Operation Desert Shield


          Some wars are destined to be preludes for future conflicts. However, predictability, seeing over the horizon, is not likely in forecasting the results of a war. Operation Desert Storm was not an exception to this rule. What appeared to be a clean victory, in hindsight, proved to be merely an overture for the opus that followed in 2003---same stage, same actors, same theme.

          The significance of Ancient Iraq, Babylonia, was resurrected by European colonial powers from history’s dust bin when Iraq’s commercial significance was enhanced with the advent of oil. Until that time, it was a backwater possession of the Ottoman Empire. Mesopotamia (the basin of the Tigress and Euphrates Rivers, current Iraq) was no longer the personal playground for archaeologists. The turning point, obscurity to significance, was another war--- World War 1whence our narrative begins.


Background – –With Kuwait on Iraq’s Collective Memory
(United Kingdom and Great Britain referenced below are synonymous.)
1899 Anglo-Kuwaiti Treaty: Kuwait had been a semi autonomous provincial sub-district of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. The provincial capital was Basra located in the south of current day Iraq close to the Kuwaiti border and superficially administered its inhabitants. The Ottomans had waning control over its three Mesopotamian provinces; Basra, Mosul and Baghdad. Kuwait’s geographical location had attracted the British since 1799. Under the Anglo-Kuwaiti Treaty, the British sought to exempt other commercial powers from Kuwaiti territory and by this treaty they defined the borders of Kuwait and established a “big brother” relationship rather than colonial control. One of its borders created its separation with current day Iraq. Although the treaty was never concluded, its spirit was pervasive and British commercial control assured.
Operation Desert Storm
Anglo-Ottoman Convention: (British and Ottoman Turks) The Kuwaiti borders were established consistent with its modern lines, but fell short of full independence.
1914 Great Britain declares war on the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany already at war with the British.
British land ground forces on Mesopotamia’s Persian Gulf coast intending to protect the southern oil fields and the defense of colonial India.
1915-1916 Battle lines between opposing forces relatively stagnant.
Secret Sykes-Picot Treaty: France and United Kingdom Allies agree that Great Britain shall maintain control of southern Iraq and Palestine at the end of hostilities. Territorial dispositions were substantively part of all future treaties in the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire.
Operation Desert Storm
British troops capture Baghdad.
Operation Desert Storm
Allies and the Ottoman Empire enter into an armistice agreement and cessation of hostilities.
One month later, November 11, 1918, the Allies and Germany agree upon an armistice.
French, in December, surrender their claim to northern Iraq to the British in exchange for a quarter interest in the British Petroleum Company.
British military occupation of Mesopotamia is extended through 1920.
Operation Desert Storm
Treaty of Versailles: Germany divested of all commercial interests in the middle east and ceded all of its rights to the Tripartite Corporation (Great Britain, France and Italy). Great Britain gained large oil concessions.
1920 San Remo Resolution: Britain and France agreed upon provisional independence of Mesopotamia, and oil concessions in Mosul granted to the British. This division of the “spoils” effectively dissolved the Ottoman Empire and formed basis for British Mandate.
Treaty of Sevres: this treaty confirmed the peace accord between Ottoman Empire and Britain and France. It also addressed the disposition of its provinces in Mesopotamia. (United States was not invited.) Affirmed by Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and all claims resolved. Turkey to assume obligations of the Empire.
League of Nations creates a Class A Mandate of Mesopotamia to be held by Great Britain for 12 years. (United States not a member nation.)
Iraqi Arab population revolts.
Kuwait considered an Iraqi province as possessed by Ottoman Empire.
Cairo Conference proposes creation of Kingdom of Iraq.
1921 British mandate in Iraq effectively ended before it began with Anglo-Iraqi Treaty ceding administration to local control with Britain retaining foreign and military presence for the country.
