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Kuwait Celebrates 20 Years of Liberation

US Army heavy battle tanks are seen during the military parade commemorating the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait from the 1990 Iraqi invasion in Subiya, Kuwait, February 26, 2011

Kuwait has marked two decades of liberation from Iraq by staging a large military parade made up of servicemen from many of the coalition countries that took part in the Persian Gulf War. A total of 34 nations helped to drive Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait 20 years ago, bringing the conflict to an end.

Saturday's procession also celebrated 50 years since the oil-rich nation gained independence from Britain.

Foreign heads of state including the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and King Juan Carlos of Spain took part in the festivities. Top U.S. military officer Admiral Mike Mullen was also in attendance.

Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in August 1990, but pulled out the following February after a 100-hour ground campaign by U.S.-led coalition forces.

American Colonel Gerald O'Hara took part in the operation and now serves as the chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army.

"It's been a success story," said O'Hara. "Kuwait is a success story. And I feel, and so should all the other veterans from the many countries that participated, should feel a sense of pride that they took part in that operation 20 years ago."

Jamal al-Turkit, a Kuwaiti Gulf War veteran, says he and his friends often reminisce about joining the army after the surprise invasion from Iraq.

"Sometimes it feels like a long time, but whoever was involved feels like it was just yesterday. We are fortunate enough that we got the support of the U.N. and we started a new step, a new era in our country," said al-Turkit.

Kuwaiti nationals who took part in the 50/20 festivities say the nation's post-war period has given them much to celebrate. Kuwait is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of per capita income and the World Bank classifies it as a high-income economy.

But despite the prosperity, many citizens, such as Khalid al-Fadli, say it is still important for future generations of Kuwaitis to be aware of the events that have shaped the country, especially the Persian Gulf War.

"We can just tell them that that [liberation] day [was] the day when we proved ourselves worthy of our freedom and we don't have any hate towards the other people now," said al-Fadli.

Relations between Kuwait and Iraq have greatly improved since the 1991. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani participated in Kuwait's independence and liberation celebrations.

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