The Gulf War

The story of how the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein's Iraq sparked the start of the Gulf War and the dramatic legacy the conflict has left behind

F14 Tomcat

MAKING OF A DICTATOR

Saddam Hussein came from humble beginnings. Born in 1937, he grew up in Auja, a village of mud-brick huts northwest of Baghdad. His parents were poor farmers, but inspired by his uncle Khayrallah Tulfah, an Iraqi army officer and crusader for Arab unity, Hussein became interested in politics as a teenager.

Saddam Hussein officially gained power in 1979 but he had already effectively run Iraq for a number of years

Saddam Hussein officially gained power in 1979 but he had already effectively run Iraq for a number of years

One of the main catalysts for the Gulf War was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Within days, the United States, along with the United Nations, demanded Iraq's immediate withdrawal. The US and other UN member nations began deploying troops in Saudi Arabia within the week and the worldwide coalition began to form under UN authority.

By January of 1991, more than half-a-million allied troops were deployed in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf region. On 16th January 1991, Allied forces began the devastating bombing of Iraq and her forces in Kuwait.

An  E-2c hawkeye takes off from a USS Saratoga warship

An E-2c hawkeye takes off from a USS Saratoga warship

THE ROAD TO CONFLICT

One of the main catalysts for the Gulf War was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Within days, the United States, along with the United Nations, demanded Iraq's immediate withdrawal. The US and other UN member nations began deploying troops in Saudi Arabia within the week and the worldwide coalition began to form under UN authority. By January of 1991, more than half-a-million allied troops were deployed in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf region. On 16th January 1991, Allied forces began the devastating bombing of Iraq and her forces in Kuwait.

A US Air Force F-18 Hornet jet fighter plane

A US Air Force F-18 Hornet jet fighter plane

DESERT STORM: MASTERMINDING AN AIR WAR

General 'Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf, the Commander-in-Chief of Central Command, masterminded a four-phase attack on Iraq. The elements were Phase I: Strategic Air Campaign, Phase II: Air Supremacy in the Kuwaiti Theatre of Operations, Phase III: Battlefield Preparation and Phase IV: Ground Offensive Campaign. The aim, now known throughout the globe as Operation Desert Storm, was total destruction of the Iraqi army on the ground from above.

SUCCESS?

In terms of military objectives conquered, allied casualties minimised and popular support on the home front sustained, the first Gulf War was declared an absolute victory. Just 148 Americans were killed in action, a body count far lower than commanders and armchair strategists alike had anticipated before the war started. As time went on it became apparent things were not 'fixed' and further steps would be needed.

US Air Force pararescuemen fast rope from an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

US Air Force pararescuemen fast rope from an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

DÉJÀ VU

More than a decade later, history repeated itself, when the US and its allies invaded Iraq. This time Saddam Hussein's power base was dismantled and the man himself was eventually captured. Once again, it appears as though the fate of Iraq and the effects of the invasion will only become fully apparent with the passage of time.