A contemporary chronology of Iraq
1916 to 1991


 

1916: Britain invades Iraq.

1921: Sir Percy Cox redraws borders, separating Kuwait from Basra province and narrowing Iraqi access to Persian Gulf.

1924: British Commander ‘Bomber’ Harris uses mustard gas against Iraqi rebels.

1932: Britain gives Iraq nominal independence. Kuwait is made a British protectorate.

1951: Iran’s Mossadegh government nationalises holdings of Anglo-Iranian Company (now BP).

1953: CIA helps overthrow Mossadegh. Shah installed and hands over 40% ownership of oil fields to US companies. SAVAK brutal state police - formed with American backing and with the help of Norman Schwarzkopf Sr.

14.17.58: Popular nationalist revolution in Iraq led by Abdel Karim Kassem overthrows Hashemite monarchy, installed by British In 1921. Kassem helped found OPEC. He also nationalised Western holdings in Iraq.

1960: OPEC formed.

1963: Bloody CIA aided coup overthrows Kassem and thousands of supporters. Testifying to a Senate committee, a CIA member joked: "The target suffered a terminal illness before a firing squad in Baghdad."

James Critchfield, head of the CIA's Middle East Desk later stated: "It was an operation where all the 't's were really crossed. It was a great victory."

1968: Ba’ath party comes to power, which, according to John Pilger, was only possible because the CIA provided a list of opponents including trade unionists, socialists and pluralists, many of whom were later murdered.

1972: Iraq nationalises oil Industry with slogan "Arab oil for Arabs". Iraq is placed on US list of states that support terrorism. Nixon and Kissinger plot with Shah to arm Iraqi Kurds to weaken Iraq. US arms were funnelled through Iran; the Kurds encouraged to reject a Soviet offer to mediate with Baghdad. According to the Pike Congressional Report:

"Neither the foreign head of state (the Shah) nor the President nor Dr. Kissinger desired a victory for our clients (the Kurds). They merely hoped to ensure a level of hostilities high enough to sap the resources of the neighbouring state (Iraq). Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise."

After nationalisation of Iranian, then Iraqi oil, Western oil companies had increased production from Kuwait. Within OPEC Kuwait acted to benefit oil companies against the interests of more populous Arab countries.

Prior to OPEC, Middle Eastern oil was controlled by the ‘Big 7’. By 1975 even Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had nationalised oil. Fear of the Soviet Union and Vietnam syndrome, ruled out direct intervention, necessitating the ‘Nixon doctrine’ which relied on regional powers, Iran and Israel to control challenges to US interests in the region. After the fall of the Shah, military planning began in earnest.

1973: The Pentagon conducts annual training exercises in the Mojave Desert in which Marines are pitted against soldiers in Libyan and Iraqi uniforms. Washington strategists openly discuss invading the Gulf.

1974: Threatening statements from US Defence Secretary prompts Saudis and Kuwaitis to mine their oil fields in preparation for a US invasion.

1975: Iraq agrees to share control of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway with Iran. The US and the Shah stop their support for the Kurds, whose leadership was forced to flee. Kissinger explained:
"Covert operations should not be confused with missionary work."

The Pike report later revealed that the decision to stop aid "…was not imparted to our clients who were encouraged to keep fighting."

 

EMERGENCE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN

Jan. 76: Hussein promotes himself to the rank of General.

Sept. 77: Ba’ath regional command is absorbed into Revolutionary Command Council, signifying the end of the Ba’ath party as an independent body.

Oct. 77: President Ahmad al Bakr hands over defence portfolio to his son in law Col. Adnan Khairalla who was the brother of Saddam’s wife.

78: Saddam emerges onto international stage at Baghdad Summit and subsequent reconciliation with Syria.

May 78: Political activity is made illegal for anyone previously serving in the armed forces, with a possible death sentence for those found guilty. In a country with universal conscription this effectively outlawed political activity. Hundreds of people were arrested and tortured to death, their relatives ordered to collect their corpses, many jeered at when they did so. The outbreak of the Iran/Iraq war was to allow an intensification of repression.

18.7.79: Iraqi President al Bakr resigns and Saddam Hussein is sworn in.

 

1977: US Senator Henry Jackson’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee concludes:

"A US commitment to the defence of the oil resources of the gulf, and to political stability in the region constitutes one of the most vital and enduring interests of the United States."

1.12.79: Shah is overthrown in Iran. Hussein recognises the new government on the following day. US embassy personnel are taken hostage. The US allegedly encourages Iraq to seize back the Shat-al-Arab waterway.

1980: ‘Nixon Doctrine’ is replaced by ‘Carter Doctrine’, stipulating that the US would intervene militarily in the Gulf to protect US access to oil. The Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force is formed in October.

