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Gulf War: the socio-political background.

The Arab Gulf region has gone through two tragic wars in nearly one decade. The first war, between Iran and Iraq which began in September 1980, lasted for eight long years. This war has been labeled by some as one of the costliest conflicts in the 20th Century,(1) whereas others referred to it as the longest war.(2) Two years after the cease-fire between Iran and Iraq, the latter, taking the whole world by surprise, invaded Kuwait. The shocking 2 August 1990 invasion set in motion a series of political, diplomatic and military activities which eventually led to the 16 January 1991 war. This second Gulf war lasted for only 42 days, but was nevertheless as damaging and as catastrophic as the first.(3)

Many people in the Gulf thought that the Iran-Iraq War would be the last major war in this vital and sensitive region. The damages and the human suffering caused by the eight year war were thought to be enormous enough to convince the leaders of the Gulf states to avoid further wars and settle their legitimate differences and disputes peacefully. Most of these states were yearning for a peaceful and more tranquil 1990s. The people of the Gulf, too, were optimistic that the worst moment in recent memory was finally over, and they were looking for a new start. As it turned out, this was ill-founded optimism. "The war to liberate Kuwait", turned out to be also a war for the complete and total destruction of Iraq as a major Gulf power.

Ever since the end of the Gulf war,(4) the main topic, once more, has become Gulf security. The Gulf region, while gradually returning to normality, still looks fragile and pregnant with all sorts of uncertainties, challenges and risks which raise fundamental questions about its future direction and possibilities.(5) The tragic events of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait have made the oil rich states, including Saudi Arabia, more insecure and certainly more dependent on foreign protection than ever before. These states are seeking answers to some deeply disturbing questions regarding their viability, identity, territorial integrity and their ability to independently manage their own affairs. The perennial question that preoccupies everybody in the Gulf is, Why is there so much tension in this region? Why do conflicts keep reoccurring so frequently? How is it possible to prevent future wars? But above all, everybody in and outside the Gulf is asking whether the second Gulf war is going to be also the last of the big wars in the region?

This essay attempts to address the last of these questions. It focuses, especially, on the sociopolitical background to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. In essence the article argues that the second Gulf war is basically an extension and a natural consequence of the first Gulf war between Iran and Iraq. These two tragic Gulf wars are intrinsically linked. Furthermore this essay also argues that the same historical and sociopolitical forces that produced the Iran-Iraq war were also responsible for the second Gulf war and indeed for much of the real and latent tensions in the region.

The sociopolitical background to much of the tensions, conflicts and wars in the Gulf include some diverse factors such as; the long lasting colonial legacy, the 1971 British withdrawal, the unresolved border disputes, the existence of a number of vulnerable small states, the 1973 oil price increase, the ongoing international interest in oil, the strains of rapid modernization, the 1979 resignation of the Shah and the consolidation of a revolutionary Islamic Republic in Iran, the continuation of one-man, one-family, one-party regimes and finally the persistence of foreign meddling which only exacerbates local conflicts and easily transforms them into potentially deadly and catastrophic wars with vast global consequences. Each of these sociopolitical factors, which have a bearing on one another, is itself a sufficient source of conflict, but all of them combined have worked over the last 20 years to produce the last crisis and war in the Gulf.

The Arab Gulf, composed of eight states that vary in size and importance, is characterized by two distinct political features. First, the Gulf is essentially a conflict oriented region. The states of the region have nearly always been in state of conflict with each other. Throughout their modern history, these states have been engaged in all sorts of conflicts which have taken many different forms: tribal wars, border wars, oil wars and even political and ideological wars. Intra- and inter-state conflicts reoccur in the region on almost regular intervals.(6) Of course, the discovery of oil in large quantity and the sudden international importance of Gulf oil has made the region even more volatile and conflict-oriented. Oil has made the newly independent small states super-affluent and financially secure, but it has also made them politically and militarily vulnerable and susceptible to all sons of external envies, involvements and even invasions. Hence, when it comes to the Gulf region, conflict is the rule whereas peaceful coexistence and cooperation is the rare exception.

