Photographic evidence of the Iraqi regime's destruction in Kuwait from August 1990 through February 1991
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Interview 4

Did you experience black rain and polluted air?
The black rain was a weekly event until some time in April. It stained everything, including my home. The black sky was most severe during the first few months after liberation. It vanished in November, when the last oil fire was put out. I was personally exposed to a lot of both.

Did anything about the events of 1990 and 1991 feel good?
Yes. I felt good about the support from the international community, not just from governments but also from individuals. When we marched in London to protest the invasion, people of many nationalities joined us. I was proud of the many ways that Kuwaitis inside the country resisted the illegal regime and of the many ways that Kuwaitis helped each other after liberation. It was also heartening that the oil fires were extinguished much sooner than expected and that the nation’s infrastructure was rebuilt quickly. (See 3371-3378.)

When and why did you decide to document your photographic evidence?
A few days after my return to Kuwait, I decided to take my camera and shoot the destruction I saw. It was done on an impulse with no plan of what to do after that. I wanted to show these pictures to my family and friends who were still outside Kuwait because the Kuwaiti government was moving very fast to clean up and remove the material evidence of the invasion. By the time most Kuwaitis came back, they wouldn't see much of it. And this is exactly what happened. Around June 1991, my brother-in-law, who is also a photographer, saw my photos and suggested that I have a large poster made of a collage of the oil fires. I agreed, but, knowing Kuwaitis do not like hanging posters on their walls as Americans and Europeans do, I added the idea of making a few dozen postcards. By 1993, I felt it was time to put all the photos and slides in boxes and file them away as they were taking up much space on my desk. I had taken around 15,000 photos and almost the same number in slides. Before I did that, the idea of a book arose. I was not fully satisfied with the book because, since I did not take the photos with a book in mind, I missed a few subjects that should have been covered like pollution of the coastal waters, damage to wildlife, and sabotage of the oil refineries. The book does have a few photos of wildlife and domestic animals, but it is not enough. Since printing a book is costly and its distribution is limited, in 2010 I had the idea of creating a website to commemorate the 20th anniversary of our liberation. Kuwait Invasion: the evidence was launched on the eve of that anniversary.

 

Did you discover anything new when doing research on the website?
Several things, but the most important was finding out that the full accurate story of the battle at Al-Qurain has yet to be told. To this end, I contacted the Kuwaiti media and put them in touch with one of the battle’s survivors. I also may write and publish an account of the formation of the Al-Messilah fighters and of the battle.

Is the website to be your last project on this subject?
Not quite. I am co-producing a documentary on the oil fires that is being directed by my friend the filmmaker Talal Showaish Salem.