Iraq Kuwait War Cause And Effect Essay

Causes and Effects of the Persian Gulf War Essay

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Causes and Effects of the Persian Gulf War

The Persian Gulf War, often referred to as Operation Desert Storm, was perhaps one of the most successful war campaigns in the history of warfare. Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq, invaded Kuwait in 1990. In 1991, after weeks of air strikes, US ground forces entered Iraq and Kuwait and eliminated Iraqi presence in 60 hours.

Why Would Iraq invade Kuwait?

Kuwait supplies much of the world’s oil supplies, and when Hussein invaded Kuwait, he controlled 24% of the world’s oil supplies (O’Hara). Though this is a good reason, it is not the only one. Iraq’s real excuse for annexing Kuwait was that he believed that Kuwait was producing more oil than it was supposed to, taking out of Iraq’s…show more content…

Just before the United States began air strikes over Iraq, Hussein decided to test his new weapon on the city of Iraq. Little damage was caused, but it just was another excuse for the United States to attack (NSA).

What happened after the Persian Gulf War?

“Because the world would not look the other way…tonight, Kuwait is free.” Those were the words of President Bush after the end of Operation Desert Storm. Though free, Kuwait was a war torn country. While Iraqi troops were retreating, they set fire to many of the Kuwait oil fields causing a constant blaze. Along with a defeat, Iraq has to accept strict cease-fire terms set on by the UN. They include No-Fly-Zones on the north and south borders of Iraq, frequent military inspections, destroy all chemical and ballistic missiles in its possession, and stop any nuclear weapons programs (Brown).

Though only about 367 Americans died in this war, about 160 of them were from friendly fire, which is when someone is killed by their own country on accident. This is because of the new “high-tech” weapons where at times, only infrared light can be read, making it impossible to decipher which is friend or foe (Friendly Fire).

After the war, many of the soldiers who fought developed what is known as Gulf War Syndrome. Speculation is that the cause may be chemical or biological weapons used, but nothing has ever been confirmed (Brown).

Towards the beginning

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1. Geography of Kuwait/Arabian Peninsula
Kuwait is a small, flat country in the North-Eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula. It has huge reserves of oil and a relatively long coastline. It has better access to the Arabian Gulf than its northern neighbor, Iraq, with whom it also shares the Rumaila oil field.

2. 1973 oil crisis
Started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC (consisting of the Arab members of OPEC, plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia) proclaimed an oil embargo.

In the Yom Kippur War of that year, Egypt and Syria, with the support of other Arab nations, launched a military campaign against Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar in order to regain Arab territories lost to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Israel went on full nuclear alert, loading warheads into planes and long-range missiles. The United States chose to re-supply Israel with arms and in response, OAPEC decided to retaliate against the United States, announcing an oil embargo. It lasted until March 1974.

With the Arab nations' actions seen as initiating the oil embargo and the long-term possibility of high oil prices, disrupted supply, and recession, a strong rift was created within NATO. Additionally, some European nations and Japan sought to disassociate themselves from the U.S. policy in the Middle East.

To address these developments, the Nixon Administration began parallel negotiations with both Arab oil producers to end the embargo, and with Egypt, Syria, and Israel to arrange an Israeli pull back from the Sinai and the Golan Heights after the Arabs withdrew from Israeli territory. By January 18, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had negotiated an Israeli troop withdrawal from parts of the Sinai. The promise of a negotiated settlement between Israel and Syria was sufficient to convince Arab oil producers to lift the embargo in March 1974. Howev er the impact of the embargo was to remind Western countries, and the USA in particular, of the importance of the region's oil and the need for positive relations with Arab countries.

3. Islamic Revolution of Iran or the 1979 Revolution

In 1979, the Pahlavi dynasty under Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi (who was supported by the United States) was overthrown. This Sunni kingdom was replaced with an Islamic Republic under the ‘Grand Ayatollah’ Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, and supported by various leftist and Islamic organizations and Iranian student movements. While the Soviet Union immediately recognized the new Islamic Republic, it did not actively support the revolution, initially making efforts to salvage the Shah's government.

The revolution resulted in the exile of many Iranians, and replaced a pro-Western semi-absolute monarchy with an anti-Western authoritarian theocracy based on the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists.

Effects of the revolution on the Middle East

In its region, Iranian Islamic revolutionaries called specifically for the overthrow of monarchies and their replacement with Islamic republics, much to the alarm of its smaller Sunni-run Arab neighbors Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Arabian Gulf States – most of whom were monarchies and all of whom had sizable Shi'a populations.

Islamist insurgents (opposing to western influences) rose in Saudi Arabia (1979), Egypt (1981), Syria (1982), and Lebanon (1983); the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, for instance.