Faisal crowned King of Iraq, a puppet government dominated by the British. This did not include Mosul province heavily populated with Kurds who do not identify with Arab population in the south. Hashemite dynasty established. Will resurface as the royal family of Jordan (1949).
Iraq immediately states that Kuwait is an Iraqi province as it was historically under Ottoman rule. Iraq is almost totally a landlocked country and Kuwait has an imposing natural harbor on the Persian Gulf.
Operation Desert Storm
League of nations grants Britain Palestine Mandate.
1923 British High Commissioner to Iraq agrees with Kuwaiti Sheik on border lines with Iraq.
Operation Desert Storm
Kurds in Mosul Province revolt. Seek integration with Kurds in neighboring Turkey.
1925 Kingdom of Iraq grants 75 year oil concession to Turkish Petroleum Company controlled by the British. In 1928, American interests in company at 25%. In 1929, company named changed to Iraqi Petroleum Company.
Mosul Province made part of Kingdom of Iraq.
Operation Desert Storm
Oil discovered in Mosul Province.
1930 British recognize Kingdom of Iraq’s independence, but retain military presence.
Anglo-Iraq Treaty was a mutual assistance agreement with compatible foreign policies applicable to the middle east.
Operation Desert Storm
British Oil Development Co. granted 75 year concession.
Iraq applies for membership in League of Nations and granted. Mandate ends.
1933 Kung Faisal dies and succeeded by Khazi who retains a title without power until 1939.
1938 Kuwait discovers oil.
Operation Desert Storm
Iraq assembles a military force to invade Kuwait. British show of force combined with the death of Faisal discourages the invasion.
During the 1930’s, sectarian violence increases along with a series of military coups accompanied with demands for British to leave.
1941 Iraq government sympathetic with Nazi Germany. World not as yet at war.
Iraq besieges British airbase and Britain responds and bombs Iraqi forces. End of threat.
World War 2 commences for the United States.
Operation Desert Storm
Formation of the Ba’ath Party in Syria with an ideology dedicated to Arab unity (Pan Arabism) and socialism. In 1961, a cell forms an Iraqi branch. By 1966, Iraqi unit splits with the older Syrian branch.
1958 A monarchy which existed in name only is extinguished and a Republic is formed.
The Free Officer Movement under General Abd al-Kasim Qasim attains control of Iraq. Assumed office as 1st Chairman of the Revolutionary Command. Saddam Hussein a rising figure. The Party turns from Pan Arabism to Iraq First Party.
Operation Desert Storm
Iraq again threatens to invade Kuwait. Presence of British forces discourages the invasion.
1963 General Qasim overthrown. Ba’ath party loses power. National guard is dissolved and replaced by Republican guard. Although out of power, the party continues to grow and Saddam Hussein gains stature in the party ranks.
Operation Desert Storm
“17 July Revolution” another coup and General Qasim appointed Premier of Iraq, 1st Chairman of Revolutionary Command Council and Saddam Hussein appointed Deputy chairman and vice president and commands the security forces.
1970-1979 Saddam Hussein embarks on a nationalization program including oil and other industries. Brutal repression of a Shia majority and genocide of a Kurdish minority population in a systematic program to eliminate potential enemies. With large oil revenues, Saddam expended large sums to modernize Iraq.
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikrit becomes 5th President of Iraq (1979-2006).
United States places Iraq on its international Terror List.
1980-1981 Iraq-Iran war drains the resources of each country. United States supports Iraq as does Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In 1982, Iraq removed from Terror List.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will not forgive Iraq’s war loans and refuse Saddam’s request who was dealing with insolvency in the aftermath of the long Iranian war. Saddam claims that his war with Iran benefited Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Iranian aggression which obligated them to contribute to cost of the war.
Saddam begins systematic campaign against Kuwait and United Arab Emirates to reduce oil production which is reducing price of oil in world markets. Saddam demands carry over into 1990 and he calls it “economic war”.
George H.W. Bush elected 41st President of the United States (1989-1993).
Iraq is almost completely land locked. It has a sliver of land, mostly swamp, at the head of the Persian Gulf. Neighboring Kuwait, on the other hand, has a geographical advantage on the Gulf with a large natural harbor.
