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Re-emergence of Iraq.

Re-emergence of Iraq

Iraq's advent in Kuwait to consolidate revolution there, has again confirmed that, the Middle East continues to be buffeted by constant and rapid change, probably more than any other part of the world. Kuwait, must be honoured, as the first Gulf State to enjoy the taste of revolution which, surely, will influence future development in the region. After a long drawn bloody war with Iran, once again a military involvement, is not an easy task for Iraq.

Since the foundations of monarchical system have been decayed, Survival of sheikhdoms in the Gulf region, merely depends upon the mercy and blessings of empirical forces which, apart from tight control over media and communication, could not refrain the people from undergoing major demographic, economic, social and political changes. The seeds of grievances and conflicts, between Iraq and Iran had been planted by the then British mandatory rule.

The division had never been accepted to Iraq, who has always claimed that Kuwait, the 6880 square mile (17,818 sq. kilometer) country of 1.9 million, is part of Iraq. Since 1956, the Al-Sabah family is ruling over Kuwait, as an Emirate.

Apart from the territorial claim of Iraq over Kuwaiti Island of Bubiyan, which is Iraq's only outlets to the Gulf, there were other immediate causes, leading to the invasion of Kuwait.

Baghdad, complained that, it had lost millions of dollars in revenues a day because Kuwait exceeded its OPEC decreed oil production quota by hundreds of thousands of barrels a day, consequently, push pushing petroleum prices down. Iraq also accused Kuwait of stealing 2.4 billion dollars' worth of oil from a border oil field. It has demanded Kuwait to write off billions in loans left over from the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war. A further 10 billion dollars in aid to tide over her present financial difficulties, was also demanded.

In a very sudden and surprising move, Iraq invaded Kuwait to settle the score on August 2nd by noon, which left everybody in a state of great shock and surprise. It added another bloody period to the history of Middle East. Talks had earlier begun to resolve the differences over oil production and border dispute Kuwait's crown prince and Prime Minister, Shaikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, and Izzat Irbahim, vice chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Council, held a closed-door session after meeting the king Fahd bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia who played an important role in holding up the negotiation and containing the crisis.

It is quite strange that, the 19th foreign minister's meeting of the Islamic conference organisation did not deal with the most recent crisis, Iraq-Kuwait difference over oil production. The Iraq-Kuwait crisis has been kept out of the 85-item conference agenda, mainly because of Egypt's determination to confine it within the Arab family.

Instead of wasting time in lengthy and time consuming process of negotiation, Iraq stormed into Kuwait, overwhelming the states defence. This sudden move immediately drove the prices of oil up 15 per cent in world markets. Iraqi troops reached the centre of the Kuwait city within hours capturing the palace of the Amir, Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmed Sabah the international airport, central Bank and other key installations. The Amir of Kuwait hardly managed to escape through a helicopter and took refuge in Saudi Arabia. A young brother of the Amir died defending the palace. All oil export terminals closed, choking off shipments which, under an OPEC agreement negotiated last month, were being reduced to a quota of 1.5 million barrels a day.

Iraq deployed an estimated 100,000 troops in the invasion. Intensive fighting was waged at Shuwaikh, Kuwaiti's main barracks north of the capital units. The tiny Kuwait army, whose strength totaled some 20,000 men tried to oust the invaders.

Crown Prince Shaikh Saad Ali Abdullah Al Sabah, who was also Prime Minister, in a message to the nation, pledged to fight Iraq's invading troops "our valiant sons will rebuff the aggression and we shall stand behind them as one man to defend our beloved Kuwait and protect it with our souls and hearts. We shall fight them everywhere until we clean their treachery from our land. Iraq on the other hand called thousands of reserve troops to arms and warned it would turn Kuwait into a "graveyard" if foreign powers intervened.

Baghdad justified its move by saying that it struck to support young Kuwaiti revolutionaries who set up a "free provisional government". "Their interim free government had asked the Iraqi government to extend assistance for the maintenance of law and order with a view to sparing the people of Kuwait any harm".

