Gulf War Reminder: a Child Whose Father Didn't Return

It has been seven years since Iraqi forces burned, raped, and looted their way across Kuwait. Most of the physical damage - the gutted, burned-out buildings and stolen equipment and facilities - was quickly repaired or replaced years ago.

Today, outwardly, the country looks much as it did prior to the Iraqi invasion, in some cases even better.

But on a deeper level, most Kuwaitis seem not yet free of the terrifying grip of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

To understand the depth of feeling Kuwaitis hold about Saddam, one need look no further than six-year-old Ashwaq Ashkanany.

The little girl with wavy brown hair and plump cheeks has never seen her father. That's because when Ashwaq's mother was two months pregnant in the summer of 1991, armed Iraqi soldiers then occupying Kuwait burst into the house and took Ashwaq's father away for interrogation.

He has yet to return. All the family knows is that at some point he was among 6,000 Kuwaitis held in prisons in Iraq.

Ashwaq's father is among some 600 of those Kuwaiti prisoners who are still missing and unaccounted for.

"After seven years I can forget the Iraqi invasion," says Ahmad Abbas, Ashwaq's uncle. "But then I see this little girl and I remember her father."

As he speaks, Ashwaq suddenly runs to a nearby Monitor photographer and wraps her arms like a bear around the woman's legs. For several minutes she holds tight, her tiny face aglow as she delivers an unsolicited hug to the American photojournalist.

"You see," Mr. Abbas says, motioning toward his niece. "She is missing something."

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