 

IRAN / IRAQ WAR

1980: In the fall the US provides Iraq with intelligence reports that Iranian forces would quickly collapse in the face of an Iraqi advance. Iraq attacks. No outrage from Washington this time. Throughout war the Pentagon and CIA provide Iraq with intelligence reports, help train Iraqi commandos, and help funnel billions of dollars of arms to Iraq, who were also supported by the Soviet bloc, the Gulf states, Britain, France and West Germany. After a visit from US Army Chiefs of Staff, Turkey sends troops to fight rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan, freeing Iraq to concentrate on Iran. If Iraq had won the war, Hussein would have emerged as the most powerful leader in the Gulf. A Reagan administration official later conceded, however:

"We wanted to avoid victory by both sides."

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was more direct:

"Too bad they both can’t lose..[....] I hope they all just kill each other."

1981: After Iraq threatened to bomb Israel, Israel responded by bombing Iraq’s nuclear power complex (and threatened to do so again in 1990)

War Plan 1002 is conceived to counter a supposed Soviet threat to the Gulf.

July 17th: British Foreign Office official Douglas Hurd flies to Baghdad as a ‘high level salesman’ (Source: The Guardian). Other British MPs to visit between 1980 and 198I included William Waldegrave, Lord Carrington, Cecil Parkinson, John Nott, John Biffen, Tony Newton and Paul Channon

During the 1980’s Washington sold $20 billion worth of arms to Gulf States and removed Iraq from list of countries that supported terrorism in 1982, allowing exports of dual use equipment which included jeeps, helicopters, and transports.

1982: Kuwait effectively replaces Basra as Iraq’s main port.

1983: RDJTF becomes US Central Command (CENTCOM) and begins to extend surveillance bases in Saudi Arabia.

The NEW STATESMAN reports that US and Turkish Generals have revived the 1958 plan ‘Operation Canonbone’, and planned to invade and seize Northern Iraqi oil fields in the event of an Iraqi defeat.

1984: The US increases its’ support for Iraq, becoming its’ principle trading partner, increasing purchases of Iraqi oil and encouraging Britain and Japan to do the same, and authorising increased intelligence sharing. Vice President Bush, the CIA and the State Department begin lobbying the Export/Import bank to begin large scale financing of US exports to Iraq (Source: LA Times, 24.2.92)

27.10. 84: Iraq resumes full diplomatic relations with the US, which were broken off in October 1967. This is largely a formality: the US interests section at the Belgian embassy is one of the largest missions in the capital. The price for this continued support is that Iraq drop its’ hard line on the Arab/Israeli conflict. Tariq Aziz declares on US television that Iraq would support:

"Any just, honourable and lasting settlement between the Arab states and Israel."

Two associates of the Brookings Institute confirm:

"The…scenario of prolonged stalemate probably helps ensure relatively soft oil markets for the next few years." [As quoted in MERIP reports 125 & 126]

1983: Britain officially bans arms sales to Iraq.

 

OLIVER NORTH AND IRAN / CONTRA

The congressional report on the Iran/Contra scandal states:

"The US simultaneously pursued two contradictory foreign policies – a public one and a secret one. The public one was to improve relations with Iraq. At the same time the US secretly shared military intelligence on Iraq with Iran. Colonel North told the Iranians in contradiction to US policy that the US would help promote the overthrow of the Iraqi head of government."

Colonel North recorded a conversation with Iran/Contra players Richard Secord, Albert Hakim and an Iranian government official in Frankfurt, 1985.

"One of the things we would like to do is that we would like to become actively engaged in ending the [Iran/Iraq] war in such a way that it becomes very evident to everybody that the guy who is causing the problem is Saddam Hussein. If I were to talk to any other Muslim leader, they wouldn’t say Saddam Hussein is the problem. They’d say Iran is the problem……What we’re talking about is a process by which all of the rest of the Arab world comes quickly to realise that Iraq is not a threat to them, Iran is not going to overrun Kuwait. Iran is not going to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia. That the real problem in preventing peace in the region is Saddam Hussein. And we’ll have to take care of that".

(Report of Congressional committee investigating the Ira/Contra affair) [Washington DC government printing office 1987. Vol. 1 appendix A: Source documents Frankfurt meeting, tape 12, page 1500]

OPEC conference fails to agree quotas. Saudi Arabia increases oil exports thereby driving the price of oil down in an attempt to cripple the Iranian economy.

1986: British Conservative MP Alan Clark returns to Baghdad, and the US sends a high level CIA team to advise the Iraqi military.

Until late 1986, the US was funnelling large quantities of arms to Iran through Oliver North and bigger operations involving Israel and Pakistan.

3.86: A UN report confirms that:

"…in the areas around Abadan inspected by the UN missions, chemical weapon have been extensively used against Iranian positions by Iraqi forces"

After Iran’s successful Fao offensive. Kuwait takes a publicly pro-Iraqi Stance. USSR increases trade to Iraq by 48% to $1200 million worth, thus aligning themselves firmly on Iraq’s side.

Saddam Hussein decorates a man who shot his own son for refusing to serve in the army.

