March 25, 1991: Visit to Iraq

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Mon 25 Mar

We went to Iraq today. We left about 0930 on a nice sunny day. The road leads through the choke point, then turns north. Along the way we passed more burning oil wells in the Rawdatain Field. At least 50 fires were visible, with another 20 or so in the distance to the east. The bus took us to Safwan, the first town in Iraq. Safwan is very poor and run-down, and not from the war. Many of the buildings are mud-brick, with wooden roof poles sticking out. It looks like an Indian pueblo or a town in Latin America. The contrast between what Kuwait did with its oil wealth, and what Iraq did with its is starkly evident here.

Relations between the locals and the occupying troops seem remarkably amiable. The kids mobbed the bus for candy. Male dominance starts early here; even small boys push the girls aside. There's lots of unexploded ordnance around. EOD blew ammo about 15 times in the two hours we were there, and cleared our street three times to blow ordnance in a building across the street.

We got back about 1530. I got a beautiful letter and picture from Shawn in the evening mail.

The Road North

Just north of the choke point.
Wrecked communications dishes and downed power lines.
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The Rawdatain Oil Field

The jet black and snow white smoke plumes side by side indicate that it's not just burning oil. Gas proportions and completeness of combustion also played a role. The snow white, I later learned, was saly dust from salt water in the wells.

In Iraq

Camps at the border for Shiite refugees.

 Now here's something you don't often see coming off a freeway.


Okay, Kuwait isn't a democracy. Compare the oil reserves or Iraq with those of Kuwait. Then compare these pictures with the pictures of Kuwait city. That's what Kuwait did with its oil money. This is what Iraq has done with its.

A Foretaste of Kurdistan

The 431st CA Company had people here assisting with Shiite refugees. These soldiers are distributing water. Water is the big life-support problem in refugee operations. If people have to go more than 24 hours without it, they resort to stuff like what's on the ground.

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Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 11 June 2020

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