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Gulf War History                                  


Gulf War  A  Brief History    (Part - I  &   Part - II)

Gulf 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 shield force).

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 difficulties.

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 nuclear weapons.

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 regulations. 

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.

Gulf War  -  II

War launched by US and British forces against Iraq on March 20, 04.45 : 2003 (Baghdad time). 

The war was started without the support of the United Nations, where strong members like France, Russia, China and Germany all opposed the war, and supported the request of the UN inspectors to continue their control work inside Iraq.

USA claimed that 30 countries openly supported the action, and that 15 or more were anonymous supporters.

US forces start bombing Baghdad, aiming at a position believed to be held by Saddam Hussein. Special forces invade the country from south in order to clear the passageway for ground troops in the real invasion. 

The initial attacks was aimed at taking control over the Rumaylah oil fields along the border towards Kuwait, the city of Umm Qasr to secure the deliveries of provisions and military equipment, and through the uninhabited desert towards Baghdad.

Iraqi forces gave fierce resistance from small strategic pockets at the places where US forces advanced. There have hardly been any Iraqi soldier surrendering without fight. The local population of Iraqi receives US troops only with the utmost suspicion. 

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