1987: Iran and Iraq start trying to destroy each others’ oil facilities. Kuwait calls on the USSR and USA for naval protection. The possibility of Soviet involvement enables the US to justify becoming directly involved on Iraq’s side, flagging Kuwaiti tankers in the Gulf, escorting ships carrying Iraqi oil, sinking Iranian patrol ships and destroying oil platforms, thus establishing a military presence in the Gulf.

1988: In the spring, Iran, with the assistance of the Kurdish Rebel Organisations the PUK and KDP, launch an offensive into Northern Iraq capturing the town of Halabja on the 15th of March. The next day the Iraqi airforce bomb Halabja with poison gas, causing 5000 deaths.

David Mellor, then a Foreign Office minister, was allegedly visiting Baghdad at the time. Within a month Defence Minister Tony Newton had returned to Baghdad to offer, on behalf of the British Thatcher government 340 million in export credits. Britain’s trade with Iraq had risen from 2.9 million in 1987 to 31.5 million. Iraq becomes Britain’s third biggest market for ‘dual-use’ machine tools.

Aug. 1988: Iran and Iraq agree a cease-fire.

 

IMPACT OF IRAN / IRAQ WAR

At the start of the war a wide variety of foodstuffs and consumer goods were available. But by 1983 Iraq’s foreign reserves had fallen from 30 billion dollars (in 1980) to 3 billion. The cost of living rises sharply and the Dinar is devalued. Ceilings are set on remittances that two million foreign workers in the country were allowed to send home. Iraq becomes almost entirely dependent on handouts from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The loans mean Iraq will be indebted to their neighbours and international banks for the forseeable future. Despite considerable state investment in agriculture, shortages of labour necessitate large scale imports of food, including 82,000 tons of grain from the US in 1982. War conditions proved beneficial to individuals wishing to exploit the country’s need for industrial and agricultural products.

Western sources estimate casualties at nearly 400,000 dead and 780,000 wounded: one quarter Iraqi, three quarter Iranian. The cost of the war exceeded the entire oil revenue received by Iran and Iraq since they started to sell their oil on the world market in 1949 and 1931 respectively.

 

PLANNING FOR A NEW WAR

1988: With the end of the Iran/Iraq war, US contingency plans for war in Gulf war are redrawn.

8.8.88: One day after the cease-fire Kuwait decides to increase oil production, violating OPEC agreements and sending the crude oil price from 21 US dollars to 11 dollars a barrel, costing Iraq 14 billion a year in lost revenues; this at a time when Iraq and Iran needed stable prices to reconstruct. Bahrain also began to increase production.

16.8.88: Kurdish Leader sends a letter to Margaret Thatcher following the gassing of Kurds, stating:

"One of our few remaining hopes is that democrats and hose who cherish values of justice, peace and freedom will voice their concern for the plight of the Kurds."

Thirty British MPs sign Ann Clwyd’s motion condemning Saddam’s gassing of The Kurds.

5.9.88: Britain’s 340 million export credit deal with Iraq goes through.

8.9.88: The day Iraqi Foreign Minister Sa’dun Hamadi was to meet US Secretary of State George Schulz in Washington, US State department calls a press conference and charges Iraq with using chemical weapons against the Kurds, 8 months after Halabja.

The US Department of Commerce was still approving shipments of billions of dollar’s worth of dual use equipment to Iraq.

 

1989

US War Plan 1002 is renamed 1002-90 and poses Iraq as the enemy.

24.7.89: Six US warships begin short notice manoeuvres in the Gulf.

1989: In March Kuwait demands a 50% increase in the OPEC quota. The demand is rejected but Kuwait goes ahead, doubling oil production to over 2 million barrels a day. Some of this comes from the disputed Rumaila oil field, situated on the Iraq / Kuwait border. Incursions into Iraq by the Kuwaitis during the war had gained them an additional 900 square mile of territory, including large parts of the oil field. (Source: The Observer, 21.10.90)

With slant drilling technology, supplied by the US, Kuwait is also tapping oil from inside the Iraqi border. Now Kuwait demands that Iraq pay back the 30 billion dollars it had loaned them during the war. Iraq tries to negotiate but Kuwait responds with an intransigence that surprises observers.

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Iraqis submitted a memo to the UN. Dated 22.11.89, it was a record of a meeting between William Webster, Director of the CIA, and Kuwaiti officials. The CIA disputed the memo’s authenticity, but many experts have since vouched that it was genuine. The Kuwaitis said:

"We agreed with the American side that it was important to take advantage of the deteriorating economic situation in Iraq in order to put pressure on that country’s government to delineate our common border. The CIA gave us its’ view of appropriate means of pressure, saying that broad co-operation should be initiated between us, on condition that such activities are co-ordinated at a high level."

1989: William Webster testifies before Congress that US dependence on Gulf oil had risen from 5% in 1973 to 10% in 1989, predicting it would reach 25% by 2000.

