The Persian Gulf War

On August 2nd, 1990 Iraqi military forces invaded and occupied

the small Arab state of Kuwait. The order was given by Iraqi

dictatorial president Saddam Hussein. His aim was apparently to take

control Kuwait?s oil reserves (despite its small size Kuwait is a huge

oil producer; it has about 10 per cent of the world?s oil reserves ).

Iraq accused Kuwait, and also the United Arab Emirates, of breaking

agreements that limit oil production in the Middle East. According

to Saddam Hussein, this brought down world oil prices severely and

caused financial loss of billions of dollars in Iraq?s annual revenue.

Saddam Hussein had the nearly hopeless task of justifying the

invasion. He plead the fact that Kuwait had been part of the Ottoman

province of Basra, a city in the south of Iraq. However, the Ottoman

province collapsed after World War I and today?s Iraqi borders were

not created until then. There was also a further and more obvious

blunder in a bid to justify this illegal invasion. Baghdad, the

capital of Iraq, had namely recognized Kuwaiti independence in 1963.

Furthermore, Hussein claimed that Kuwait had illegally pumped oil from

the Iraqi oil field of Rumaila and otherwise conspired to reduce

Iraq?s essential oil income.

By invading Kuwait, Iraq succeeded in surprising the entire

world. The USA ended her policy of accommodating Saddam Hussein, which

had existed since the Iran-Iraq war. Negative attitude toward Iraq was

soon a worldwide phenomenon. The United Nations Security Council

passed 12 resolutions condemning the invasion. The ultimate decision

was to use military force if Iraq did not withdraw unconditionally

by January 15, 1991. Then, when the deadline was set, it was time to

start preparing for the worst-the war. President George Bush

confronted little difficulty in winning Americans? support for the

potential war against Iraq. However, the government found it difficult

to decide upon and state one overriding reason for going to war. Was

it to oppose aggression or was it just to protect global oil supplies?

Other powers were more directly concerned as consumers of Persian Gulf

oil, but they were not as eager to commit military force, to risk

their youth in battle and to pay for the costs of the war. Critics of

President Bush continued to maintain that he was taking advantage of

the issue of energy supplies in order to manipulate the U. S. public

opinion in favor of war.

After consulting with U. S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in

early August 1990, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia invited American troops

onto Saudi soil. He had seen Kuwait?s destiny; therefore, he wanted

protection. It was also the interest of the USA to stop any further

advantage of the Iraqi army. The deployment was called ?Operation

Desert Shield.? These troops were armed with light, defensive


On November 8, 1990 President Bush announced a military buildup

to provide an offensive option, ?Operation Desert Storm,? to force

Iraq out of Kuwait. The preparation of the operation took two and

a half months and it involved a massive air- and sea lift. Finally, in

January 1991, the U. S. Congress voted to support Security Council

resolution 660. It authorized using ?all necessary means? if Iraq did

not withdraw from Kuwait by January 15. Shrugging off this final

warning, Saddam Hussein resolutely maintained the occupation of

Kuwait. The United States established a broad-based international

coalition to confront Iraq militarily and diplomatically. The

military coalition consisted of Afghaniez, Argentina, Australia,

Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt,

France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Honduras, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco,

the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakiez, Poland,

Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Syria,

Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United

States. The war also was financed by countries which were unable

to send in troops. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were the main donors. More

than $53 billion was pledged and received.

Before the war, it appeared obvious that Iraq would have very

little chance against the Coalition. The relative strength between the

parties was extremely unequal. The most critical difference was that

the Coalition had a total of 2600 aircraft, over three times more

than Iraq?s 800 aircraft. Most Arab observers thought Hussein would

not last more than six months. Lieutenant General Khalid bin Sultan,

the commander of the Arab coalition forces, gave Iraq?s leader only 40

days, and repeated this prediction many times. Iraq?s prospect