Iraq's Motives: the Invasion of Kuwait

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On 2nd August 1990, Iraq launched an invasion of Kuwait, leading to a seven month occupation of Kuwait. The invasion was rebuked by the west as United States- led coalition forces pushed the Iraqi military out of Kuwait, resulting in the First Gulf War. Although the western world condemned Iraq for its occupation of Kuwait by accusing it of human rights violation and breaking International Law, historical evidence of the political and the socio- economic struggle between the two countries shows that Iraq’s raison d’etre in Kuwait was not an endeavor for power or a demonstration of its armies. Instead, this paper will argue that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s motives were to free Iraq from the assumed ‘gratuitous debt’ which was procured during the Iran- Iraq war, to reconcile Kuwaiti theft of its oil through ‘slant drilling,’ and to proclaim land that Hussein believed rightfully belonged to Iraq. Although a tough predicament, the invasion was an impartial reconciliation path for Iraq and for Hussein, considering the factors leading to the strife between the two nations and to the escalading Iraqi apprehension Although the U.S and its friends resented the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, Iraq’s reasons were not unjustified. The question also arose that did the U.S have a hand to play in the events leading to the invasion: was Iraq compelled into a situation where it reached a point of no return? First and foremost, however, not only was this invasion over financial debt but also over the overproduction of oil which Kuwait took in its hands against all kinds of pressures from Iraq and the OPEC. It is true that Iraq wasn’t able to pay the $80 billion (US) debt it had borrowed from Kuwait and other countries, but, this payment was unconditional and didn’t have to be returned according to an agreement between Kuwait and Iraq (Cooper, 2003). Moreover, Kuwait had its own interests in the war against Iran as it was under attack from Iran: weapons were fired at Kuwaiti security personnel and oil tankers stationed on Bubiyan Island in 1998 (“Iran reportedly fires on Kuwaiti island,” 1998). The victory of Iraq in its conflict with Iran was in Kuwait’s best interests and that is the reason why the war with Iran was so heavily funded by Kuwait, and even Saudi Arabia (“Iran reportedly fires on Kuwaiti island,” 1998) for that matter. The circumstances weren’t as simple and selfish as the idea of a ‘blind invasion,’ having reasons of territorial expansion- similar to that of Nazi Germany or other colonial ventures. More complexities than that were involved. The controversial slant drilling operation (Gregory, 2004) in the Rumaila oil field was one of the factors leading to Iraq’s overtaking of Kuwait: Iraq’s oil drilling operations declined while Kuwait’s operations had been increasing. According to estimations by Iraq, $4.2 billion (U.S.) worth of oil was stolen. Accusations of stealing natural resources such as oil are severe and are not usually condemned. What would the United States, or some other nation for that matter, would have done if they were being stolen from? It is a known fact that everything in Kuwait is controlled by the royal family and the sheikh. Kuwait had been indirectly and, perhaps even, inadvertently attacking the war torn economy of Iraq. It was contributing to Iraq’s problems, and preventing Iraq from rebounding as an oil economy. The Kuwaiti royal family refused to answer questions on the slant drilling operations, staying discrete about the politics involved (Hayes, 1990). And, therefore, due to slant drilling, Kuwait’s oil production had soared as it was producing substantially higher amounts of oil than Iraq in the late 1980s (Gregory, 2004). The OPEC agreement for Kuwait and other countries to reduce oil production was not followed; in fact, Kuwait itself requested the OPEC to increase the country’s total oil production ceiling by 50% to 1.35 million bpd (“OPEC Pressures Kuwait to Moderate Quota Demand,” 1998)....
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