Iraq also said, the government it installed in Kuwait would confiscate all the funds of the Amir and some of his ministers, at home and abroad.

The free provisional government, announced the overthrow of the ruling Al Sabah family, which it denounced and accused of corruption and mismanagement. It charged that the former cabinet had forged election results, driven out National leaders and engaged in nepotism. It announced the dissolution of the National Assembly which was elected to replace the parliament that the Amir dissolved in 1986.

According to the communique, the new authorities would honour Kuwait's adherence to all treaties with Arab and Islamic bodies, namely the Arab League, the joint Arab defence and economic accord, the United Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It also said, that, it hoped to remedy the harm inflicted on the country by the former regime and would settle a border dispute with Iraq on a fraternal basis.

United States of America has immediately released order for freezing control of Iraqi assets in the United States and blocking almost all imports from Iraq. The order encompasses everything including embargo on oil. In response to the U.S. announcement, Iraq said it would freeze debt repayments to the United States.

The order also froze Kuwaiti properly under U.S. jurisdiction, so that Iraq could be kept away from seizing it Mr. Bush urged other nations to take similar actions. He called on Moscow to suspend arms shipments to Baghdad.

In fact, its not the security of Kuwait which is of any importance and concern to U.S. but she is only interested in defending it's long-standing, vital interests in the Gulf. About 50 per cent of U.S. energy requirements come from the Middle East. The aircraft carrier USS Independence has moved forward to the Gulf to beef up the U.S. presence in the troubled region. The carrier, escorted by it's six-ship battle group, has been in the Indian ocean as part of a regularly scheduled deployment. The Soviet Union who is Iraq's main suppliers of arms has also suspended deliveries of arms and other military equipment to Iraq in view of the circumstances arising from the Iraqi move.

For three decades Moscow has been supplying Iraq, military equipments ranging from tanks and trucks to small arms. Throughout the eight-year long Iran-Iraq war, it also supplied Baghdad military hardware.

Meanwhile, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt held urgent contracts with Arab leaders. Kuwait has also called on the Arab League to dispatch a joint Arab force to "defend Kuwait", invoking the 1950 Arab Joint Defence Pact. The UN Security Council swiftly condemned Iraq's move into Kuwait, demanding an unconditional withdrawal of troops and calling for immediate negotiations between the countries. The Security Council resolution was adopted 14-0 in an emergency session, at the request of U.S. and Kuwait. In Kuwait, more than 60 per cent of the 1.8 million residents are foreigners. There are about 4,000 Americans among the large expatriate community. The immediate response of the people was not cowardly. They preferred to stay in Kuwait and to wait for the restoration of peace and order.

The Iraqi move came after talks between the two Gulf countries to defuse a dispute over oil and land broke down in Jeddah. Recently pro-democracy activists mounted a campaign for restoration of the country's parliament, which had been suspended in 1986, after fierce attacks on the Government by opposition deputies.

The Amir Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, later introduced an interim national council with 50 elected members and 25 appointed. They were charged with paving the way for restoration of a full parliament. It is quite surprising that no Arab State including Sheikhdoms, and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) came forward to Kuwait's help. Although in 1982 the GCC states have agreed to create a joint defence industry. In 1984 they decided to establish a 10,000-man "Peninsula Shield Force" and in 1985 to build an integrated airborne warning and control system based on Saudi Arabia's American - supplied AWACS air craft. One can ask what were the much publicised Saudi AWACS doing on August 6th, when Iraqi troops crossed the border and marched into Kuwait.

Although, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia supported Iraq, during the Gulf war but to day the position is quite different. Kuwait has made up with Iran but the enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia is growing deeper. Every year the issue of the custodianship of Mekkah and Medina is being raised from Iranian's side.