Saddam continues to insist that Kuwait cut back on oil production and accuses them of slant drilling across their border into Iraqi oil fields. (Studies afterward reveal the possibility that the allegations were accurate.)
July Iraq masses troops on the Kuwaiti border.
Aug 2 Iraq invades Kuwait and completes take-over in 2 days.
Aug 2    United Nations Security Council reacts and passes                Resolution 660:   condemning the invasion and demanding                                              withdrawal
               Resolution 661:   imposing an embargo on Iraq.
Aug 9    Resolution 662:   Iraqi annexation of Kuwait declared null and                                             void.
Aug 18  Resolution 664:   Demands release of all foreigners.
Aug 25  Resolution 665:   Naval blockade closes shipping to and from                                              Iraq and Kuwait.
Sept 13  Resolution 666:   Issues guidelines for humanitarian aid.
Sept 18  Resolution 667:   Demands protection for diplomats.
Nov 29   Resolution 678:   “to use all necessary means” to effect Iraqi                                               withdrawal in the event Iraq failed to comply                                               with all prior resolutions by Jan 15,1991.                                               (“force” inferred”)
Mar 21:  Resolution 686    Demands Iraq to cease all hostilities.
Saddam threatens Israel with retaliatory use of unconventional weapons in the event of attack on Iraq from any source.
President Bush referring to Iraqi invasion states: “This will not stand”.
Saudi Arabia fearing Iraqi invasion on its soil requests U.S. aid. General Schwarzkopf, assessing the situation, believes that the Saudis have the capability of a strong defense although acknowledges difficulty. Iraq has battle tested troops after long war with Iran.
Operation Desert Shield: United States troops destined for Saudi Arabia where they create military base. This phase to limit exposure of Americans to defense of Saudi Arabia.
Saddam Hussein annexes Kuwait and makes it 19th province of Iraq.
President Bush calls up reserves.
Sept British and French troops dispatched to Saudi Arabia. Coalition of forces consisting of western nations and Arab countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia)
Oct 21 General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff meets with counterparts in Saudi Arabia.
President Bush reviews reports and doubles troop strength to 500,000 in Saudi Arabia.
Jan 12
U.S. Congress, by a slim margin, authorizes use of force in a War Powers Joint Resolution approving invasion of Kuwait and Iraq. Lingering memories of Vietnam produced a strong minority vote.
Operation Desert Storm: U.S. commences bombing to destroy Iraqi air defenses including Baghdad as well as accompanied by naval missile strikes at strategic targets. 1,000 sorties per day destroys infra structure of Iraq.
Iraqi Scud missile strikes Tel Aviv, Israel. A total of 39 Iraqi missile attacks on Israel in the course of the war. President Bush dispatched Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger to convince Israel to forgo retaliation on Iraq in order to preserve the U.S. backed coalition of forces. Arab nations will not participate if Israel is involved. Israel agrees. U.S. furnished Israel with defensive Patriot missiles –not overly effective.
Iraq commences to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields. Dumps oil into the Persian gulf.
Iraqi forces invade Saudi territory. U.S. Marines and Saudis engage Iraq at Khafji and after 2 days Iraq withdraws from Saudi soil.
Feb 2 General Schwarzkopf disapproves of plan for sea landing on Kuwaiti shores while air war continues.
King Hussein of Jordan objects to U.S. heavy bombardment of neighboring Iraq.
Iraq proposes withdrawal of forces from Kuwait. President Bush rejects offer seeking an unconditional surrender.
President bush issues ultimatum to Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.
U.S. ground attack commences in Kuwait and Iraq.
Iraq retreats from Kuwait City.
President Bush declares a cease fire.
Mar 2 U.S. 24th Infantry Division destroys Iraqi Hammurabi Division.
Iraq accepts cease fire.
Iraqis release all prisoners of war.
U.S. troops leave for home.12 years later (2003) the troops return. History is repeated in the fateful month of March.
Part of the surrender terms leaves Iraqi with defensive helicopter gun ships which they unleash on Shia and Kurds. Kuwait expels from its country 400,000 Palestinians. In 2006, Iraq finally recognizes Kuwaiti borders.

Desert Storm

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