Iraq invades Kuwait 1990
The Gulf War (2nd August 1990 – 28th February 1991) was in two parts, ‘Operation Desert Shield’ (2nd August 1990 – 17th January 1991), for operations leading to the build-up of troops and defence of Saudi Arabia followed by ‘Operation Desert Storm’ (17th January 1991 – 28th February 1991), the actual invasion of Iraq. It was a war waged by coalition forces from 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait that began on the 2nd of August 1990. The dispute had started over oil quotas and allegations that Kuwait was taking Iraqi oil via the Rumaila field. Near the end of talks in Jeddah the Iraqis demanded $10 billion to cover the lost revenues from Rumaila; the Kuwaiti response was to offer $9 billion. The Iraqi response was to immediately order the invasion. On 2 August 1990, Iraq launched the invasion by bombing Kuwait’s capital, Kuwait City.
A series of U.N. Security Council resolutions and Arab League resolutions were passed regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. One of the most important was Resolution 678, passed on the 29th November 1990, which gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline of the 15th January 1991, and authorized “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660”, including the use of force if Iraq failed to comply.
We had left the Middle East earlier that year just before Spring 1990. At the time there was concern because the Libyans had acquired mid-air refuelling for their Military Aircraft. Bomb shelters were cleared out and stocked in Israel. The UN unfortunately as usual took no action about the UK blocking sales of Gas masks to Israel for civilians (even refusing sale of masks for children). But ironically the Libyans never attacked. Israelis taped up their windows for gas and to avoid shards because when the USA and allies counter-attacked, Saddam Hussein ordered Scud Missiles to be fired at Israel. While this was welcomed by the Palestinians it didn’t bring support from other Arabs for Iraq.
Part of the strategy was that Iraq (Saddam Hussein) had hoped to provoke a military response from Israel. The Iraqi government assumed that then many Arab states would withdraw from the Coalition, as they would be reluctant to fight alongside Israel. At least 88 Scud missiles were fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia.
A total of 74 Israelis died as a result of the Iraqi attacks. Two by direct hits and the rest from suffocation and heart attacks. However approximately 230 Israelis were injured. Extensive property damage included 1,302 houses, 6142 apartments, 23 public buildings, 200 shops and 50 cars. It was feared that Iraq would fire missiles filled with nerve agents such as sarin, so gas masks were issued to as many civilians as possible.
Amazingly, perhaps due to US promises and pressure, the Israelis only flew fighters on the border and did not enter the war. The only time since 1948 that they didn’t respond.
Once again the UN had only rubber stamped what the major powers had decided to do anyway. Look up the Korean War!
Sadly the Patriot Missiles hurriedly deployed by the USA and Dutch in Israel were ineffective against the Scud Missiles and may have caused more casualties than the Scuds. Iraqi Scud attacks as well as the casualties in Israel killed one Saudi civilian and injured 78. The only other casualties was one Scud hit a US barracks, in Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers and injuring over 100.
As a result of this attack the Israelis eventually developed the ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile missile system which is very effective against Palestinian and Syrian Missile attacks.