General Norman Schwarzkopf makes several visits to Kuwait prior to the Iraqi invasion.

"Schwarzkopf came here a few times and met with the crown prince and minister of defence. These became routine visits to discuss military co-operation, and by the time the crisis with Iraq began last year, we knew we could rely on the Americans."
- Unidentified Kuwaiti Foreign Minister.

20.12.89: America invades Panama. The invasion is condemned by the UN General Assembly. No action is taken although the US violates all the international laws later violated by Iraq in the invasion of Kuwait.

According to ‘Iraqi Power and US Security in the Middle East’, a study issued in early 1990 by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College:

"Baghdad should not be expected to deliberately provoke military confrontations with anyone. Its’ interests are best served now and in the immediate future by peace. Revenues from oil sales could put it in the front ranks of nations economically. A stable Middle East is conducive to selling oil; disruption has a long-range adverse effect on the oil market which would hurt Iraq. Force is only likely if the Iraqis feel seriously threatened. It is our belief that Iraq is basically committed to a non aggressive strategy, and that it will, over the course of the next few years, considerably reduce the size of its’ military. Economic conditions practically mandate such action. There seems no doubt that Iraq would like to demobilise now that the war [with Iran] has ended."

The report concludes:

"The Ba’ath Party argue that they should be allowed to invest in economic recovery and industrialisation so that they can become productive again and pay off their debts."

 

1990

Daniel Sheehan of the Christic Institute describes two military publications ‘A Strategic Force For The ‘90s and Beyond’ (US Army, January 1990) and ‘Global Reach, Global Power’ (US Air Force, June 1990) as specifically designating the Persian Gulf, and explicitly naming Iraq and Saddam Hussein, as:

"The optimum contenders to replace the Warsaw Pact as a rationale for Cold War military spending." (Source: The Nation, and Rolling Stone Magazine 4.10.90)

Early in 1990 Schwarzkopf informs the Senate Armed Services Committee of a new military strategy in the Gulf designed to protect US access to oil, and control of the area in the event of regional conflicts.

2.90: New York based Middle East Watch issues a scathing denunciation of Iraq’s human rights record.

3.90: Iraq arrests and later executes British journalist Farzad Bazoft, after he investigated explosions in a factory near Baghdad thought to be manufacturing missiles. Initially the British Evening Standard newspaper called for a breaking off of relations with "…this stupid and brutal regime." But 24 hours after Bazoft was hung, The Sun newspaper led with a story reportedly provided by Ml5: "HANGED MAN WAS A ROBBER." As a student ten years earlier, Bazoft had stolen 500 from a building society. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper ran an article, questioning journalistic integrity under the headline: "WHEN INNOCENCE CAN EQUAL GUILT."

11.14.90: The ‘Supergun’ story breaks. Steel pipes and parts are seized by British customs as they are leaving the country. Outrage ensues, but the shipment of ‘dual-use’ equipment had been going on for years. De-facto sanctions against Iraq are quietly introduced.

12.4.90: Saddam Hussein meets with four US senators including Robert Dole. Dole reassures Hussein that the US press is "…spoiled and conceited…" and that Congressional sanctions issues did not reflect Bush administration sentiment. Dole tells Hussein that a Voice of America broadcaster who had been critical of Iraq had been fired. This is a lie.

CIA official Charles Eugene Allen, National Intelligence Officer for Warning, has his biweekly report on developing trouble spots suspended, and his staff at the Pentagon and National Intelligence Council shrunk after his repeated warning that Iraq would invade Kuwait. (Source: New York Times 24.1.91)

5.90: In regard to overproduction of oil, Iraq accuses Kuwait of economic warfare.

6.90: Iraq sends envoys to several Arab states with appeals for new oil quotas. Kuwait refuses and rejects pleas for a summit.

 

JULY 1990

10th: A Summit takes place, and new quotas are set, but the following day Kuwait announces that it will increase oil production substantially by October. Ali Al Bedah, a Kuwait pro-democracy activist later stated:

"I think if the Americans had not pushed, the Royal Family would never have taken the steps that it did to provoke Saddam."

Dr. Mussama Al Mubarak, Political Science Professor at Kuwait University stated:

"I don’t know what the government was thinking, but it adopted an extremely hard line, which makes me think that the decisions were not Kuwait’s alone. It is my assumption that, as a matter of course, Kuwait would have consulted on such matters with Saudi Arabia and Britain, as well as the United States."

17th: Saddam publicly accuses the US and Kuwait of waging economic war against Iraq. The next day Iraqi troops begin massing on the Kuwaiti border.

24th: US State Department spokes woman Margaret Tutweiller tells US reporters:

"We do not have any defence treaties with Kuwait, and there are no special defence or security commitments to Kuwait."

25th: Saddam Hussein tries to clarify US policy. US Ambassador April Glaspie travels to Iraq and informs him:

"We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. James Baker [US Secretary of State] has directed our official spokesmen to emphasise this instruction."

