The Gulf War was precipitated by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990 under the pretext that Kuwait was waging an economic war against Iraq by overproducing oil and causing a collapse in world oil pricecs and of stealing vast amounts of oil from the southern section of the Rumaila oil field. In the months preceeding the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein increased his threats against Israel, saying that war with Israel would not end until all Israeli-held territory was restored to Arab hands. He added that Iraq could launch chemical weapons at Israel from several different sites (Reuters, April 18, 1990). After Saddam used chemical weapons against his own Kurdish population in Halabja in 1988, few people doubted his willingness to use such weapons against Israel.

Saddam’s failure to comply to a US issued ultimatum to withdraw his forces from Kuwait by January 15, led to an attack on Iraq by the US-led coalition, which was comprised of 28 states, including Arab states. The war named “Operation Desert Storm” began with massive bombardment of Iraq on January 17. Iraq retaliated by launching Scud missiles against Saudia Arabia and Israel. The damage caused by the 39 scud missiles fired at Israel’s main population centers (mainly Tel Aviv and Haifa) was extensive. Although the loss in lives was not great, approximately 3,300 apartments and other buildings were affected in the greater Tel Aviv area, and some 1,150 people were evacuated from their homes. By attacking Israel, Saddam sought to forge ‘linkage’ between the Gulf conflict and the Palestinian issue, a tactic he would employ throughout the crisis to win support from the Arab and Muslim worlds. Saddam also sought to lure Israel into the fighting in the hope that this would force Arab members out of the US-led coalition since they would not want to be perceived as supporting an Israeli attack on an Arab country. Saddam’s plan however failed since Israel complied with the US’s request not to play an active role in the Gulf War, despite the direct attacks she experienced.




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26 Apr 2015 / 7 Iyar 5775 0