Iraq-Kuwait War Ovierview and Analysis

Subject: Warfare
Pages: 3
Words: 809
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: School

The Iraq–Kuwait War was a military conflict that resulted in the occupation of Kuwait; in fact, Iraqi forces have occupied Kuwait for seven months. The conflict also led to the intervention of U.S. forces in Iraq and to the Gulf War. The reasons for invading Iraq were various: political, military, and territorial, but the main concern was economic. Kuwait is a small country, but its oil resources are enormous. Iraq’s economic stability was dependent on that oil production and pricing, and when prices decreased, Iraq faced difficulties in paying off debt. Thus, the country decided to invade Kuwait. When that decision was made, a controversial period ensued, which brought many negative consequences to the economic, social, and political life of the countries involved.

On July 18, 1990, Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, accused Kuwait of illegally mining Iraqi oil fields across a period of ten years (Holsti, 2011). As compensation, Kuwait had to forgive Iraq’s $14 billion debt and pay another $2.4 billion for the oil illegally taken from Iraq. However, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, refused to comply with the requirements posed, and in subsequent days, Iraqi troops began to make their way to the Kuwait border. Saddam Hussein claimed in negotiations with Kuwait that he was ready to peacefully settle the dispute; despite that, Iraq requirements were limited to material aid and territorial concessions on the part of Kuwait, making the war inevitable.

On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces, which numbered thousands of soldiers and tanks, invaded Kuwait (Westermeyer, 2014). By August 4, the Kuwait army was completely destroyed, and Iraqi forces brought the country under their control (Hill, 2012). Only after cooperation and assistance from other countries was Kuwait liberated from these invaders, and the country has since been returned to a state of independence. Another result called for sanctions imposed on Iraq, which included economic constraints.

One of the reasons for invading Kuwait was Iraq’s desire to increase the Iraqi coast. It should be noted that, historically, Iraq has always wanted to merge with the Kuwait region (Hill, 2012). In fact, ever since Kuwait gained independence from Britain in 1961, Iraq has tried to attain this territory; however, British and Saudi troops helped Kuwait retain its independence. In order to further ensure their safety, Kuwait joined the Arab League. Soon, Kuwait increased oil production, and the country was able to invest heavily in both economic and social spheres. Rich oil resources enabled Kuwait to become wealthy and progressive. In comparison to the standard of living in Iraq, Kuwait proved quite superior. For that reason, the Iraqi president wanted to take over the smaller country and lessen the national debt (Wehrey, 2014). Needless to say, Saddam Hussein did not expect that the U.S. would aid Kuwait in protecting its territory, or that the United Nations would denounce Iraq’s actions and require them to call off their military forces from Kuwait.

After the Iraq-Kuwait War, certain consequences were unavoidable. Apart from losses in military forces during the conflict, many civilians were also killed; most also lost their property. The Kuwaitis faced difficulties in restoring their country while Iraq ruined the oil wells that could have provided continued revenue to the country. Life was simply not comparable to what it had been pre- war. Unemployment levels increased (Holsti, 2011). Moreover, after the war, people from supporting countries noticed health crises. “I had terrible sweats and fevers,” says Sean Rusling. “I was a bit of a mess” (Bates & Parkinson, 2016, para. 2). Military action even caused damage to the ecology of Kuwait, like air and water contamination after the oil wells were burned (Holsti, 2011). The result for Iraq was its complete isolation and as for countries with only modest oil resources, like the U.S., Japan and others, their interest in supporting Kuwait was self-explanatory: they depended on the Middle East so much that the loss of oil resources would have negatively affected their stability.

The Iraq-Kuwait war was a controversial occurrence for all involved, and it resulted in negative consequences for everybody. Iraq ended up in isolation, and Kuwait suffered great damage across all aspects of life in the country. People were left homeless and jobless, oil resources were depleted, and it became difficult to stabilize the nation. Political stability in terms of Iraq was questionable as well, but the biggest consequence was the growth of fresh conflicts afterwards. Kuwait was an important strategic spot for the West, which is why the war saw global consequences. Economic difficulties and post-war social and environmental consequences were destructive. Unfortunately, these problems remain to this day. Kuwait experienced not only economic decline but also faced human and military losses. Additionally, the destruction caused by military conflict had a negative impact on human health and could have caused an environmental disaster when Iraq burned the oil wells.


Bates, C., & Parkinson, J. (2016). Why hasn’t the mystery of Gulf war syndrome been solved? BBC News Magazine. Web.

Hill, K.L. (2012). An essential guide to American politics and the American political system. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

Holsti, O.R. (2011). American public opinion on the Iraq war. Ann Abor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Wehrey, F.M. (2014). Sectarian politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq war to the Arab uprisings. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Westermeyer, P.W. (2014). Marines in the Gulf war 1990-1991: Liberating Kuwait. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.