The Iran-Iraq war took place, following a long history of border disputes, motivation by fears that the Iranian Revolution in 1979 would inspire insurgency among Iraq's long-suppressed Shia majority, and Iraq's desire to replace Iran as the dominant Arabian Gulf state.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 are extremely important events that explain the context of the Gulf War. If you want to gain a high level understanding of the Gulf War, it is a good idea to understand the impact of both events. There documentaries on these events that can be found on the relevant pages in the IGCSE tab- look under topic 7 (Events in the Gulf 1970-2000).

Before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait
Since 1935, Saudi oil began to get an attention as a strong political weapon. In the 1970s, US started to officially get involved with the regional security. After the collapse of Shah’s government in Iran, the US were faced with growing Soviet influence and stronger anti US sentiment. US didn’t want the USSR to influence the region, so therefore it put its large economic and military resources in the region. Iraq, for instance, received billions in aid from the US; which was used to buy armaments. However, communist governments in Eastern Europe had already collapsed in 1989 and the USSR was in the process of collapsing by the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Causes of the Gulf War

Long Term Causes
In regards to economics, the Iran-Iraq War fuelled the Gulf War.

In 1979, the pro-American, pro-Western Shah of Iran was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution and a new anti-Western Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. In response to that the United States of America began to support the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein to act as a counter-weight to Iran. Though Iraq and Iran are both nations with a Shi'ite Muslim majority, Iran's leadership was Shi'ite while Iraq's was Sunni Islam. Furthermore Saddam's oppressive regime oppressed the rights of an Iraqi Kurdistan which Iran supported. Soon enough with these tensions Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. The war only ended in 1988 and went on for 8 years.
Though Saddam emerged from the war, self-proclaimed as the victor, it left both Iran and Iraq in economic turmoil. The damage to Iraq was very high and costly. Saddam had already been forced to borrow large loans to fund the war, and how in order to repair the damage done to Iraq he would need more money. Though Iraq had a large oil supply, it relied heavily on it and was not sufficient to repair the economy back to the way it was for at least decades to come. Additionally, Iraq had been out-maneuvered during the 1980's by Kuwait, who had not been at war and had a longer coastline. Kuwait was able to utilize this coastline to export more oil quicker, in effect flooding the market with cheaper Kuwaiti oil.

Iraq's relationship to the West and the decline of the Soviet Union.

Saddam fostered good relations with the West especially the United States and France and in 1982, the United States removed Iraq from its list of terrorist nations to trade with it and provide it with weaponry and support it in the war and in other events as well. The friendship between Chirac and Saddam got Iraq millions of francs in weaponry and technology.
These warm relations with the great powers of the West made Saddam confident that if he acted militarily he would not be invaded or be threatened by the United States or any great power. Furthermore, with the decline of the Soviet influence in the area (as seen with the failure of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan), made Saddam become more confident that the Soviet Union would not be able to deter him or interfere. He also could not rely on the same level of funding from either side as the Cold War was coming to an end.

Short Term Causes
Why did he attack?
  • Saddam was faced with a potentially severe economic crisis following the Iran-Iraq war. To many Iraqis, the war had been total and had stymied industrial output and oil production. He also faced the dilemma of how to demobilize a huge army- the Iraqi Army was 1,000,000 soldiers strong- without further disrupting the economy. Maybe more pertinently, Saddam had faced 4 assassination attempts since the end of the Iran-Iraq War and knew that Iraq politics had a bloody and violent past as monarchs and past leaders had been brutally killed in both 1958 and 1963.
  • Hussein’s argument for OPEC quotas-Since Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) Iraq had to pay $230billion dollars for reconstruction after the war. Hussein asked the OPECs to increase the selling price of oil since it had least amount sold in comparison to other nations. The Gulf states refused this request and insisted that Saddam repay the loans they had given him to fight the Iran-Iraq war.
  • US & Iraq had military and economic ties; large support from US for the purpose of restraining Saudi Arabia. These were in danger of decline after the Cold War and the US were looking to build a "peace dividend" by cutting down on defense spending. Some Western governments were becoming increasingly concerned by Saddam's human rights record- a British journalist had been hanged for espionage in early 1990. Human Rights in Iraq had become a bigger issue in the post-Cold War world and after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.
  • US Ambassador told Saddam, “we have no opinion…on your border disagreement with Kuwait”-It is likely that Saddam gained confidence.
Attack on Kuwait

August 1st, 1990 Saddam Hussein ordered his army to invade his neighbor, Kuwait. The next day the Iraqi invasion began with 100,000 soldiers and 2,000 tanks. Within a day, most of Kuwait was conquered and the Iraqi army was moved to the Kuwait/Saudi Arabia border. On 28th of August, Kuwait proclaimed the 19th province of Iraq.

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