Iraq-Kuwait war began in the year 1990. The conflict escalated following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. During this conflict, Iraq’s soldiers invaded Kuwait, raped, looted, and killed resisting Kuwaitis on the spot (King, 1991).
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It is alleged that the world learned about these atrocities from Kuwaitis who managed to escape to the neighbouring countries unharmed. Following the brutal attacks, the US was forced to intervene. Before the onset of the war, the US had made a decision that it was no longer going to engage in foreign military affairs after its devastating experience in Vietnam War (King, 1991).
The US government mobilized its allies to come to the defence of Kuwait in an operation named Operation Desert Shield. During this operation, several countries took different roles in the alliance. Among those who supported this operation were some of the Arab countries who believed that Iraqis expansion was a threat in the Middle East (King, 1991). This paper seeks to highlight the role of United Arab Emirates, UAE, in the war.
Initially, UAE’s operations in the Middle East were considered to have fuelled the Iraq- Kuwait conflicts during the early 1990s (Grossman, 1995). As such, Kuwait and UAE were disrespecting the OPECS directive by flooding the world markets with oil. By doing so, the two countries lowered the oil prices in the world markets.
Since Iraq had not regained its economic stability following the Iraq- Iran war, the UAE and Kuwait’s actions in the oil market worsened their economic situations. With the two countries disrespecting the OPEC’s directives and the dire economic situation in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was forced to attack Kuwait. Saddam’s acts were meant to reduce the UAE and Kuwait’s oil exports in the world market. Through this, the UAE is said to have contributed to the Iraq- Kuwait conflicts (Grossman, 1995).
Previously, during the Iran-Iraq war, UAE was reluctant in joining the conflicts. However, during the Kuwait-Iraq war the country was forced to reverse its previous policy and join forces with its allies in liberating Kuwait. Before the onset of the war, UAE was among the first Arab countries to object the plans by President Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. Its defence forces officials joined forces with American forces and drafted a plan, which were to prevent Hussein’s forces from further attacks in Kuwait.
Two weeks before the operation, UAE and the US conducted an air refuelling rehearsal program in an effort to warn the Iraqis government against their military ambitions. During this period, the UAE defence forces availed its personnel to play active roles in the Operation Desert Storm. Through this, the country contributed its air force personnel as pilots. Notably, UAE pilots joined the allied forces in major air attacks across Iraq.
Through this effort, Iraq’s infrastructure, communication facilities, military bases, and naval bases were destroyed. Equally, through the concerted effort by the UAE forces, American forces, and their allied forces, Iraq’s aircraft and air force facilities were destroyed within the first few weeks of Operation Shield Desert.
Throughout the operation, the UAE ground forces were estimated to be about 2000. With the effort of these individuals, the allied forces managed to conquer the Iraqi forces on the ground as air raids were being carried out. Most of the ground forces were situated in Kuwait. They were mandated to thwart Iraqis from retreating to Iraq with Kuwait’s properties.
Other than providing the military personnel, UAE provided the Americans with military bases during the gulf war. Before this war, US military bases across the gulf region were few and ill equipped. However, during the gulf war the US military presence in the region increased with the setting up of more bases in UAE, Saudi Arabia and other American allied countries in the region (Metz, 1994).
From the UAE’s bases, American forces were able to destroy Iraqis positions with ease. The US and the allied forces’ aircrafts, warships and other military facilities were stationed in the UAE and other US allied nations within the gulf region.
Equally, during the war the UAE government provided the allied forces with financial support. According to the country’s defense reports, UAE contributed $3.3 billion towards the liberation of Kuwait during the onset of the war (Metz, 1994). By mid 1991, the country had pledged to support countries who were involved in the operation.
Through this, their defense spending reached $6 billion on November 1991. The country initiated this move to help the involved countries recover their economic losses resulting from this operation. To meet these huge military spending, the country increased its oil exports and prices during the period.
By the end of the war, the UAE had played a crucial role towards the liberation of Kuwait. At the end, the country realized that its defense system was inadequately prepared to tackle external military challenges. Similarly, after the war the GCC acknowledged that it lacked the military resources to defend their member states from external military attacks (Rugh, 2002). As a result, the UAE entered into an agreement with the US and the French governments to support its military with expertise and equipments.
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Grossman, M. (1995). Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO.
King, J. (1991). The Gulf War. New York: Dillon Press.
Metz, H. C. (1994). Persian Gulf states: country studies (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress .
Rugh, W. A. (2002). Diplomacy and defense policy of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.