Conflict Resolution

The United Nations, India and the Gulf War (1990-2001)

James R. Ruolngul asked:

Note: This article was written in 2001

Historical Background

Throughout history, the Gulf region has been rife with all kinds of coups, disputes, crises and wars. The overthrow of Mossadeq (1951), the Suez Crisis (1956), the Six Days War (1967), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) were some of the crises that marred the region since the Second World War.

The Gulf crisis of 1990 was the result of many long-standing disputes between Iraq and Kuwait, besides other causes such as the emergence of Iraq as a great military power after the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam’s ambitions in the absence of democratic ideals in the Arab world and the intra Arab-Gulf relations.

When Iraq became independent in 1932, it began to assert territorial claims against Kuwait. Iraq claimed that Kuwait has been under the Ottoman Empire as a district of Basra, and that since Iraq is the successor of the empire, Kuwait naturally becomes a part of Iraq. Before 1990, Iraq had attempted to incorporate Kuwait into Iraq on at least two occasions. The first occurred in the late 1930s when King Ghazi of Iraq made demands to unify Kuwait with Iraq. But that demand soon died down when King Ghazi mysteriously died in an accident on 4 April, 1939.

The second occasion occurred in 1961 when Britain and Kuwait formally terminated their relationship under the treaty of January 1899.[1] Iraq, under General Abdul Karim Qasim again made an attempt to incorporate Kuwait into Iraq. On 2 July, 1961, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the problem. Under paragraph 2, Article 35 of the United Nations, both Iraq and Kuwait submitted their complaint to the UN. The UN Security Council, however, could neither diffuse the crisis nor pass any resolution due to the use of its veto by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union went along with the Iraqi view and stated that, “The Security Council’s most immediate task in this situation is to condemn the actions of the colonial power and to take measures which lead to the immediate withdrawal of United Kingdom troops from Kuwait.”[2] In the absence of any proper agreements in the UN, the Arab League stepped in and came up with an alternative solution to the problem. It accepted Kuwait’s independence and vowed to defend Kuwait against any external threats or aggression. Iraq, however never really accepted Kuwait’s independence.

With the passage of time, the dispute simmered down. The outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War almost completely overshadowed the Kuwait-Iraq issue and the matter was laid to an uneasy rest during the war. Although several meetings were held between Kuwait and Iraq, the matter could not be settled and it continued until 2 August, 1990 when the dispute took a completely new turn.

In the months preceding the invasion, Saddam made several threatening charges against Kuwait among which are the extraction of Iraqi crude oil by Kuwait in the Rumailah oilfield and Kuwait’s illegal possession of Warba, Bubiyan and Failaka Islands. Saddam accused Kuwait of ‘overproduction’ of oil, which Iraq regarded as “… a kind of war against Iraq.” This overproduction, Saddam claimed, depressed oil prices and raised the revenue of Kuwait which did nothing to help Iraq. He warns Kuwait that its overproduction was “a poison dagger in Iraq’s back,” and that it was “an evil against Iraq… an American plot to deplete Iraq’s oil revenues…” Saddam also threatened to use force “… to put things right… cutting a few throats is better than cutting the means of living.”[3]

The Crisis

Things finally came to a head after the failed Jeddah meeting of 31 July and 1 August, 1990 between Iraq and Kuwait, when, on 2 August, 1990, 100,000 Iraqi troops and 300 tanks rolled into Kuwait with little resistance. Iraq announced soon after that it would withdraw when the situation stabilises and when the “Free Provisional Government of Kuwait” asks them to withdraw.[4] This announcement proved to be a complete sham because on 28 August 1990, Kuwait was formally annexed to Iraq and declared as the 19th Iraqi province. By 4 November, it was announced that Kuwait “no longer exists and that the world should forget about Kuwait’s independence.”

After several resolutions were passed by the UN Security Council condemning the action and imposing sanctions on Iraq, Resolution 678 was finally passed on 29 November 1990 that authorises the coalition forces to “restore international peace and security in the area” by the use of “all necessary means.” The Council, in what it termed a “pause of goodwill” gave Iraq until 15 January 1991 to end its occupation of Kuwait.

In the intervening period, many diplomatic efforts for a peaceful resolution to the crisis were undertaken. The Nonaligned Movement (NAM), the League of Arab States, the European Community, France and four permanent members of the Security Council (Colombia, Cuba, Malaysia and Yemen) forwarded their peace plans, but due to lack of international support, no viable solutions could be found. The 9 January 1991 talks between the US Secretary of State, James Baker and Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz did not make any headway either. A last minute effort by the UN Secretary General was also “unfortunately unsuccessful.” As the Secretary General’s efforts yielded no results and as the deadline came to an end, he remarked, “No one, and no nation can, except with a heavy heart – resort to the other ‘necessary means’ implied by the resolution 678 (1990), knowing in advance that tragic and unpredictable consequences can follow.”

What followed next was the transformation of “Operation Desert Shield” to “Operation Desert Storm.” From 17 January, for the next six weeks, Iraqi military facilities and other installations were bombed. This had serious effect on Iraqi military strength, for, when the ground offensive began at 4am local time on 24 February 1991; the US-led coalition forces met little resistance and easily succeeded in liberating Kuwait on 27 February 1991.

The United Nations and the Gulf Crisis

Soon after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Security Council met in an emergency meeting to discuss the matter. The Council, at its 2932 meeting on 2 August 199o adopted Resolution 660. The resolution stated that the Security Council was “alarmed by the invasion of Kuwait… by the military forces of Iraq,” and it “condemns the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait” and demanded that “Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally.” This resolution was adopted with 14 votes with one abstention (Yemen). The League of Arab States (LAS), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Nonaligned Movement (NAM), Nordic States, Western European Union (WEU), NATO, OPEC, World Bank and ICAO have, in their own terms also condemned the invasion.

