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Iraq and the Gulf War: Decision-Making in Baghdad

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Iraq and the Gulf War: Decision-Making in Baghdad
F. Gregory Gause, III *
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont
October 2001

Iraq and the Gulf War: Decision-Making in Baghdad (Full Text, PDF, 34 pages, 60 KB)

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Introduction/Why the Case is Important

The Gulf War of 1990-91 was the largest American military involvement since Vietnam, the first major international event of the post-Cold War world, a turning point in the conflictual international politics of the Middle East and a ratification of the fact that the United States and other major economic powers would not allow a single regional leader to control, directly or indirectly, the oil of the Persian Gulf. The results of the Gulf War are important to understanding subsequent American military and foreign policies more generally, the twists and turns of the Middle East during the 1990's, and the ups and downs of the world oil market. It is an interesting story in and of itself.

But aside from these important empirical issues, the Gulf War, and particularly Iraqi behavior in it, raises puzzling theoretical questions about why leaders go to war and persist in war-fighting strategies. Why did Saddam Hussein, the leader of an already oil-rich country that had just emerged from a long and debilitating war with Iran, invade Kuwait in the first place? Why did he persist in holding onto Kuwait in the face of the U.S.-led coalition that had assembled against him, refusing diplomatic offers to withdraw that would have forestalled the military defeat he suffered?

Certainly the personality of Saddam Hussein himself played a role in these decisions. He believes in the efficacy of violence domestically and war internationally to achieve his ends and has no compunction about sacrificing the lives of his own people to those ends. But to focus only on the person of Saddam is too simple. He had shown in the past that he was willing to retreat in the face of superior power. Why was this episode different? There were numerous occasions, from the 1970's (when Saddam became the dominant player in the Iraqi government) through the late 1980's, when Iraq could have invaded Kuwait. What circumstances triggered his decision to invade in August 1990?

It is in examining the context of Iraqi decision-making in the Gulf War that this case can have theoretical relevance to the general question of why leaders, particularly non-democratic leaders of relatively new states, choose to go to war. We can be thankful that there are not many world leaders as brutal as Saddam Hussein. But there are plenty of leaders who, like Saddam in 1990, face difficult domestic situations; whose hold on power, like Saddam's, is buttressed by neither democratic election nor long historical roots; whose neighbors, like Saddam's, present inviting targets. In understanding Iraq's war decisions in 1990 and 1991, we can better appreciate why the end of the Cold War has not meant the end of regional wars in Asia and Africa.

This case study focuses on the Iraqi side of the Gulf War equation. American policy during the crisis and the war will be treated only insofar as it helps us to understand why Iraq did what it did. There are a number of interesting books and memoirs that deal with American politics, diplomacy and military strategy during this period. 1 Readers interested in American policy toward Iraq before the invasion of Kuwait should consult works by Bruce Jentleson 2 and Zachary Karabell. 3


Overview of Events

a) Iraq before the Gulf War

To understand why Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, we have to know a bit about Iraqi history. These few paragraphs are the barest of bones on the topic, enough to make the reader conversant with what was happening before and during the Gulf War. Those interested in more detail can read some excellent modern histories of the country. 4 For a quick overview of the country, consult the on-line CIA World Factbook (

Iraq, like the rest of the states of the eastern Arab world, was created after World War I out of territories that had belonged to the defunct Ottoman Empire. Great Britain was granted a "mandate" by the newly-formed League of Nations to administer Iraq, with the proviso that London work to ready the country for independence as soon as possible. The British installed as king of the new country Faysal ibn Hussein of the Hashemite family of Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia. The British had supported the Hashemites during World War I as leaders of an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, who were allied with Germany. Making Faysal king of Iraq was a British attempt to redeem promises made to his family during that revolt.

The country that Faysal inherited was a patchwork of three former Ottoman provinces, which had never been a single, unified political entity in the past. There was a large Kurdish minority in the northern part of the country, near the borders with Turkey and Iran. The Kurds are an ethnically and linguistically distinct people, Muslim but not Arab, who are found not only in northern Iraq but also in southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran. 5 Kurdish separatist movements would plague the central governments in Baghdad throughout Iraqi history. The majority Arab population was split between a Sunni Muslim minority and a Shiite Muslim majority. From the time of Faysal to today, the political elite of the country has been disproportionately Sunni Muslim. Holding the country together in the absence of an established bureaucracy was a difficult task, and Faysal relied heavily on British military forces and administrators. Iraq officially became independent in 1932, but Britain remained the dominant player in Iraqi politics for some time thereafter.

