The direct effects of the 1991 Gulf War
In early August 1990, the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait. On 6 August1990, the United Nations Security Council imposed comprehensiveeconomic sanctions on Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait fourdays earlier and a military build-up began that eventually resulted in thesix week Gulf War in early 1991. The air campaign against Iraq waslaunched 16 January 1991, with a ground force invasion of Kuwait amonth later on the 24 February 1991. A ceasefire was called after fourdays on 28 February. Military forces from a coalition of 34 countrieswere involved in the war against Iraq.The number of coalition military personnel that were killed is welldocumented14- 358 men and women died - most of whom were from theUSA and many as a result of ‘friendly fire’. However, the number ofpeople in Iraq directly killed by the war is much harder to establish andmany of the estimates appear to be little more than exercises inpropaganda.The most widely quoted figures were those produced by the US DefenceIntelligence Agency (DIA) who estimated that 100,000 Iraqis were killed(plus or minus 50,000). By contrast, Heidenrich (1993) argues that thisis a huge overestimate and that the Iraqi dead were only about 1,500.Both these estimates are based on a number of dubious assumptionsand seem to be little more than guesses. A more ‘scientific’ analysis byDaponte (1993)15, based on epidemiological and demographic techniques,concluded that 56,000 soldiers (plus or minus 7,000) and 3,500 civilianswere killed directly by the war.The indirect effect of the Gulf War and economic sanctionsThe heavy bombing of Iraq resulted in severe damage to infrastructure --bridges, roads, water, sewerage and electrical power systems. Most ofthe deaths of ‘innocent’ people in Iraq were a result of the indirect effectsof the bombing of these infrastructure facilities and an inability to repairthese facilities due to the economic sanctions....
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