Iraqi as a result of the War Sadam began with Iran (1980-88) had ammassed an enormous debt--a substantail part of it to Kuwait. Saddam demanded that Kuwait forgive the debt. He also accussed Kuwait of over producing oil, keeping prices low. As tensions rose, Saddam personally assured Egyptian Ptesident Mubarack, who attempted to mediate, that he would never invade Kuwait. Claiming that Kuwait was in reality the 19th province of Iraq, he ordered his army in 1990 to conduct a new surprise attack, this time south to Kuwait. Saddam struck on August 2, 1990 with two armored divisions, a division of mechanized infantry, and a special forces division. The attack was spearheaded by the elite Republican Guard. The special forces division employed helicopters and boats to assault Kuwait City. With its minimal military force, Kuwait was in Saddam's hands in a matter of hours. Sadam's military and police units launched a reign of terror in that country until expelled by an international coalition in Opperation Desert Storm during 1991.
Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran bringing about the largest war between Muslim states in history (1980). It resulted in hundreds of thousands probably more than a million casualties, including countless poorly trained Irainan boy soldiers. Sadam was concerned about the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the potential impact on Shite Iraqis. Border skirmishes occurred in September 1980 with artillery exchanges on both sides. Saddam as a result officially abrogated the 1975 treaty between Iraq and Iran and decalred that the Shatt al Arab waterway between the two countries belonged to Iraq. Iran rejected this and hostilities escalated. The two countries conducted bombing raids into each other's territory. Saddam felt that a quick victory over the Iranians was possible. He anticipated the Arabic-speaking, oil-rich area of Khuzistan would rise up against Ayatolah Khomeini's fundamentalist Islamic regime. This did not occur and the Arab minority in Iran remained loyal to Iran. Saddam began the War with a surprise air attack designed to destroy the Iraina air force on the ground--a tactic learned from the Isrealis. Iraqui Soviet-supplied MiG-23s and MiG21s on September 22, 1980, attacked major Iranian air bases. They caused substantial damage, but did not knock out the Iranian Air Force which launched its American supplied F-4 Phantoms to strike targets near major Iraqi cities. Coordinating with the air strikes, Saddam ordered six Iraqi army divisions into Iran on three fronts. This surprise attack was successful and drove 8 kilometers into Iran.
Kuwait's sovereignty was again critically threatened in the aftermath of the Iraq- Iran War (1980-88). Iraqi dictator Sadam Husein bankupted by war with Iran that he launched, demanded Kuwati aid. Iraqi as a result of the War Sadam began with Iran (1980-88) had ammassed an enormous debt--a substantail part of it to Kuwait. Saddam demanded that Kuwait forgive the debt when the Kuwatis refused, Saddam escalted the differences between the two countries. He also accussed Kuwait of over producing oil, keeping prices low. Saddam also accused Kuwait of virtually stealing oil from the Iraqi side of the shared Rumaila oil field. Iraq and Kuwait also had a lingering dispute over two Persian Gulf islands. Saddam saw many benefits to be gained in Kuwait and began threatening an invasion. Kuwait resisted the Iraqi demands, not believing Saddam would actually carry out his threats. Arabs like to think of themselves as one large nation and no Arab state had ever invaded another in the modern era. Ominosly, outlandish propaganda broadcast from Baghdad began. The Kuwati Government made no real effort to prepare militarily for the attack or request American military assistance. [Hart]
As tensions rose, the international community attempted to prevent Saddam from invading using persuasion. American diplomats warned Saddam of the consequences. Egyptian President Mubarack attempted to mediate and Saddam personally assured that he would never invade Kuwait. The Saudis also attempted to mediate. The Kuwaiti Crown Prince met with Itaqi officials on July 31 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but the Iraqis walked out when Kuwait refused to meet Saddam's demands.
When the Kuwaitis refused to meet Sadam's demands, he renewed Iraq's claim. He claimed that Kuwait was in reality the 19th province of Iraq. He ordered his army in 1990 to conduct a new surprise attack, this time south to Kuwait. Saddam struck in the early morning hours with two armored divisions, a division of mechanized infantry, and a special forces division (August 2, 1990). He launch what he thought would be a quick victory at little cost. It reality it was the beginning of what is now known as the Persian Gulf War. The attack was spearheaded by the elite Republican Guard. The special forces division employed helicopters and boats to assault Kuwait City. The small Kuwati Army was unable to effectively resist. With its minimal military force, Kuwait was in Saddam's hands in a matter of hours. Some Kuwati military units engaged the Iraqis, but the Kuwati Royal family probably correctly believing that fighting the Iraqis was futile, fled to Saudia Arabia. By nightfall, all organized Kuwaiti military resistance had virtually ceased. [Hart] Iraqi radio brodcasts described a "glorious national uprising in Kuwait." Iraq on August declared Kuwait its 19th Providence.
Many Kuwaitis fled to Saudi Arabia and other countries.
The Saudis were shocked by the Iraqi invasion and watch with concern as the Iraqi forces reached the border. They asked for U.S. assistance and President Bush immediately dispatched a U.S. Air Force Fighter Squadron and the 82nd Airborne Division.
