Free The Gulf Wars Essay Sample

International relations refer to the nature of relationships between nations. Conflicts among nations are an impediment to good international relations. War is among the most contemplated political issues in the world. The rise of terrorism activities closely attributes to war as a resolution of international conflicts. The American-Iraqi war emerges to be the most recognized violent form of conflict resolution, which attracted attention of various nations. With respect to the Gulf Wars, this paper discusses the history of the invasion, ultimate causalities and possible results of the conflicts.

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The History of the U.S. Invasion in Iraq

The Persian Gulf states and Iraq emerged from the World War I as Great Britain’s protectorates. The countries initially belonged to the Ottoman Empire, presently referred to Mesopotamia. The ethnic groups of Iraq include Sunni Muslim Arabs, who occupy Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq. Other communities, such as Kurds and Shia Muslims are located in the north and south respectively. The history of Iraq as a nation is typified by the involvement of the western powers with an attempt to control Iraqi oil, which is an important economic resource (Downing, 2004). The discovery of Iraqi petroleum has explained many reasons behind the country's crisis. The world influential nations, such as Britain and the USA showed great interest in petroleum mining in Iraq.

Critics perceived the UN economic sanctions imposed on Iraq as a causality of hardship and poverty. Iraq was allowed to export a limited amount of oil to cater for food and medicine needs (Bergen & Cruickshank, 2007). Notably, Saddam used a part of income from the limited oil export to support weapon programs by charging a secret appendage. Foreign politicians willing to provide aid to Saddam benefited from credits for cheap oil. An example was Jordan, which was an active business partner of Iraq. The British government estimated that Iraq earned $ 3 billion, which was much lower than the CIA, as illegal income from oil exports in 2001 (Santella, 2004). The illicit revenue was used to improve capabilities of weapons of mass destruction and other invasion activities.

The attempt of assassination of the ex-president of the United States, George Bush, was linked to Iraq. Palestine supported Saddam Hussein’s war activities as revealed by Palestinian suicide bombers, who were in turn rewarded $ 25 million. Saddam also supported various terrorist groups from Palestine, such as the Abu Nidal group and the Ansar Al-Islam group, which were Al Qaeda affiliates (Copson, 2003). However, the relation of Saddam and Al-Qaeda based in northern Iraq, remains unclear. The September terrorist attacks on the WorldTradeCenter apparently disclosed that Iraq had connection with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group headed by Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. set intentions of terminating the regime of Saddam Hussein. In 2002, the U.S. intentions of invading in Iraq had become increasingly clear. U.S. government officials, including Condoleezza Rice, affirmed that Iraq was an associate of the Al-Qaeda Militia group. The USA, through various inspection agencies, concluded that Iraq had substantial amounts of chemical weapons and was actively participating in the nuclear program (Copson, 2003).

Iraq had to avert war against it by the coalition of Muslim States, such as Syria and Iran, improving its international relations. The UN revived Iraqi issues in September 2002, because of the intensified U.S. invasion preparation (Murray & Scales, 2005). Bush spurred for a joint action against Iraq during the UN summit in September 2002 relying on resolutions, which were to be proposed by the USA and other nations. To inhibit the confirmation of these resolutions, Saddam quickly responded by allowing inspections to be performed. According to Murray & Scales (2005), the invasion faced opposition basing on the following reasons. Firstly, the attack was an action against the entire Arab community, which served the interest of Israel. Secondly, some nations strongly advocated for the continuation of inspections. Thirdly, other nations proposed that UN backing was necessary to support the invasion (Murray & Scales, 2005).

The British and U.S. governments received authorization to perform inspections since Iraq had conformed to the procedure. Inspectors reported that the Iraqi government had failed to cooperate, because they were restricted to examine scientists within the Iraq’s political borders. According to the IAEA, an inspection agency, Iraq was not in possession of nuclear weapons. Various nations treated the resolution differently. The U.S. and Britain did not agree on the UN second resolution. Russia and France rejected the resolution together with Germany that is a non-member of the UN Security Council. Bush commanded Iraq to disarm in two days, but Iraq discredited the order (Jones, 2011). As a result, British and U.S. soldiers proceeded with attacks and failed to kill Saddam. Turkey altered the attack by refusing the U.S. forces an entry to Iraq from its territory. The U.S. and British forces advanced and managed to destroy the image of Saddam. Saddam’s capture in December 2003 in his underground hideout was embraced with jubilant celebration.

