U.S. Ships Placed On Alert As Iraq Moves Troops To Kuwaiti Border
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Iraq moved 30,000 troops to its border with Kuwait and the United States ordered its warships in the Persian Gulf on alert, The Washington Post said in Tuesday editions.
The reported troop buildup was attributed to unidentified western military attaches, who were said to have seen 2,000 to 3,000 Iraqi Army vehicles moving south on a northbound trip they were allowed to take from Kuwait to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Kuwait supported Iraq during Iraq’s eight-year war with Iran, but Iraq is angry with Kuwait because, Iraq claims, Kuwait’s oil production beyond quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is depressing the price on world markets.
The newspaper said the seven U.S. warships in the gulf cancelled shore leaves and were told to be ready for sea.
A Navy spokeswoman, Lt. Betsy Jenkins, said Monday night she had no information on the reported alerted.
Kuwait, whose tanker traffic was threatened by Iran, appealed to the United States for help in 1986 and was given naval escorts for some of its tankers put under the U.S. flag.
The nation’s armed forces are small, its army of 16,000 outnumbered by the Iraqi force on the border. Iraq has an estimated 955,000 soldiers in its Army.
Leaders of various Middle East governments have been conferring in recent days over Iraq’s displeasure with Kuwait and related complaints again the United Arab Emirates.
Iraq claimed Kuwait in 1961, six days after Britain ended its a protectorate over Kuwait. Other Arab countries and Britain sent troops to the Iraqi-Kuwait border and Iraq did not invade.