The other distinct political characteristic of this region is that the Gulf is essentially an other-directed regional system. This region, probably more than any. other, has been guided by outward influences rather than those from within. The Gulf regional system either lacks inner dynamism and direction, or else its inner dynamism has been historically suppressed by external necessities. In the first place, the Gulf is geographically, politically and culturally a subsystem of the wider Arab World-Middle East system which directly determines much of its politics.(7) But the Gulf region is also probably one of the most financially and commercially integrated regions in the world capitalist system. This system exercises near total hegemony over the Gulf's economic choices and developmental strategies.(8) Even after formal political independence, the states of the Gulf never had the chance to freely manage their own affairs and assert indigenous control over Gulf politics and economics. It seems hardly likely in the future that such an extremely oil rich and highly strategic region like the Gulf would be free from outside influence and domination. Hence, when it comes to the Gulf, it is safe to generalize that foreign involvement and control is the rule whereas indigenous-local management of Gulf affairs is the distinct exception.

The last two wars, and especially the vast global interest in the invasion of Kuwait, certainly confirm these two fundamental political rules of the Gulf region. The two wars were merely one more manifestation of the tense and conflictual characteristic of this region. The tragic events and consequences of the last Gulf war have in turn contributed to the region's inherent instability, volatility and fragility. The destruction and suffering, which are unmatched in recent memory, have made the Gulf sad, depressed and indeed more insecure than ever before. On the other hand, the massive and unprecedented direct foreign military participation in the second Gulf war reinforces the other-directedness of the region. This last war was primarily viewed and justified as essential not just to liberating Kuwait and securing peace in the Gulf, but as a necessary element to the building of the so-called New World Order. In his January 1991 State of the Union address, President Bush declared that what is at stake is a New World Order. However, it is questionable that the New World Order, however real, and the presence of foreign troops, of whatever nationality, would lessen tensions, prevent future wars or make the Gulf more stable.

The Arab Gulf region has yet to cope with the shattering consequences of the war. The war was certainly one major systemic and historic turning point in the contemporary history of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and indeed the rest of the Gulf states. These states have just gone through the most traumatic experience, the like of which can only be compared to two other approximately similar turbulent historical events. The first was the 18th Century appearance of the Portuguese who mercilessly raided, plundered and brought havoc to the coastal cities and ports of the Gulf. The second comparable historical event is probably the early 19th Century violent encounter and destruction of prosperous commercial centers of the region which set the stage for the 150 years of direct British colonial supremacy.(9)

The 16 January 1991 bloody Gulf war was in essence a continuation of this long historical attempt to affirm foreign, particularly Western, domination and subjugation of this sensitive and highly strategic part of the Arab World. Once again, the people of the Gulf are being painfully reminded that from now on and probably until the last drop of oil, the Gulf is neither an Arab nor a Persian, but is essentially an American Gulf.(10) They are being violently told that their security, stability, their well-being and such basic issues as life and death in the Gulf, are all issues that will be decided upon internationally and especially by the United States; the now sole superpower in the emerging New World Order.(11) The U.S. which is in total control will decide and shape the economics and politics of the region for many years to come. In a very revealing manner, the U.S. might be reviving and reliving the British colonial experience in the Gulf.(12)

By all military, political and strategic standards the Gulf is the most internationalized and certainly the most militarized region which makes it, even three years after the Gulf war, one of the most insecure and confused regions on earth today. For example, Iraq, once a politically and militarily mighty regional power, has emerged from relentless American bombardment as a decisively defeated nation, which lapsed, at least for a short while, into a state of disorder and anarchy. Iraq is now isolated and cast widely as an outlawed country. It has been stripped of much of its sovereignty and remains under a comprehensive system of sanctions the likes of which have not been imposed on any state in contemporary history. Iraq is subjected to unprecedented financial and political constraints that prevent it from re-joining the international community, exporting its oil, and rebuilding its economy. The U.S. has mandated the complete and total elimination of the country's weapons of mass destruction. These severe constraints are only part of the complex and binding UN Security Council Resolution 687 which Iraq described as unfair. Nevertheless, Iraq has found itself facing only one choice: to accept this unacceptable resolution.(13)

