Why did the Gulf War only last for 7 months?

What were the causes of the Gulf War?

There had been a long history of tension between Iraq and Kuwait before the First Gulf War. Both countries had been ruled over by the Ottoman Empire until its defeat in the First World War. After the war, the Treaty of Sevres broke up the Ottoman Empire and both Iraq and Kuwait were ruled by Britain, Iraq as a mandate and Kuwait as a British protectorate.

In 1958, Iraq won its independence from Britain in 1958 through the military coup led by General Qasim. In 1961, Kuwait also became independent from Britain, becoming a parliamentary democracy with an Emir as its head of state. The leader of Iraq, General Qasim, claimed Kuwait as Iraqi territory however the British and other Arab states such as Saudi Arabia refused to acknowledge Iraqi claims and sent soldiers to protect Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion. This was because the Kuwaitis did not want to be ruled by Iraq and wanted to retain their independence. When Saddam’s Ba’ath Party came to power in 1968, they again claimed Kuwait as their territory but were again opposed by Saudi Arabia. In 1990, Iraq began to threaten Kuwait’s independence again.

Saddam’s failure to defeat Iran in the Iran‐Iraq War had led to anger amongst the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army. Saddam believed that a military victory against Kuwait might help to reduce opposition to him. He believed a quick victory would increase his popularity and show the world how powerful he was. Saddam was confident of victory because he had built up a huge army (the fourth largest in the world) and had stockpiled chemical and biological weapons. He also had begun a nuclear weapons programme. He believed that these weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) would deter anyone from opposing his invasion.

Finally, the Iran‐Iraq War had also led Iraq in huge debt ($80 billion) including a $14 billion loan from Kuwait. To pay off this debt, Saddam had wanted to increase Iraqi oil exports. However, Iraq was a member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) who controlled oil prices in order to keep them high. Some leading members such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait refused to allow him to increase production whilst also demanding he pay back his war debts to them. Saddam felt insulted by this as he believed he had helped to protect Kuwait from Iran during the war. He also accused Kuwait of slant drilling for oil under Iraqi territory and stealing it. 

Facing increasing discontent at home, Saddam decided to invade Kuwait on 2nd August, 1990.

Why did Saddam decide to invade Kuwait?




How did Saddam justify his invasion of Kuwait?

Why did the US decide to lead the international condemnation and military response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait?

What happened in the Persian Gulf War?

Why did the War only last 7 months?

A large portion of this page was written by my teacher, Mr Joshua Tillott.