The Rise of Saddam Hussein

The Iraqi ex-president was born on April 28, 1937 in the city of Tikriti. In the last two decades, he became the most popular and most hated Arab leader worldwide. Some critics of the Saddam regime concluded that he was a dictator feared by his own citizens and other nations. He was ready to sacrifice Iraq in order to rule (Johnson, 2001). At his youthful age, Saddam participated in anti-western activities, such as affiliating with the Ba’ath party when in college. The Ba’ath party was responsible for the coup attempt in 1956. In 1958, after the downfall of the monarchy, he planned to assassinate Prime Minister Abdel Karim (Copson, 2003). The plan was discovered, and he went abroad and returned when the Ba’ath party gained control over Baghdad in 1963 (Jones, 2011). It was at this time that Saddam tried to garner some support from the Iraqi people.

The Ba’ath control of the city was not long lasting. Having been overthrown after three months, Saddam ended being incarcerated until the successful coup in 1968. With an uncompromising determination, which emerged as a trademark of his reign, he managed to be the head of the Revolutionary Command Council (Jones, 2011). In 1979, he became the head of state after being the power behind the President, Ahmed Hassan. Saddam’s ruling resulted in deaths of many people, especially his rivals. He argued that nothing else could keep Iraq united, but the hardnosed leadership. His major opponents comprised the Sunni in the center of Iraq, Kurds in the north and the Shi’ia in the south. What seems to be considered as terror by the international community is expediency to the Iraq’s former president.

The Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988)

The war is also known as the First Persian Gulf War, which began in September 1980 and lasted until August 1988. It is rated as the most long lasting war of the last century. Iraq commenced the war by launching various synchronized attacks by air and land. The reason behind the war was border disputes between the two countries and the Shia insurgency emphasized by the Iranian revolution (Santella, 2004). Additionally, Iraq wanted to displace Iran from being the dominant country among the Persian Gulf states.

Iraq decided to capitalize on the Iranian revolutionary chaos by invading without a formal notice (Downing, 2004). However, its progress was slight, since Iran rapidly regained the already claimed territory. Iran fought offensively for the next six years. The United Nations Security Council responded to the situation by calling for a ceasefire, but its efforts bore nothing until August 1988. Iraq and Iran accepted the United Nations Security Council Resolution 598 to stop the war. Iran war troops had to evacuate from the Iraqi territory as an honor of the pre-war international borders according to the 1975 Algiers Agreement (Copson, 2003).

The effects of the war were immeasurable from the cost of lives to economic deterioration. It is countered that approximately half a million of Iranian and Iraqi soldiers and civilians from both countries died during the conflict (Downing, 2004). Many other people were injured. Despite the long period of the war with extensive damages, no solution was provided to the border disputes and the countries maintained their former state borders. The tactics deployed during the war closely resembled those used in the World War 1, which brought about a similarity between the two wars. Some of the used tactics include manned machine-gun, trench war, bayonet charges, human wave attacks, and chemical weapons, such as mustard gas (Copson, 2003).

The Iraqi army resorted to being offensive because of the financial benefit from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Persian GulfStates (Santella, 2004). In addition, purchases of arms from the Soviet Union, China and France gave Saddam an upper hand to be on the offensive side for the first time since early 1980. However, the Iraqi offensiveness ended being insignificant because of the Iranian response against Basra. Iran attempted to secure Umm Qasr to separate Iraq from the Gulf states, but they failed. Iraq conquered Mehran and proposed for a swap between Mehran and Fao. Iran rejected the proposal, and they reclaimed Mehran.

The ceasefire period lasted from 1987 to 1988. Iran attempted to capture Basra by launching operation Karbala-5, which failed after more than three months (Santella, 2004). The operation led to twenty thousand Iraqi and sixty five thousand Iranian casualties. The launch of operations Nasr 4 and Karbala-10 threatened to capture the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The two nations were worn out, as the United Nations Security Council passed the US resolution 598 meant to cease the war and return normal boundaries.

