the fortnightly column of Sheikh Ya'erbuti
Just surviving - thanks to Waqil and the blue flame
Editor: Under immense time pressure from the luxury of Kuwait City and the less
comfortable surroundings of the northern deserts, the Post's indefatigable Kuwaiti
correspondent has filed this for his avid fans:
News-starved hacks in Kuwait City have stumbled across a US military conspiracy of
a sort not seen since the invasion of Cambodia. The means are comparably cruel and
devious, and aimed at controlling the coverage of an Iraqi invasion by weakening
the media's capabilities through boredom and bankruptcies.
To explain: it costs $5,000 to get a journalist here and kit them out in the latest
battlefield colors. Throw in $1,500 a month per car, a $3,000 a month per diem, another
$5,000 for hotels, then multiply by 2,000 for the number of journalists who have
swept through the desert capital, and it's easy to comprehend the increased rate
of heart attacks in the bean-counting departments of newsgathering offices around
The military has also hidden itself behind closed doors and adopted a "tell
'em nothing" stance since Colin Powell told the UN Security Council that, "There's
no doubt Saddam Hussein is a really bad boy, but war probably won't start for another
three or four weeks."
Old Cambodia hand and APTN cameraman/producer Jerry Harmer said the conspiracy is
"definitely happening" and will serve to whittle back its effectiveness
of the media when the real push starts.
"Just look at the press officers - they're clearly imposters. One of them is
called David Dismukes, and if that isn't a made-up name then I don't know what is,"
he said referring to the men and women sporting the latest desert attire and assigned
to ensure each journalist gets unfettered access to the biggest non-news event since
The Bangkok-based producer has spent nearly a month 'in-country' passing time on
the occasional military exercise in anticipation that real bullets may one day get
"The only bright spot is afternoon high tea at the Sheraton Hotel where the
milk is poured first and the tea follows, always at the correct temperature."
The US military insists that people covering the war have to obey the rules of the
'host country'. That means no booze and keep your eyes off the women.
But the media pack has countered and engaged the illicit production facilities of
a subversive Indian named Waqil, who for a few bucks can brew a poison that mixes
well with orange juice and serves as a vague reminder of a drop of Stoly.
Waqil reliably informs us that a simple test - light the fluid and make sure it burns
blue - will ensure you won't go blind and stumble across a minefield. There's also
a place in downtown Kuwait City that boasts a sign offering 'Authentic Chinese Massage'.
"We're not beat yet," quipped another journalist while quaffing a mix of
grape juice and yeast. Just another example to prove that the dedication and professionalism
of the international press corps is unbowed in its ability to get around the likes
of the US military. Until next time ... S.Y.