The Gulf War

Why did Iraq invade Kuwait?

Iraqi Invasion

It is possible to identify a number of Iraqi greivances against Kuwait during the increasingly tense period prior to the onset of the Gulf War. In Iraq's view: economic war was being waged by Kuwait and other Gulf states, with the encouragment of Washington, against Iraq; Kuwait, originally part of the Ottoman vilayet of Basra, was now properly regarded as part of Iraq; Kuwait had systematically encroached on Iraqi territory over a period, and deliberatly stolen Iraqi oil from the Rumeila oil field; Kuwait, despite Iraq's horrendous losses in the Iran-Iraq war, was refusing to pay off debts incurred in the defense of the Arab nation; Kuwait, in refusing to negotiate over the Warbah and Bubiyan islands, was insensitive to Iraq's deep-water needs; and in general Kuwait, in its arrogant and uncompromising attitude to negotiations, seemed more interested in following the hidden agenda of its Western backers than in seeking harmonious relations with its neighbors.

A listing of Iraqi greivances is not intended to argue for the legitimacy of the subsequent Iraqi actions. Iraq had clear obligations under the UN charter (which other nations disregard), under its membership with the Arab league, and following the 1963 Iraqi recognition of Kuwaiti independence. However, it is useful to remember the grievances, submerged as they usually are under the predictable tide of Western propaganda.

It should also be remembered that Saddam Hussein had little reason to believe that the US, despite some unsympathetic words and actions, would take action following an Iraqi move against Kuwait: this American "green light" can be viewed as a well organised set up of Iraq.