Norman Schwarzkopf convenes CENTCOM commanders for an exercise which simulates an Iraqi drive into Kuwait.

"When the real thing came, the only way they could tell the real intelligence from the practice intelligence was the little ‘t’ in the corner of the paper…’t’ for training" (Source: New York Daily News 29.9.90)

Schwarzkopf runs elaborate war games pitting 100,000 US troops against Iraqi divisions.

The Emir of Kuwait finally agrees to a mini summit with Iraq on 31st July but sends the Prime Minister in his stead with a written note not to concede anything:

"This is also the opinion of our friends in Egypt, Washington and London. Be unwavering your discussions. We are stronger than they think." (Source: Dr. Michael Emery, Professor of journalism at California State University)

28th + 29th: The CIA predicts that an Iraqi Invasion will take place on the 2nd of August, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee (Source: Philip Agee, Z Magazine, Nov.1990)

30th: King Hussein of Jordan takes a delegation to Kuwait to discuss Iraqi/ Kuwait relations as Iraqi troops mass on the border. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah Ahmed Al-Jaberb al-Sabah tells the Jordanians:

"We are not going to respond […] if they don’t like it, let them occupy our territory […] we are going to bring in the Americans."

31st: The Defence Intelligence Agency detects Iraqi forces moving fuel, water, and ammunition to troops on the border. On the same day, Assistant US Secretary of State John Kelly tells a House Sub-committee hearing:

"We have no defence treaty relationships with any of those countries. We have historically avoided taking a position on border disputes or on internal OPEC deliberations."

Kelly is questioned in the House by Representative Lee Hamilton.

Hamilton: "If Iraq, for example, charged across the border into Kuwait, for whatever reason, what would be our position with regard to the use of US forces? [….] In that circumstance, is it correct to say [….] that we do not have a treaty commitment which would oblige us to engage US forces?

Kelly: "That is correct."

 

AUGUST 1990

2nd: Iraq invades Kuwait. President George Bush phones King Hussein of Jordan and tells him he has 48 hours to reach a negotiated settlement. King Hussein brokers a conference between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq to take place on the 5th. Saddam tells him he will go, and begin withdrawing troops on that day, providing no condemnation is made at the Arab league Summit.

At 5:00 am, Bush prepares orders to freeze Iraqi assets and prevent trade. He despatches seven warships to the Gulf. 40,000 troops are deployed within the first week, before the Saudis ‘request’ their presence.

UN Security Council Resolution {UNSCR} 660 condemns the invasion, calling for an Iraqi withdrawl and regional negotiations to settle the differences between the two countries.

By placing the dispute before the Security Council Bush prevents any meaningful role by the UN General Assembly. Article 12 of the UN charter prohibits the General Assembly from making any recommendation regarding a dispute before the Security Council unless the Security Council requests it to do so. Zaire occupied the rotating presidency of the council and refused requests from Cuba, Yemen and India to convene the Security Council even though it had no power to do so under the UN charter.

3rd: Saddam sends a communique stating he would begin withdrawing Iraqi troops on August 5th, to which Bush responds: "Let’s see him haul them out right now then."

When Hussein arrived in Jordan he discovered that Egypt, under duress, from the US, had introduced a resolution condemning the invasion, which was adopted by the Arab League.

US Defence Secretary Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, meet with the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar. To get permission to deploy US troops, they rely heavily on satellite photos they claim show Iraqi troops massing on the Saudi border. Bandar uses these photos to get the Saud family to meet a US delegation.

4th: The US War Council hears a report that the Saudis have decided to reject US troops. Bush immediately phones King Fahd and tells him he is committed to defending Saudi Arabia.

5th: Cheney, Powell, National Security Agency Deputy Director Robert Gates, and Norman Schwarzkopf fly to Saudi Arabia. King Fahd remains sceptical about an imminent invasion, having found no trace of Iraqi troops, but finally agrees to accept US troops after Schwarzkopf claims that Iraq could attack within 48 hours. He asks that any public announcement should say that the Saudis had requested US troops only to defend their borders.

6th: US tabled UNSCR 661 calls for total economic boycott, excepting medical supplies and humanitarian foodstuffs (the war over interpretation begins.) By putting this/other resolutions before the Security Council, Bush again prevents the General Assembly from discussing the issue.

7th: Additional war planes and ships head for Saudi Arabia, all to be deployed in bases readied from the days of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force ten years previously, which are equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment. This is publicly described as a ‘defensive build up’.

Whitehouse Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater states: "We believe that there is a very imminent threat to Saudi Arabia from the way that Iraqi troops are positioned and located in Kuwait."

8th: Bush gives a nationally televised speech:

"After consulting with King Fahd, I sent Secretary of Defence Cheney to discuss co-operative measures we could make. Following those meetings, the Saudi government requested our help."