The Hashemite monarchy in Iraq was overthrown in a military coup in 1958. Faysal's grandson, who ruled as Faysal II, the Hashemite family, and many of the pro-British political elite were killed. This marked the end of British influence in Iraq. Military governments ruled from 1958 to 1968. In that year another military coup brought to power the Iraqi branch of the Ba'th Party, a pan-Arab political group supportive, in theory, of Arab unity. (The Syrian branch of the party had taken over the government in Damascus five years earlier, but the two branches saw each other as rivals, and no efforts were made to unify the two Ba'thist states. ) 6 The president of the new regime was a Ba'thist army general named Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr. But very quickly, by the mid-1970's, a civilian party official named Saddam Hussein, who was responsible for internal security affairs, emerged as the real power in the regime. 7 In 1979, al-Bakr, whose health had been in decline for some years, resigned as president and Saddam succeeded him. After coming to power, Saddam ordered the execution of 22 high-ranking Ba'th Party officials accused of plotting against him. 8

Saddam Hussein reached the presidency at a time of great ferment in the politics of the Middle East. Egypt, the largest Arab state and leader of the Arab world, had just signed a peace treaty with Israel and had been ostracized by the other Arab states. In Iran, Iraq's eastern neighbor, a mass-based popular revolution had overthrown the pro-Western monarchical regime and brought to power Shiite Muslim clerics, headed by Ayatallah Ruhallah Khomeini, who were in the midst of establishing an "Islamic republic" amid continuing revolutionary chaos. The time was ripe for the ambitious new president of Iraq, flush with the wealth that increasing oil prices had brought to his country during the 1970s, to make a play for regional leadership. The target he chose was Iran, and he launched an invasion of southwestern Iran in September 1980. 9

Iran's army had been decimated by the revolution. It was embroiled in an intense diplomatic conflict with the United States over the takeover of the American embassy and holding of American diplomatic personnel by Iranian "students" supported by the new revolutionary regime. It was certainly an inviting target. But the apparent ease with which Iran could be defeated was not the only factor behind Iraq's attack. The revolutionary Iranian government was, through both the example of its success and its own propaganda machine, encouraging Islamist opposition movements in other Middle Eastern countries. 10 Iraqi Shiites, kept from political power for decades, were a receptive audience. Long historical ties between the Iranian Shiite clergy and Iraqi Shiite leaders and institutions facilitated the transmission of the message. Violent demonstrations in the Iraqi Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala were put down in June 1979. The Iraqi government attributed a series of bomb attacks and assassination attempts on Ba'thist officials in April 1980 to Iranian meddling, and in retaliation executed a high-ranking Iraqi Shiite ayatallah and expelled tens of thousands of Iranians from Najaf and Karbala. With that, all restraints were dropped in the propaganda war between the two capitals. Border skirmishing began, and the road to war, beginning in September 1980, was paved. 11

The Iran-Iraq War lasted for eight years, finally ending in August 1988. Each side suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties and billions of dollars in damages and lost revenue. The Iraqis, after some initial military successes, were driven out of Iranian territory by the summer of 1982. From then through 1987, Iran held the military advantage, capturing small parts of Iraqi territory and conducting regular offensives against entrenched Iraqi forces. In 1988 the military tide turned again. Iraqi missile attacks on Iranian cities dented the flagging revolutionary morale of Iranians. Iraqi offensives drove Iranian forces back across the border, and Iraqi troops made a number of forays into Iranian territory before both sides accepted the U.N. ceasefire resolution (Security Council Resolution 598).

