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  • 1. Rojas 1Maria RojasNovember 18, 2010Dr. Salih and Professor PayneHonors Program: Research Project Kuwait Invasion The decline of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and the rise of British andFrench mandates in the Middle East and North Africa shaped the regions politics, socialchanges, and economics in the twentieth century. Although there has been few positiveoutcomes of British and French dominance in the region, the aftermath has been predominatelycharacterized with adverse affects. One of the problems that has emerged is the boundarydisputes over land, of which the most serious one in the Arabian Gulf region has been betweenIraq and Kuwait. Ever since Kuwait obtained its independency in 1961, Iraq has attempted to invade it onseveral occasions, the most notable one in 1990. Explanations for Iraqs invasion in 1990 couldbe simply be attributed to Saddam Husseins aggressive dictatorship and his attempt for theacquisition of more land, but the reality if far more complex (Klein). It is due to the history ofboth nations under the Ottoman Empire, Western influence in the region, oil prices, and theIranian-Iraqi War in the 1980s.History In the eighteenth century, modern Kuwait was beginning to emerge as a small villageon the Persian Gulf. Although the Ottoman Empire had claimed the Persian Gulf since theseventeenth century, it was in the 19th century when Shaykh Adballah II formally accepted theOttoman title of providential governor, thus becoming "responsible to the Ottoman governor ofBasra for the administration of Kuwait" (Lust 514). In other words, Kuwait became part of theBasra Providence, which was shared among other modern day countries including Iraq. Hence,Kuwait was part of Iraq until World War I and Britains intervention.
  • 2. Rojas 2Western Domination Britains close bonds with Kuwait date back in 1899, when King Mubarak the Greatestablished a secret alliance with Britain after overthrowing his brothers regime (Lust 514).Nevertheless, it was not until after World War I when Britain, as one of the victors of the war,took a more prominent role in the region and Kuwaits affairs. During the 1920s Iraq wasundergoing the rise of Arab nationalism, thus, in order to weaken the movement, Britainblocked Iraq from the Persian Gulf by creating the British colony of Kuwait in 1921. Later onin 1938, the discovery of oil in Kuwait increased its importance to Britain and Western allies. In Iraq, domestic conflicts continued to exist as General Abdel Karim Qassim tookcontrol in 1958. British tensions and unfriendly relations with Qassim further escalated whenBritain declared Kuwaits independency in 1961. Within a week after Britain withdrew fromKuwait, Iraqs first attempt to invade Kuwait took place (Lust 515). The attempt was shortlived, however, as British and Arab forces compelled Iraq to back away, ending with Qassimsdeath in 1963 and the rise of the Baath Party. It was not until 1973 that Iraq invaded again, bypenetrating three kilometers into Kuwait, but soon waned after international pressures.Iran-Iraq War With rise of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the eight year war between Iran and Iraqbegan. Ayatollah Khomeini expressed his desire over spreading his revolutionary ideas in theregion while Saddam Hussein tried to "take advantage of Irans internal instability and militaryweakness... [and become] the hegemon of the Persian Gulf" (Lust 450). Saddam Husseinlaunched the invasion of Iran in 1980 after accusing Iran from attempting to assassinate topBaathist officials while Iran accused of Iraq of being anti-religious and a Western puppet. Noone in the war, however, emerged as victorious, only leaving weak nations and destructionbehind.The 1990 Invasion Iraqs invasion of Kuwait in 1990 should, to some extend, "be viewed as an extension ofthe Iran-Iraq War" (Lust 450). During the war, Kuwait supported Iraq by giving substantialeconomic aid in the form of loans due to its oil production peak in the 1970s. The war withIran, however, left Iraqs infrastructure and economy in ruins, thus it was unable to repay its
  • 3. Rojas 3$13 billion debt to Kuwait (Lust 516). Kuwait refused to waive Iraqs debt, angering SaddamHussein, which according to him, one of the reasons why Iraq fought he war was to liberateKuwait from Iranian interference. Furthermore, Kuwait raised it oils productivity in 1988,undermining OPEC quotas, "driving down global prices and preventing Iraq from rebuilding itsinfrastructure and economy" (Lust 450). Saddam Hussein frustration escalated as he saw hisinability to maintain Iraqs prosperity prior to the war with Iran. In August 2, 1990, Husseinordered the occupation of Kuwait under four proclaimed reasons: (1) Kuwait was historically part of Iraq; (2) Kuwait was stealing $2,400 million worth of oil from Iraq by "slant drilling"---that is, by deliberately building oil wells that angled down across the Kuwait border with Iraq to pump oil from Iraqi territory; (3) Kuwait was overproducing oil in violation of OPECs mandate to lower oil prices, and was, therefore, hurting the Iraqi economy; and (4) Kuwait refused to waive the repayment of funds given to Iraq for its was with Iran. Despite Iraqis warnings of the invasion, Kuwaiti regime failed to take the threatseriously. Thus, when the attack came in August, three-fourths of Kuwaits armed forces wereaway from their posts. The invasion by approximately 120,000 Iraqi troops with 2,00 tanks andarmored vehicles took hold of Kuwaits capital in less than three hours. The occupation, as awhole, lasted seven months (Lust 516). Nonetheless, the United States and Western allies "could not tolerate such an openchallenge to their own security interest," namely oil, and formed a coalition of thirty countriesto retaliated against Iraq (Lust 353). With the decline of the Soviet Union, the Iraq invasion inKuwait was the first test for the United Nations after the cold war. Saddam Hussein could notlonger manipulate the bipolarity that characterized the cold war, and could not get internationalacceptance for his invasion. Hence, Iraq was vulnerable against facing the sole power of theNew World Order. Most of the Arab states had jump on the bandwagon with the United Statesforces with a total of 600,000 troops and in January 17, 1991, the Operation Desert Storm tookplace. The Unites States launched a massive air strike on Iraq, destroying Iraq 80% ofweaponry (Klein). Furthermore, the Allies launched the ground offensive in February 24 andthree days later Kuwait obtained its full liberation (Lust 516).
  • 4. Rojas 4Conclusion After the liberation of Kuwait, the United Nations established the boundaries betweenKuwait and Iraq. Despite Iraqs reluctance to accept the legitimacy of the border given, onNovember 17, 1994, it recognized Kuwait as an independent nation (Karam). The aftermath ofthe invasion demonstrated the changing international politics in the Middle East and NorthAfrica region. Iraqs devastated infrastructure, economy, and military confirmed the risingpower of the New World Order and served to "teach a lesson to those defying the rules" (Lust353). However, the origins of Iraqs invasion of Kuwait cannot be simply explained byrelatively recent events and Western negative attitudes against Saddam Hussein. The causes orreason for the invasion date back to the history of the Ottoman Empire, Western influence inthe region after WWI, discovery of oil reserves, and the Iran-Iraq War that began in 1980.
  • 5. Rojas 5 Works CitedKaram, Jasem. "The Boundary Dispute between Kuwait and Iraq: An Endless Dilemma." DOMES: Digest of Middle East Studies 14.4 (2005): 1-11. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2010.Klein, David. "Mechanisms of Western Domination: A Short History of Iraq and Kuwait". California State University, Jan 2003. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. <http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/iraqkuwait.html>Lust, Ellen ed. The Middle East. Washington D.C.: CQ Press, 2011. Print.