The U.S.–Iraqi Relations

The United States has extremely long history of cooperation with Iraq. Considering the past decade, the relation was characterized by the dominance of American foreign policies. Copson (2003) affirmed that the 1980s of the Iraq political history were known for the Ba’athist coups, which were led by Abdul Karim Qassim. The U.S. became concerned with increasingly growing control of communist Iraqi regime officials under the Qassim’s administration. The CIA had plans to assassinate Qassim although he was shot by the Ba’ath party (Copson, 2003). Washington mended the relationship with Iraq by befriending the successor government. From a theoretically perspective, America intended to establish good international relationships with Iraq despite the claims that the CIA was behind the death of Qassim. This implied that America realized the benefit of good relations with Iraq (Johnson, 2001).

The U.S. – Iraqi relationship turned sour in 1967. With Al-Bakr in power, the U.S. sold arms to Iraq to support illegal activities, including uprisings. Oil was declared a political weapon in 1972 after  the Iraq Petroleum Company seized. Saddam became a state leader in 1979 as a result of the political coup. Saddam’s regime was interested in acquiring American technical proficiency with less seriousness in establishing diplomatic relationships. According to the Ba’ath party, the USA was interested in creating Arab disunity because of the Camp David Accords (Copson, 2003).

The 1980s witnessed the support of Iraq in attacks on Iran, the authorization of selling chemical and biological materials to Iraq and public diplomacy and clandestine support. According to the former Iranian president, Abolhassan Banisadr, Brzezinski, a U.S. security advisor conduced talks with Saddam before the Iraqi invasion in Iran. The ex-president further clarified that Brzezinski guaranteed that the U.S. had opposed the cutting of Khuzestan from Iran. Additionally, Saddam, 3 CIA agents and Brzezinski had discussed how to oppose Iran in AmmanJordan. Anti-American states claim that the U.S. mended the relationship and supported Hussein in return for economic benefit (Copson, 2003).

The U.S. diplomacy and underground support played a critical role in the relationship between the two countries. This can be viewed through U.S. battle backing by the U.S. intelligence agencies that apparently had a clue that Iraq intended to deploy chemical weapons to suppress the Kurdish revolts. In response to this, the USA performed an underground program informing Iraq on Iranian methods of attack (Downing, 2004). The USA offered vast support to Hussein’s regime through the intelligence service, including satellite photography. U.S. diplomats claimed that the USA offered battle preparations, but not intelligence services.

The Islamic Revolution and Soviet attack on Afghanistan made Iraq review its affiliation with the USA (Murray & Scales, 2005). The process resulted in warming international relationships between Iraq and the USA. The two countries occasionally had official discussions on pertaining matters of mutual interest, including trade and security. Iraq traded with the USA as revealed by the purchase of American agricultural commodities. America gave Iraq a credit for trade for the first time in 1967. In 1983, the U.S. special Envoy was hosted by the Ba’ath regime in Baghdad, which was considered extraordinary (Jones, 2011). The launch of operation staunch by the USA in 1984 stopped the forearm shipment to Iran by other countries, but did not affect Iraq, since Hussein’s regime was willing to end the conflict. Apparently, arrangements by the the USA were aimed at mending diplomatic relations.

There were cordial relationships between the two nations in early 1988. The disclosure of the U.S. clandestine firearm trade with Iran in 1985 and 1986 strained the relation. Iraq attacked an American naval ship that was alleged to be involved in trade with Iran. The two nations settled the dispute in mid-1987. Iraq believed that America advocated for the war against Iran because of Iranian inflexibility (Copson, 2003).

The U.S. – Iraq relationship witnessed a covert campaign by the USA to overthrow the Islamic Iraqi regime (Copson, 2003). Former U.S. intelligence officials claimed that the CIA coordinated the sabotage campaign in Iraq through the Iraqi National Accord. However, the disruption had no impact on Saddam’s ruling. In the 2000s, the U.S. and British roles changed in regard with the international politics as it was revealed in overthrowing Saddam and establishing an Iraqi interim government. Iraq’s relationships with other countries, especially the USA, are an overriding issue for the predictable future (Copson, 2003).

