SS Notes 3: Iraq-Kuwait conflict Causes of conflict Factors: Economic problems, oil production and dispute over territory

Format: XXXX is an important cause of conflict between Iraq and Kuwait. Economic problems: Iraq had previously fought a war with Iran, which drained its reserves. As a result, Iraq s economy was severely weakened. Iraq also had debts to other countries such as the US and France. For example, Iraq owed about US$80 million in debts. Iraq thus had to find ways to pay off its debts and saw Kuwait as a potential solution. Thus the economic problems of Iraq are an important cause of conflict between Iraq and Kuwait. Oil production: Iraq s main source of income is through the sale of oil. Oil production was maintained by OPEC, to prevent a decline in oil prices. However, Kuwait ignored its quota, thus the price of oil dropped from US$18 to US$7 per barrel. This loss of revenue for Iraq meant that it was unable to pay off its debts through the sale of oil. This prompted Iraq to look for alternative ways to settle their debts and looked to Kuwait as a potential solution. Thus oil production is an important cause of the Iraq-Kuwait conflict. Territorial dispute: Some borders in the region were not well defined as both Iraq and Kuwait inherited their borders from the British. There were thus clashes between the two countries as they both wanted certain territories for themselves. An example is the Rumaila oilfield. The Rumaila oilfield was shared between both countries as its borders were not clearly defined. However in 1990, Iraq claimed that Kuwait had drilled from the Iraq side using slant-drilling technology. Iraq demanded compensation from Kuwait but Kuwait refused. This led to strained relations between the two countries. Thus dispute over territory is an important cause of the Iraq-Kuwait conflict. BOC: Factor>Other factors: Economic problems> other 2: Economic problems are more important than the other factors as it is the root cause. Iraq s desperation to solve their economic problems caused by their massive wartime debts led them to believe Kuwait s actions were a result of an economic war waged on Iraq. Whether or not this is true, this caused Iraq to retaliate in the form of disputes over oil production and territory, before finally culminating in an invasion. Thus, the economic problems of Iraq are the most important cause of conflict as it is the root cause. Reason for invasion Factors: Iraq s official reason, Saddam s leadership and misreading US position Format: XXXX is an important reason for Iraq s invasion of Kuwait. Official reason: The Iraqi government claimed to have invaded Kuwait at the request of revolutionaries in Kuwait who were dissatisfied with the ruling government. Using this alibi, Iraq

justified its actions and thus warned other countries not to intervene. Thus Iraq s official reason explains why Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saddam s leadership: The egoistic Saddam Hussein envisioned himself as the leader of the Arab world. Kuwait s defiance was seen as a personal attack on him. This induced Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. Saddam was also facing pressure from the populace and military. He feared a religious uprising and a military Coup d'état if the situation in Iraq did not improve. Thus Saddam Hussein s leadership explains why Iraq invaded Kuwait. US position: Before the invasion, Saddam Hussein had met with the American ambassador. He believed that the Americans were sympathetic to Iraq s situation and were not likely to go to Kuwait s aid. This encouraged him to invade Kuwait as he thought there would not be any severe consequences for doing so. Thus misreading the US position explains why Iraq invaded Kuwait. BOC: Saddam s leadership> Official reason: Saddam Hussein s leadership is a more important reason for invading Kuwait than Iraq s official reason. This is because although there were some revolutionaries in Kuwait, they were an extremely small minority. Even so, Iraq had no reason to help them. However, pressure from the military and civilians induced Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait before his position became untenable. Thus Saddam Hussein s leadership is the more important factor. Saddam s leadership>US position: Saddam Hussein s leadership is a more important reason for invading Kuwait than misreading the US position. This is because even after it became apparent that the US would intervene after all, Saddam Hussein was not deterred and pressed on with the attack. This shows that Saddam Hussein was prepared to take on the US if need be. This bravado stems from necessity as Saddam Hussein was under immense pressure to improve the situation in Iraq. Thus Saddam Hussein s leadership is the more important factor. Reaction to invasion Factors: Fear of Iraqi dominance, Arab solution, American response and International response Format: XXXX is an important reaction to the invasion of Kuwait. Dominance: Other countries around the world feared Iraqi dominance over the world s supply of oil. By taking over Kuwait, Iraq controlled 20% of the world s oil production. Furthermore, the ease of the Kuwait invasion might encourage Iraq to become even more aggressive and take over other parts of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. This would allow them to amass a large stock of oil and enable Iraq to set a high price for oil. This was adverse for other countries. Thus fear of Iraqi dominance is an important reaction to the invasion of Kuwait. Arab solution: Kuwaiti officials appealed to the Arab League to organize a coalition force to counter the Iraqis. However, the Arab League was indecisive in countering the Iraqis. Eight members did not support the counter-offensive. It was clear that the League would not be able to deal with the crisis effectively. This meant that both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had to look elsewhere to solve their problems. Thus the Arab solution is an important reaction to the invasion of Kuwait.

