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(PERSIAN GULF WARS to 1991 – continued)

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PERSIAN GULF WARS to 1991 (8 of 8)

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Settlement and Disappointments, 1991

The declared goal of the administration of George H. W. Bush had been to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invaders. That was the mandate provided by the United Nations. And that was all that the Muslim members of the coalition desired. Saudi Arabia and Egypt had wanted a quick end to the war. King Faud of Saudi Arabia was unconcerned about the welfare of the Shiite minority living in the south of Iraq and close to his border. Nor was he concerned about the Kurds in the north of Iraq. King Faud of Saudi Arabia and President Mubarak of Egypt wanted an Iraq as big as it was before the Gulf War began, and they wanted an Iraq ruled by a Sunni Muslim, and if this were Saddam Hussein so be it.

Margaret Thatcher, no longer Prime Minister of Britain, was to speak of her surprise at the war being ended with Saddam in power. She was to say that when "dealing with a dictator, he has got not only to be defeated, well and truly, but he has got to be seen to be defeated." She added that "Half measures never work, you've either got to do the job properly and show the world you're serious so they better not let it happen again." Her successor, John Major, supported Bush's manner of ending the war, and he was to continue defending it in the years ahead.

President Bush and some others assumed that Hussein would not survive politically in the wake of Iraq's defeat. Intelligence agencies and analysts with information available to the Bush administration had seen in Hussein a special danger and had questioned whether a mere Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait would suffice to pacify the region.

The Bush administration ended the war applying conditions on Iraq that were adopted by the UN Security Council. On March 3, the UN Security Council had adopted Resolution 687: a cease-fire, an extension of sanctions against Iraq, and a UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) concerned with weapons of mass destruction within Iraq.

Also on March 3, Allied military commanders and Iraqi military commanders met at a captured Iraqi airbase, at Safwan, to arrange terms of a formal cease-fire. Saddam Hussein wanted peace at any price. The U.S. wanted a return of prisoners. Not included in the U.S. demands was the deliverance of Saddam Hussein to stand trial at the world court. Schwarzkopf assured the Iraqis that the boundary on his map marking the area occupied by his forces was temporary. The Iraqis claimed that they needed their helicopters to transport wounded soldiers and other tasks and asked if they could fly armed helicopters across this boundary. Schwartzkopt said yes. Later he was to say that he had been "suckered." In leaving the Iraqis the right to use their helicopters, helicopter gun ships were used in putting down the revolts against rule from Baghdad. Bush had encouraged risings against Hussein, and now Hussein's military was crushing these uprisings. Members of America's 1st Armored Division watched with frustration as Iraqis strode in front of them, waving their weapons. Pictures of Iraqi soldiers kicking and executing people were broadcast around the world. [link]

On 5 March in Resolution 688 the UN Security Council condemned Saddam's repression of Iraqi civilians and called for an immediate "end to this repression." This resolution was to be used by the US and British for "no fly zones," where Iraq was to be prohibited from flying fixed-wing aircraft.

On 6 March an exultant President Bush told a cheering joint session of Congress that "aggression is defeated. The war is over."

On 7 March, Iraqis were still exploding oil facilities in Kuwait. On 8 March, plane-loads of US troops were arriving home from the Persian Gulf. That day, the Iraqis handed over to the Allied forces forty journalists and two American soldiers they had captured. On 16 March, Saddam Hussein broadcast an address in which he promised to allow multi-party democracy.

Some people criticized Bush's comment that he was reluctant to risk the life of one more American in going after Saddam Hussein. Bush's supporters, including Norman Schwarzkopf, spoke of the difficulty that would have been involved in moving against Baghdad in a last phase of the Gulf War. Schwarzkopf told Frontline that if "we went on another day we were going to kill some more of our people and we had already won an overwhelming victory with a minimum of casualties and that was good enough for me." [link]  Some said that the US was too cautious and too willing to kill others without risking the lives of their own troops. Some others continued with their argument that the US should not have started the war against Iraq to begin with.

In the year 2001, on the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War, President Saddam Hussein, more securely in power than he had been in mid-March 1991, would speak to his nation and describe the Gulf War as a "confrontation between good and evil that continues today." He would denounce what he called the "aggression" launched by the "followers of Satan" and would praise Iraq's resistance both during and after Operation Desert Storm.

Sources

"The Gulf War, PBS Frontline, "http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/index.html, 1996

The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis, by Elaine Sciolino. 1991

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