The Persian Gulf War and its aftermath

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The decision by the west to repel the Iraqi invasion had as much to do with preventing an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia, a nation of far more importance to the world than Kuwait. The rapid success of the Iraqi army against Kuwait had brought Iraq's army within easy striking distance of the Hama oil fields, Saudi Arabia's most valuable oil fields.

The Gulf War and Its Aftermath

Iraqi control of these fields as well as Kuwait and Iraqi reserves would have given it an unprecedented monopoly in the vital commodity. Saudi Arabia could put up little more resistance than Kuwait and the entire world believed the temptation for Saddam to further advance his ambitions would prove too great. The entire world — especially the oil hungry states of the United States, Europe and Japan — saw such an oil monopoly as very dangerous. Iraq had a number of grievances with Saudi Arabia.

The concern over debts stemming from the Iran-Iraq war was even greater when applied to Saudi Arabia, which Iraq owed some 26 billion dollars. The long desert border was also ill-defined. Rapidly after his victory over Kuwait Saddam began verbally attacking the Saudi kingdom. He argued that the American-supported Kingdom was an illegitimate guardian of holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Saddam combined the language of the Islamist groups that had recently fought in Afghanistan with the rhetoric Iran had long used to attack the Saudis.

The addition of Allahu Akbar to the flag of Iraq and images of Saddam praying in Kuwait were part of a plan to win the support of the Muslim Brotherhood and detach Islamist Mujahideen from Saudi Arabia. These attacks on Saudi Arabia escalated as western troops poured into the country. On August 8, Iraq declared parts of Kuwait to be extensions of the Iraqi province of Basra and the rest to be the 19th province of Iraq.

Military buildup continued from there, eventually reaching , troops. The consensus among military analysts is that until October, the American military forces in the area would have been insufficient to stop an invasion of Saudi Arabia had Iraq attempted one.

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One of the most important was Resolution , passed on November 29, giving Iraq a withdrawal deadline of January 15, , and authorizing "all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution ", a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force. Many of the coalition forces were reluctant to join; some felt that the war was an internal Arab affair; others feared increasing American influence in Kuwait.

In the end, many nations were persuaded by offers of economic aid or debt forgiveness. The United States went through a number of different public justifications for their involvement in the conflict. The first reasons given were the importance of oil to the American economy and the United States' longstanding friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia.

However, some Americans were dissatisfied with these explanations and "No Blood For Oil" became a rallying cry for domestic peace activists, though opposition never reached the size of opposition to the Vietnam War. Later justifications for the war included Iraq's history of human rights abuses under President Saddam Hussein, the potential that Iraq may develop nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction, and that "naked aggression [against Kuwait] will not stand.

This firm went on to manufacture a fake campaign, which described Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals and letting them die on the floor. The fifteen-year-old girl testifying before Congress was later revealed to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States; the supposed surgeon testifying at the UN was in fact a dentist who later admitted to having lied. Various peace proposals were floated, but none were agreed to. The United States insisted that the only acceptable terms for peace were Iraq's full, unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait.

Iraq insisted that withdrawal from Kuwait must be "linked" to a simultaneous withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and Israeli troops from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon. Soon after the other states in the coalition did the same.

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A day after the deadline set in Resolution , the coalition launched a massive air campaign codenamed Operation Desert Storm: more than 1, sorties per day, beginning early morning on January 17, Weapons used included smart bombs, cluster bombs, daisy cutters and cruise missiles. Iraq responded by launching 8 Scud missiles into Israel the next day. The first priority for coalition forces was destruction of the Iraqi air force and anti-aircraft facilities. This was quickly achieved and for the duration of the war Coalition aircraft could operate largely unchallenged.

Despite Iraq's better-than-expected anti-aircraft capabilities, only one coalition aircraft was lost in the opening day of the war.

Secrets of the Gulf War, Oil, Saddam, Hipocrisy and unkown history of Kuwait (1991)

Stealth aircraft were heavily used in this phase to elude Iraq's extensive SAM systems and anti-aircraft weapons; once these were destroyed, other types of aircraft could more safely be used. The sorties were launched mostly from Saudi Arabia and the six coalition aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf. The next Coalition targets were command and communication facilities.

Saddam had closely micromanaged the Iraqi forces in the Iran-Iraq War and initiative at the lower levels was discouraged. Coalition planners hoped Iraqi resistance would quickly collapse if deprived of command and control. The first week of the air war saw a few Iraqi sorties but these did little damage, and thirty-eight Iraqi MiGs were shot down by Coalition planes. Soon after, the Iraqi airforce began fleeing to Iran. On January 23, Iraq began dumping approximately 1 million tons of crude oil into the gulf, causing the largest oil spill in history.

The third and largest phase of the air campaign targeted military targets throughout Iraq and Kuwait: Scud missile launchers, weapons of mass destruction sites, weapons research facilities and naval forces. About one third of the Coalition airpower was devoted to attacking Scuds. In addition, it targeted facilities useful for both the military and civilians: electricity production facilities, telecommunications equipment, port facilities, oil refineries and distribution, railroads and bridges. Electrical power facilities were destroyed across the country.

