Rashid Abdul, a citizen of Saudi Arabia was working for the Kuwait oil company as a firefighter engineer during the time of the Gulf War. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq occurred in august 1990, and the war lasted up to February 1991. Rashid was involved in firefighting when the oil fields were put ablaze by the Iraq army. Engineer Rashid explains the occurrences and his experience during the war.
Student: Thank you for agreeing to share your knowledge and expertise regarding the Gulf War. The topic is critical to students in understanding the history of the Persian Gulf region and the American involvement.
R.A:Thank you for considering interviewing me regarding this important matter in the history of Kuwait. It’s essential for students to learn and understand the history of their country and the world.
In august 1990, Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, raided Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. He complained that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had taken over the oil market in the world. During the war with Iran, Iraq incurred a lot of losses and had to get a way to recover. Invasion of Kuwait was in an attempt to recover from economic loss that Iraq suffered during the war with Iran. Kuwait had drilled a lot of oil in the disputed border with Iraq. The oil market became flooded, and the prices of oil dropped significantly (Bacevich, 2003, 103). The economy of Iraq that was already depreciating was significantly affected by the decline in the prices of oils. Iraq accused Kuwait of initiating an economic war to weaken the Iraq government. There were historical tensions between Iraq and Kuwait, in the conflict between Iraq and Iran, Iraq had sought a lot of money from the Arab countries Kuwait being one of them. The government of Iraq had pressured Kuwait to pardon it the grant because of its financial status which was poor. Kuwait failed to call off the debt, and the Iraq government initiated a conflict with Kuwait.
The territorial dispute between Iraq and Kuwait also contributed a lot in the emergence Gulf War. Iraq claimed that Kuwait belonged to Iraq before the British colonization.
Student: invasion of Kuwait was not from a particular point and caught the world by surprise. Were you or your family living in the areas that were mainly affected by the war?
R.A: Before the start of the Gulf War I was working for the Kuwait oil company today known as the British petroleum (BP). I was stationed at the Burgan oil field which was invaded by the Iraq troops in 1990, and the oil fields were set ablaze. Most of the Kuwait oil company facilities were destroyed by the Iraq army. Majority of the company workers left and some remained.
Despite the setback, the company heavily invested in training firefighter engineers after the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Most of the fires in the oil fires were extinguished in a record time.
Student: America was mainly involved in the war in helping Kuwait. Do you think they should have warned Iraq of their plan to participate in the war? What role did America play in the Gulf War?
R.A: After the Iraq army had invaded Kuwait in august 1990, the Americans seemed to have no intention to initiate a military action against Iraq.The deceptive mechanism that the bush administration was applying towards Saddam Hussein was to show him that America had intention to initiate military action. In the reality, the American government was working round the clock talking to the Saudi Arabia government to allow it bring in ground troops. On 8th august 1990, the American troops in large numbers arrived in Saudi Arabia. The United States mobilized other countries to assist in fighting the Iraq army and force it withdraw from Kuwait. Through its efforts and power, the United States assembled about thirty-four countries to fight the American troops against the Iraq army. Key among the coalition army was France and the Great Britain. The American government had so many reasons to convince the United Nations Security Council and the whole world why it was just to send troops to fight the Iraq army. Iraq was accused of violating human rights for so many years especially during the Iraq-Iran war where Iraq was accused of using chemical weapons against the Iranians (MacArthur, 2004, 93). The Saddam Hussein army was also accused of using chemical weapons against the Kurdish people. There was a lot of mass media sensitization in America about the reasons why it was necessary for America to defend Kuwait and the gulf region.
At the beginning of January 1991, there were extensive air strikes targeting the Iraq army installations. The main agenda in the use of air strikes was to weaken the Iraq air force and ensure that its anti- aircraft facilities were destroyed. With the intense air attacks on the Iraq soil by the coalition army, the Iraq government fulfilled its earlier threat of attacking Israel if it were attacked. More than eight missiles were fired into Israel by the Iraq army. The primary aim of the Iraq army was to prove Israel to fight back thus forcing the Arab countries fighting the Americans to withdraw. America, a close ally of Israel, understood the whole concept of the Iraq attack on Israel and advised Israel not to fight back. The plan of the Iraq army was thwarted.
The Iraq army fired missiles to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain though there were no significant casualties. Towards the end January 1991, the Iraq army invaded Khafji city in Saudi Arabia, which prompted heavy fighting between the Iraq army and the Saudi Arabia army with the support of the American marine troops. The Khafji battle lasted for two days when the Iraq army was repelled back through heavy artillery, but there were many casualties reported on both sides.
