Persian Gulf War, First

(1990–91) International conflict triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

Though justified by Iraqi leader Saddām Hussein on grounds that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq, the invasion was presumed to be motivated by Iraq's desire to acquire Kuwait's rich oil fields and expand its power in the region. The United States, fearing Iraq's broader strategic intentions and acting under UN auspices, eventually formed a broad coalition, which included a number of Arab countries, and began massing troops in northern Saudi Arabia. When Iraq ignored a UN Security Council deadline for it to withdraw from Kuwait, the coalition began a large-scale air offensive (Jan. 16–17, 1991). Ṣaddām responded by launching ballistic missiles against neighbouring coalition states as well as Israel. A ground offensive by the coalition (February 24–28) quickly achieved victory. Estimates of Iraqi military deaths range up to 100,000; coalition forces lost about 300 troops. The war also caused extensive damage to the region's environment. The Iraqi regime subsequently faced widespread popular uprisings, which it brutally suppressed. A UN trade embargo remained in effect after the end of the conflict, pending Iraq's compliance with the terms of the armistice. The foremost term was that Iraq destroy its nuclear-, biological-, and chemical-weapons programs. The embargo continued into the 21st century and ceased only after the Second Persian Gulf War.

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Universalium. 2010.

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