded Bush the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude,” Obama and his wife Michelle said in a statement. “After seventy-three years of marriage, George and Barbara Bush are together again now, two points of light that never dimmed, two points of light that ignited countless others with their example.” – Agencies