The First Persian Gulf War (1991)

Iraq launched an attack in August, 1990 by bombing Kuwait, the country’s capital city. The invasion caught Kuwait unawares, which was very detrimental to its chances of winning the war. Kuwait soldiers responded by conducting a robust defense attack, codenamed the Battle of the Bridges, almost close to Al Jahra in the West of Kuwait (Copson, 2003). As a part of the defense attack, the Kuwait Air Force struggled to engage with the Iraqi forces. Unfortunately, approximately 20% of Kuwait’s forces were captured or lost. Iraq attacked exhaustively by deploying helicopters and war boats from the sea. Kuwaiti armed soldiers were clogged by Iraqi soldiers and some escaped to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations provided legitimate reasons for the involvement in the conflict. The major justifications were the infringement of Kuwaiti territorial integrity by Iraq and the prevention of Saudi Arabia as a substantial oil supplier from the invasion in Iraq. Other reasons, such as Hussein’s violation of human rights and Iraq’s possession of chemical and biological weapons, were also contributive. The Gulf War commenced on 17 January 1991 with coalition states sending 100 thousand incursions and approximately 88 thousand tons of bombs (Santella, 2004). A massive campaign was propelled by the coalition one day after the deadline stipulated in the Resolution 678.

The first and primary objective of the operation was to destroy the Iraqi Air Force and anti-aircraft war facilities. Another priority set by the coalition was destroying communication networks and command facilities used by the Iraqi Air Force (Jones, 2011). The third objective was the greatest mission to stop air campaign directed at military targets in Kuwait and Iraq. Weapons to be destroyed in the last phase included scud missile launchers, research facilities and marine forces. The U.S. and British forces were also engaged in underground search of missiles and destruction of scuds. Iraq responded by announcing that it would invade in Israel. This was to be done by launching missile strikes (Jones, 2011). Iraq maintained the statement and proceeded to launch 42 scud missiles. Technological advantages contributed greatly to the domination of the coalition forces in the air invasion.

The war had various consequences, including infrastructural destruction, economic sanctions and deaths. Iraq experienced a widespread shortage of electricity, since the total production had declined to less than 25%. The war resulted in the destruction of water treatment facilities leading to the pollution of the River Tigris. According to the UNICEF report in 1998, UN economic sanctions imposed on Iraq led to an increase in the mortality rate of 90,000 people annually. The war also led to the establishment of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), a body of the UN that dealt with weapon issues. The UNSCOM monitored Iraq’s defiance with stipulated restrictions (Santella, 2004).

UN Economic Sanctions on Iraq

UN sanctions were meant to prevent Iraq from launching more attacks. These sanctions were majorly financial and trade impediment. The first sanction on Iraq was in 1990 after the invasion in Kuwait (Downing, 2004). As a resolution, sanctions were intended to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, hinder terrorism and prompt Iraq to cater for war compensations and its international debts. Some sanctions included limitations on imports and exports. The limitation on imports was meant to encourage Iraq to import essential commodities, such as foodstuff, medicines and products for important civilian demands (Bergen & Cruickshank, 2007). The sanction affected parties exporting goods to Iraq by demanding that they should seek export licenses from UN member states. Military weapons were not exported to Iraq to disadvantage Saddam, though situations of covert trading existed.

The limitation on Iraq’s exports was another sanction to deter Iraq from paying for imported goods. With regard to the Gulf war, the UN inter-agency evaluated that the Iraqis were vulnerable to an epidemic and famine catastrophe (Copson, 2003). Despite the predictable catastrophe, the Iraqi regime declined offers to facilitate exportation of limited quantities of oil to cater for civilian’s needs. The UN Security Council launched the oil-for-food programme according to the Resolution 986 intended to meet humanitarian demands of the Iraqis. The Iraqi government fully funded the programme. The initial monetary value of Iraq’s oil export was 2 billion dollars. More than a half of this value was used to meet human needs. The UN lessened the sanction in 1998 by raising the value to 5.26 billion dollars (Copson, 2003).

The Second Gulf War (2003)

The Second Gulf War is also referred to as the 2003 invasion in Iraq or Operation Iraqi Freedom. It involved invasion in Iraq by combined troops from Australia, the UK, Poland and the USA to overthrow Hussein’s dictatorial regime (Santella, 2004). The USA took the biggest role with the help of Kurdish irregulars. According to Bush, Operation Iraqi Freedom was meant to dispossess Iraq mass destruction weapons, terminate Saddam’s regime and to free the Iraqis. Other diplomats also asserted that Bush’s intention was to invade in Iraq. According to the CBS poll in 2003, 64% of U.S. citizens justified the invasion in Iraq. France, Germany, New Zealand and Canada strongly opposed the U.S. invasion in Iraq (Santella, 2004).