Saudi Arab, last year signed a non-aggression treaty with Iraq. But for the past 20 years, it has been spending much of its oil wealth to buy highly advanced and sophisticated arms.

Saudi fear is increasing day by day as Iraqis are consolidating their hold in Kuwait. Saudi defence budget this year stands at some 15 billion dollars.

None of Kuwait's Gulf allies - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain have threatened counter-action, despite being linked in a joint defence pact. The organisation of the Islamic conference adopted resolution condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and calling for the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from the Emirates the resolution passed by the 45-member organisation called adherence to the principles of the OIC charter, particularly the provision that disputes among member states be settled by peaceful means and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state".

Following Iraq's announcement, that, if would begin withdrawing some of it's troops from Kuwait, the resolution said, "The conference will follow up the unconditional implementation of this pledge by Iraq, while expressing support for the legitimate regime in Kuwait. The resolution was adopted by the 19th OIC Ministerial Conference after fierce debate. Six of the 45 OIC members did not vote in favour of the resolution. They were Iraq, Jordan Yemen, Sudan, Palestine, and Mauritania. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. has sent special operation forces and hostage rescue troops to the Middle East, including elements of its top commando Delta Force Unit.

If Iraq attacks Saudi Arabia, the United States plans to deploy F-117 Stealth fighters and B-52 bombers.

China has decided not to join the series of countries who are banning arms sales to Iraq. Arab world has been divided on the issue of Iraq's invasion. Some of the Arab countries have extended support to Iraq and defined her invasion of Kuwait as "justified". President Saddam Hussein has carefully built alliance with Jordan, and Yemen. The Iraqi soldiers have set up positions in the Ras Ezzour segment of the neutral Zone, jointly administered by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. defence department Pentagon has presented a plan to President Bush, which not only includes major deployment of U.S. ground forces in the Gulf, but air attacks on key Iraqi targets. Saudi Arabia has 65,000 armed forces against an Iraqi force of 120,000 in Kuwait and another 500,000 in Iraq backed by a formidable airforce. About 3,000 British nationals are in Kuwait, most of them, working in the oil industry, Britain has also freezed Iraqi assets.

Those countries who have denounced Iraqi invasion and called for sanctions against her are threatened, as Lt. Col. Walid Saud Mohammed Abdullah, Foreign Minister, in the new government, announced by Iraq "countries that resort to retaliatory action against the government of free Kuwait and brotherly Iraq should remember, they have interests and citizens in Kuwait".

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, has once again changed the geo-political scenario of the Gulf in particular and the Middle East in general. There emerged a new block of hard-liners, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, joined hands and supported by Jordan, Yement and Sudan. This new alliance will not only subdue the oil-rich emirates and Saudi Arabia but will surely pose a challenge to the U.S. interests in the region. A strong Iraq, in an alliance with Jordan would easily face the Israeli threat.

Saddam's dynamic entry has diluted the influence of American allis, for instance, it damaged the attempts of Jordan's King Hussain for leadership in the Arab World.

Iran and Iraq after ending their war, seem to have been playing the role of policemen in the Gulf. The invasion has taken place in an Arab environment that has become hostile to American policies", particularly, the U.S. support of Israel throughout the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The ruling family system appears to have vanished from the Gulf. After the seventh day of its invasion in Kuwait, Iraq finally declared a "comprehensive, eternal and inseparable merger" with Kuwait on August 8, 1990, denouncing the division imposed by the colonial powers. Thus Kuwait which historically was a part of Iraq re-united. Soon after the Iraq's announcement, thousands of U.S. troops and an unspecified number of jet fighters began to land on the Saudi soil. It is the first time that the United States has been allowed to land its troops on Saudi soil. Saudi Arabia agreed to U.S. troop deployments on its territory on the condition, that, it will be part of a multinational force.

