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Thirty years on, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait still haunts region

作者:admin 2020-08-03

In the early hours of August 2, 1990, Iraq's army under President Saddam Hussein launched an attack on neighbouring Kuwait.

Within hours, the capital city of the small oil-rich country had fallen, while Kuwait's head of state, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, had fled to Saudi Arabia.

"When I heard the news that morning, I was overcome by an overwhelming sense of pain and despair," said Subhi Tawfiq, a retired general of the Iraq army at the time.

"It was a dreadful day for both Gulf countries, but definitely the beginning of the end for Iraq," he said, recalling the events 30 years ago.

"Nothing has been the same again."

'Expansionist agenda'

Although Iraq and Kuwait had decades-old border disputes, the two countries became close allies during the former's 1980s war against Iran.

Kuwait provided Iraq much needed funding in the form of loans for military equipment during the eight-year conflict.

But after the Iraq-Iran war ended in 1988, Iraq, economically exhausted and laden with enormous debt, needed more financial assistance. It had its eyes on Kuwait's massive oil resources and expected it to forgive its debt.

Soon after Kuwait rejected its request to forgo the loans, Baghdad launched its offensive. Weeks later, Hussein had annexed Kuwait and pronounced it Iraq's 19th province.

"From Kuwait's perspective, Iraq has always harboured an expansionist agenda towards Kuwait and their invasion fit into that agenda," said Dania Thafer, director of the Gulf International Forum.

"Many in Kuwait also argued that the invasion was largely motivated by Iraq's desire to control Kuwait's large oil reserves," she added.

Operation Desert Storm

The invasion was met with swift condemnation by the international community which moved to isolate Iraq politically and economically. 

On August 6, the UN Security Council (UNSC) demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. It also slapped a trade, financial and military embargo on Baghdad.

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