Was the Iraqi Use of Military Force in the First Gulf War Justified?

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Was the Iraqi use of military force in The First Gulf War justified?

In the end of Cold War, a new problem for the international community emerged. In the summer 1990 Iraq launched an invasion of Kuwait. Since the establishment of the United Nations, the international law has played a significant role in relations between states and the survival of the fittest has no longer been a legitimate reason for aggression. Hence, as Iraq has been a UN member a since 1945, its government must have advocated its use of military force somehow. Thus Saddam Hussein took an advantage of ongoing disputes with his neighbour. The purpose of this essay is to prove that the economic frictions between Iraq and Kuwait could not serve as a justification for the Iraqi invasion. Firstly, this paper will examine financial quarrels between the two countries. Secondly, a dispute over price of oil will be discussed. Financial issues between Iraq and Kuwait have their roots in the Iraq-Iran war. The eight years of fighting have caused economic instability in Iraq. The local government was suddenly forced to deal with destroyed infrastructure, depleted oil reserves, and mainly, with the third largest debt in the world that accounted for $80billion (CIA, 2007). In short, local economy got in a dire situation and in order to keep the country going, Iraqi leaders needed to obtain extra money as soon as possible. As a result, Saddam Hussein urged Kuwait to write off the whole Iraqi debt and in addition, provide Baghdad with another $10billion. As Kuwait belonged to Iraq’s biggest creditors, the amount of Iraqi debt was definitely not negligible. In fact, Iraq owed Gulf States approximately $40billion at the time (Freedman & Karsh, 1993). Hussein decided to advocate his daring demand by claiming that without Iran-Iraq war, Gulf States would have been forced to pay larger sums in order to protect themselves from Iran and its Islamic revolution. Accordingly, in the Iraqi point of view, Baghdad deserved to be compensated for the war expenditures. Iraqi former foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, elaborated on this topic with pan-Arabic rhetoric. In his memorandum to the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Aziz argued that despite the division into states, all Arabs still remained one country and what belonged to one, belonged to all. Therefore, according to Aziz, financial support provided to Iraq by Gulf States should not have been regarded as debt, but as aid (Salinger & Laurent, 1991). However, since the establishment of the United Nations, the principle of the pan-Arabism has not been legitimate. On the basis of Article 2, paragraph 1 of the UN Charter, all states are sovereign. This means they have full authority over their own territory and cannot be forced into a decision they do not want to make. It seems logical that no country would voluntarily forget a huge debt and render another $10 billion for no service in return. For this reason, Kuwait considered the Iraqi far reaching demand as bullying (Mylroie, 1993; Salinger & Laurent, 1991; Bulloch & Morris, 1991). Moreover, there was possibility that if Kuwait had fulfilled the Iraqi request, more Iraqi demands for additional money would have followed (Mylroie, 1993; Karsh & Rautsi, 1991). Hence, Kuwaiti government refused to negotiate with Iraq for most of the time and ignored the Iraqi insistence. Nevertheless, when the situation got more escalated, delegates of both parties finally met at a congress in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Here, at last, Kuwait made a concession and offered Saddam Hussein and his cabinet a cancellation of Iraqi debt and a loan of $500million (Musallam, 1996). However, Saddam Hussein did not accept this offer and immediately the next day, on August 1st 1990, sent Iraqi troops on the Kuwaiti border. According to Baran and Rubin (1993), Kuwaiti government perceived the meeting in Jeddah as a starting point for bargaining and perhaps even further concessions. Iraq, on...
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