Iraq is now a country divided into three zones, each with different de facto regimes. Under these circumstances, Iraq could easily be politically and militarily penetrated by its numerous neighbors to the East and the West. On the other hand, the U.S. has also committed itself publicly to a policy whereby Iraq never again poses any threat to its neighbors. In this respect, Martin Indyk, director of Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, declared in a May 1993 speech, that the Clinton administration will not agree to lift sanctions until President Hussein is overthrown. Further, it will want to be satisfied that any successor government complies fully with all UN resolutions.(14) Hence, Iraq is certainly a country with an uncertain future.

On the other hand, Kuwait, which was liberated on 26 February 1991, still, three years later, looks disoriented and traumatized. It is politically and emotionally snuggling with the legacy of the seven months of brutal Iraqi occupation, the effect of which will surely last for generations to come. Kuwait, for awhile virtually in a blaze, is now experiencing a steady but painful economic recovery. Politically, the rebuilding of Kuwait needed more than anything else strong political well, which was for a while unforthcoming, and a national unity which finally materialized by the surprising results of the October 1992 election.(15) The election came as a considerable shock to the government which had to accommodate a new parliament controlled by an opposition determined to force a reluctant ruling family to abide by the letter and spirit of the constitution. The new parliament is already taking a more active and critical profile(16) to include foreign affairs. It is expected that this energetic parliament will unleash sociopolitical forces that are beyond the control of the current government which is desperately trying to return the country to the pre-August 1990 status quo.(17) Hence, it will take years before life returns to normality in new Kuwait. Even then, Kuwait will continue to live in a revanchist mode against Iraq which is increasingly projected as a permanent existential threat irrespective of who rules in Baghdad.

For Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait presented the country with one of its biggest political challenges since the establishment of the kingdom in 1926.(18) The invasion and its subsequent development has not only psychologically traumatized the Saudis but also totally exposed how precarious and insecure the kingdom is. It desperately needed massive American military power to calm it down. In addition, close to 30 different poor and rich countries came to defend helpless Saudi Arabia and protect its vast oil reserves. Saudi Arabia, of course, suffered little physical damage from the war, but this once super-rich country is now undergoing considerable financial strains that include among other things: chronic budget deficits, dwindling foreign reserves, increasing public sector debt and mounting cost of debt servicing which is estimated to be well over $30 billion annually.(19) This economically messy situation is, of course, only one manifestation of the country's large financial commitments to the coalition which far outweighed its oil revenues.

On the political spectrum, the 2 August invasion has, oddly enough, led to greater political rigidity. The Saudi royal family has shown, once again, hesitation and unwillingness to give up its constitutionless absolute hold on power. In the age of human rights and democracy, Saudi Arabia remains one of the last few right-wing authoritarian states.(20) King Fahd has adamantly ruled out free elections and declared democratic practices as alien and unacceptable to Saudi society. Nevertheless, the Gulf war has put the royal family under growing domestic demands from both liberals and conservative Islamists to introduce meaningful change and open-up the political system. This domestic pressure is increasingly aided by the international focus on Saudi Arabia's human rights record,(21) and is likely to heighten as more states in the region move toward elections and political participation.

The politically and economically unpleasant situation of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq and the messy security environment in the Gulf as a whole, which will likely continue through the 1990s, can only be understood in light of the specific sociopolitical background that are sui generis to this region. More specifically, one has to go back to the 1971 British withdrawal, to the 1973 oil price increase, to the 1979 downfall of the Shah and the simultaneous rise of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. One has also to consider the profound role played by perception and misperception and the influence of the budding realities of the New World Order. Each one of these factors has in its own unique manner, contributed to the making of the last war in the Gulf.

