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Struggle for Iraq
Click on the events below to read about Iraq's history
Saddam's rise:
Iran-Iraq war:
Gulf War:
1990 - 1991
Second war:
Young activist
Hardline deputy
War breaks out
Israeli bombing
Chemical warfare
Western support
Truce and debt
Kuwait invasion
Desert Storm
Scud missiles
Civilian casualties
Ground war
Iraqi ceasefire
After the war
No-fly zones
Desert Fox
Inspectors barred
US-led invasion
Saddam captured
Iraq in turmoil
Trial of Saddam

At 0200 local time on 2 August 1990, Iraqi forces poured across the border into Kuwait and took control of Kuwait City.

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

The Kuwaiti ruler, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, fled into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Saddam Hussein claimed the Iraqi invasion was in support of a planned uprising against the Emir, but murders and abuses of Kuwaitis who resisted the occupation were common.

Several hundred foreign nationals were held as human shields at Iraqi and Kuwaiti factories and military bases, but were released before the allied campaign against Iraq.

The invasion came amid an Iraqi economic crisis stemming from post-war debt.

Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of keeping oil prices low and pumping more than its quota from the two countries' shared oil field.

Iraq had never accepted its British-drawn borders, which established Kuwait as a separate entity.

And when Kuwait refused to waive Iraq's war debts, Saddam Hussein invaded.

The UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions and passed a series of resolutions condemning Iraq.

An international coalition was formed, hundreds of thousands of troops massed in the region.

The US put together a battle plan, with General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander-in-chief of US Central Command, at the military helm.

In November 1990, with diplomatic attempts to solve the crisis abandoned, the UN set Iraq a deadline for withdrawal from Kuwait and authorised the use of "all necessary means" to force Iraq to comply.

US marines in Kuwait
The invasion triggered a military build-up

Gulf War commander Norman Schwartzkopf

US Gulf War commander
Norman Schwartzkopf

"Iraq's army swept across Kuwait's borders at first light"
The BBC's Brian Hanrahan


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