For 16 years ago, in 1990, Iraq was in the searchlight of the media. Their brutal dictator Saddam Hussein threatened Kuwait. He thought about Kuwait like an area that belonged to Iraq, despite Kuwait’s declared freedom in 1961. The purpose with the threats was to force Kuwait to surrender, because Saddam was eager to get ownership over the oil in Kuwait. He didn’t care about the warnings from the United Nations. UN forbade all export and import to/from Iraq to force Saddam to leave Kuwait alone. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, USA asked for permission to prevent the invasion with military power.
The invasion of Kuwait
Soldiers from Iraq marched into Kuwait August the 2nd 1990. They met only mild resistance, and Iraq took most of the control over Kuwait in only 4 hours. Iraq controlled 24 percent of the oil resources, which was the main reason of the whole invasion. After 6 days, Kuwait was taken over by Iraq and called “the 19th province” in Iraq. UN tried to talk with Saddam without results. The invasion continued.
In January 1991, the rest of the world tried to stop the invasion. UN and USA started conversions with the government in Iraq. They tried to find a peaceful solution. The only other option was to go to war against Iraq, and come to Kuwait’s aid. The Arabians tried to find solutions themselves, but it failed. Saddam wasn’t interested in any form of peaceful agreements. UN met Saddam Hussein, but couldn’t make an agreement. UN wanted Saddam to retreat, but he refused all offers. The diplomats gave up and the invasion of Kuwait continued. USA wanted to go to war, and they got the permission the asked for.
The first attacks
In 1991, George Bush senior was the president of the United States. He was concerned about the conflict in the Middle East and decided to attack Iraq. He got the support from the American congress, and the first military operations began. January the 16th, half past 10, the allied forces began bombing raids over Iraq. The primary targets were communication centres and other important buildings in Baghdad.
Saudi Arabia, England and USA fired rockets from battleships, airplanes and helicopters. Much of the infrastructure in Iraq was destroyed, and in Baghdad everything was chaos. That night, over 1000 bombing raids was unleashed over Iraq. Many civilians were killed in the attacks. The allies had gained a huge military advantage in just 24 hours of war.
Operation Desert storm
28 countries fought side by side under English and American lead. Norway was among them, and sent one medical military company and one battleship to aid the allies. January the 17th the military operation “Desert storm” was started. This is the same day that the Norwegian king Olav died, so we Norwegians remember this day well. The allied alliance attacked Iraq by air for the first 5 weeks, and Iraq became further more destroyed from a day to the next. Saddam Hussein still refused to give up Kuwait.
The ground attack begins
January the 22nd, the American president George Bush senior said that Iraq had to retreat from Kuwait or a brutal infantry war would begin. When the time ran out, USA sent troops into Iraq, and the war on the ground started. The allied forces met little military resistance and they triumphed wherever they came. After only 100 hours of fighting, Iraq gave the message about their retreat from Kuwait. 28th February, Iraq had abounded their posts and their soldiers were out of Kuwait. The allied forces captured 50 000 soldiers in the Gulf war, and the whole operation was a success. Iraq lost about 8-10 000 soldiers and about 300 allied soldiers were killed.
Loss of civilians
USA used to talk about the extreme accuracy of their new rockets and bombs. For the first time, they could steer the weapons and hit the target. This prevented too many innocent peoples to be killed, they said. This was too good to be true. American bombs and rockets killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq. When USA bombed a target, many civilians in the area were killed. Saddam used the pictures of burnt bodies and people torn to pieces as propaganda against USA and the Western world. He let the journalists take uncensored pictures of the victims. Iraq was in ruins after the bombs and rockets, and thousands of people were killed during the short conflict.
Kuwait in ruins
Iraq started their retreat 25th February 1991. The allied forces had finally forced them to leave Kuwait. 3 days later, the soldiers were out of Kuwait. Despite Kuwait’s freedom at this time, their country was completely destroyed. Roads, factories and buildings were destroyed by rockets and the oil was set on fire by soldiers. A huge amount of oil leached out in the Gulf. The capital, Kuwait, was in ruins. All important buildings were destroyed and the rebuild of these were difficult. The primary income for Kuwait was the oil, but it was stolen or set on fire. This was a conflict that Kuwait couldn’t win without help from the outside. It took Kuwait several years to rebuild the country, so it became like before August 1990.
What happened with Iraq?
After the war, Iraq had some major problems. They had to rebuild their capital Baghdad, and get the economy running again. UN helped Iraq with an agreement called “oil for food.” Iraq accepted. They could now sell their oil to Europe and get medicines and food in exchange. In 1998, Iraq refused to let weapon inspectors into Iraq. USA and the UK answered quickly and bombed several military targets. Then it was quiet for some years until 2001, when USA invaded Iraq. The American forces have been there in 5 years now, but murders and fighting between American infantry and natives are still happening. It looks like they haven’t found a solution yet, and maybe Iraq never will be a country of peace again.