What was the Western Response to Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait?
Many world leaders condemned the move at once. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called it “absolutely unacceptable.” US President George H. W. Bush called the invasion “a naked act of aggression.” The United Nations Security Council went into an emergency session. It called for the “immediate and unconditional” pullout of Iraqi forces. On 9 August the council voted 15-0 to declare Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait “null and void.” The Soviet Union, Iraq’s main arms supplier, stopped shipments of all military aid.
No Arab state condemned the invasion, however. And at first, there was no suggestion of Western military action.
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Shield, August 1990
The US President, George H. Bush, was concerned by Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait as the USA relied heavily on oil supplies from the Middle East region, particularly Saudi Arabia. President Bush’s fear was that Saddam Hussein would invade Saudi Arabia, so he asked the Saudi government if he could place US troops there to protect them. The Saudis agreed, and Operation Desert Shield was launched by the USA on 7 August 1990.
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Desert Storm, 1991
Launched on 24 February 1991, the USA and a coalition of 50 countries decided to free Kuwait from Iraqi control. They achieved this by 28 February. President Bush, however, decided not to invade Iraq or remove Saddam Hussein from power fearing that the USA would not be able to establish a stable government in Iraq. Instead, President Bush stationed 5,000 troops in Saudi Arabia to support a ‘no-fly zone’ over southern Iraq.