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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 11:56 GMT
Anti-US anger grows in Kuwait
US soldiers training in Kuwait
Kuwait is the front line in any future Iraq war
The fatal shooting of a US national and the wounding of another by gunmen in Kuwait is the latest in a series of such attacks, and comes at a time of increasing hostility to the US military in the country.

US Marine recovers in Kuwaiti hospital following shooting incident
US forces have been targeted before
Since the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwaitis have been the most pro-American people in the Arab world.

The BBC's Stephen Cviic, in Kuwait, says that many - perhaps most - remain grateful to the US for liberating them from Iraqi occupation and for continuing to guarantee their security.

But, as with other countries in the region, there is growing anger about what is perceived as US bias in favour of Israel against the Palestinians.

He says that although the Kuwaiti Government promotes good relations with the West, it has allowed Islamists - some of them with extreme anti-Western views - to dominate the education system.

Training ground

Kuwait has made itself the new "front line" in any future war on Iraq.

Osama Bin Laden
Previous incidents may have been linked to al-Qaeda

It has allowed the US to seal off about a quarter of the country as a training ground for its forces and a warehouse for their equipment.

The United States now has more than 15,000 troops in Kuwait alongside civilian contractors, and more are expected.

But they are being made to feel uncomfortable.

Only last October, suspected Islamic militants opened fire on a group of US marines, killing one of them.

The following month a Kuwaiti policeman with a history of mental illness shot and wounded two American soldiers after stopping their car.

Some reports suggest there have been other violent incidents as well, which neither the Americans nor the Kuwaitis are keen to publicise.

Shadowy links

Some of those arrested by Kuwaiti police after previous shootings seem to have links with Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden.

However, BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says that the nature of those links is shadowy.

Bin Laden undoubtedly has sympathisers in Kuwait.

But it is not yet clear whether the attacks are the work of his al-Qaeda network or of disgruntled Kuwaitis acting spontaneously, he says.

Alarming precedent

Regardless, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says such incidents are embarrassing for Kuwait, even though - compared to the conflagration that may erupt in the Gulf if the US goes to war with Iraq - such events are miniscule.

But although most of Kuwait's 800,000-plus nationals want the US army to stay, it is clear that for a small minority of extremists, their hatred of US policy overrides their national sense of self-preservation.

For Washington, such incidents are alarming.

If there is one Arab ally America feels it can rely on unequivocally, it is Kuwait.

It still can and it still will, but not all the population shares its government's enthusiasm for this alliance.

  The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"It is the sixth incident of it's kind here"

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See also:

21 Jan 03 | Middle East
21 Jan 03 | Middle East
09 Oct 02 | Middle East
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28 Mar 02 | Middle East
25 Sep 02 | Middle East
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