He claims that the troop build up is wholly defensive, and that Iraq had invaded Kuwait with neither warning nor provocation. Soviet satellite pictures taken on the same day show no evidence of Iraqi troops on Saudi border.

9th: UNSCR Resolution 682 states the non-validity of the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait, and is adopted unanimously.

11th: George Bush states: "We cannot permit a resource so vital to be dominated by one so ruthless, and we wont."

40,000 US troops are now deployed in the Gulf.

12th: Iraq makes a peace proposal which links withdrawal from Kuwait to discussions of the Israeli occupied territory, and replacement of US troops with UN monitored Arab troops in the Gulf. Bush rejects it.

In mid August Iraq submits a new proposal for an Iraqi withdrawal and release of foreign nationals in return for the lifting of sanctions, access to the Gulf, and control of the Rumaila oil fields. The plan is delivered to Brent Scowcroft, Bush’s National Security Advisor. Secretary of State James Baker denied the offer had been made, an embarassing lie since The Whitehouse simultaneously acknowledged it. A Congressional summary of Iraq’s proposal, prepared in January1991 stated:

"The Iraqis apparently believed that having invaded Kuwait, they would get everyone’s attention, negotiate improvements to their economic situation, and pull out……[a] diplomatic solution satisfactory to the interests of the US may well have been possible since the earliest days of the invasion."

18th: UNSCR 664 demands Iraq facilitate the departure from Iraq and Kuwait of nationals of third counties. Adopted unanimously.

22nd: Tariq Aziz again says Iraq is willing to negotiate. There is serious Saudi interest in the proposal. The Saudi Minister of Defence, Prince Sultan states:

"Saudi Arabia has said, and says now, that giving rights including territorial brotherly concessions, given willingly, is a matter of pride for the Arab nation."

The US responds by pressuring the Saudi Ambassador to press the Saudi government to retract the statement.

24th: US Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Dugan tells The Los Angeles Times: "We’re postured for a joint attack."

25th: UNSCR 665 authorises the halting of inward and outward shipping to Iraq, inspection of cargoes and to ensure adherence to UNSCR 661. Cuban and Yemen abstain.

28th: Hussein suggests televised debates between himself, President Bush and Margaret Thatcher. US State Department calls the proposal "..Sick." The UK calls it "..Pure gimmickry."

 

SEPTEMBER 1990

4th: The New York Times quotes a speech in which James Baker said that the strategic goals of the US military intervention were to include not only the liberation of Kuwait, but the destruction of Iraq’s military infrastructure.

100,000 US troops are already in the Gulf, and double by mid-October. There has been no Congressional authorisation or debate.

11th: Iraq releases the transcripts of April Glaspie’s meeting with Saddam Hussein. The US State department concedes the transcripts are essentially correct.

Bush tells congress that 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved South to threaten Saudi Arabia by August 5th. In fact a US intelligence officer reported from Kuwait that in the first week of August, Republican Guard troops were actually withdrawing from Southern Kuwait into Iraq.

The Defence Department was to later to estimate a quarter of a million Iraqi troops and 1500 tanks in Kuwait. Sample photos obtained independently from the Soviet Soyuz Karta satellite confirmed no such evidence of troop build up. Photos front August 6th, and 11th & 13th of September were submitted to The St Petersburg Times, who, on January 6th 1991 invited Peter Zimmerman, formerly of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and a Defence Intelligence Agency analyst, to examine them. Zimmerman reported:

"We didn’t see anything to indicate an Iraqi force in Kuwait of even 20% the size the administration claimed."

200,000 US troops are now massed in the Gulf, primarily in Saudi Arabia. The papers’ editor approaches two news services with the story; neither are interested. The ABC network reviewed them but:

"…found them so bewildering that it won’t air them."

The US news book ‘Triumph without Victory’ later quoted a CENTCOM commander:

"We still have no hard evidence that [Hussein] ever intended to invade Saudi Arabia."

New York Newsday later printed a story on 21.1.91 that on the 9th of August an intelligence official had said:

"I tend to agree with them [the CIA]. I don’t think it was their intention from day one to invade Saudi Arabia."

15th: General Michael Dugan indicates that not only traditional military targets would be hit. It was also important to target:

"…what is unique about Iraqi culture, that they put very high value on, that psychologically would make an impact on the population and regime. [….] If push came to shove, the cutting edge would be downtown Baghdad. If I want to hurt you, it would be at home, not out in the woods someplace."

Dugan is removed from his post by Secretary of Defence Cheney, who described his comments as '..inappropriate'.

13th: UNSCR 666 calls for The Sanctions Committee to regularly review the food situation to determine whether or not humanitarian circumstances permit the import of food etc. Cuba and Yemen vote against.

16th: UNSCR 667 demands that Iraq immediately and fully complies with Resolutions 660, 662 & 664, and the immediate release of all foreign nationals including diplomatic personnel abducted in Kuwait. Unanimous vote.