The Arab Gulf region has experienced four systemic changes over the last 20 years. These changes were truly historic and instrumental in creating the current opportunities and challenges, including the present malaise facing the various Gulf countries. The starting point for most of the contemporary issues in the Gulf is the 1971 British withdrawal and the British colonial legacy in the Gulf. For nearly 150 years, Britain was the sole power in the area. It unilaterally and systematically altered the political and geographic realities in the region. It changed rules, created new states, imposed artificial borders and basically preserved the backwardness and traditionality of the existing tribal order. Many of these realities, created by the colonial power, continue to exist and decisively influence and shape contemporary developments. When Britain decided to remove its direct military presence in the area, it left behind a power vacuum and a number of vulnerable newly independent small states that also happened to be oil rich.(22) Gulf security became an instant political problem which has never been settled. Who would guard this strategically valuable region? The Shah of Iran, aided and promoted by the United States, attempted to assert his domination throughout much of the 1970s.(23) This was naturally resented and challenged by many Arabs, particularly by Iraq which emerged by the late 1980s as the dominant regional power with enhanced capabilities and a desire to influence events in the Gulf including oil price and production.

The 1973 oil price increase immediately transformed the Gulf into one of the most sensitive regions in the world. The Gulf and particularly Gulf oil became the center of global interest.(24) More oil is to be found in the region than anywhere else in the world, and while oil reserves everywhere are decreasing, Gulf oil reserves, on the other hand, increase daily. Furthermore, more countries are using oil today than ever before and all of them are becoming more and more dependent on Gulf oil.(25) Oil, and especially Gulf oil, remain the motivating force of industrial society and the lifeblood of the civilization that it helped create. It is still the basis for the world's biggest business, one that embodies the extremes of risk and reward, as well as the interplay and conflict between entrepreneurship and corporate enterprise, and between private business and the nation-state. It also remains - as demonstrated during the Gulf war - an essential element in national power, a major factor in world economies, a critical focus for war and conflict and a decisive force in international affairs.(26) It is these oil facts that have made the Gulf an internationally significant place since 1973. They will also make it even more significant in the years ahead.

Oil's global significance is, of course, a source of some joy to the states in the Gulf, but it is also making many of them vulnerable and exposed to all sorts of external influences. Since 1973, oil has become the key determining factor for all development in the region. Oil nearly always plays some role in the constant reoccurring of conflicts, tensions and wars in the region.(27) It is responsible for initiating conflicts, exacerbating and prolonging them and most often transforming purely domestic tension into a crisis of profound global consequence. The last Gulf war is undoubtedly a prime example. This war was fundamentally an oil war. Oil was at stake, and when oil is at stake, all the talk of international legality and cooperation and world peace and order sound somewhat disingenuous.(28)

Oil became even more internationally significant in 1979 after the unexpected downfall of the Shah, the protector of Western interests in the region. The emergence and the gradual consolidation of the revolutionary Islamic republic in Iran represented an unwanted challenge to the status quo in the Gulf. The outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war was one attempt to contain and defeat Islamic radicalism in Iran.(29) Iraq, in essence, fought for eight years a proxy war to contain revolutionary Iran and preserve the status quo which best benefitted Western interests and objectives. Iraq, aided and supported by the West and the Arab Gulf states, was successful. It emerged, as the undisputed political and military regional power but was also financially and economically weak. This combination of military strength and economic impotence invariably breeds foreign adventure such as Iraq's reckless invasion of Kuwait.

The Arab Gulf region is, of course, full of oil, but this region is also full of dictatorial and authoritarian regimes. There are probably more one-man, one-family political systems in the Gulf than in any other comparably small geographic location in the world. The region is virtually saturated with medieval and traditional rulers who enjoy absolute non-constitutional power that can make or break a whole nation. Oil, while triggering rapid socioeconomic transformation, has, ironically enough, prevented meaningful political change. It has led to political rigidity and absolutist power being given to one-man, one-party or else one-family in the society. It is these contemporary political realities, i.e. the lack of democracy, and the lack of political participation that are the root cause of much of the tensions in the Gulf today.