b) Iraq's Road to the Invasion of Kuwait

Based on these late military successes and its steadfastness in resisting earlier Iranian offensives, Saddam Hussein's regime claimed victory in the war. But it was a hollow victory. Iraq gained no new territory. The economic disruptions of demobilizing part of its army – finding work for those returning from the front – were exacerbated by the end of economic aid to Iraq from the Gulf states. Since 1982, the revenue from Kuwaiti and Saudi oil production from the Neutral Zone territory on their border (approximately 650,000 barrels per day) was "loaned" to Iraq to support the war effort. 12 That regular cash infusion, along with other forms of Gulf aid, stopped when the fighting did. The war left Iraq with an enormous debt burden, usually estimated at $80 billion ($40 billion to the Gulf states, which would not be paid back but remained on the books, and $40 billion to other governments and private creditors). 13 Moreover, during the Iran-Iraq War Baghdad initiated a large-scale economic liberalization and privatization program, which ended up primarily benefiting cronies of the regime. The unintended consequences of this program included "high levels of inflation, unemployment, shortages in basic goods, growing and highly visible economic inequality, and the emergence of a brisk black market in foreign currencies." 14

As these economic difficulties became more obvious during 1989, Iraq attempted to reap the fruits of its "victory" in the Arab world, but through normal diplomacy, not saber rattling. In February 1989, Baghdad took the initiative in forming the Arab Cooperation Council, a loose grouping of Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and North Yemen, whose publicly announced purpose was to foster greater economic exchange and integration between the members. 15 To allay Saudi worries about the new group, in April 1989 Saddam proposed to a startled King Fahd, visiting Baghdad at the time, that they sign a non-aggression pact. Iraqi diplomacy toward Kuwait, while clearly aimed at securing territorial concessions and economic benefits, was not overtly threatening. The border issue was raised in a number of meetings in 1989, sometimes by the Iraqi side, sometimes by the Kuwaiti side, but the Kuwaitis did not think that it was particularly pressing and the Iraqis did nothing to indicate otherwise. 16 As late as September 1989, Shaykh Jabir al-Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruler of Kuwait, visited Baghdad. He was awarded Iraq's highest honor amid lavish praise from Saddam himself. Likewise, Iraqi rhetoric toward the United States and Israel in 1989 was in the moderate vein adopted by Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War.

As Iraqi economic difficulties grew, signs of political discontent within Iraq also emerged. In late 1988 and early 1989, scores of officers, many decorated for heroism in the war with Iran, were arrested and executed on charges of conspiring to bring down the government. Hundreds of high-ranking officers indirectly connected to the accused were forced to retire. 17 There were reports of a failed coup attempt in September 1989, and the exposure of another coup attempt, coupled with a plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein, in January 1990. 18 The fall of the Soviet Union's Eastern European empire in 1989 further increased Saddam's fears about his own regime. In the summer of 1989 Saddam led a discussion among Iraqi experts about the effects of the collapse of Soviet power, and concluded that Iraq's enemies would use the events in Europe to create an impression among Iraqis that it would also be easy for them to change their government. 19

During 1989, Saddam Hussein increasingly came to see his domestic economic and political problems as part of a larger effort, orchestrated from outside Iraq, to destabilize his regime and reduce Iraq's role in the region. The regime's leaders came to believe during that year that a number of foreign powers, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, were attempting to infiltrate Iraqi society to collect intelligence and pressure the government. 20 In October 1989, in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, Tariq Aziz, then Iraq’s foreign minister, accused Washington of conducting clandestine efforts to subvert the Iraqi regime. 21 Baker tried to reassure Aziz that the United States policy was just the opposite, seeking better relations with Iraq. President Bush passed the same message to Saddam in April 1990, through Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Sa'ud, when Saddam, through the Saudis, raised similar suspicions of American intentions. 22

Saddam's view that an international conspiracy was forming against him crystallized in early 1990. Wafiq al-Samara'i, then deputy director of Iraqi military intelligence, who saw the president with some frequency, identified the first quarter of 1990 as the time that Saddam realized that his current policies were failing. "This was reflected in the psychological state of the president, and led him to make statements and follow policies that were more and more spasmodic." 23 This conspiracy, in Saddam's view, involved not only the United States, but also the Gulf states and Israel. al-Samara'i reports that at the beginning of 1990, military intelligence began receiving a wave of warnings from Saddam's office about Israeli plans to strike at Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons facilities. 24 Saad al-Bazzaz, editor of one of the major Iraqi newspapers, reports that the Iraqi leadership fully expected an Israeli military attack sometime in August 1990. 25 al-Samara'i relates a conversation with Saddam, after the former returned from a trip to Bahrain in March 1990, in which the Iraqi president told him: "America is coordinating with Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Kuwait in a conspiracy against us. They are trying to reduce the price of oil to affect our military industries and our scientific research, to force us to reduce the size of our armed forces.¨You must expect from another direction an Israeli airstrike, or more than one, to destroy some of our important targets as part of this conspiracy." 26

