World Stamps

Kuwait cover arrived on meeting date

Apr 16, 2014, 2 AM

Three stamps from Kuwait's 1990 set of definitive stamps depicting the head of a hawk are used on this cover sent to the United States.

On Aug. 2, 1990, the armed forces of Iraq invaded Kuwait, its neighbor to the south, and declared Kuwait to be a province of Iraq. Less than a month earlier, Kuwait had issued a set of definitive stamps depicting the head of a hawk.

The airmail special delivery (express) cover shown here, from Al Jahra, Kuwait, to Washington, D.C., features three of those stamps: a single purple and gold 50-fils stamp and a pair of green and gold 150f stamps (Scott 1138 and 1140) on a preinvasion cover.

The cancellation on the stamps is indistinct, but the arrival postmark on the back is dated July 25, 1990. On that fateful date, United States Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to inquire about Iraqi troops massing along the border to Kuwait.

According to The New York Times, Hussein might have interpreted Glaspie’s statement that the United States had “no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts” as diplomatic permission to invade. If so, it was one of history’s gravest misunderstandings. A U.S.-led multinational force launched Operation Desert Storm and expelled Iraqi occupiers from Kuwait in February 1991.

During the occupation, Iraqi postage had been required. After the restoration of independence, Kuwaiti authorities restored their postal administration. At first, prices for the last set of preinvasion stamps rose sharply. More recently, the Scott catalog reported that they had gone back on sale at the post office.