The Gulf War

Gulf War

On 2 August 1990, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq sent troops to invade Kuwait, which was essentially the beginning the Gulf crises and therefore the Gulf War. The Gulf crisis held the attention of the world until the allied troops drove Iraq’s forces out of Kuwait in February and March of 1991. Iraq had objections against Kuwait. For numerous years, Iraq had claimed part, or even all, of Kuwait’s oil producing capacity. Although some kind of Iraq action to annex part of Northern Kuwait had seemed impossible, nobody predicted Saddam Hussein to direct in his army and seize the entire country. The world was absolutely stunned. For one state to attempt to annex the whole of another seemed almost unthinkable.

The United Nations and the countries of the West condemned Iraq’s action and called for its forces to leave Kuwait. On 2 August, a few hours after the invasion, the United Nations Security Council passed its Resolution 660 calling for Iraq to remove their troops. But Iraq declared the annexation of Kuwait, which it proposed to regard henceforth as an Iraq province.

Months of diplomatic pressure was however unable to shift Saddam Hussein, even when it became obvious that the whole world was literally ranged against him. Only Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and Libya expressed any sympathy towards the Iraq position.

A military alliance in opposition to Iraq, headed by the United States and Saudi Arabia, began to embrace for a vast operation against Iraq from Saudi territory. Britain, France, and other European countries joined this international force, and from the Arab World Egypt, Syria and the Gulf states sent contingents of troops. However, the worst part of all for Saddam Hussein was that he received absolutely no help from his traditional ally, the Soviet Union.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq and gave its backing to military action against it. The deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait expired on 15 January 1991. From 17 January, allied aircrafts bombarded Iraq, attacking military targets and Iraq’s economic infrastructure of roads, factories as well as power supplies. The bombing was described by allies as precision bombing however; sadly there were still civilian casualties.

Then on 24 February, after diplomatic efforts had failed to bring about a negotiated settlement, the United States and its allies launched the land war against the Iraqi forces in an attempt to drive them out of Kuwait once and for all.

This intensive process took only 4 days. Most of Iraq’s army in Kuwait was destroyed and thousands of Iraqi troops were killed as a result, many of them in the front lines as the US troops overran them, or in the so-called ‘turkey shoot’ when US aircrafts destroyed substantial amounts of fleeing Iraqi vehicles. On 28 February, President Bush of the United States, ordered a cease-fire, and peace terms were agreed by Iraqi and allied commanders on 3 March.

United Nations sanctions on Iraq were still in force in 1992, causing a great deal of suffering and hardship to the Iraqi people, Iraq was excluded from the world oil market, although it had formally been a major producer, and the UN had refused to agreed on terms for export to begin again. Meanwhile, UN inspectors whining Iraq discovered clear evidence that the country was at least in some way on the road towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. This would have therefore made it the second nuclear state in the Middle East, since Israel was also known to own at least a hundred nuclear warheads, with the ability to use them.

In March 1991, The United States did not press on to destroy all Iraq’s armed forces and did not try to bring about Saddam Hussein’s downfall as a leader. However, by 1992 the United States government seemed to have decided that the downfall of Saddam Hussein was a desirable policy aim, and had begun to offer help to Iraqi opposition movements.

These moments in history, still define world politics today. Although a it is considered a sad time, where many brave soldiers lost their lives, it may also be looked at in the position of countries and soldiers, fighting for what they considered to be correct and moral.

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