Iraqi decision-makers, with Saddam in the lead, increasingly filtered events through this conspiracy framework. Iraqi economic problems were blamed on lower oil prices, which were in turn blamed on the "overproduction" of Kuwait and the UAE, clients of the United States. Small shifts in U.S. policy, like limits on credits for Iraqi purchases of American rice exports and Congressional resolutions condemning Iraq for human rights violations, were read as evidence of Washington's hostility toward the regime. Media attention to the Iraqi nuclear program in 1990, and subsequent British and American efforts to block the export of dual-use technology to Iraq, were seen as part of a concerted effort to build a case for striking at Iraq. Lurking behind these efforts, in the Iraqi view, was Israel. 27 (For an ex post facto account of these Iraqi perceptions, see the interview with Tariq Aziz, Iraqi foreign minister during the Gulf War, on the BBC/PBS documentary The Gulf War. Transcript available at:

As Saddam and his regime came by early 1990 to see their problems as emanating from the machinations of foreign enemies, the rhetoric and tone of Iraqi foreign policy became increasingly hostile and aggressive. In February 1990, Saddam attacked the United States military presence in the Gulf at the founding summit of the Arab Cooperation Council, and devoted much of his speech to criticism of Israel. 28 His comment that Iraq would "burn half of Israel" with chemical weapons if Israel attacked Iraq followed in early April 1990. At the same time, Iraq's stance toward the Gulf states hardened. In January 1990 Iraq first proposed that Kuwait "loan" it $10 billion. 29 At the Arab summit of May 1990, Saddam likened the oil production policies of Kuwait and the UAE to an act of war against Iraq. 30

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Saddam Hussein decided to invade Kuwait. Saad al-Bazzaz reports on a series of meetings beginning in mid-June 1990 that formulated the plan for the invasion. Two plans were set out, one calling for the occupation of the border area with Kuwait and two Kuwaiti islands and the other calling for the complete occupation of Kuwait. It was only on July 29, 1990, according to al-Bazzaz, that Saddam decided to implement the second plan. 31 Other sources place the decision slightly earlier in 1990. Wafiq al-Samara'i told the producers of the BBC/PBS documentary The Gulf War that he thought the decision was made in April 1990, though he did not offer any direct evidence supporting this claim. 32 The then head of the Iranian National Security Council, Hassan Ruhani, reportedly told Arab officials that Saddam Hussein sent a message to Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani in May 1990 that "certain events" would soon take place in the Gulf that Iran should not interpret as directed against it. 33 Iraqi opposition circles claim that the decision was made in March 1990. 34 No source referring specifically to the timing of the decision places it earlier than the spring of 1990.

The linkage in the first half of 1990 between Saddam Hussein coming to the conclusion that a conspiracy was afoot aimed at undermining him, the change in the tone and rhetoric of Iraqi foreign policy, and the decision to invade Kuwait is extremely strong. The sense that circumstances had turned against the regime, and that something had to be done quickly to reverse the negative trend, is clear in comments by Saddam and those close to him after the invasion of Kuwait. At a meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council and the Ba'th Party leadership held on January 24, 1991 (while the war was going on), Saddam told those present that he had heard some people suggesting that Kuwait should be returned to avoid war. He said:

You must tell those people, ‘What were things like before August 2, when Iraq was without Kuwait?’ They were conspiring against you to starve you, after they had deprived us of our economic capacity.¨ Even our standard of living at the time, they were planning to push it backwards in their despicable conspiracies, to crush us spiritually and force us to abandon our role. 35

