The U.S. Army is yielding control of postwar reconstruction at the request of local officials, but American commanders say more Kuwaitis need to commit themselves to the effort.
Four senior officers, briefing reporters Wednesday at U.S. military headquarters, said their task force has almost completed its mission to restore emergency services to Kuwait City.But they said long-term challenges remain, including extensive rebuilding needs, removal of the vast quantity of mines and munitions left by Iraqi troops, and the possibility of human rights violations against suspected Iraqi collaborators.
Maj. Gen. Robert S. Frix, deputy commander of the U.S. Army central command, said his staff had no first-hand corroboration of the widespread reports that Palestinians in Kuwait suspected of collaborating with the Iraqis have been tortured or killed.
"We've had people who've been roughed up, slapped around," Frix said. "But as far as graphic evidence of human rights violations, we haven't seen it . . . If they've done it, it's been out of sight of Americans."
He said Kuwaiti police officials have been advised by U.S. personnel and have implemented "education programs to convey to their people how important it is that they not join the ranks of the Iraqis" in terms of brutality.
But he predicted that human rights abuses would "be kept at a minimum."
The officers generally praised the Kuwaitis' role thus far in the reconstruction of the war-battered capital.
However, Brig. Gen. Howard T. Mooney, commander of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, said, "A lot need to become more involved than they are now."