August 2 , at 1 o’clock in the morning, the Iraqi raïs did not hesitate any longer: he launched his troops to attack the Kuwaiti capital and seized the key points of the city in a few hours. Saddam Hussein is a man who readily resorts to threats, uttered with undeniable brutality. He is also a man who has the reputation of not stopping there. Ten years ago, when he had threatened loud and clear to attack Iran, he had acted.
In 1984 he announced that he would bomb Gulf oil ports and tanker convoys, and he followed through on his threats. For several months he repeating that he intended to use his formidable armed power to redraw the map of the region’s politico-military balances: he then made it clear that Kuwait could well be the first springboard for his great ambition. On August 2, he showed that he was not only ready, but also in a hurry, and that he perfectly mastered the preparation of his coup by subtly measuring the visible staging and the secrecy necessary for the success of his plan.
Saddam Hussein, revelations from beyond the grave
The Iraqi military operation, which left little chance to the small Kuwaiti armed forces, was widely condemned by the international community. But no Gulf expert could, in any event, think that the Arab allies of the small emirate were going to mobilize their troops and embark on an armed conflict against Iraq. Saddam Hussein designed his offensive to make brutal political change in Kuwait irreversible very quickly.
The only new advantage of Westerners in this region: the caution of the USSR
Only an international military intervention – on the basis of an agreement between the United States, its Western allies and the Soviet Union -, as well as a minimum of will of the States of the region could possibly put an end, even temporarily, to the great offensive launched by the ruler of Baghdad. But it will probably take time for Westerners to agree on a concrete and credible operation in the Gulf. As they needed to react, in July 1956, when Nasser triggered the Suez Crisis. The only new asset of Westerners in this region: the caution of the USSR, which will not seek to go it alone and will no doubt show itself willing to cooperate with Washington.
Hatred and Fear
In fact, to neutralize the risk of a common and resolute opposition from the moderate Arab states close to Iraq, Saddam Hussein has been pleading for months a cause which is beginning to gain certain popularity: he is unjust, he asserts, that a huge amount of wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few emiral families, while the most populous and poor Arab countries are in dire financial straits. In fact, for Baghdad, the operation is juicy. Kuwait produces 1.5 million barrels [de brut] per day, nearly half of Iraqi production. […]
Gulf War: twenty years ago, the skies of Baghdad were on fire
In oil monarchies, Saddam Hussein is hated and feared. From now on, we will hate him even more and will be able to say that we had good reasons to fear him. Since 1979 and throughout the Gulf War, we no longer knew whether to protect ourselves from Iranian projects to export their Islamic revolution or from the rise in power of Baghdad. The oil emirates initially believed, like the Western countries, that the danger would come from Khomeini. They soon realized that Iraq’s voracity was well plus dangerous.