KUWAIT: Kuwait and the world every year on August 2 commemorate the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, a crisis that left deep scars on the Arab body and grave consequences that haunted the region for decades to come. Despite all the tragic details of the occupation, Kuwaiti people’s resilience, steadfastness and firm support to the leadership during this delicate time was exemplary. The leadership and people worked in union to repel the aggression and restore their country.
During that existential crisis, then Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Crown Prince and prime minister Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, and deputy prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sahah unleashed a rigorous diplomatic campaign to rally Arab and international support to the Kuwaiti cause. Their great efforts succeeded in gaining the international backing to form an international military coalition, of more than 30 countries, to liberate the country.
After getting mandate from the United Nations Security Council, the coalition launched on January 17, 1991 the Operation Desert Storm to force Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. In only 40 days, the coalition crashed the Iraqi forces and pushed their remnants out of Kuwait. The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait was condemned from the first day by most of the Arab countries. The majority of Arab countries also agreed on the formation of an international military coalition to liberate Kuwait. Several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, effectively contributed to the international coalition to liberate Kuwait.
Arabian Gulf states scrambled to the aid of Kuwait and acted from the first hour of the Iraqi move, out a deep belief that any attack on a member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an attack on all members. The GCC states provided the springboard for the ensuing political and diplomatic efforts to counter the Iraqi aggression and remove its consequences.
One day after Iraqi troops stormed Kuwait, GCC foreign ministers convened in Cairo on the sidelines of the Arab League meetings and called for an unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Arab foreign ministers met on August 3 and 4 to discuss the Iraqi invasion. Arab leaders held an emergency summit in Cairo on August 10 and agreed on demanding military intervention to liberate Kuwait.
The GCC states have played a great role in pushing the UNSC to issue a series of resolutions to ensure the restoration of Kuwait’s sovereignty. On August 2, the UNSC passed resolution No 660 of 1990, condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and considering it a threat to the international peace and security. The resolution also determined Iraqi to immediately and unconditionally withdraw troops from Kuwait. On November 29, 1990, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 678 which gave Iraq until January 15, 1991 to pull out from Kuwait and empowered states to use “all necessary means” to force Iraq out of Kuwait after the deadline.
The GCC leaders held a summit in Doha, Qatar, in December and passed a resolution stating that they will firmly act to end the Iraqi occupation and all its repercussions. The GCC states actively partook in the Kuwait liberation and employed all political, military and financial resources for this purpose. Finally, Kuwait restored its sovereignty by the end of February 1991 and it marks the Liberation Day on February 26 every year.
In addition of the grave impacts of the Iraqi crime on Arab and Muslim unity, the occupation left disastrous repercussions on all aspects of life in the region, particularly the economy. Worse still, the withdrawing Iraqi forces set ablaze over 700 Kuwaiti oil wells, planted mines in large swathes of lands in different parts of the country, and even poured large quantities of crude oil in the Arabian Gulf waters causing huge damage to the marine environment which took decades to be treated.
Despite the invasion wounds, Kuwait did not consider the Iraqi people an enemy but rather oppressed people and a victim of Saddam Hussein’s regime. After the liberation as of 1993, Kuwait started sending relief aid to displaced Iraqis in the north and south. In April 1995, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society dispatched shipments of humanitarian aid to Iraqi refugees in Iran.
Following Iraq’s liberation war in 2003, Kuwait emerged as one of the largest donors to international organizations helping Iraqi refugees. The Kuwaiti generous donations continued in 2010, 2014 and 2015 to provide Iraqis with food, shelter, and healthcare serves and education. In 2016, Kuwait pledged $179 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq in an international donors conference it co-sponsored. In 2019, Kuwait hosted an international conference for rebuilding Iraq after the defeat of the so-called Islamic state group, which managed to raise $30 billion.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Kuwait showed eagerness to normalize relation and open a new chapter with its Arab neighbor. The two countries worked later to bolster cooperation in a variety of domains. These efforts was crowned on December 22, 2010 with an official visit to Baghdad from His Highness the then Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah who returned to Baghdad again on January 12, 2011.
His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, the former Kuwaiti prime minister, also visited Iraq on June 12, 2013. The late Amir of Kuwait visited Iraq on March 29, 2012 to head the Kuwaiti delegation to the Arab Summit in Baghdad and in an official visit on June 19, 2019. Kuwait also played a pivotal role in the UNSC resolution on June 27, 2013 to remove Iraq from chapter VII sanctions which were imposed on the country after the occupation of Kuwait which helped Iraq restore its economic strength and cement relations between the two Arab neighbors. – KUNA