The war in the Gulf was the product of a number of highly regrettable decisions taken by the rulers of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The ruling family in Kuwait mismanaged its relationship with Iraq prior to August 1991. On the other hand, Saddam Hussein's unjustified decision to invade Kuwait was an outrageous violation of international legality and the principle of self-determination. Finally, it was the Saudi ruling family's decision to invite American troops that made war more likely. These three interrelated decisions are equally responsible for the initiation of the war and for much of the current political polarization in the Arab World. These decisions are the natural products of a lack of democracy and the prevalence of highly centralized politics in these states.

Saddam Hussein embodies the ultimate centralization and personalization of power and authority.(30) He is the central figure in the last Gulf crisis and immensely contributed to the making of the war. Mr. Hussein is, indeed, a highly complex leader. He is a typical Machiavellian leader who conspicuously enjoys power and authority and does not tolerate any challenge to his leadership. But he is also a product of a peculiar historical and regional circumstance.(31) President Hussein belongs to an Arab World which is full of unrealized dreams, full of unresolved disputes and full of uncertainties and frustrations. He, like many other ordinary Arabs, feels deeply humiliated because the Arab World has not been able to unite, to develop and above all has been unable to liberate Palestine. It is probably these unrealized pan-Arab issues that contribute to Hussein's and other Arab leaders occasional rage against Western domination in the region.

The last war in the Gulf was above all Saddam Hussein's war.(32) He decided to invade Kuwait, he played the brinkmanship game, he misread the political realities of the New World Order, he over-estimated his military capabilities and certainly underestimated American military might and its determination to use force. It was he who initiated this conflict and insisted on the war and he alone deserves the humiliation and the agony of defeat. The ultimate lesson for him and other Arabs

is not so much that one man rule is dangerous (which it is.) Rather, it is that in the conduct of any conflict, what matters is how leaders conceptualize its nature and anticipate its course, on the basis of their specific understanding of both friends and foes, whether military, economic or political.(33)

The Arab Gulf region is not only full of oil and full of authoritarian rulers, but it is also full of illusions, myths and belief systems that are out of touch with objective realities. These illusions are perpetually maintained by a set of intricate intemal and external factors. The most deadly of these illusions, which naturally assumes many forms, are those associated with the views, policies and decisions of the highly personalized regimes in the region. Obviously, myths and misperceptions are not unique to Gulf leaders. Countries, leaders and even whole nations, including superpowers, sometimes respond not to objective facts but to myths and fictions of their own making. Important decisions with disastrous impact are made based on misperceptions, miscalculations and misjudgments.(34)

Nevertheless, the Gulf people probably have suffered more in recent history because of misperceptions and mis-estimation than most. The tragic events of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is a living example. The invasion is just as much a product of objective sociopolitical realities as it is a consequence of a considerable amount of illusion and gross misperception. Myths and fictions just as much as objective factors were the real cause of Iraq's bold decision to invade Kuwait and Saudi Arabia's panicked decision to invite American troops to the region.

In fact, the complex process of myths and illusions started with Kuwait's failure to estimate Iraq's capabilities and intentions prior to 2 August 1990. It is now perfectly logical to assume that the leaders of Kuwait had developed a fixation about its long lasting border problems with Iraq. They, obviously in good faith, approached Iraq to finalize the border dispute and sign an internationally binding agreement. It is also possible that they found it necessary to apply some gentle squeeze so as to induce Iraq to once and for all resolve this irritating dispute. However, it seems that Iraq was in no mood to attend to this relatively unimportant issue. Iraq was completely preoccupied by deteriorating economic conditions inside the country. But the government of Kuwait kept insisting and even increased its financial and political pressure on Iraq. This Kuwaiti governmental maneuvering became a source of annoyance to Saddam Hussein and his government. He and his immediate advisers began to recognize Kuwait as a threat and cast it as an enemy that was trying to weaken Iraq. This enemy image of Kuwait grew as the financial situation became more acute and intolerable in Iraq.(35)