24th: UNSCR 669 recalls 661 and entrusts The Sanctions Committee with the task of examining requests for assistance under the provisions of Article 60. Unanimous vote.

25th: UNSCR 670 calls for compliance with Resolution 661, confirms the resolution applies to all means of transport, including aircraft, and reminds all states of obligation to freeze Iraqi assets and to detain Iraqi ships entering their ports if in violation of 661. Cuba votes against.

 

OCTOBER 1990

10th: A 15 year old girl, known only as ‘Nayirah,’ testifies before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus that she had witnessed Iraqi troops taking babies from incubators in Kuwati hospitals and leaving them on the cold floor to die. Amnesty International repeated the story in December, and it was frequently used by Bush, who claimed that 312 babies had died. He continually repeated that any negotiation with Saddam Hussein would be "….reward for aggression…" It was later revealed that the girl was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US, a fact known by the organisers of the October hearing. Amnesty retracted support for this story in April 1991. In February 1992. Middle East Watch reported that this and other allegations were "…clearly wartime propaganda…."

29th: UNSCR 674 demands that Iraq release hostages ("…human shields….") and provide food to Kuwaiti and third state nationals in Kuwait. It reminds Iraq that it is liable for damages in Kuwait, and invites states to collect relevant information re: claims.

30th: Bush has now doubled US troop presence to 400,000.

 

NOVEMBER 1990

At the beginning of the month Soviet envoy Yevgeny Primakov reports that Iraq wants talks and Hussein is no longer discussing Kuwait as part of Iraq.

2nd: US Congressional elections take place. Bush now reveals he has doubled troop numbers in the Gulf, having failed in his statutory duty under the War Powers Act of 1973 "….to report to, and consult with, Congress on emergency military matters."

3rd: Turkish President Turjut Ozal states in a public address:

"In a way we have benefited from this crisis and made very significant progress toward our goal of modernising and strengthening our armed forces."

Ozal also said that Turkey received at least a billion dollars worth of military aid from the US, and the US Export-Import bank agreed to underwrite construction of a Sikorsky helicopter factory worth approx. 1 billion dollars to the Turkish regime. Bush personally promised to back Turkey’s application to join the EEC, obstructed by questions about their human rights record. (Source: BBC shortwave broadcast summary, November 1991)

14th: Saddam Hussein tells ABC News in Baghdad:

"We are ready to talk to the parties concerned."

The New York Times quotes a speech by US Secretary of State James Baker:

"To bring it down to the level of the average American citizen, let me say that means jobs. Because an economic recession world wide caused by the control of one nation, one dictator if you will, - of the West’s economic lifeline, will result in the loss of jobs for American citizens."

US rationales for intervention shift until November 1990 when, in response to a poll showing this would harden support for war, they start to cite the possibility of Iraq having nuclear weapons. Bush tells troops at Thanksgiving:

"Every day that passes brings Saddam one step closer to realising his goal of a nuclear weapons arsenal and that’s why, more and more, your mission is marked by a real sense of urgency. He has never possessed a weapon he didn’t use"

(In April 1992 experts concluded that Iraq had been at least 3 years away from developing a small yield bomb.)

The US media repeats administration claims of a huge Iraqi army, whilst intelligence experts put real troop strength at around 300,000.

28th: UNSCR 677 condemns attempts by Iraq to alter the demographic composition of the population of Kuwait. Unanimous vote.

29th: UNSCRR 678 states that in light of Iraqi non-compliance, use is authorised of 'All necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660 and subsequent Resolutions, and to restore international peace and security in the area.' Cuba and Yemen vote against. China abstains.

 

SECURITY COUNCIL VOTES & REWARDS

To secure votes for UNSCR 678, the US brazenly bribed and bullied UN member states.

China: ABSTENTION. On the 30th of November its’ foreign minister met with George Bush and James Baker in Washington. Within a week World Bank loan of 140 million dollars is deposited in Bejing, the first loan since the Tianenmen Square Massacre.

Ethiopia: YES. Provided with new aid package, World Bank credits and re-arrangement of IMF grants, as well as new military aid.

Zaire: YES. Provided with new aid package, World Bank Credits, re-arrangements of IMF grants.

Columbia: YES. Provided with increased aid package in economic and military elements.

Soviet Union: YES. Saudi foreign minister Saud Al-Faysalwe travelled to Moscow and offered a billion dollars to President Gorbachev. A further 4 billion in loans and emergency aid was later provided by Saudi, Kuwait and UAE. The day after the UN vote, the US announced that it would review its’ policy on food aid and agricultural credits to the Soviet Union.

Egypt: YES. The most indebted country in the Middle East was ‘forgiven’ 7 billion dollars worth of debt by the US, and 4 billion by Canada, Saudi Arabia and other governments in the Gulf.

Syria: YES. Although on the US list of countries ‘that sponsor terrorism,’ President Hafez Assed brokered a deal for the supply of a billion dollars of arms aid.