At the end of the war, electricity production was at four percent of its pre-war levels. Bombs destroyed the utility of all major dams, most major pumping stations and many sewage treatment plants. In most cases, the Allies avoided hitting civilian-only facilities. However, on February 13, , two laser-guided "smart bombs" destroyed an air raid shelter in Baghdad killing hundreds of Iraqis.

Iraq launched missile attacks on coalition bases in Saudi Arabia and on Israel, in the hopes of drawing Israel into the war and drawing other Arab states out of it. This strategy proved ineffective. Israel did not join the coalition, and all Arab states stayed in the coalition except Jordan, which remained officially neutral throughout. On January 29, Iraq attacked and occupied the abandoned Saudi city of Khafji with tanks and infantry.

Marines with close air support over the following two days. On February 22, , Iraq agreed to a Soviet-proposed cease-fire agreement. The agreement called for Iraq to withdraw troops to pre-invasion positions within three weeks following a total cease-fire, and called for monitoring of the cease-fire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council. The US rejected the proposal but said that retreating Iraqi forces would not be attacked, and gave twenty-four hours for Iraq to begin withdrawing forces.

US forces pulled plows along Iraqi trenches, burying their occupants alive.

Persian Gulf War

Soon after, a convoy of Marines penetrated deep into Iraqi territory, collecting thousands of deserting Iraqi troops, weakened and demoralized by the extensive air campaign. The US anticipated that Iraq might use chemical weapons; General Colin Powell later suggested that a US response to such an act might have been to destroy dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, drowning Baghdad in water, though this was never fully developed as a plan.

Saudi political leadership was challenged when Iraq , after having rejected attempted Saudi mediation, reasserted its earlier claims and invaded neighbouring Kuwait on August 2, , precipitating the Persian Gulf War — Fearing that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq might invade Saudi Arabia next despite Saudi assistance to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War , the Saudis, breaking with tradition, invited the United States and other countries to send troops to protect the kingdom. By mid-November the United States had sent , troops, which were the most important part of the coalition force that ultimately included soldiers from many other countries.

The Saudis adroitly coordinated Arab and Muslim contingents and also established diplomatic ties with China , the Soviet Union , and, later, Iran. King Fahd expanded his goal beyond the protection of Saudi Arabia to include the liberation of Kuwait and, if possible, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. With approval from Saudi Arabia secured in advance, the coalition, with some , troops more than , from the United States , attacked Iraq by air on January 16—17, In the four-day ground war that began on February 24, Saudi troops, including the National Guard, helped defeat the Iraqis and drive them out of Kuwait.

Despite the clear military victory, the full implications of the war for Saudi Arabia were not immediately known. A certain malaise set in, with various groups questioning the wisdom of the royal family and demanding accountability.

The Gulf War in retrospect – Foreign Policy

Many citizens questioned how a regime that had spent such vast sums on defense would, in the end, be required to call on the help of non-Muslim outsiders when it felt threatened. In the internal political sphere, two opposition movements emerged, one Islamist and the other liberal and modernist, and forced Fahd to undertake several initiatives. The economic impact of the Persian Gulf War was considerable, as Saudi Arabia housed and assisted not only foreign troops but also Kuwaiti civilians while at the same time expelling Yemenis and Jordanians , whose countries had supported Iraq diplomatically.

Saudi Arabia purchased new weapons from abroad, increased the size of its own armed forces, and gave financial subsidies to a number of foreign governments. Higher Saudi oil production and substantially higher prices in the world oil market provided some compensation for the Saudi economy. However, gross domestic product per capita grew only marginally through the s and in real terms actually fell in some years.

This disquiet added to a subsequent rise in civil unrest.


Whereas Fahd was responding to demands for greater governmental accountability, the first and second decrees contained a number of quasi-constitutional clauses. The Saudi dilemma was to respond to dissent while making as few actual changes in the status quo as possible. The Consultative Council Statute set up an advisory body of 60 later expanded to members plus a chairman. While convoking a council gave the appearance of a step toward a more representative government, the council actually was appointed by the king and could be dissolved by him at will.

Their main grievance was that the regime failed to act according to what the opposition defined as proper Islamic norms in foreign and domestic affairs. The regime tried to rely on clerics with whom it had close ties to reign in the dissidents, but to no avail. The committee was not a Western-style human rights organization—as its English-language sobriquet might suggest—but an Islamist opposition group that demanded that the regime act according to the strict Islamic norms on which the country had been founded.

Its original members were clerics and university faculty, and it was quick to disseminate its message via telephone facsimile and, later, the Internet. The Islamist challenge that faced the regime was an especially troubling one inasmuch as the regime itself had risen to power and maintained its status by appealing to those same Islamic symbols. The group thereafter operated abroad, in London, until it split in