At that same meeting, Taha Yasin Ramadan, Iraq's first deputy prime minister, said that: "I am not saying that August 2, 1990 was the best day for the mother of battles. We had not studied the situation for a year, even for months, preparing for the mother of battles." 36 No one would dare criticize a decision by Saddam Hussein in his presence, the implication being that Saddam himself recognized that the decision to invade was made under severe pressures. Ramadan said at the same meeting:

Imagine if we had waited two years, and the Gulf oil policy had continued as it is.¨ How were we going to maintain the loyalty of the people and their support for the leader if they saw the inability of the leadership to provide a minimal standard of living in this rich country? In this situation, could you lead the army and the people in any battle, no matter what its level and under any banner? I think not. I am not deviating from my deep faith in victory in this battle, but whatever the outcome, if death is definitely coming to this people and this revolution, let it come while we are standing. 37

The Ba'th Party apparatus circulated an analysis to ranking party members in February 1991 that admitted that the leadership was forced to take a quick decision to invade Kuwait because of the pressures it was under, even though all necessary preparations for the confrontation had not been made. 38

With the Iraqi regime feeling threatened and looking to break out of what it saw as an increasingly constricting set of domestic, regional and international circumstances, Kuwait beckoned as an inviting target. The military balance between Kuwait and Iraq was overwhelmingly favorable to Baghdad. Various Iraqi governments in the past had made claims that Kuwait should be part of Iraq (see discussion below in "Historical Controversies"). Al-Samara'i reports that Tariq Aziz told Saddam and the rest of the leadership that tensions between Kuwait and the other Arab monarchies in the Gulf would limit the amount of opposition that Iraq would face within the region. Aziz also, according to al-Samara'i, said that any American reaction would take a substantial amount of time to organize, giving Iraq room to maneuver and consolidate its hold on Kuwait. 39 Baghdad saw the prospects for victory as reasonable; the costs of not acting, and allowing the "conspiracy" against the regime to continue, were seen as high. So sometime in 1990 the decision to invade Kuwait was made.

In the two weeks before the invasion, Saddam practiced tactical deceptions in order to retain the element of surprise. 40 The Iraqi media, which had pilloried Kuwait for months, adopted a much softer tone. Saddam allowed the American ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, to leave a meeting with him on July 25 with the impression that the crisis was winding down. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had the same impression after a series of contacts with Saddam. Iraq agreed to an Egyptian-Saudi proposal for a meeting between high-ranking representatives of Kuwait and Iraq, held in the Saudi city of Jidda on July 31, 1990. 41 Both Kuwait and the United States believed that, if Iraq were to use force, it would only be to occupy the border area and the Kuwaiti islands of Warba and Bubiyan, which control access to the Iraqi port of Um Qasr – more a bargaining move than a real military attack. 42 On the morning of August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait, and within hours had control of the entire country.



Note 1: For a first-hand, contemporary account, see Bob Woodward, The Commanders, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991. Later books that deal well with American policy include Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, 1990-91, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993; Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, The Generals' War, Boston: Little, Brown, 1995. Useful memoirs of events on the American side include George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1998; James A. Baker, III (with Thomas M. DeFrank), The Politics of Diplomacy, New York: G.P. Putnam's, 1995; Colin L. Powell (with Joseph E. Persico), My American Journey, New York: Random House, 1995; and H. Norman Schwarzkopf (with Peter Petre), It Doesn't Take a Hero, New York: Bantam Books, 1992. Back.

Note 2: Bruce W. Jentleson, With Friends Like These: Reagan, Bush and Saddam, 1982-1990, New York: W.W. Norton, 1994. Back.

Note 3: Zachary Karabell, "Backfire: US Policy Toward Iraq, 1988-2 August 1990," Middle East Journal 49, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 28-47. Back.

Note 4: Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements in Iraq, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978; Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq, Boulder: Westview, 1985; Marion Farouk-Sluglett and Peter Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship, London: I.B. Tauris, 1990. Back.

Note 5: For the history of the Kurds in Iraq, see Michael M. Gunter, The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis, New York: St. Martin's, 1999; David McDowall, The Kurds, London: Minority Rights Group, 1996. Back.

Note 6: The rivalry between the two branches is detailed in Eberhard Kienle, Ba'th v. Ba'th: The Conflict between Syria and Iraq, 1968-1989, London: I.B. Tauris, 1990. Back.

