The Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait

Iraq and Kuwait have a history of being allies, and both countries were united in their fight against the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This revolution threatened the stability of both countries in addition to other countries within the region. During Iraq’s war with Iran, Kuwait and a number of Arab countries supported Iraq not only politically, but also financially. Financial support from Kuwait was seen when Iran affected Iraq’s economy by destroying a vast number of its oil fields, which, in turn, affected the income gained from exporting crude oil (Khadduri & Ghareeb, 2001). Therefore, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait came as a surprise to the international community. This paper seeks to outline the First Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait.

Beginning of the War

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The Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait, also known as the Persian Gulf War, began when the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein instructed his troops to invade the neighboring country of Kuwait. According to Khadduri and Ghareeb (2001), this invasion of the tiny oil rich country of Kuwait took place on August 2, 1990 and ended on January 28, 1991. The United States, NATO and United Nations troops retaliated to this invasion by using military strength to force Iraq out of Kuwait.

Causes of the First Gulf War

Fitzgerald (n.d.) states that the souring of relations between Iraq and Iran can be traced back to the separation of the two states from the Ottoman Empire as soon as the First World War ended. Territorial disputes between the two countries began later with Iraq claiming that Kuwait was a part of the Iraqi province when the whole region was under Ottoman rule. This was before the British colonial government delineated international boundaries that separate the two countries up to date. After the Iraq-Iran war, the Iraqi government became indebted to a number of Arab countries in addition to Kuwait (“Persian Gulf War”). The Iraqi government intended to repay its debts by raising the price of oil through OPEC oil production cuts. Unfortunately for Iraq, Kuwait raised its oil production, which, in turn, lowered the prices of oil. This was an effort by Kuwait to influence their border row with Iraq. Kuwait also capitalized on the Iran-Iraq War and commenced on slant drilling for oil illegally in Iraqi oil reserves, namely, the Ar-Rumaylah oil fields. Besides, Kuwait set up military stations on Iraqi territory at their border. In addition, the Iraqi government was trying to renege on its obligation to pay debts to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by claiming that they had bulwark for them against Iran (“Persian Gulf War”).

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Consequently, Saddam Hussein felt that he was justified to go to war against Kuwait, and he sent his troops to raid Kuwait. Iraqi government forces took over Kuwait’s oil fields and set ablaze some of them. The war between Iraq and Kuwait began when tensions between the two countries escalated to the point that Saddam Hussein positioned his troops along the common border with Kuwait before ordering them to invade the country in August, 1990. The United Nations attempted to stop the attack on Kuwait by imposing Resolution 661 against Iraq. Resolution 661 was a trade impediment that restricted Iraq’s economy in terms of trade. Unfortunately, this resolution did not work, and Iraq continued on its illegal foray into Kuwait (Fitzgerald, n.d).

Fitzgerald (n.d.) states that the United States embarked on Operation Desert Shield, which was aimed at liberating Kuwait from Iraq on August 7, 1990. France and the United Kingdom later sent troops to boost the American military man power to effectively fight the Iraqi troops.

The End of the First Gulf War

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The United Nations, through the Security Council, placed economic sanctions on Iraq known as Resolution 661 when it became obvious that the invasion was unjust. The Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz met the US Secretary of State on January 9, 1991 in an effort to resolve the issue amicably. The United Nations later passed Resolution 678 whereby Iraq was given an ultimatum to withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January, 1991. Failure to withdraw from Kuwait would result in the use of military force to eject Iraq from Kuwait. However, Iraqi troops failed to leave Kuwait by 16 January, 1991( Khadduri & Ghareeb, 2001). An alliance of thirty-four countries, including the United States of America, started an operation Desert Storm, which began on January 16, 1991. A six-week air offensive, which was aimed at destroying Iraqi military infrastructure and communal infrastructure, was launched by the allied forces and led by the United States of America. The Iraqi forces were unable to effectively retaliate against the allied forces and instead, opted to instigate Scud missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and Israel to cease Arab backing for the war. The ground offensive by the allied forces against Iraq began on 24 February, 1991. Iraqi troops were no match for the well-equipped allied forces, and Kuwait was soon liberated ( Khadduri & Ghareeb, 2001).

In conclusion, the First Gulf War was instigated by both Iraq and Kuwait with Iraq being the culprit due to its frequent disagreements with its immediate neighbors and the greed to control Kuwait’s vast oil reserves. Eventually, Operation Desert Storm, which saw the ejection of Iraq from Kuwait, marked the end of the war between these two countries.

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