It was this unrealistic image of extreme hostility and evil intentions which dominated the thinking of Saddam Hussein and led to his invasion of Kuwait. He apparently had to send his troops all the way to the capital of Kuwait to punish the ruling family and the entire government and make an example out of them to others who dared to provoke him and challenge his leadership. Once the invasion began on 2 August, the Saudi ruling family developed its own myths and illusions.

The government of Saudi Arabia was under the impression that Hussein was about to invade the oil rich Eastern region of the country. But since this did not materialize as expected, the ruling family in Saudi Arabia developed its own evil image of the Iraqi rulers. Thus, even if he did not intend to invade Saudi Arabia, Hussein was no longer to be trusted and everything had to be done to eliminate him. Worse yet, the ruling family became a victim of an even bigger illusion. They had the U.S. in mind more than anything else and they were becoming worded that if they do not invite American troops soon enough, they would probably lose both American friendship and protection.(36) The thought of losing American political and military protection was utterly unbearable to the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, especially to King Fahd, an old time admirer of American power. Indeed, it was fear of the U.S. and not of Saddam Hussein that led them to finally invite American troops. As it turned out, these troops were already on the move to the Gulf region well before the King could make up his mind.(37)

The U.S. was in many ways behind these illusions and decisions. It was involved in shaping the post Iran-Iraq war order in the Gulf. It was active in attempts to weaken and contain Iraq. It was partly responsible for giving Saddam Hussein the go ahead to invade Kuwait and it performed the delicate arm-twisting of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia to invite U.S. troops to the region. It is now amply clear that it was the U.S. which emerged from the Gulf war as the biggest beneficiary. It has successfully achieved much, if not all, of its fundamental objectives including affirming its total and unchallenged political hegemony over the now hollow-sounding New World Order.

The Arab Gulf states have long been economically integrated as peripheries of the world capitalist market. They, like most Third World peripheries, are merely producers of raw material, i.e. crude oil, that is mostly exported to, manufactured and consumed in the advanced industrial countries. But the Gulf region is increasingly assuming a special and unmatched strategic value. It is becoming particularly central to U.S. economic, geopolitical and global-imperial interests, more than had been assumed before 2 August 1990. It is certainly clear that whoever controls this region and dominates its huge oil reserves, estimated to be well over 600 billion barrels, also controls and influences much of the word energy and financial directions.

The U.S., emerging from the cold war as a victor, undoubtedly saw Iraq's invasion of Kuwait as a god-sent opportunity to further enhance its global hegemony. To stay hegemonic in a post-cold war order, a massive show of force was inevitable. The U.S. had to prove that it was politically and militarily the strongest power which had the will and the capacity to enforce the international rules of the game and protect an international order that most leading states would regard as compatible to their own interests.(38)

The U.S. displayed both strength and will and made it crystal clear to both friend and foe, that it was in total control of the Gulf and its oil and intended to remain the world's only hegemon. The war in the Gulf served, among other things, to halt the growing perception of U.S. hegemonic decline(39) especially in the eyes of such important emerging economic powers as Europe and Japan. It is these newly energetic and competitive partners who most popularized the image of America as a fading power, riddled with self-doubt and persistent social problems, that was being gradually overshadowed by the economic rise of Japan and Germany.(40) The success of Operation Desert Storm put to rest the American decline theory. It was suddenly replaced by a fresh image of America that was "Bound to Lead"(40) and a country that was ready for change and intended to build its own New World Order.

