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Re: The tragedy of Kuwait

"(Moonirah Allen's letter, which prompted the above piece, follows. I have
not addressed the question of the Egyptian workers expelled from Iraq
because I know nothing about it. If they were expelled in the way described
then this was, in addition to being outrageous, a piece of political idiocy
on the part of the Iraqi leadership since there was widespread popular
opposition within Egypt, probably shared by Egyptian workers in Iraq, to the
Egyptian government's policy)"

During the Iran/Iraq war, Iraq had permanently placed 1.5 million men under
arms for a period of ten years, which at that time was equivalent to 10% of
the population of Iraq and 40% of the active work force population. Thus
throughout the 1980's there was a severe man power shortage in Iraq.
Iraq responded to the man power shortage by abolishing the need for visas
and work permits for Arabs across the Arab World to come to Iraq and earn
higher wages than they could ever hope to get back at home.
The vast majority of migrant workers who responded were Egyptian  migrant
workers who annually transferred $2 billions back to their families in their
home country from Iraq.  Financial remittances from Egyptian migrant workers
in Iraq became a major source of hard cash for the Egyptian economy to meet
its balance of payments obligations.
Unlike in Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf, these workers were given equal
rights to Iraqi citizens in terms of equal pay and employment opportunities,
the right to apply for citizenship, and access to state education and health
services, which at that time were the best in the Middle East and in many
respects on par with Western standards.
However, indeed after the 1991 Gulf War many of these migrant labourers left
Iraq and returned to their countries of origin. However unlike in Kuwait it
was not because they were expelled from Iraq by force. The reason was the
imposition of sanctions and the subsequent collapse of the Iraqi economy
which now suffers from a 50% unemployment rate, the collapse of the Iraqi
Dinars purchasing parity, the collapse of state social services, and a
reduced per capita income which now ranks Iraq among such poor nations as
Haiti and Chad.
Thus Egyptian migrant workers simply left of their own accord once their
raison d`etre of being in Iraq disappeared, namely to earn better standard
of living than in their home country.
As for the Welsh migrant worker in Kuwait, I would make these two
observations after having visited Kuwait and most of the other Gulf
countries on the British expatriate community resident in these countries.
Firstly, they spend their entire social time residing in British expatriate
clubs and in each others houses, usually trying to avoid interacting and
learning of the local population and regional affairs as much as possible.
Secondly Western migrant workers live on a completely different plant from
Arab migrant and especially from non Arab/non Western migrant workers, who
are denied access to education and health services, are underpaid, routinely
harassed, tortured by the security services and in the case of Filipino
maids and regularly raped with no recourse to the law or help from their
Salaam (Peace) Hadi.

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