The question as to whether or not Iraq actually used chemical weapon-loaded Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War is still an open one. Further to this, there still remain outstanding questions about the claims that Iraq possessed illegally-retained Scud Missiles in the period prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. There is no complete record to draw upon and no one organisation has ever been seen to have compiled an exhaustive and comprehensive analysis.

- A review by a former member of the Dhahran Scud Watchers Club

Air Raid

By Jumeriah Mafifloosh

The following account was written as a weblog entry on April 26th 2006 and is reproduced here with permission:

The airspace was closed and the Americans started bombing Iraq on the night of January 17, 1991. The handful of women and children were still being evacuated out of Riyadh that were waiting at the airport were piled into buses and driven around the city until the morning so that they would not be able to tell anyone the airspace had been closed.

We had known for three days that the Americans were serious; the Ballast guys in Dhahran had been reporting that the Americans had been arming the fighter planes.

There had been a frenzy of preparations after Christmas and the beginning of January. Everyone had been issued with gas masks. The children's versions looked like plastic bags with air circulation units on one side. When you hooked two wires together the fan got started, the plastic blew up and then the kids could pull them over their heads. In order for them to stay on a wide piece of elastic fit snugly around their necks. They looked like some kind of weird space-age headgear.

The Germans sent gas antidotes. They were in a long black box containing three syringes that were various sizes all of which looked big enough to use on a horse. The instructions said that if there was a gas attack and you felt bad you should give yourself the first injection. Then if you still felt bad after 15 minutes you should try the second and then again the same thing, after 15 minutes give yourself the third. It said nothing about the dosage and whether we should divide it between all of us or whether it could be given to children.

British army videos were shown on the compound TV station describing various weaponry, and what to do in a gas attack. According to them in order for Saddam Hussein to get the scuds to go as far as Riyadh he would have to put more fuel on that normal and that would leave him with little space for gas. Their conclusion was that the scud had to basically fall on your house for the gas to get to you. I think that if a scud fell on your house you would have more serious problems.

The reverberations of the first explosions knocked me out of my bed. I woke as I falling onto the floor. They continued, one after another, like thunder claps disturbingly close. When I went into the back yard the sky was glowing red and I imagined the Iraqi air force over head with small bombs spilling out the bellies of their planes.

Brian called. His family had been evacuated before Christmas. Since he knew my husband was out at the dairy he had promised to come by if anything happened. He said, in his nice British accent, "I won't be coming over right away." I agreed that it might be better to wait but I wasn't convinced that walking around the compound would be any safer than staying in the house. After all, outside you had a chance of hearing the bombs whistle as it dropped to earth and perhaps you could run away.

The compound phone operator broke in on our conversation and, in a muffled voice, since he had his gas mask on repeatedly said, "chemicals, chemicals."

© 2006 Jumeriah Mafifloosh