Muslim scholars and leaders gathered in Makkah during 1990 at the International Islamic Conference and denounced the Iraqi aggression on Kuwait. They issued the Holy Makkah Document, which condemned Iraq and called upon it to immediately withdraw from Kuwait. This was especially important document as Iraq’s media used the cloak of Islam. Iraq claimed that Iraq is the protector of the Islamic shrines. Islamic scholars found that Saddam's actions and behaviour were far from Islam or any other religion’s dogma. The creed of the Iraqi Government, meaning Saddam, was heresy and the approach was tyranny. The document was a true testimony condemning Iraq. It confirmed the right of Kuwait to restore its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and called for measures to
liberate it. [Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait] The UN Security Council passed Resolution 661 imposing mandatory economic sanctions on Iraq. The UN on August 8 passed Resolution 662 declaring null and void the Iraqi claim on Kuwait.
Saddam's military and police units launched a reign of terror in that country. The crimes of the Iraqi occupation troops are well document as well as a pattern of cruelty, abuse, and malign neglect under which Kuwait suffered during the Iraqi occupation. [Stevens] The Iraqi occupying firces plundered the possessions of Kuwatis.
Saddam's invasion of Iraq was based on the calculation that America would not react militarily. Saddam told an American diplomat in a meeting after the invasion that he believed "that the United States was unwilling to spill the blood of 10,000 of its youth in the sands of Saudi Arabia, or the Arabian Desert." (August 6, 1990). Saddam's calculation was based on the Iraqi Army's ability to hold off the numerically superior Iranians for 10 years and the American failure in Vietnam. The willinness to withdraw from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marine barracks also impressed Saddam with America's lack of resolution. Saddam was confdent that America would not intervene militarily. His assessment of America was complimented with an utter contempt for the United Nations. Saddam expected some meaningless United Nations resolutiins which he could ignore and proceed to loot Kuwait. His assessmebnt was that he could tie up the issue in the United Nations through diplmacy for 20 years after which Kuwait would have become integrated into Iraq. Only the arrival of American soldiers and airmen in Saudi araboa began to change Saddam's assessment. [Wilson] History is an invaluable tool for modern officials. The Bush Administration took the U.N.'s subsequent failure to deal with Saddam as evidence that the U.N. was of little importance. Joseph Wilson, the diplomat tat met with Saddam, believe's that Saddam's contempt for the U.N. was all the more reason in 2003 to have persued efforts through the U.N. mor vigorosly
Some of Sadam's few supporters in Kuwait were the Palistinisns.
American President George Bush on hearing of the invasion announced, "this will not stand" and ordered military forces to the Gulf to support Saudi Arabia. President Bush announced on August 8 that "a line has been drawn in the sand" (August 8). It turned out to be a watershed day; He also began to organize an international coalition to force Saddam out of Kuwait. When Sadam ignored President Bush's demands that he withdraw, the President organized an international coalition of 30 countries, including many Arab states.
Iraq systematically rounded foreign nationals and claimed to be placing them at different "strategic" sites throughout Iraq and Kuwait. The Iraqi Government began telling their people that their "Human Shields" would help protect key strategic sites as well as ensure peace. [Hart] Saddam had a change of heart and allowed all western hostages to begin departing Iraq and Kuwait in early December.
After assembling a massive military force, the international coalition led by the United States launched an intense aerial campaign (January 1991). The campsign was cristened Desert Storm. Iraq built up a sophisticatd missle defense of Soviet equipment. This was disabled by the new stealth fighters. Desert Storm became a television event. CNN broadcast round-the-clock coverage of conflict as the figting unfolded. The world saw televised footage from cameras placed on smart bombs as descended toward Iraqi targets. General Norman Schwarzkopf supported by General Colin Powell in the Pentagon became the public faces of Desert Storm. Sadam as part of his efforts to hold Kuwait did his best to destroy the countrty's oil industry, setting oil fields ablaze and pumping oil into the Persian Gulf, creating an ecological disaster. The international coalition launched a ground assault liberated Kuwait in 4 days (February 1991). The Iraqi forces in Kuwait collapsed. The number of Iraqi deaths are unknown, but are believed to be in the hundreds of thousands of men. Kuwait had to spend more than $5 billion to repair the damage caused by the Iraqis to their battered oil industry.
Saddam, 12 years after ordering the Iraqi army into Kuwait in 1990, decided to apolgize (December 7, 2002). The appolgy was associated with the submission to the United Nations of its weapon's programs. Saddam stated, "We appolgize to God for any action in the past ... that was considered to be our responsibility, and we appolgize to you on the same basis." There was no peace offer to the Kuwati Government. Rather Saddam, realizing that American military acion would probably be launched from Kuwait, appealed to the Kuwati people. "As you can see, the foreigners are occupying your country in a direct occupation. And as you know, when the foreigners occupy a country, they don't only descecrate the soil, but also the soil, religion and mind." [Iraq Information Ministry, December 7, 2002.] The Kuwati population, most with vivid memories of Iraqi occupation, were unmoved. Saddam made no effort to account for the several thousand Kuwatis still missing or the treasures looted from Kuwati museums.
Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait, Arab Scholars’ Denunciation of the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: A Manuscript Written by Muslim Scholars and Leaders (Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait, 1997), 112p.
Hart, Jr. LTC Fred L. "The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: An Eyewitness Account," U.S. Army War College., undated.
Iraq Information Ministry, December 7, 2002.
Stevens, Richard P. The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: American Reflections (International Education and Communication Group, Washington, DC, 1993), 194p.
War Crimes Documentation Center, Office of the Judge Advocate General Headquarters, Department of Army, Report on Iraqi war crimes, January 8, 1992, released February 1993.
Wilson, Joseph, Oral history project, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Arlington, Vrgia. Recorded January 2001.
Navigate the Children in History Website:
[Return to Main Iraq war essay page]
[Return to Main Kuwait history page ]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]