THE COURSE AND PRACTICES OF THE GULF WAR
The US feared that an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia would allow Saddam to control 25% of world oil reserves. Therefore, having persuaded the Saudi royal family of the need to station troops near the Kuwaiti border, Operation Desert Shield commenced.
At that time, the USA mobilized an army of about 430,000 and an additional 680,000 troops from 33 other countries were also called upon. Iraq also mobilized 500,000 troops and another 500,000 reservists.
In November, the UN passed resolution 678 that warning Saddam that he had to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait by the 15th of January 1991 or face military intervention.
As the troop build-up began in Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration in the USA began cultivating international support a UN coalition force to liberate Kuwait. In this he was undoubtedly aided by the timing of Iraq's invasion. As the Cold War was drawing to a close, the USSR was happy to cooperate with the USA, Arab opinion was largely outraged by the invasion of one Arab country by another and the international community was concerned by reports of human rights abuses committed against ordinary Kuwaitis.
For his part, Saddam believed that he had to wait out the crisis and underestimated the resolve of the USA and UN to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi control. Therefore, despite given the opportunity to negotiate a diplomatic solution, Saddam unrealistically suggested that an Iraqi withdrawal would happen on condition that the US withdrew from Saudi Arabia, Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon and that the Israelis left the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
He did attempt to divide the UN coalition by target Israel with SCUD missiles in the hope of provoking a retaliatory declaration of war, thereby alienating Arab members of the UN forces. However, President Bush managed to persuade the Israeli government not to respond but provided US technological assistance (Patriot missiles) in intercepting the SCUDs.
On 16th January 1991, the UN coalition, under the leadership of US General Norman Schwartzkopf. began ‘Operation Desert Storm’. This consisted of a 40 day bombing campaign of Iraqi military and communication infrastructure that aimed to achieve air superiority, something achieved in a matter of days. This was followed by a land operation which commenced on the 24th of February and lasted 100 hours.
At that time, Iraq was a significant miltary power in the region. They also possessed missiles and chemical weapons. However, it was soon apparent that the technology possessed by the UN forces was superior to that of the Iraqi Army. During Operation Desert Storm, many of the Iraqi aircraft were destroyed by initial air attacks. Even if Iraqi aircraft were able to take off, their MIG jet fighters were no match for the F-15s of the UN forces. In addition, 5000 Iraq tanks were destroyed by the air attack.
On the 27th of February 1991, Bush declared Kuwait liberated from Iraqi control.