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
weaponry.
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