As the clock ticked past midnight on January 15 1991, on the morning the world hoped would never come, Pope John Paul II reportedly sent peace appeals to both then President Bush senior and Saddam Hussein. On the eve of a possible war in the Persian Gulf, United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar and peace envoys including French President Francois Mitterand and Russian Yevgeny Primakov in Baghdad made emotional appeals to Iraq to pull out of Kuwait "to turn the course of events away from catastrophe", encouraging peaceful solutions and even planning to mediate an end to the crisis. 

Iraq reportedly rejected peace proposal from then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In the final hours of the Mideast Crisis, the anxious world held its breath with a sense of foreboding and prayed for peace. Marlin Fitzwater told the press at the time, "Any moment after the 15th (January 15, 1991) is borrowed time." It was understood the Persian Gulf desert was 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Hence 12:00pm on East Coast in the U.S. would be 8:00pm in Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Only in Tehran, Iran would be 8½ hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. By then the deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait, was said, measured in hours until the time had expired. French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas told the press, "When we look at the world's horizon, we see only black clouds gathering." 

Kuwait located at the northern end of the 500-mile waterway Persian Gulf which could be reached via the Arabian Sea which led into the Gulf of Oman. The 6-week Persian Gulf Crisis in 1991 (began January 17 and ended on rain-darkened February 28) was as reported "for the first time, war involving the United States was being broadcast live from the capital of the enemy. ABC actually broke the news from Baghdad first, but CNN stole the play with a dramatic, live recounting of the war from an upper floor room in the Al-Rashid Hotel near downtown government offices."

Saddam Hussein had claimed he was being "tried in absentia" by the Security Council and that Iraq's people regarded Kuwait their 19th province. In the hours before the deadline for Iraq to pull out of Kuwait was up, one Saudi official in Dhahran told the press, "We thought there would be trouble, maybe a hint of chaos. God has granted us a calm before battle." From Saudi businessman Abdulrahman Abulhassan, to Filipino warehouseman Romeo Tarraya to Indian accountant Ziaul Hasan the general consensus was one of hope that the crisis would somehow end without war.

Hiram Johnson had said in 1917 about World War I, "The first casualty when war comes is truth." By the last week of December 1990, confused television viewers tried to follow the Persian Gulf story as network correspondents deciphered the news but befuddled by the element of surprise. Tom Bettag of 'CBS News' acknowledged, "This is a world filled with fog. The mixed messages pose a really tough problem for everyone. Nobody knows exactly where the truth lies." In August 1990, Tom Bettag, Wayne Nelson and Dan Rather (a "grab-the-pad-and-pencil-and-run" reporter) arrived in Jordan, where Dan visited Amman, Dubai and the Persian Gulf to observe first hand.

At the time, Don Browne of 'NBC News' maintained, "Right now, you can't go to where the story is happening. It's like going to California when the story is in New York. You can say you're in the same country, but how close are you to the story? Obviously, if we could get to one of the 3 (key) countries (being Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia), we'd certainly reconsider (sending Tom Brokaw there). We want our best people to have access to information. If they’re in a place that's isolated and not getting a really good flow of information, we don’t think that serves us well."

King Hussein was Jordan's constitutional monarch since 1952 told Dan Rather in an exclusive interview at the time an Arab summit had not been postponed, but canceled and that Saddam Hussein had previously told him he would not invade Saudi Arabia. Reporting from Amman, Jordan in August 1990, Carol Morello of 'Knight-Ridder Newspapers' explained to the outside world King Hussein must tread the middle ground because he was "the proverbial man caught between a rock and at least 3 hard places.

"Economic, demographic and political realities leave him little choice but to try to manage what he cannot control. Iraq employed almost half of Jordan's workforce and sent him money. Jordan's biggest source of income has been money sent home by Palestinians who hold Jordanian passports and work in the Gulf states. The biggest umbilical cord was to Kuwait, which used to give $150 million outright to Jordan every year. But 3 times that much was sent back in remittances from the 750,000 Palestinian Jordanians working there.

"Iraq became increasingly important to Jordan in the 1980s, when commerce quadrupled to $1.3 billion a year. Enmeshed in a war with Iran, Iraq turned to Jordan for food and a secure route for the weapons it was purchasing from the West. In return, Iraq gave Jordan $300 million in oil annually. Said an Amman-based diplomat, 'This invasion cost Jordan like no other country except Kuwait. Syria won, Israel won and the oil producers won. But Jordan loses free oil from Iraq and cash from Kuwait.'"

A key player in the crisis at the time, Tariq Aziz, was the only Christian in then President Saddam Hussein's (nicknamed "The Butcher of Baghdad") 25-man Muslim-dominated Cabinet. Laurie Mylroie of the Harvard Center for Middle East Studies told 'Gannet News Service', "In Iraq, he has made himself the giver of life and death … Iraq politics has blood in it going back to Nebuchadnezzar." John Omicinski of 'Gannett News Service' pointed out at the time, "In a region that gave the world the word 'assassin', violence and cruelty are as commonplace as sand, and alliances shift like crystals in a kaleidoscope."

With the assistance of 5 interpreters fluent in Arabic (3 translators were Jordanians), Dan Rather told Kay Gardella of 'New York Daily News' the 'CBS News' in August 1990 was been broadcast from the InterContinental Hotel. "Like every other story I’ve ever worked on, I get a different view when I go to where (the story) is happening. This is a complicated story.

"As I said in a CBS newscast, whatever the people think of (Saddam) Hussein, even those who don’t approve of him, a surge of Arab nationalism takes place when there’s thought of U.S. interference. They like the U.S. and what we stand for. But anti-Americanism begins to rise. There's a saying I picked up in Arabic, which says: 'My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against any stranger. But there will be far-reaching consequences, not only to the United States but to Israel. Jordan is the buffer state between Israel and Iraq. They have been forced over the last year (1989-90) to become an ally of Saddam Hussein."

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