The Causes of the Persian Gulf War
"Two dozen U.S. and British aircraft
bombed five radar and other anti-aircraft
sites around Baghdad with guided missiles yesterday in the first major military action of the Bush administration. It was the largest airstrike against Iraq in two years and hit sites near the Iraqi capital, a significant departure from the low-key enforcement of no-fly zones in the country's south and north. The U.S.-led alliance declared the zones off-limits to Iraqi aircraft
after the Persian Gulf War. President Bush, speaking at a new conference in Mexico alongside the Mexican President, Vicente Fox, called the raid routine.' But it was widely interperted in Washington and other world capitals as presaging a get-tough attitude by the new administration toward a country that has vexed U.S. policymakers for more than a decade. Saddam Hussein has got to understand we expect him to comform to the agreement that he signed after The Desert Storm,' Bush said..." (Ricks A1)
Saddam Hussein's continuing failure to cooperate is one of many results of the Persian Gulf War. Between January 17 and February 28, 1991, an international military coalition sanctioned by the United Nations and led by the United States defeated the large, well-equipped Iraqi army and forced it to withdraw from occupied Kuwait. The allied offense, whose military code name was Operation Desert Storm, involved ground troops from 19 countries joining together from virtually every region on the globe: North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia (Yant 18). In essence, from the Iraqi position, there were three, main, inter-state causes of the Persian Gulf War: 1) To acquire a major port on the
Persian Gulf, 2) To eliminate the $13 billion debt that Iraq owed Kuwait, 3) To gain vast oil reserves.
In order to better understand the Iraqi position, it is necessary to look at some of the historical factors. The discovery of oil by the the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC; later renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and still later British Petroleum) in Iran in 1908 stimulated a great interest in potential Iraqi oil resources. Financial groups from several major nations engaged in protracted negotiations with the Ottoman Empire (present-day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and Turkey) in order to obtain concessions to explore for oil in Mosul and in Kirkuk, two locations in what later was north-central Iraq. Although a few concessions were granted prior to World War I (1914-1918), little surveying or exploration was actually done. In 1912, several rival groups banded together to establish the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC), which would also seek a concession to explore for Iraqi oil and would attempt to eliminate rivalry among the partners (Phyllis and Moushabeck 49).
Establishment of the TPC did not, however, eliminate the rivalry among the shareholders representing various national interests, such as those of Great Britain. After World War I, Iraq became a British mandate in 1920 yet that did not guarantee the TPC an exclusive concession. After lengthy negotiations, a concession was finally granted in 1925. In fact, numerous amounts of oil were discovered and because of the continuous negotiations with the Iraqi government, the TPC was renamed the Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC) in 1929. This resulted in complete IPC control over the oil in Iraq (Phyllis and Moushabeck 47-49).
After the Iraqi revolution in 1958 and after the country was declared a Republic in 1961, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed in response to a reduction in revenues due to a surplus amount of oil in Iraq. OPEC's main objective was to limit the impact of Iraq on IPC. In response, Iraq formed the state-owned Iraq Nation Oil Company (INOC). Economically, Iraq remained stable with oil booms throughout the 1960's and 1970's. However, there was a period of political...
Cited: Bennis, Phyllis and Moushabeck, Michel. Beyond the Storm. New York: Olive Branch
Saddam Hussein - His Rise to Power. Ed. Gerald Butt. Nov 17. 1998. BBC News. 24
Freedman, Lawrence and Karsh, Efraim. The Gulf Conflict: 1990 -1991. New Jersey:
Princeton University Press, 1993
"Inside the Storm" Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX). 12 Jan. 1992: 1A+.
Ricks, Thomas E
Get-Tough U.S. Attitude." San Francisco Chronicle. 17 Feb. 2001: A-1.
Schwartz, Richard Alan. Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War. North Carolina:
McFarland & Co, 1998
Yant, Martin. Desert Mirage: The True Story of the Gulf War. New York: Prometheus
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