Regarding the position of foreigners in Kuwait Iraq has clearly announced that vast majority would not be allowed to leave. Diplomats may leave but the private foreigners are not able to do so. The Iraqi foreign ministry asked all nations to close their embassies in Kuwait by August 24 and shift all operations to Baghdad. US diplomats were among those trapped by the ban.

U.N. Security Council, unanimously declared Iraq's annexation of Kuwait null and void. Soviet Union also denounced the action but refused to join the multinational force led by the U.S. Iran although condemned Iraqi move but called the U.S. military build-up even more dangerous.

China, too expressed similar views opposing any superpowers involvement. Prior to this session Security Council had met on 6th, August to impose sweeping economic sanctions against Iraq, including an arms embargo and a worldwide ban on their vital oil exports.

The vote that time was 13 to none. Abstentions were cast by Yemen, who said it did not want to harm efforts to find a regional solution and by Cuba who asked, why similar actions had not been taken in the past against the United States and Israel. Turkey has halted Iraqi oil exports through its ports as part of UN sanctions. Anti-Iraq sanction could cost Turkey upto 5 billion dollars. Iraqi oil pipelines through Saudi Arabia and Turkey are running dry. Spain and Portugal, have allowed the United States to use US bases in their territory as staying ports for forces on their way to Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf crisis has far reaching impacts on the world market. For instance, Norway which lives on oil shipping, could both win and lose in the Iraq-Kuwait crisis. Crude oil prices at four-year highs could bring this small country a windfall as Europe's second exporter of oil. Norway's tanker fleet carries as much as 15 per cent of Kuwait's oil exports. UN sanctions against Iraq mean that business is gone. Kuwait's government in-exile moved its oil operations to Britain, after receiving assurances from the US and other governments, that its companies abroad would be exempt from a freez on Kuwaiti assets. Venezuela which earns 90 per cent of its export income from oil has decided to sell 500,000 barrels of oil daily to the US to fill the gap left by the US government's embargo on Iraq and Kuwait oil sources.

Officials of the Inter American Development Bank said, while expressing their speculation, the global debt strategy pieced together over the past eight years, will come under fierce pressure as the economic fallout from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait spreads around the world. Industrialised countries may have to tighten their belts to pay for more expensive oil imports, raising the question of whether previous aid levels to developing nations will be maintained.

The international oil tanker market is grinding to a halt because owners will not let their ships venture into the troubled Gulf. Rates for chartering tankers cut of the Gulf have slumped. The tanker market has been in the doldrums, since Iraq invaded Kuwait. Iraq exports the majority of its oil through the 1.5 million bpd capacity twin pipeline through Turkey to the Mediterranean and the 900,000 bpd pipeline through Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea. The rest is exported from its Gulf terminal, Mina Al Baker.

AMR Corp's American airlines units, the largest US carrier hiked fares by 10 per cent, blaming the higher fuel prices. Pan Am announced a 10 per cent across the abroad fare hike. Similarly, Trans World Airlines Inc. also announced fuel surcharges U.S. Economic Sanctions against Iraq has triggered a new debate in Washington over the use of key oil reserves, the government established after the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

The U.S. energy policy and conservation Act stipulates that only the president can authorise use of the reserves, also known as strategic petroleum resources (SPR).

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has proved, once again that the oil rich Gulf states are absolutely vulnerable against any aggression, inspite of the shelter of U.S. protective umbrella over the region. It has also tarnished the US image there. This incident must be taken as a lesson, thaztone should not rely on others as much but should learn to live on its own.

PHOTO : President George Bush

PHOTO : President Saddam Hussein

PHOTO : Kuwait's Ousted Emir Abdullah Al Sabah

PHOTO : U.S. soldiers getting settled in Saudi Arabia: no one should "doubt our staying power,"

PHOTO : President Bush.

PHOTO : Shouting their support for Saddam Hussain in Jordan

PHOTO : Please call back my Abbu (father) from Kuwait - An affected Pakistani Family Protests
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Title Annotation:Special Feature
Author:Khan, Bushra Jabbar
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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