The Gulf crisis was viewed as the first true challenge to this essentially American-centered New World Order. The war was also justified and fought on behalf of an order that was largely associated with the rise and fall of President Bush. He seemed to have a vision, probably the only vision, of constructing a Pax Americana in which, "What we say goes."(41) Sadly enough, Mr. Bush's New World Order had to be built on the graves on tens of thousands of young Iraqis. He had to virtually destroy Iraq and bring massive havoc to much of the Gulf region to realize his vision. The people in the Gulf and throughout the Arab World had to pay an excruciating price for the temporary revival of this Pax Americana which is indeed felt so pervasively in the Gulf region. But needless to say, neither the New World Order nor the new U.S. political and military assertiveness has brought the much needed order and stability to the Arab Gulf region.


1. Abbas Alnasrawi, "Economic Consequence of Iran-Iraq War," Third World Quarterly, no. 3, vol. 8, July 1986.

2. Dilip Hiro, The Longest War (London: Paladin, 1990).

3. See Ibrahim M. Oweiss, The Economic Impact of the Gulf War, in Ibrahim Ibrahim (ed.), The Gulf Crisis: Background and Consequences (Washington, D.C.: Contemporary Arab Studies, 1992).

4. The formal declaration of the cease-fire was announced by the UN Security Council on 10 April 1991. But some American analysts think that: Because of the failure to oust Hussein, the United States will be in a state of war with Iraq until he is overthrown. A.M. Rosenthal, "Keep Iraq and Iran Contained," International Herald Tribune, 23 June 1993.

5. Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson, "Ambitious Iran, Troubled Neighbors," Foreign Affairs, no. 1, vol. 72, 1993.

6. Robert Litwak, Security in the Gulf: Sources of Inter-state Conflict, (London: Institute of International and Strategic Studies, 1993).

7. Jamil Mattar and Ali Hillal, The Arab Regional System (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1983). (in Arabic)

8. Samir Amin, The Arab Economy (London: Zed Press, 1982).

9. Paul Jabber et. al., Great Power Interests in the Persian Gulf (New York: Council of Foreign Relations, 1989).

10. Michael A. Palmer, Guardians of the Gulf: A History of America's Expanding Role in the Persian Gulf: 1883-1992 (New York: Free Press, 1992).

11. Charles Krauthamar, "The Unipolar Moment," Foreign Affairs, no. 1, Vol. 70, 1991. Also for more on the relationship between the Gulf war and the New World Order, see Haim Bresheeth and Nira Yuval-Davis, The Gulf War and the New World Order (London: Zed Press, 1991).

12. Gary Sick states that the U.S. position in the Gulf is descended linearly from the British, who dominated the region for nearly 150 years before the arrival of America. The U.S. inherited not only its mantle of leadership and much of its strategic infrastructure from the British but also its way of thinking about its interests and how to pursue them, in Paul Jabber, et al, Great Power Interests in the Persian Gulf, p. 17.

13. The Washington Post, 7 April 1991.

14. From Martin Indyk's address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy 1993, "Challenges to US Interests in the Middle East: Obstacles and Opportunities."

15. Chris Kutschra, "Kuwait: Called to Account," Middle East, no. 217, November 1992.

16. The International Herald Tribune, "Kuwait Seeking Ex-Investment Trio," 23 June 1993.

17. Shamlan Y. El-Essa, "The Political Consequences of the Crisis in Kuwait," Ibrahim (ed.) The Gulf Crisis: Background and Consequences, pp. 169-185.

18. Robert Lacey, The Kingdom, (Great Britain: Fontana Press, 1982).

19. Middle East, "Saudi Arabia: A Hint of Concern," no. 216 (October 1992):33-55. See also David Pike, "Meed Special Report: Saudi Arabia, Middle East Economic Digest (22 February 1991).

20. Khaldoun Al-Naqeeb, Society and State in the Gulf and Arab Peninsula (New York: Routledge, 1990).

21. See for example the interesting report by Article 19, "Silent Kingdom: Freedom of Expression in Saudi Arabia," 1992.

22. Hassan Al-Ebraheem, Kuwait and the Gulf (Washington, D.C.: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 1984).

