Tributes pour in for Bush senior who played key role in Kuwait’s liberation

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Former US president George H.W. Bush, who helped steer America through the end of the Cold War, has died at age 94, his family announced late Friday November 30, 2018. (AFP)
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Updated 02 December 2018
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Tributes pour in for Bush senior who played key role in Kuwait’s liberation

  • Handling of 1991 Gulf War was his major foreign policy success
  • His time in office was praised for helping to maintain stability during the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

JEDDAH/LONDON: Gulf Arab states have offered their condolences over the death of former President George H.W. Bush.
Bush’s death at the age of 94 takes on greater importance in the region over his actions in the 1991 Gulf War that saw Iraq expelled from Kuwait.
Leaders in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday offered condolences to both President Donald Trump and former President George W. Bush for the elder Bush’s death.
Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also is the UAE’s prime minister and vice president, tweeted that Emiratis remember Bush as “a firm ally and friend.”


Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said similarly offered condolences.
Kuwait's ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said that Bush tried to "create a new international order based on justice and equality among nations,” and that his support "will remain in Kuwait's collective memory and will not be forgotten."

In a letter to US President Donald Trump, Al Sabah praised Bush's "historic and courageous stance... and his rejection of Iraq's occupation of Kuwait from the early hours".

"On behalf of the Kuwaiti government and people, I express my deepest condolences and utmost sympathy."

Former US president George H.W. Bush, who guided America through the end of the Cold War and launched the international campaign to drive Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, died Friday at his home in Houston.

Tributes quickly poured in for the 41st US president — a decorated World War II pilot, skilled diplomat and onetime CIA chief who also saw his son George follow in his footsteps to the Oval Office.

His time in office was praised for helping to maintain stability during the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Another foreign policy success was his handling of the 1991 Gulf War. He led a strong international campaign to drive Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. He devoted much of his time to foreign affairs, approached it with his characteristic conservatism and pragmatism. Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia joined the US to form a coalition articulating the four principles that guided “Operation Desert Shield.”

“I extend my sincerest condolences to the Bush family and to the American people upon the passing of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. May he Rest in Peace,” said Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Kuwait’s ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said that Bush tried to “create a new international order based on justice and equality among nations,” and that he never “forgot the Kuwaiti people and will remain in their memory.”

“It is not a surprise that the late President George H.W. Bush is being remembered so fondly today by many people in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere in the region. His resolve and resoluteness during the Gulf War is still regarded by many in the US and in the international community as the penultimate example of steady leadership during a time of crisis,” Fahad Nazer, a fellow with the National Council on US Arab Relations, told Arab News.

The decisiveness and moral clarity that President Bush and the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia demonstrated during the crisis has set a high bar for other world leaders, he said. 

“In some ways, both President Bush and King Fahd’s legacies were forged during the crisis; President Bush for his commitment to maintaining international order and King Fahd for demonstrating in both words and actions, his solidarity with Kuwait during its most difficult chapter,” Nazer said.

Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife Barbara — 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.

Bush is survived by his five living children -a sixth child, daughter Robin, died of leukemia before her fourth birthday — and 17 grandchildren.

He died “at home in Houston surrounded by family and close friends,” family spokesman Jim McGrath told AFP.

Bush suffered from Parkinson’s disease and had used a wheelchair for several years. He had been in and out of hospital in recent months.

Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, McGrath said.

The former president, a Republican, is expected to lie in state in the US Capitol and then be buried at his presidential library in Texas, where students held a candlelight vigil early Saturday, local media reported.

 


Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Malihah, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017, during the ongoing battle against Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

  • The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Sunday that air defenses had opened fire near Damascus airport, before withdrawing the report after what appeared to be a false alarm.
“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency said, without providing more details.
But the report was later withdrawn by both SANA and state television without explanation.
SANA then quoted sources at the airport as saying that “there was no aggression” and that “traffic was normal.”
A well-informed source told AFP that “there was evidently a false alarm.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of explosions rocked an area close to the airport and fire from air defenses was also heard.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Syria accused Israel of striking south of the capital.
The Britain-based Observatory said those were the first missiles to hit Syria since an air defense upgrade after the downing of a Russian plane in September.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raged Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus insisted would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch foe Iran’s military presence in Syria would be sharply reduced.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia that Israel would continue to hit hostile targets, while also maintaining “security coordination” with Moscow.