EGYPTIAN troops, the coalition's second largest ground force, were the first to reach Kuwait City, according to military reports. With the battle for the tiny emirate ended, Egypt will expect Western forces to leave the region as soon as possible. Their speedy departure will ensure a major role for Egypt in the Gulf region's future security arrangements and will go some way toward dispelling criticism at home over Western intervention in the Middle East. Cairo is looking for continued debt relief and economic support from both Western nations and the Gulf states. Since the start of the crisis, more than $14 billion in debt has been forgiven by creditor nations.
While most of the repayments would never have been made, the debt reduction improves Egypt's credit rating and opens the door to new debt restructuring and credits. It also no longer must pay $500 million in annual interest on its now-forgiven military debt to the US.
The next priority will be progress on the Arab-Israeli dispute. In a lead editorial late last week, a Cairo daily wrote: ``Stability, security, and legitimacy urge the superpowers to move on as soon as possible to the region's issue - Palestine.''