Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War (August 2, 1990) - History Key

Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War (August 2, 1990)

This day in history in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait in a two-day operation. The Iraqi troops occupied Kuwait for seven months which eventually led to war, a war also known as the Gulf War. Officially, Iraq refused to withdraw from Kuwait which led to military intervention by a United Nation coalition forces, led by the United States.

A Kuwait M-84 tank during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Kuwait continues to maintain strong relations with the coalition of the Gulf War
A Kuwait M-84 tank during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Kuwait continues to maintain strong relations with the coalition of the Gulf War © Tech. Sgt. H. H. Deffner /Image Source: Wikipedia

For a timeline of the war, check out our video:

Let’s continues this article with a WikiLeaks disclosure. First of all, the Americans forced the invasion of Kuwait?

For sure, nobody knows. On July 25, 1990, Saddam Hussein sent a message to President Bush through US ambassador from Baghdad, April Glaspie saying that Hosni Mubarak arranged a diplomatic meeting between Iraq and Kuwait. After this meeting another one took place right before the invasion. Until then, Saddam Hussein promised that nothing will happen.

Mubarak in West Berlin in 1989
Mubarak in West Berlin in 1989 © Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-P115717 / CC-BY-SA 3.0/Image Source: Wikipedia

Friend or foe?

“Iraq wants the friendship of the US and also the US wants the friendship of Iraq?” Saddam Hussein asked himself in that message. The problem probably lies in the fact that Iraq has financed its eight-year war with Iran through massive loans from Kuwait. After the war, Iraq was very close to bankruptcy and the Iraqis desperately needed to raise the price of oil.

This couldn’t happen precisely because the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait flooded the oil market and maintained the low price. According to the message sent by Saddam Hussein, Kuwait encouraged by the US diplomatic support, refused to help Iraq. This decision profoundly affected the Iraq’s economy, which could no longer pay the pensions of the veterans.

At that time, Iraq had over $40 billion of debt, but Saddam watched the outcome of the Iraq-Iran war as a major victory for the Arab world, which could also help the West. In other words, Saddam Hussein considered that Iraq needed a “Marshall International Plan” and the low price of oil is not a solution.

“The manoeuvres between the US government and United Arab Emirates encourage Kuwait to ignore the diplomatic conventions. If Iraq will be publicly humiliated by the US, we will have to answer, no matter how illogical and self-destructive it would seem.” Saddam Hussein, 1990

Saddam seen talking to Michel Aflaq, the founder of ba'athist thought, in 1988
Saddam seen talking to Michel Aflaq, the founder of ba’athist thought, in 1988 © Image Source: Wikipedia

Friendly message

Saddam asked April Glaspie to deliver the friendly message to Bush, saying that Iraq is ready to resume the diplomatic negotiations. Despite of the misunderstandings, Iraq still hopes to maintain friendly relations, but Saddam considered that those who are forcing to keep a low price of the oil are inciting an economic war.

“Every country (referring to Kuwait) has the right to choose its friends”. Even more, Saddam ask the Americans if they would allow losing 10,000 soldiers in a single battle, as Iraq did. In other words, the dictator understood that the US wanted to buy cheap oil, but couldn’t agree with the diplomatic and economic sabotage set by the US, UAE and Kuwait.

Anyway, after long discussions, the US ambassador thanked Saddam for the opportunity to discuss the issues that worry both sides. She reminded him that Bush also wanted friendship between the two countries.

As you probably know, the meetings didn’t have any desired effect. On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, accusing it of stealing its oil. The invasion was immediately condemned by the United Nations.

More than 600 Kuwaiti oil wells were set on fire by retreating Iraqi forces, causing massive environmental and economic damage to Kuwait
More than 600 Kuwaiti oil wells were set on fire by retreating Iraqi forces, causing massive environmental and economic damage to Kuwait © Jonas Jordan, United States Army Corps of Engineers/ www.hq.usace.army.mil/Image Source: Wikipedia

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