The Persian Gulf War is sometimes called Operation Desert Storm. It was fought in early 1991 and was between Iraq and a coalition of 39 countries. This war was organized under the direction of the United States and United Nations (UN). Leaders of the coalition included Egypt, France, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United States. The war was fought mostly in Iraq and Kuwait, two countries that lie together at the northern end of the Persian Gulf.
The coalition was formed after Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Iraq invaded Kuwait, a tiny oil-rich nation, after unsuccessful attempt to resolve several disputes between the two countries. Iraq quickly gained control of Kuwait and then moved large numbers of troops to Kuwait's borer with Saudi Arabia. This action triggered fears that Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia next. The world's industrialized nations rely on Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as primary providers of petroleum and were very alarmed at the invasion. Several members of the coalition sent troops to Saudi Arabia to protect it from attack.
After months of pressuring Iraq to leave Kuwait, the coalition started bombing military and industrial targets in Iraq on January 17, 1991. A massive ground attack into Kuwait was launched in late February and quickly defeated the Iraqis. Military operations were ended by the coalition on February 28.
There was much human suffering in the Middle East and enormous material damage in Iraq and Kuwait as a result of the war. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, wounded or made refugees. Iraq and other countries in the region suffered great hardship because of economic measures taken against Iraq. Environmental pollution in the region was huge because of the war as well as the fact that the Iraqis set hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells on f ire and dumped large amounts of Kuwaiti oil into the Persian Gulf. If those problems were not enough, there were bloody revolts in Iraq by Kurds and Shiite Muslim Arabs.
The Persian Gulf War was the first major crisis in the international world after the end of the Cold War. This war tested the cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. It also tested the ability of the UN to be a leader in world affairs. The war also divided the Arab world between those who supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the coalition members.
A formal cease-fire agreement was accepted by Iraq on April 6. The UN Security Council officially declared the end of the war on April 11. Saddam Hussein continued to rule Iraq after the end of the war and continued to cause problems in the Middle East. There was much contention in the Iraq. There were revolutions in northern Iraq among the Kurds and in southern Iraq among Arabs of the Shiite sect of the Muslim religion. Most of the revolts were quickly put down by Iraq's army. Hundreds of thousands of Shiite Arabs fled to Iran. Thousands of others hid in the marsh lands of southern Iraq. At least one million Kurds escaped to the mountains of northern Iraq and to Turkey and Iran. Tens of thousands of Kurds and Shiites were killed in the rebellions or died later of wounds, disease, exposure, or hunger.
The United States and other coalition members established no fly zones - Iraq aircraft were banned - in the north to protect the Kurds and in the south to protect the Shiites. Saddam remained a tyrant who was not good for his people or for his country. He needed to be overthrown for the good of his countrymen.
Facts for this post came from an article by David A. Deese in World Book Encyclopedia,
Vol. 15, pp 300-301.
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