American response: In response to the large number of Iraqi soldiers at its borders, the Saudis invited the US to help defend the kingdom against any potential Iraqi attacks. The US responded by deploying soldiers, navy ships and planes to defend the Saudi kingdom. More than 30 countries took part in the coalition by providing troops, military equipment and money for the efforts to defend Saudi Arabia and get Iraq out of Kuwait. Thus, the American response is an important reaction to the invasion of Kuwait. International response: The international response to the invasion was quick. A coalition of countries was formed to help defend Saudi Arabia from the Iraqi threat. The UN Security Council passed a resolution unanimously that demanded immediate Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. Both Kuwaiti and Iraqi assets were also frozen to prevent Iraq from using them. Economic and military sanctions were used in an attempt to force Iraq out of Kuwait. This was significant as Iraq imported most of its goods. Thus the international response is an important reaction to the invasion of Kuwait. BOC: Fear of dominance> other factors excluding Arab solution: The fear of Iraqi dominance is more important as it is the root cause of the other factors. The fear of Iraq increasing oil prices meant that America s economic interests were at stake. This got the US involved in a conflict that they would not be a part of otherwise. This same fear also mobilized other countries as they too were threatened by the prospect of high oil prices and at the same time, they rallied under the US banner forming a coalition that would deal a decisive strike to Iraq and resolve the conflict. Thus the fear of Iraqi dominance is the more important factor. Fear of dominance>Arab solution: The fear of Iraqi dominance is more important as it caused a coalition force to be formed under the common fear of high oil prices. This fear was a rallying point and proved decisive against Iraq. However the Arab solution was ineffective as it was split between member nations. The decision of the Arab League was so indecisive that it forced Saudi Arabia to seek American intervention. Thus, the fear of Iraqi dominance is the more important factor based on impact. Impact of conflict This portion is divided into 3 factors: Kuwait, Iraq and International impact. Impact on Iraq has 3 subpoints. Impact on Iraq: Factors: Destruction of Iraq military, political instability in Iraq, Iraqi suffering Format: XXXX factor is an important impact of the conflict on Iraq. Military: The vast difference between the technological superiority of the coalition forces and the Iraqi military meant that the Iraqis suffered massive losses with their defeat. Coalition air superiority caused massive damage to Iraqi ground troops in a sustained bombing campaign. The heavy losses suffered by the Iraqis resulted in a loss of morale among the remaining troops. This led to a lot of troops fleeing Iraq. An example of Iraqi military losses is the highway of death incident. Soldiers

