Doctor videotapes Kuwait

By a Jordan Times Staff Reporter

AMMAN – A press conference intended to show the world the first film footage of life in Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion was commandeered by fighting journalists trying to determine who has property rights to the film.

The Cable News Network (CNN) tried to block Dr. Mohammad Said, an American citizen, from showing his videocassette to journalists, claiming that since he used CNN camera and film, the network had exclusive rights to the film. But the problem is not so simple; Dr. Said shot only part of the film using the CNN camera and used “his friend’s” camera to shoot another part.

After shouting matches and “negotiations” between Said, and CNN correspondents who were at one point accused of blackmailing the doctor, the film was shown excluding the part shot with the CNN camera. After the much awaited premiere, one journalist commented: “If they (CNN) were going to give Dr. Said their camera, at least they could have shown him how to use it.”

At the beginning, the film was black and white and viewers got slightly dizzy watching the unfocused clips. Then, color came and the sound was lost. Said, chairman of the newly formed Committee of Arab-Americans against U.S. intervention in the Gulf, said he came to this area as a peacemaker. He said that even if a political solution “takes years… it is better than a devastating war in which everyone will lose,” including the United States. He said he had come here to prevent war and that this was not the first time he was involved in peace missions to the area. “I went to Iran during the hostage crisis and when the Iran-Iraq war broke out. I think I played a role in the opening of the U.S.-PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) as well.”

Said, describing what he saw in Kuwait City, said that the Kuwaiti resistance against Iraqi forces was small and “did not have a chance for survival.” He said

the Kuwaitis themselves do not think the resistance had any chance either.

In answer to a question about how the Kuwaitis felt about the Iraqi forces in their country, he said: “The Kuwaitis themselves are very much against the Iraqis, there is no doubt about it. They are still dreaming about the return of the Sabah family.”

While others are more flexible, the minority realizes that a war would be devastating for Kuwait as well as for Iraq,” he said. “They talked to me about elections and possibly getting another government besides the Sabah family.”

Concerning food availability, he said the Kuwaitis had no shortages whatsoever and had food enough to last them about six to eight months, “The reason is that the Kuwaitis control the supplies of food so they deliver to their people whatever they need,” Said said. “The ones that are suffering are people of other nationalities.”

He said that “real” Kuwaitis number about 270,000. “There are many queues for bread. There are shortages of vegetables and milk.”

According to Said, who was harassed by some Journalists, hospitals still had medicine but pharmacies were short of supplies. I found out that stores were closed not because of civil disobedience but because of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti war,” Said, who spent four days in Kuwait told journalists.

“… the (exchange) rate for the Kuwaiti dinar is one to one with the Iraqi dinar. People are scared to exchange their money at such a rate. This problem has to be addressed.”

Concerning the reported looting in Kuwait, Said said that he could “not believe the unprecedented privileges the Kuwaitis had and how others (other nationalities) were discriminated against. There is a great deal of resentment.”

He said he saw shops that were looted but others were intact. The Baghdad government has transferred equipment to Iraq but “I do not know if this is considered looting.”