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Kuwait, Saudi Arabia Worry About Saddam Comeback

September 12, 1996

KUWAIT (AP) _ Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had hoped Saddam Hussein’s crushing defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War would remove his menace. But now they worry he may be making a comeback.

Kuwait agreed to accept U.S. bombers on its soil for a possible strike against Iraq. Baghdad was swift to call it an ``act of war.″

``The Kuwaiti regime continues its aggressive policy against Iraq using all possible means,″ Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said.

Saddam’s successful foray into northern Iraq has demonstrated he still has a formidable military machine despite six years of comprehensive U.N. sanctions and close monitoring by the Americans and their allies.

``The garrison state of Iraq is still one of the most powerful Arab nations and Saddam Hussein’s military powers are on the rise,″ said Waheed Hashim, a political science professor in Saudi Arabia.

``I have no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein will try to take revenge on every nation that participated in his humiliating ouster from Kuwait,″ he said in a telephone interview.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are both in a better position than they were six years ago, when Saddam’s tanks rolled into Kuwait facing only limited resistance.

They have bought billions of dollars’ worth of weapons between them, yet both must still rely on American protection to ensure their security.

The recent extension of the U.S.-led ``no-fly″ zone over southern Iraq covers an area stretching from just south of Baghdad all the way down to Iraq’s borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

That gives Washington sufficient warning of any threatening movement by the Iraqi army.

While Saudi Arabia remains a close American ally, Islamic militants oppose the U.S. military presence in the kingdom: In the past year, two bombs have killed 24 Americans at two military installations there.

As a result, the Saudis have tried to keep an arm’s length from the recent U.S. military action.

The Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, said Wednesday that his country would not allow the United States to use Saudi soil in launching such attacks against Iraq.

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