23. Michael Palmer states: "In its search for a regional power willing and able to insure stability in the Persian Gulf, the United States turned to Iran . . . ." The Shah was more than willing to play his new role as protector of the region. However, and as Palmer concludes, "This Nixon Doctrine, as implemented in the Persian Gulf, was actually little more than an Iranian policy eagerly embraced by an administration caught in the morass of the Vietnam War. . . . The Vietnam war imposed such political and military restraint on the Nixon administration that it had little choice to make virtue of necessity - to adopt as its own, policies that originated in Teheran." Guardians of the Gulf, op. cit, pp. 87-92.

24. Ali Attiqa, The Arabs and the Oil Crisis: 1973-1986 (Kuwait: Organization of Arab Petroleum Cooperation, 1987).

25. BP Statistical Review of World Energy (June 1991).

26. Daniel Yergin, The Prize (New York: Touchstone Books, 1992), p. 779. Daniel Yergin also states: "Today, we are so dependent on oil, and oil is so embedded in our daily doings that we hardly stop to comprehend its pervasive significance. It is oil that make possible where we live, how we live, how we commute to work, how we travel, even where we conduct our courtship. It is the lifeblood of suburban communities. Oil (and natural gas) are essential components in the fertilizers on which world agriculture depends. Oil makes it possible to transport food to the totally non-self-sufficient mega-cities of the world. Oil also provides the plastic and chemicals that are the bricks and motor of contemporary civilization, a civilization that would collapse if the world's oil wells suddenly went dry." Pp. 14-15.

27. Edward N. Krapels, "The Commanding Heights: International Oil in a Changing World," International Affairs, 69, January 1993.

28. Robert Brenner, "Why Bush Went to War," New Left Review, no. 185, 1 February 1991, p. 128.

29. Efraim Karsh, "Geopolitical Determinism: The Origins of the Iran-Iraq War," Middle East Journal, no. 2, vol. 44 (Spring 1990):256-268.

30. Samir Al-Khalil points out that: Saddam is the president of the republic, chairman of the council of ministers, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, chairman of the revolutionary command council, general secretary of the regional command of the ABSP, chairman of the supreme planning council, chairman of the committee on agreements, chairman of the supreme agriculture council and chairman of the supreme council for the compulsory eradication of illiteracy, among other things. In addition to these party and state functions, an impressive array of honorific titles and forms of address include the Leader-President, the Leader-Struggler, the Standard Bearer, the Arab Leader and the Daring and Aggressive Knight (al-Faris al-Mighwar). Samir Al-Khalil, Republic of Fear : The Inside Story of Saddam's Iraq (New York: Pantheon, 1989), p.110.

31. Edward W. Anderson and Khalil H. Rshidian, Iraq and the Continuing Middle East Crisis (London: Pinter Publisher, 1991).

32. Judith Miller and Lowie Mylroie, Saddam Hussain and the Crisis in the Gulf (New York: Random House, 1990).

33. Yezid Sayigh, "Why Iraq Could not Win," Middle East International, no. 395 (8 March 1991):6.

34. Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976).

35. Walid Khalidi, "Iraq vs. Kuwait: Claims and Counterclaims," in Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, The Gulf War Reader: History, Documents and Opinions (New York: Random House, 1991):57-65.

36. Bob Woodward, The Commanders (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991):263-274.

37. Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, Gulf War: The Illusion of Power and Victory (Cairo: Al-Ahram Press, 1992). (in Arabic)

38. Carl Rae Hansen (ed.) The New World Order: Rethinking America's Global Role (Arizona: The Arizona Honors Academy Press, 1992).

39. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (New York: Random House, 1987).

40. Joseph Nye, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 1990).

41. Time (18 March 1991)

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Emirate University of Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates. He is currently a Fulbright scholar at the Center for the Study of the Global South at the American University, Washington, D.C.
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Author:Abdulla, Abdulkhaleq
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Date:Jun 22, 1994
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