(PERSIAN GULF WARS to 1991 – continued)
In July 1990 Saddam appeared willing to give up his long-standing conflict with Iran, but he wanted also to do something about being short of money. He stunned his fellow Sunni nations with a vitriolic speech in which he accused Kuwait of sucking up too much crude oil from the oil fields that straddled their two countries. He accused Kuwait and other Persian Gulf states of catering to the wishes of the Western powers by conspiring to keep the price for crude oil low, thereby damaging Iraq. He demanded compensation for these "crimes" by canceling the 30 billion dollar debt that Iraq owned the Kuwaities, and he sent 100,000 troops to Kuwait's border.
Saddam Hussein demanded cash from Kuwait, and he raised the issue of Kuwait's independence. Kuwait had been ruled by Britain to 1961. After having granted Kuwait its independence that year, Britain had landed troops in Kuwait to defend that independence. Now, in 1990, Hussein renewed the old claim that Kuwait was part of Iraq.
The goal of the Bush administration continued to be normal relations and expanded trade with Iraq. On July 24 tens of thousands of Iraqi troops deployed to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. On July 25 an American diplomat, April Glaspie, met with Saddam Hussein. She spoke of U.S. disapproval of settlement of disputes "by any but peaceful means," which to Saddam Hussein might have sounded like pacifist nonsense and hypocrisy. Then she told Saddam that "we have no opinion of the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait."
The Reagan administration had sided with Hussein against Iran, but a dispute with Kuwait had not won for Saddam the approval of the administration of President Bush the elder. And Saddam apparently believed that the United States would not intervene on the side of Kuwait. He believed that the United States was still reeling from its experience in Vietnam, and that the U.S. was overly concerned about the loss of lives of its military personnel. Hussein bragged to Glaspie that the United States was not the kind of nation that could absorb 10,000 casualties in one day as Iraq had during the Iraq-Iran war.
Saddam also met with Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, whom he knew was in close contact with the Bush administration. Mubarak asked him what his intentions were regarding Kuwait. Mubarak wanted reassurance from Saddam that he was not planning to attack Kuwait. Saddam was not about to confess his intentions, and Mubarak gathered from Saddam that he was bluffing the Kuwaities. Mubarak passed on to Bush his opinion that Saddam was bluffing. He advised the Bush administration to relax, that the Arab nations would sort things out among themselves.
Saddam also reasoned that he could accomplish what he wanted regarding Kuwait before the United Nations would respond and that he would not be resisted by the United Nations. On August 1, Saddam Hussein withdrew from negotiations with the Kuwaities. And at 2 a.m. August 2, 1990, Iraqi time, and 8 p.m. (August 1) Washington D.C. time, he sent his tanks rolling into Kuwait. Some would compare it with Hitler sending his troops into Poland. Some others would just look on, puzzled or mildly disturbed. For the Kuwaities it was terror, a loss of property, and for many it was death.
Copyright © 2000-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.