Note 7: Farouk-Sluglett and Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958, pp. 205-09; Marr, Modern History of Iraq, pp. 217-220, 228-229. Back.

Note 8: Marr, op. cit., p. 230. Back.

Note 9: For the background to the Iran-Iraq war, see Shahram Chubin and Charles Tripp, Iran and Iraq at War, Boulder: Westview Press, 1988; and R.K. Ramazani, Revolutionary Iran: Challenge and Response in the Middle East, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. Back.

Note 10: Majid Khadduri, The Gulf War, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 82; Ramazani, Revolutionary Iran, p. 59; Chubin and Tripp, Iran and Iraq at War, p. 34. Back.

Note 11: Ramazani, Revolutionary Iran, p. 60; Chubin and Tripp, Iran and Iraq at War, p. 25. Back.

Note 12: King Fahd, in a public speech during the Gulf War, listed the amounts of Saudi aid to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. al-Sharq al-Awsat (London), January 17, 1991, p. 4. Back.

Note 13: Freedman and Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, p. 39; Patrick Clawson, "Iraq's Economy and International Sanctions," in Amatzia Baram and Barry Rubin, eds., Iraq's Road to War, New York: St. Martin's, 1993, p. 81, note 12; Amatzia Baram, "The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: Decision-making in Baghdad," in Baram and Rubin, eds., Iraq's Road to War, p. 7; Mohamed Heikal, Illusion of Triumph: An Arab View of the Gulf War, London: Harper Collins, 1993, p. 178. Back.

Note 14: Kiren Aziz Chaudhry, "On the Way to Market: Economic Liberalization and Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait," Middle East Report 170 (May/June 1991): 17.. Back.

Note 15: On the Arab Cooperation Council, see David Priess, "Balance of Threat Theory and the Genesis of the Gulf Cooperation Council: An Interpretive Case Study," Security Studies 5, no. 4 (Summer 1996): 143-171; Curtis Ryan, "Jordan and the Rise and Fall of the Arab Cooperation Council," Middle East Journal 52, no. 3 (Summer 1998): 386-401 Back.

Note 16: Sa'd al-Bazzaz, harb tulid ukhra [One War Gives Birth to Another], Amman: al-'ahliyya lil nashr wa al-tawzi', 1993, pp. 41-45. Back.

Note 17: Baram, "The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait," in Baram and Rubin, eds., p. 8; Sa'd al-Bazzaz, al-janaralat 'akhr man ya'lam [The Generals Are the Last to Know], Amman: al-'ahliyya lil nashr wa al-tawzi', 1996, pp. 36-37, 89-90; Wafiq al-Samara'i, hatam al-bawaba al-sharqiyya [The Destruction of the Eastern Gate], Kuwait: dar al-qabas, 1997, p. 184-85. Back.

Note 18: Freedman and Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, pp. 29-30; Amatzia Baram, "Neo-tribalism in Iraq: Saddam Hussein's Tribal Policies, 1991-96," International Journal of Middle East Studies 29, no. 1 (1997): 5-6; Amatzia Baram, "Building Toward Crisis: Saddam Hussein's Strategy for Survival," Policy Paper No. 47, Washington: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1998, p. 27; al-Samara'i, hatam, p. 185. Back.

Note 19: al-Bazzaz, harb, p. 392. Back.

Note 20: Ibid., pp. 159-60, 210-213. Back.

Note 21: Baker, The Politics of Diplomacy, p. 265. See also Heikal, Illusion of Triumph, p. 159; al-Bazzaz, harb, p. 154-160. According to the Iraqi transcript of the meeting in Geneva between Baker and Aziz in January 1991, Aziz reminded Baker of the conversation, and Baker said that he recalled it. Muhammad Muthaghghar Al-Adhami, al-tariq 'ila harb al-khalij [The Road to the Gulf War], Amman: al-'ahliyya lil nashr wa al-tawzi', pp. 100-01. Back.

Note 22: Woodward, The Commanders, p. 203-04. Back.

Note 23: al-Samara'i, hatam, p. 214. Back.

Note 24: Ibid., p. 365. Back.

Note 25: al-Bazzaz, harb, p. 345. Back.

