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Kuwaiti journalist
Memories from the Iraqi invasion
 real 28k

Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Flashback: Invasion of Kuwait
Iraqui tanks entering Kuwait
Iraq said it was supporting a "popular revolution" in Kuwait
Ten years ago Iraq troops began pouring across the border with Kuwait at the start of a lightening invasion on 2 August 1990.

The comparatively small military forces of the oil rich Gulf state were quickly overwhelmed.

The country's ruler, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, fled into exile in his armour plated Mercedes, across the desert to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The suddenness of the strike took the world by surprise. It changed, literally overnight, the political and military balance of the Middle East.

'Free Kuwait' appeals

I love Kuwait. In the name of Allah the compassionate, oh Arabs, oh brothers, oh Muslims; your brother Arabs are calling you. Rush to their help. This is Kuwait

Final broadcast of Kuwait Radio, 02.08.1990
As the Iraqi troops poured in, Kuwait Radio pleaded for assistance before going off air. The appeals were rejoined by Kuwait ambassadors around the world.

"We have appealed to all our friends around the world, including the USA, to come to our aid and assistance; we would like to have military assistance in order to survive.", said Washington's Kuwaiti ambassador Sheikh Saud Nasir al Sabah on the day of the invasion.

The US president of the time, George Bush, was quick to condemn the Iraqi move, and gave an early hint that a military response was being considered by saying that all options remained open.

George Bush
US President George Bush quickly condemned Iraqi aggression
"We call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces. There is no place for this sort of naked aggression in today's world, and I have taken a number of steps to indicate the deep concern that I feel over the events that have taken place", said Mr Bush.

Moscow also issued a statement calling for a prompt and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

And China called for an immediate end to the military action.

UN Security Council condemn

Within hours of the invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council met in emergency session, and passed resolution No. 660, condemning the Iraqi action and demanding an immediate withdrawal. Only Yemen abstained.

UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar expressed the hope that Iraq and Kuwait would be able to peacefully resolve their differences.

"I think this resolution will produce the very important effect on the parties and I hope that the government of Iraq will implement the resolution, as it is its duty", he said.

Iraqi empty promises

The response from Iraq at first seemed encouraging.

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein first spoke of organising elections in Kuwait and withdrawing
Baghdad had justified their invasion of Kuwait - a monarchy with only an extremely limited parliamentary franchise - in terms of supporting a popular revolution in the country.

Initial communiques from Baghdad spoke of organising elections, and then withdrawing.

Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Mohammed al-Mashat, delivered a promise that it would not be long before the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait took effect.

The Iraqi forces will be withdrawn as soon as the situation has settled down, and as soon as the free government of Kuwait has so wished

Iraq's ambassador to the US Mohammed al-Mashat
"The Iraqi forces will be withdrawn as soon as the situation has settled down, and as soon as the free government of Kuwait has so wished. We hope that this will be a matter of a few days, or a few weeks at the latest", the ambassador told Washington.

Over the months which followed, Iraq's tactic of promising to withdraw at a future time, was to become a familiar one.

Israeli fears

Events were viewed with particular concern in the region.

Israeli foreign minister Moshe Arens
Israelies warned that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction
The Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens called for an international response to the Iraqi invasion, which he described as reminiscent of what happened in Europe in the 1930s.

"It is essential that the international community band together to make clear to Saddam Hussein that he will not be able to continue this kind of aggression", he said.

It had been suspected for some time that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.

What played on the minds of the Israelis was the prospect of a nuclear, chemical or biological missile attack on its main cities.

The oil factor

Iraq's actions were seen not only as a clear cut breach of international law, but also as a threat to oil supplies.

Kuwait oil fields
Kuwait invation was considered a threat to oil supplies
Kuwait was one of the world's leading suppliers, and nobody could predict whether Saddam Hussein also had his eye on Saudi Arabia's enormous reserves.

President Bush never disguised his concerns:

"The economic aspects of this are well-known to the American people. And long run economic effects on the free world could be devastating", Bush said.

Four days after the invasion (6/8/90) the UN Security Council passed a second resolution, No.661, imposing sanctions on the two countries.

The story of how a multinational force assembled in the region and eventually forced the Iraqi troops out of Kuwait is now a matter of record.

But the sanctions, in the case of Iraq, still apply 10 years on.

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