By Karen Blythe
Photos: Moreen Silver unless otherwise stated
Many can surely still remember that the first Gulf War (1990-1991), a.k.a. Operation Desert Storm, was about Iraq invading Kuwait (2 August 1990) and occupying it, possibly with the view to annexation, an old Iraqi dream. Iraq claimed that Kuwait was stealing oil from the disputed Rumaila oil field which ran underground both countries. It also accused Kuwait of flooding the world with oil.
It was a war that glued people around the world to TV screens, waiting with bated breath for the US-led 36-country Coalition Force stationed in Saudi Arabia to unleash the fury of its cutting-edge war machine on the aggressor who had the temerity of invading a valuable but helpless ally.
The Coalition Force did not let the global audience down. The glare of warheads on sleek Patriot missiles as General Norman Schwarzkopf initiated the air campaign to disable Iraq’s communications, air defenses, and early warning radar installations on 17 January 1991 was a spectacular fireworks display. Only it was at the same time as eerie as it was lethal.
After transmitting Operation Desert Storm live, CNN would forever be the TV channel to tune in to while an earthshaking event unfolds.
It took just five weeks of air and missile combat for the ground troops of the coalition forces to enter Kuwait from Saudi Arabia and by the 26th of February Saddam’s army beat an ignominious retreat. So much for Sadam’s threat of “the mother of all battles”!
Since then Kuwait celebrates February 26 as Liberation Day or second Independence Day, the first being the day commemorating the Kuwaitis’ regaining full independence (1961), leaving behind their status as British protectorate.
In Madrid this year’s celebration of Liberation Day, under the auspices of the Embassy of Kuwait, included a concert of traditional Kuwaiti music for laud, violin, percussion and keyboard instruments, held at the Casa Arabe.
As coincidence would have it, Kuwait’s old ally, the United States, through its embassy in the Spanish capital, was also on to music within days of the Kuwaiti concert.
On 15 February the US embassy co-hosted with the National Library of Spain (Biblioteca Nacional de España or BNE) a jazz concert by musicians from Berklee College of Music, Valencia Campus, in conjunction with BNE’s celebration of its 300th anniversary, having been founded in 1712.
This special part of the festivities was entitled “Jazz en la BNE, el Ruido Alegre (Jazz at the BNE, the Happy Noise)” and lasted from 28 November 2012 to 24 February 2013. In Valencia, US Ambassador Alan Solomont delivered remarks to a packed auditorium, after which the Berklee group composed of seven students from the United States, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Serbia and Lithuania thrilled the audience with their music.
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