fleeing the allied attack were bombed by coalition warplanes. Thousands of soldiers were killed. Thus, the destruction of the Iraqi military is an important impact of the conflict on Iraq. Political instability: Coalition leaders had encouraged dissatisfied groups in Iraq to rise up against Saddam. This created political instability in Iraq. An example is the Kurdish uprising. The Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein as they felt his power was declining and that the coalition forces would help them overthrow the dictator. However, they received no help from the coalition forces and were mercilessly put down. Thousands of Kurds were massacred. Thus political instability is an important impact of the conflict on Iraq. Iraqi suffering: Due to the sustained bombing of Iraq by coalition airplanes, a large part of Iraqi infrastructure was destroyed. The Iraqi people suffered as the bombings disrupted the supply of electricity which led to the contamination of the water supply causing the spread of diseases. This was because water purification and sewage treatment facilities could not operate without electricity. Thus, Iraqi suffering is an important impact of the conflict on Iraq. BOC Note that BOC here can change with the question. For example, if question asks which impact is most severe, Military would be the most important. However if question asks for significance, Iraqi suffering would be the most important. Military>all other factors: The destruction of Iraqi military capability is the most important factor as it had the most drastic impact on Iraq. Before the conflict, Iraq had the fourth largest military in the world. After the war however, this military was reduced to a fraction of its original strength. This loss of military capacity left Iraq vulnerable to neighboring states. However, even before the conflict there was already political instability and Iraqi suffering in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator whose leadership was opposed by many in Iraq, including religious factions. Also, due to the IranIraq war, the Iraqi economy was drained and the Iraqi people were already suffering as a result. Thus, the destruction of Iraqi military capability is the most important factor. Impact of conflict: Format: XXXX factor is an important impact of the conflict. Kuwait: During the Iraqi occupation, more than 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed and thousands tortured. This harsh treatment forced many to flee the country. Kuwaiti property was seized and given to the Iraqis. This cost Kuwait tremendously. The retreating Iraqi army set fire to 600 oil wells in Kuwait. The estimated damages in Kuwait are over US$25 billion. Thus, impact on Kuwait is an important impact of the conflict. Iraq: Iraq suffered heavily from the conflict. As the belligerent, the Iraqi military was decimated by coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm. In addition, the sustained bombings carried out by coalition warplanes destroyed a large part of Iraq s infrastructure, causing suffering to Iraqi civilians like the spread of diseases as a result. Finally, political instability within Iraq contributed to its problems. The Iraqi military was forced to put down uprisings from various factions intending to utilize the tumultuous situation to overthrow Saddam Hussein. This not only led to more military

losses but also created a dystopia within Iraq. Thus, the impact of Iraq is an important impact of the conflict. International: The actions of the retreating Iraqi army created an environmental catastrophe. They set fire to Kuwaiti oil wells and dumped 11 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf. This led to tremendous pollution to the atmosphere and the ocean. It also cost millions of dollars to put out the fires and clear the oil slick from the Persian Gulf. In addition, nearly two million foreign workers who were working in Kuwait were displaced as a result of the conflict. Many of these had been supporting their families back home and the abrupt loss of salary meant great misfortune for their families. Thus, the regional and international impact is an important impact of the conflict. BOC: International>all other factors: The regional and international impact is the most important impact based on the area of impact. The environmental damage caused by the Iraqi army was possibly the harshest consequence of the conflict. Coalition forces had found defeating the army easy but were stumped by the horrific and reckless burning of oil wells that were nightmarishly difficult to extinguish. Oil slicks also resulted in the loss of marine life and as a result, loss of income for fishermen in the region. The displacement of foreign workers and the loss of oil made the Gulf War a global incident as not only the countries involved in the fighting were affected by the conflict but others as well. On the other hand, the impact on Kuwait was lessened by the coalition counteroffensive. Once coalition forces retook Kuwait, the displaced Kuwaitis were able to return and rebuild their country. The relatively short time that it took coalition forces to retake Iraq meant that with the exception of the oil wells, the damage done to Kuwait was minimized. The impact on Iraq, although severe was justified, especially the damage done to the military. As the belligerent, Iraq s military had to suffer huge losses before Saddam Hussein finally relented. Thus, the regional and international impact is the most important impact of the conflict.

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