The incursion proceeded with less resistance, because most Iraqi soldiers were overpowered. The coalition annexed Baghdad on April 9. Saddam and other government officials resorted to hiding as the entire Iraq was captured. Major combat operations were terminated on May 1 ending the incursion period and military occupation. According to the report, the total number of deaths was approximately 36 thousand in non-Kurdish regions of Iraq.

Results of the Second Gulf War

The war resulted in various consequences, such as deaths, war crimes, allegations, looting and war damage. The total deaths number varies widely because much of deaths seem to have occurred after the termination of combat operations. The CNN reported that 139 people of the military personnel died in May 2003 and approximately over 4 thousand died since 2003. Civilian deaths vary more widely than military ones. Approximately 70 thousand civilians are assumed to have died in 2007 (Santella, 2004). According to the Opinion Research Business Survey, approximately 1.5 million deaths are witnessed because of the conflict.

War crimes are other consequences of the conflict. The Iraqi militia was accused of executing fellow soldiers for accepting defeat (Downing, 2004). Other war crimes, such as threatening families that declined to participate in the war, were occasionally witnessed. The Fedayeen Saddam militia was alleged to have used human shields. The Iraqi broadcast on television showed the bodies of U.S. soldiers, who had been killed by execution. An interview with prisoners of war revealed that war crimes that infringed the Geneva conventions were committed. Members of the British engineering unit were executed in the town of Az Zubayr.

The 2003 invasion in Iraq resulted in massive looting. The U.S. soldiers were forced to make hard choices to access water plants and vital intelligence services (Jones, 2011). Such choices included looting depending on the situation on the ground. Other areas looted include the National Museum of Iraq. In response to this, the FBI was used to trace stolen items and approximately 5000 items were found. The infringement of human rights, and the number of casualties may not be simply left out. Thus, this was is not over.

The War on Terror

The term “war on terror” is applied to the international military crusade. The United States and the United Kingdom are at the forefront fighting against terrorism activities. Additionally, NATO and non-NATO states offer their support. Formerly, the campaign intended to eliminate the popular al-Qaeda group among other militant organizations. Various operations performed by the USA and NATO states to eliminate terrorism include Operation Active Endeavor, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom-Horn Africa (Downing, 2004).

Operation Active Endeavor was referred to as the war on terror operation that commenced in October 2001 after the September 11 bombing. The operation was intensive in the Mediterranean Sea to stop mass destruction. It was also aimed at improving shipping security. Greece benefited from the operation through the prevention of illegal immigration. Operation Enduring Freedom referred to the war in Afghanistan, which was administered by Bush, the former U.S. president. This war comprised three military actions intended to eliminate the popular al-Qaeda militia group in Afghanistan. The operation was a part of the Global War on Terror Initiative, which was intended to eradicate terrorism imposed by the al-Qaeda group. Operation Enduring Freedom-Horn of Africa was a war on terror operation, which focused on detecting illegal militant activities in the horn of Africa. The combined Joint Task Force was initiated in 2002, which comprised 2000 people, inclusive of the U.S. military. Osama Bin Laden, the ex-al-Qaeda leader, showed interest in Somalia by urging the Somalis to establish an Islamic state (Jones, 2011). Somalia was characterized by warlord leadership and weak Islamic courts that had led to the failure of the country.


Causative factors of wars remain a debatable issue. Scholars attempted to elucidate causes of wars leading varying ideologies. Some historians liken these wars to accidents, since it was difficult to predict their occurrence. Different theories, such as psychological, anthropological, sociological, information, economic and Marxist, attempted to discuss causes of war (Jones, 2011).

Taking into account the historical background, causes and results of a conflict it is assumed that the economic theory explains it in the best way. According to it, conflicts are consequences of chaotic economic competition in the international system. According to this school of thought, conflicts arise when nations pursue new markets, natural resources and economic wealth (Downing, 2004). The Marxist theory, which is closely related to the economic theory, argues that wars result from the class war. Marxist theory perceives conflicts as royal ventures meant to improve political power of the ruling class and divide the world by putting people into groups, according to nationality, religion or race.

In conclusion, the economic theory absolutely elucidates the causes of the Gulf Wars. Formerly, Britain and the USA showed great interest in petroleum mining in Iraq. The Iraq’s attack on Kuwait resulted from oil accusations by Saddam Hussein, which implied that Iraq was pursuing the purpose of getting economic resources.


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