Saddam Hussein Destroys His Weapons | Iraq During the Clinton Administration | President Bush Considers another Gulf War
Congressional Approval and Demonstrations, October to December 2002 | Claims and Debates, January to March 2003
The Invasion Begins | Liberation versus Iraqi Sovereignty, to September 2003
The 1991 Gulf War ended in March with Saddam Hussein's Iraq suffering military defeat and his regime accepting conditions for a cease fire – U.N. Security Council Resolution 686. Iraq agreed to "Accept in principle its liability for any loss, damage, or injury arising in regard to Kuwait and third States, and their nationals and corporations, as a result of the invasion and illegal occupation of Kuwait by Iraq." In April the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 687, demanding that Iraq destroy, remove and render harmless its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers. This disarmament was supposed to be done "under international supervision."
Hussein at this time was concerned with the survival of regime, as seen in the repression of revolts in the Kurdish north of Iraq and the Shia in southern Iraq. Hussein was concerned also with his dignity. According to the Duelfer Report of 2004, based on extensive interviews with Iraqis, in the year 1991 Hussein announced: "We will never lower our heads as long as we live... " Protecting his image, he had emerged from the war proclaiming victory. At the same time he was concerned about Iraq's military weakness vis-à-vis his former enemy Iran and other neighbors. He did not want Iran's Shiite rulers taking Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War as an opportunity for revenge. Hussein went into the year 1991 wanting potential enemies to believe that he still had fearsome weapons. He spoke of fear of his weapons as having stopped coalition forces going all the way to Baghdad to overthrow his regime. He believed that in his war against Iran in the 1980s his chemical shells had repelled Iran's "human wave" assaults and that his missiles had broken the will of Iran's leaders. Hussein agreed to Resolution 687. Economic sanctions had been imposed on Iraq since Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and interviews with Iraqis described in the Duelfer Report suggest that Saddam Hussein wanted to comply with the U.N. resolutions in order to lift the economic sanctions but that he also did not want to leave the impression that he had been weakened by defeat.
Rather than fully comply with Resolution 687, Hussein chose to destroy his weapons of mass destruction surreptitiously. An estimate in the Duelfer Report suggests that in 1991-92 Hussein destroyed biological weapons and chemical weapons. He had a few dozen scud missiles, capable of reaching 600 miles – more than the 150 kilometers allowed by the Security Council resolution. According to interviews described in the Duelfer report he hoped some day to develop more long range ballistic missiles, but for the time being such weapons were not planned for production and his nuclear program was not progressing. His deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, wanted "concessions from the UN in return for Iraq's compliance with UN sanctions." But it was Hussein (president and prime minister) who was in charge and Hussein was not in the habit of heeding or listening to advice from subordinates.
Hussein complained to the world that the monitoring and verification plans adopted by the Security Council were unlawful. He campaigned to end the sanctions while U.N. weapons inspectors were in Iraq looking for weapons. And his conflict with the U.N. grew. The Security Council resolved that Iraq "end its repression" against all Iraqi citizens, and the Security Council created a no-fly zone to protect the Shiite population in southern Iraq and to provide a buffer between Hussein's regime and Kuwait. Hussein responded with a veiled threat about danger to coalition aircraft and pilots.
The governments of the United States and Britain remained hostile toward Hussein. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker announced on May 20, 1991 that the U.S. was not interested in supporting a relaxation of the sanctions against Iraq" as long as Hussein was in power." Britain and the U.S. remained hostile through 1992, and relations did not improve in April 1993 when it was alleged that the Hussein regime had attempted to assassinate the former U.S. president, George Herbert Walker Bush, while he was visiting Kuwait as a private citizen. The new president, Bill Clinton, ordered U.S. ships to launch Tomahawk missiles against the headquarters where it was thought the Iraqis had plotted the assassination.
Copyright © 2000-2011 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.