Note 26: al-Samara'i, hatam, pp. 222-223. Back.

Note 27: For extended discussions of the Iraqi regime's perspective on events in 1990, leading up to the invasion of Kuwait, see Freedman and Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, Chapters 2, 3; Heikal, Illusion of Triumph, pp. 158-231; Baram, "The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait," In Baram and Rubin, eds. Back.

Note 28: Ofra Bengio, Saddam Speaks on the Gulf Crisis: A Collection of Documents, Tel Aviv: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 1992, pp. 37-49. Back.

Note 29: Heikal, Illusion, p. 209. Back.

Note 30: Freedman and Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, pp. 46-48. Back.

Note 31: al-Bazzaz, harb, pp. 27-36; al-Bazzaz, al-janaralat, pp. 47-55. Back.

Note 32:( Back.

Note 33: New York Times, March 20, 1991, pp. A1, A2. Back.

Note 34: Falih 'Abd al-Jabbar, "The Million Man Army Lies Heavily on the Destroyed Economy of the State," al-Hayat (London), May 31, 1991, p. 5; Faleh Abd al-Jabar, "Roots of an Adventure: The Invasion of Kuwait – Iraqi Political Dynamics," in Victoria Brittain,ed., The Gulf between Us: The Gulf War and Beyond, London: Virago Press, 1991, p. 37. Back.

Note 35: Ibid., pp. 227-28, quoting from minutes of the meeting. Back.

Note 36: Ibid., p. 200. Back.

Note 37: Ibid., pp. 198-99. Back.

Note 38: al-Bazzaz, harb, p. 34. Back.

Note 39: al-Samara'i, hatam, pp. 312-313. Back.

Note 40: al-Bazzaz, al-janaralat, pp. 73-74, reports that Saddam told the Iraqi leadership on August 2 that in 1961 Iraqi leader Abd al-Karim Qasim, who had threatened Kuwait, had made the mistake of being too clear about his intentions and had thus lost the element of surprise, allowing the British and the Egyptians to send troops to Kuwait and frustrate his plans. Saddam told the leadership that this time Iraq was doing things differently. Back.

Note 41: See Freedman and Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, pp. 47-63, for an excellent account of the events leading up to August 2. Iraq contends that it did not mislead its interlocutors, but rather that they misunderstood the Iraqi commitment not to use force before the Jidda meeting. Iraqi sources say that the Egyptians and the Americans did not impress on Kuwait the seriousness of the situation and thus allowed the Jidda meeting to "fail." With that failure, Iraqi commitments not to use force were no longer applicable. See also Heikal, Illusion of Triumph, pp. 225-229. Back.

Note 42: In mid-July, U.S. military intelligence sources made this prediction. Woodward, The Commanders, pp. 207-208. The Kuwaiti parliamentary committee set up to examine the events leading up to the invasion reported that the Kuwaiti government was anticipating such a limited land-grab. See al-Hayat (London), July 10, 1996, pp. 1, 6, for an account of the leaked committee report. This scenario was clearly circulating in diplomatic and military circles just before the attack, as it is mentioned in both Freedman and Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, p. 57 and Heikal, Illusion of Triumph, p. 244. Back.

Note 43: al-Samara'i, hatam, pp. 321-22. Back.

Note 44: Ibid., pp. 237-38. Back.

Note 45: Ibid., pp. 237, 246-47; al-Samara'i interview with PBS, ( Back.

Note 46: al-Samara'i PBS interview, ( Back.

Note 47: al-Samara'i, hatam, pp. 284-85. Back.

Note 48: al-Bazzaz, harb, p. 265. Back.

Note 49: Ibid., p. 399. Back.

Note 50: Tariq Aziz interview, PBS documentary website, ( Back.

Note *: F. Gregory Gause, III is an associate professor of political science at the University of Vermont, and director of the University's Middle East Studies program. He was previously on the faculty of Columbia University, and was Fellow for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has published two books — Saudi-Yemeni Relations: Domestic Structures and Foreign Influence (Columbia University Press, 1990) and Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994) — and numerous articles on the international politics of the Gulf and the Middle East. He received in Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University (1987), and studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo (1982-83) and at Middlebury College (1984).  Back.

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