The air strikes made by the coalition army provided significant support to the ground troops who were equipped with more sophisticated artillery than the Iraq army. The ground forces also used modern global positioning system technology to identify their locations and to locate the enemy. On 23rd February 1991, the coalition forces led by the American and British army invaded Kuwait where the Iraq army had laid siege. The invasion was not anticipated by the Iraq army and therefore there no much resistance. In fact, the Iraq army surrendered to the coalition army. On the other hand, the Kuwait army initiated air strikes in the Kuwait city targeting the Iraq army with very little resistance. After five days of heavy fighting, Saddam Hussein surrendered and gave the order for the withdrawal of Iraq army from Kuwait (Stanton, 2003, 64).
Student: many nations took the initiative to evacuate their nationals from Kuwait, Iraq and neighboring countries.
R.A: Countries such as India had nearly two hundred thousand nationals working and living in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
When the Iraq army invaded Kuwait, most of the foreign nationalities were caught unaware, and majorities were stranded. There was great urgency by the affected nations to evacuate their citizens soonest possible. India carried out massive evacuations of its nationalities through Air India. Nearly three thousand five hundred Indians were evacuated on a daily basis. It is estimated that over five hundred flights were carried out by Air India. The evacuation process was taking with massive mobilization of resources and crew. The Kuwait and Bagdad airports were not accessible and therefore the Amman airport was majorly used for the evacuation process. The evacuees had to travel to Amman through Kuwait and the Iraq. Majority of the evacuees lacked the basic needs such as medication and water throughout the journey to Amman. By the end of the evacuation process, the Indian statistics showed that nearly one hundred and eighty thousand Indians had been evacuated from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Indian evacuation remains the largest evacuation in the history.
Student: After the Gulf War, the Kuwait oil company initiated massive restoration of its oil fields and installations. What were the mechanisms employed in the restoration process?
R.A: After the end of the Gulf War the Kuwait oil company through Bechtel and other international allies initiated plan to put out fires on oil fields through workforce of about sixteen thousand firefighters. A lot of equipments were mobilized from different countries. The reconstruction work was done in record time of one year, and the oil production resumed after the war. The Kuwait GDP per capita increased tremendously.
The impact of the Gulf War was immense to all the parties involved. The America and its allies made great strides in defeating Saddam Hussein. The American army emerged victoriously with minimal fatalities and casualties. America emerged as a powerful nation in the world with its sophisticated artillery. The Gulf War had a great economic impact on the Persian Gulf region especially in the oil production. The government of Saddam Hussein suffered an economic crisis with much of its resources used the Gulf War. Iraq was unable to pay back the debts, and it had incurred losses in military artillery. Kuwait, on the other hand, suffered great loss due destruction oil fields and oil installations thus reduced oil production. Saudi Arabia also incurred a lot of losses in the Khafji war where oil facilities were destroyed by Iraq army causing massive oil spills which cost the Saudi Arabia government a lot of dollars to clean up.
The Gulf War caused a lot of human sufferings from the onset to the end. When the Iraq army invaded Kuwait, a lot of inhumane acts were committed including rape, killings and so many people captured as war prisoners. The environment adversely affected by the war. Heavy artillery were used which had a great impact on the desert environment. The desert vegetation was destroyed, and the atmosphere was polluted (Austin, 2000, 71). There was a lot of emissions and dust into the atmosphere from the burning of the oil fields. There were also a lot of chemicals emitted which contributed to the damage of the ozone layer. The marine life along the Persian Gulf was also endangered due to the sinking of ships carrying oil artillery. The Kuwait sewage treatment facilities were destroyed releasing raw sewer to the Kuwait Sea. The untreated sewer endangered the ecosystem and poses as a threat to use of beach by humans. Both economic and environmental impacts of the Gulf War will always affect the Persian Gulf region for decades (Austin, 2000, 94). Although the gulf countries have worked tirelessly to solve these problems, the impact is still evident with oil spills and destruction of desert plant life is so imminent.
The Gulf War dented the America economy, and the public lost hope in the sustenance of the economy and control of skyrocketing cost of living. Many Americans were longing for the day when the war will come to an end. The banking industry became fragile, and the majority of the American society were involved in financial borrowing. The development projects were abandoned, and the employment rates declined significantly. The American government also incurred a lot of losses in the war, and there were also casualties and fatalities. The American society was greatly affected by the war especially those families who had their sons and daughters in the front line. Some of the American soldiers returned wounded, and others were killed in the battle line. Up to date the impact of the Gulf War is evident in the life’s of most Americans who had had to change their perception towards their involvement in the defense. Today many American parents try and educate their young ones on the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in the army.
Austin, Jay E, and Carl E. Bruch. The Environmental Consequences of War: Legal, Economic
and Scientific Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.
Bacevich, Andrew J, and Efraim Inbar. The Gulf War of 1991 Reconsidered. London: Frank
Cass, 2003. Print.
MacArthur, John R. Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2004. Print.
Stanton, Martin. Road to Baghdad: [behind Enemy Lines: the Adventures of an American
Soldier in the Gulf War]. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. Print.