Israel: YES. Despite being in receipt of 5 billion dollars from the US every year, Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai asked US Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger for 13 billion, and a down payment of 650 million, whilst waiting for the loan guarantees.

Cuba: NO. Cuba voted against, despite attempts by James Baker to persuade Foreign Minister Isadoro Malmierca, in the first meeting Cuban and US representatives had had for three decades.

Yemen: NO. Minutes after the vote US Ambassador Pickering informed Yemeni Ambassador Abdallah Saleh al-Ashtol:

"That was the most expensive ‘no’ vote you ever cast."

Three days later the US cancelled its $70 million aid package to Yemen, and 900,000 migrant Yemeni workers were later expelled from Saudi Arabia.

The US paid the UN 187 million dollars, which represented half the debt that it owed the UN in unpaid dues.

30th: In the US’s only move to a pacific settlement, Bush proposes to send James Baker to Baghdad and Tariq Aziz to Washington, but a date was never agreed on. Finally January 9th is chosen, but the US insists that only one meeting will take place, in Switzerland.

 

DECEMBER 1990

4th: The UN General Assembly meets to re-affirm the ban or attacks on nuclear facilities. The vote is carried in favour by 141 to 1.

10th: US News and World Report publication carries an article describing James Baker’s lobbying efforts to get Resolution 678 through the Security Council. The article is called ‘Counting on New Friends.’

26th: The ‘Ibn Khaldun’ peace ship, taking supplies of powdered milk to Iraq in defiance of sanctions is boarded by marines. The ship’s crew and the women peace activists are attacked with rifle butts, stun guns and tear gas.

29th: Bush directs General Schwarzkopf to begin the attack at 7:00 p.m. Jan 16th. There are now 540,000 US troops in Gulf. The attack is timed to coincide with EST prime time evening news.

 

JANUARY 1991

Early in the month CIA director William Webster testifies that the embargo/sanctions have reduced Iraqi exports by 97% and imports by 90%.

3rd: It is discovered that Iraq has made an offer to withdraw which State Department sources describe as:

"…a serious pre-negotiating offer that indicates the intention of Iraq to withdraw."
(Source: Knut Royce, New York Newsday. 29th + 30th August 1990 and 3rd + 21st January 1991)

9th: A meeting takes place between James Baker and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Bush had said in November 1990:

"We have only friendship for the people in Iraq…."

However, Bush sets a new tone for the meeting by telling Baker:

"No negotiations, no compromises, no attempts at face saving and no rewards for aggression."

Baker gives Aziz a letter from George Bush which states:

"What is at stake demands that no opportunity be lost to avoid a certain calamity for the people of Iraq [....] Iraq is already feeling the sanctions mandated by the UN. Should war come, it would be a far greater tragedy for you and your country [....] I write this letter not to threaten, but to inform."

Bush announces that Iraq has rejected a diplomatic solution.

11th: Congress votes on bill legislating for use of force in line with Resolution 678, which the administration put before Congress only days before the deadline for Iraq to withdraw. Having secured UN backing and with 540,000 troops in place there was great pressure on Congress to support the President. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole argued during the debate that Congress should not interfere:

"…Now, at the 11th hour, having been AWOL for these three or four months, and try to change the direction of our policy that President Bush has so patiently and successfully put together."

The Senate votes 52 to 47 to authorise enforcement of Resolution 678.

The House of Representatives votes 250 to 193.

16th: Bush ‘officially’ orders bombing to begin.

Congressman Henry Gonzalez moves to impeach Bush on five counts:

"Bush has conspired to engage the US in a massive war against Iraq [.....] Bush has committed the US without congressional consent and contrary to the UN Charter to an act of war [….] Bush has conspired to commit crimes against peace in violation of the charters of the UN, Nuremberg and the US constitution."

17th: At 7:00 p.m. EST the bombardment of Iraq begins. Within the first hours of the war 85% of all electrical power generation in Iraq is destroyed. Within two days not a single baby incubator is functioning in Iraq.

23rd: Colin Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, announces attacks on Iraqi nuclear facilities, without any regard for the UN General Assembly vote or the Geneva Convention.

"Two operating reactors […] are both gone. They’re down. They’re finished. "

 


 

Chronology sourced from the following publications:

DISTANT VOICES by JOHN PILGER (ISBN 0-09-938721-2)

HIDDEN AGENDAS by JOHN PILGER (ISBN 0-099-74151-2)

WAR CRIMES – A REPORT ON US WAR CRIMES AGAINST IRAQ
by RAMSEY CLARK and others (ISBN 0-944624-15-4)

THE FIRE THIS TIME – US WAR CRIMES IN THE GULF
by RAMSEY CLARK (ISBN 1-56025-047-X)

THE SCOURGING OF IRAQ by GEOFF SIMONS (ISBN 0-333-72681-2)

FROM SUMER TO SADDAM by GEOFF SIMONS (ISBN not known)

 


 

INDEX        OTHER CHRONOLOGIES