Causes Leading to the Gulf War

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein was one of the leaders of the Baath party in Iraq. He was imprisoned when his party was overthrown in 1963. He regained control in 1968 and became president in 1979 when Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr resigned as president.

Saddam also appointed himself prime minister and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. Hussein wanted to replace Saudi Arabia as the dominant presence in the Middle East. To achieve this goal, Hussein waged war in Iran. The Iran-Iraq War had no clear winner and ended with a cease-fire in 1987. However, despite a huge national debt, Hussein continued to build up his armed forces. Saddam Hussein Hussein.jpeg

The Invasion of Kuwait
Hussein then moved on to Kuwait . Within hours of the initial invasion on August 2, 1990 , Iraqi troops controlled Kuwait. In effect, Hussein possessed 24% of the world's oil supplies. His invasion caught the world's attention. The United Nations immediately condemned the action and called for withdrawal with the United Nations Resolution 660. In addition, the UN Security Council imposed a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq.


Saddam's Motives
The notion that Hussein merely wanted Kuwait's oil is similar to saying that Adolf Hitler only wanted land. The nature of the dictator in this case was more important than any physical rationale. Hussein had already proven his indifference to human life by his use of poison gas against Iranian troops as well as against Kurdish rebels living in the northern region of Iraq. Further, evidence was strong that Iraq was nearing its goal of acquiring nuclear military power. Such weaponry in the hands of an unstable personality had to be curbed, whether in the Persian Gulf or anywhere else.


International Backlash
Acting through the United Nations, the United States began organizing a multinational coalition to restore Kuwait's sovereignty. After convincing Saudi Arabia that it could easily be Iraq's next target, that government allowed the United States to begin amassing forces first to defend Saudi Arabia and then to recover Kuwait; that action began under the code name Operation Desert Shield. The core of the U.S. and coalition force was U.S. Army Central Command, led by Maj. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Sources:
"Persian Gulf War." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2010. Web. 27 May 2010. <http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com>

"Iran-Iraq War." LookLex Encyclopedia, 2010. Web. 27 May 2010 <http://lexicorient.com/e.o/iranirqw.htm>