War - I
The Persian Gulf
War originated with Iraqi's invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. Iraqi
president Saddam Hussein declared that the invasion was a response to
overproduction of oil and illegally pumping for more than $2 billion in oil from a contested reserve that lay beneath both countries. Iraq also demanded Kuwait cancel the debt Iraq owed from the Iran-Iraq War.
The UN Security Council called for Iraq to withdraw and subsequently
embargoed most trade with Iraq. On Aug. 7, U.S. troops moved into Saudi
Arabia to protect Saudi oil reserves. On Nov. 29, the UN set Jan. 15, 1991,
as the deadline for the withdrawal of hostile forces from seized territory.
When Saddam Hussein refused to comply, Operation Desert Storm was launched
on Jan. 18, 1991, under the leadership of U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.
The conflict between Iraq and the U.S. led coalition of 32 nations including
the United States, Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (as
The coalition began a massive air war to destroy Iraq's forces and military
and civil infrastructure. Iraq called for terrorist attacks against the
coalition and launched Scud missiles at Israel (in an unsuccessful attempt
to widen the war and break up the coalition) and at Saudi Arabia. The main
coalition forces invaded Kuwait and S Iraq on Feb. 24 and, over the next
four days, encircled and defeated the Iraqis and liberated Kuwait. When U.S.
President George H. W. Bush declared a cease-fire on Feb. 28, most of the
Iraqi forces in Kuwait had either surrendered or fled.
Although the first gulf war was a decisive military victory for the
coalition. While the allied could count their losses in a few hundreds (148
battle deaths, 145 nonbattle deaths), Iraq lost around 60,000 troops. (the
U.S. estimated that more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers died, 300,000 were
wounded, 150,000 deserted and 60,000 were taken prisoner. Many human rights
groups claimed a much higher number of Iraqis were killed in action.)
The U.S. Department of Defense has estimated the cost of the Gulf War at $61
billion; however, other sources say that number could be as high as $71
billion. The operation was financed by more than $53 billion pledged by
countries around the world, most of which came from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and
other Gulf States ($36 billion) and Germany and Japan ($16 billion).
The war also resulted in heavy environmental catastrophes in the Persian
Gulf, and the start of internal independence fight in Iraq, as well as years
of dwindling economical and humanitarian conditions inside Iraq.
The war almost toppled Saddam Hussein. During the war, Mossad agents tried
to kill him, but without success. Following the ceasefire of February 28,
1991, popular uprisings against him were suppressed only with great
The war came to leave Iraq divided into 3 to 4 zones. The area under
Saddam's direct control was central Iraq between 36 and 38 degree latitude.
North of this, an autonomous Kurdish region emerged. This was divied into
two rivalling areas, of which Masud Barzani's with the help of Saddam became
the strongest. In the south, there is official control by Baghdad, but this
is badly exercised, and lawless conditions dominate in many areas.
Coalition peace terms such as to pay for damages in Kuwait, to destroy its
chemical and biological weapons, as well as weapons of mass destruction were
agreed to by Iraq, but every effort was made to frustrate implementation of
the terms, particularly UN weapons inspections.
In 1993 the United States, France, and Britain launched several air and
cruise-missile strikes against Iraq in response to provocations, including
an alleged Iraqi plan to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush. An
Iraqi troop buildup near Kuwait in 1994 led the United States to send forces
to Kuwait and nearby areas.
Continued resistance to weapons inspections led to a U.S. military buildup
in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Iraq was reluctant to cooperating with UN
inspectors, resulting in sanctions that prohibited the import of products
that could be used military purposes, many medicines and foodstuffs etc.,
and British bombing raids against Iraq began again in Nov., 1998, and
continued into 1999.
In 2001 and even more in 2002, USA started a campaign both in media as well
as in United Nations to resume the inspections on Iraq. Towards the end of
2002, it was clear that USA was preparing on going to war.
The US defined background for the waging war was officially that Iraq
represented a threat to its neighbours by its weapons of mass destruction.
"Weapons of mass destruction" was defined as bacteriological and
chemical substances, weaponry to carry this into neighbouring countries, as
well as possibly nuclear weapons, or at least a programme for developing
In late 2002 UN inspectors were admitted back into Iraq following UN
Security Resolution 1441 and the clear threat of military action from the
USA if Iraq did not comply.
The inspectors resumed the control work for establishing any breach on the
military regulations imposed on Iraq following the cease fire in 1991. They
inspected areas indicated both by Iraqi reports, UN reports and US, British
and Israeli intelligence. The inspectors reports indicated that Iraq was
cooperating very reluctantly, but that there were no serious breach on the
In all cases where USA had indicated suspected areas, the inspectors
concluded that the areas contained nothing suspicious. In early March, the
leader of the UN inspectors, Hans Blix stated that the cooperation from
Iraqi side was much improved and that he wanted to inspections to continue
for a period of a few months more.
In February 2003, Colin Powell presented some evidence to the UN Security
Council that was quickly ridiculed by many Western journalists and experts,
both because they were non-conclusive in every respect, and because they
represented nothing new compared to earlier reports.
As USA set out to liberate Iraq from its "dictator", commentators
close to the regime of Washington indicated that a war campaign would be
swift, and that US forces would be hailed as liberators by Iraqi civilians,
and that Iraqi soldiers would lay down their weapons as soon as they faced
the strength of the US military.
March 18, 2003 the US President George W. Bush gives a final ultimatum to
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, not to disarm fully, but to leave the
country together with his sons (Saddam is married and have 5 children, 2
boys and 3 girls. Uday, the oldest son, was crippled in an assassination
attempt, while the other, Qusay holds the important positions of controlling
the elite Revolutionary Guards and the Special Forces which secures Saddam's
grip on power.) within 48 hours. Bush says that unless this happens, US
forces will attack Iraq in order to remove him from power.