Kuwait and Iraq war began in August 2, 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. The war is also known as the Persian War. It ended in February 28, 1991 after the intervention of the United States and the condemnation of Iraq by the international community led by the United Nations. The United Nations gave an authorization of a coalition force from a combination of 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to its invasion and annexation of Kuwait. Iraq’s action to invade Kuwait led to immediate economic sanctions against the Iraq by the members of the United Nations Security Council. President George H.W. Bush, the US president urged other countries to mobile their forces and join them in war against Iraq (Finlan, 2003). The countries that took part were Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Kingdom. Saudi Arabia was the leading financial contributor, contributing an estimated US$36 billion of the US$60 billion of the total cost of the war.
The war started after Kuwait was accused by Iraq of stealing its oil through slant drilling. However, according to some sources, Iraq leader, Saddam Hussein had already planned earlier to invade Kuwait. Some of the reasons cited for Iraq’s invasion in Kuwait include the high debt that Iraq owed Kuwait which was over US$80 billion. Kuwait had lend the money to Iraq for Iraq to finance its war against Iran in early 1980s. The second reason for Iraq’s invasion into Kuwait is believed to be the overproduction of oil by Kuwait that rendered Iraq’s revenues from oil to be low and as a result, causing damages to its economy. Petroleum prices had collapsed affecting the economy of Iraqi. The government of Iraq led by Saddam Hussein described the catastrophic as an economic warfare that was motivated by Kuwait’s slant drilling activities near the Iraq-Kuwait border into the oil field of Rumaila in Iraq (Finlan, 2003). In addition, Iraq was referring to Kuwait as a country to be its natural territory that was annexed during the British Imperialism. After United Kingdom granted Iraq independence in 1932, the government of Iraq declared Kuwait as part of their territory.
On various occasions, Iraq President, Saddam Hussein was criticizing the Kuwait government, which was one its main creditors for exceeding its set oil production quota by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Iraq had massive debt as a result of the eight year war with Iran and that had crippled its economy. During the previous decade, especially the during the war with Iran, Iraq had established close links with the United States that supported Iraq against Iran (Finlan, 2003).
The United Nations intervened almost immediately after the invasion. A delegation from Kuwait and the US met with the UN Security Council and passed the Resolution 660 which condemned the invasion on the sovereignty of Kuwait, consequently, demanding an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The Arab League nations also agreed on a solution to end the conflict by demanding Iraq to withdraw its forces from Kuwait, a move that was only opposed by Libya, Iraq, and PLO. In addition, the Arab League rejected military intervention from outside the Arab countries preferring to solve the problem among themselves (Finlan, 2003). On August 6, 1990, the United Nations Resolution 661 was passed. The resolution placed economic sanctions on Iraq.
Soon after the UN Resolution 661, the UN Security Council Resolution 665 was passed. The resolution gave an authorization for a naval blockade to take responsibility of enforcing the economic sanctions passed against Iraq. During the period of the conflict, the United States and the United Kingdom demanded on total pullout of Iraqi and its forces from Kuwait. However, Saddam was adamant, demanding on the other for the withdrawal of Israel from some Arab states and Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. On 29 November 1990, the United Nations agreed on a Security Council resolution 678 that demanded for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991. The resolution also gave other states empowerment to employ all the necessary means to ensure that Iraq is driven out of Kuwait after the deadline lapsed. Consequently, France also presented a proposal to the UN Security Council on January 14, 1991 that called for Iraq to massively withdraw its forces from Kuwait (Finlan, 2003).
On August 7, 1990, the US sent its troops to Saudi Arabia out of fear that Iraq could advance and attack the oil fields in Saudi Arabia. The operation was given the codename, “Operation Desert Shield”. Several other Arab League resolutions and UN Security Council resolutions were passed on Iraq’s invasion into Kuwait. The coalition led by the US comprised 34 other nations that included Argentina, France, and the United Kingdom. On 17 January 1991, an extensive offensive aerial bombing began led by the United States. The war continued until late February when Kuwait was officially liberated from Kuwait. During the more, an estimated 1000 Kuwait civilians lost their lives and over 30000 Kuwait citizens escaped the country (Finlan, 2003). However, calm was restored and the Emir of Kuwait who had spent over 8 months in exile returned to the country on March 15, 1991. In December 2002, just before the invasion of Iraq by the US led coalition forces, Saddam Hussein gave an apology for invading Kuwait. In addition, after 2 years, the leadership of Palestine also gave an apology for supporting Saddam’s wartime activities.
- Finlan, A. (2003). The Gulf War 1991. New York: Routledge.