‘It’s A Five-Star Hotel. They Just Can’t Leave’ – Hostages In Iraq – August 19, 1990

"Not hostages, but rather Restrictees" - Iraqi Spokesman.
“Not hostages, but rather Restrictees” – Iraqi Spokesman.
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August 1990 was the month for saber rattling, hostage taking and defining hotel accommodations in the continuing saga of Iraq and the Middle East versus the U.S..

As the U.S. stepped up the pressure, Iraq countered with their own. The War of Words was escalating, or losing the diplomatic edge, with exclamations of “Liar” from President Bush to “You’re a Liar” from Saddam Hussein hurtling back and forth.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney chimed in with a readiness speech, coupled with cautions over Iraq’s Chemical Weapons.

Diplomatic circles were straining to keep the lid of civility on things, since the fate of the hostages was hanging in the balance. Word came down that American families living and working in Iraq were being rounded up and placed in Hotels, labeled as “restrictees” by the Saddam regime, and that further enflamed an already incendiary situation. Even though Baghdad was quick to add they were staying in a 5-star hotel with all the amenities – they still couldn’t leave.

By week’s end the Navy was busy with exercises in the Gulf, aimed at sending threatening messages to Baghdad along with carry out an embargo of Iraqi shipping.

And the drums of war increased tempo by a few beats.

There was other news this week, other situations, places and people – but all eyes were focused on the simmering pot in the Middle East and the worsening situation that many hoped wouldn’t spiral out of control. At the moment, it was bluster and posturing – but innocents were stuck in the middle, unable to leave, uncertain how things would eventually end up. The delicate fingers of diplomacy were working overtime to find a peaceful resolution. Cooler heads were hoping to prevail.

So that’s how the week ending this August 19th 24 years ago sounded, as reported on ABC’s World News This Week.

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