As Iraq failed to comply with the Security Council Resolution 660, the UN Security Council, on 6 August adopted Resolution 661 which imposes mandatory arms and economic sanctions on Iraq. Iraq, however, calls it “iniquitous and unjust,” “precipitous,” and aimed at starving the Iraqi people.[5] This resolution was adopted with Cuba and Yemen abstaining.

Iraq continued to stand defiant and on 7 August 1990 declared its “comprehensive, eternal and inseparable merger” with Kuwait. With no sign of Iraqi withdrawal or compliance with resolutions 660 and 661, Resolution 662 was adopted on 9 August 1990 which declared the annexation of Kuwait “null and void.” Two other resolutions were adopted by the end of the first month of the cris
is. On 18 August the Security Council adopted Resolution 664 which demanded the release of foreign nationals held in Iraq. Resolution 665, adopted on 25 August, calls upon member states to cooperate with the exiled Kuwaiti Government and to stop and search all ships travelling to or leaving Iraq.

Resolution 666, adopted on 13 September 1990 addressed the humanitarian situation in Iraq. It directed the Sanctions Committee to pay particular attention to “children under 15 years of age, expectant mothers, maternity cases, the sick and the elderly” in the determination of food supplies among the civilian population.

The closure of all diplomatic missions in Kuwait by Iraq prompted the Security Council to adopt Resolution 667 on 16 September which expressed the Council’s outrage and its demands for “the immediate release of those foreign nationals as well as all nationals,” and “protect the safety and well-being of diplomatic and consular personnel and premises in Kuwait.”

Resolution 669 of 24 September 1990, “entrusts the (Sanctions) Committee… with the task of examining requests for assistance under the provisions of Article 50” of the UN Charter.[6] The very next day, on 25 September, Resolution 670 confirmed that the sanction against Iraq “applies to all means of transport including aircraft.” It called upon member states to impose an air embargo on Iraq and Kuwait.

On 29 October 1990, the Council, in its Resolution 674 demands that Iraq “desist from taking any third state nationals hostage” and to stop its mistreatment and oppression of either Kuwaitis or foreign nationals. On 28 November 1990, yet another resolution was adopted by the Council. Resolution 677 condemns the Iraqi attempt to alter the demographic composition of the Kuwait population and the destruction of population records.

Iraq’s refusal to comply with any of the Council’s resolutions finally led to the passing of Resolution 678 on 29 November 1990 which authorises the use of “all necessary means” to uphold and implement the resolutions. This resolution was adopted with 12 in favour, 2 against (Cuba and Yemen) and 1 abstention (China). Although the words “the use of force” were not used, it was clearly implied, as the United States maintained. The US said after the voting, “Today’s resolution is very clear. The words authorise the use of force.”[7] The Council gave “Iraq one final opportunity as a pause of goodwill” till 15 January 1991 to comply with the resolutions. This resolution was the first resolution since 27 June 1950 when the Security Council adopted a resolution that authorises the use of force in Korea.

What followed was a flurry of diplomatic activities undertaken by different countries and regional organisations. The UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar’s last-ditch efforts to persuade Iraq to withdraw failed. Then, the dateline of 15 January 1991 expired. On 16 January, nothing happened; like the lull before a storm. Then all hell broke loose on 17 January with allied forces pounding Iraqi positions. The start of air campaigns was reported by the US to the Security Council on the same day.[8] Saddam Hussein announced on Iraq radio that the “Mother of all Battles” had started. On 22 January 1991, the UN Secretary General appealed to Iraq to comply with the Council resolutions. Later on, he urged Iraq to put “this tragic situation on the road to a peaceful solution.”[9] Several private meetings of the Security Council were held during February and March. But these meetings could not yield any fruitful results.

On the morning of 24 February 1991, ground offensive started and soon, on 27 February, Kuwait was liberated. On 27 February, Iraq announced that it agreed to comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 660 of 1990 and all other resolutions.[10] Iraq also informed the Security Council of the withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait, while adding that “American and other pro-aggressor forces” are continuing their attack on the withdrawing Iraqi forces.[11] The coalition operations were stopped at midnight 27-28 February 1991. By 4 March 1991, the Kuwaiti Government resumed its functions in Kuwait City.

Looking back at Resolution 678, we can find some inconsistencies and discrepancies in its provisions. The wordings of the resolution – “use (of) all necessary means” was too vague in the first place, and this led to a number of interpretations. The US interpreted it as the authorisation of the use of force. It can be said that it was a US victory when the resolution was passed. In a speech before the resolution was put to vote, the US representative to the Security Council said, “If Iraq does not reverse its course peacefully, then other necessary measures, including the use of force, should be authorised.”[12] It can also be seen that the resolution was not in conformity with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter though the resolution stated that it acts “under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.” For instance, Article 42 (under Chapter VII) states that forces may be used only when the economic sanctions are inadequate. Article 46 states that “Plans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.” These provisions were not followed at all under resolution 678. It did not give enough time for the sanctions to take effect. This was also the Indian view.[13] The resolution also did not mention any Military Staff Committee. Moreover, with the abstention of China from the resolution, it failed to have the required concurrence of the five permanent members.

On 27 February 1991, it was President Bush who ordered the ceasefire and who proclaimed ‘victory’. The Secretary General, on 28 February said, “We hope it is the beginning of the end of this terrible tragedy.”

On 2 March 1991, resolution 686 was adopted by a vote of 11 in favour, 1 against (Cuba) and 3 abstentions (China, India and Yemen). While reaffirming that all the resolutions adopted before continue to have “full force and effect”, it laid down several preconditions for the ceasefire which Iraq was obliged to immediately implement. It also recognised that during the implementation of resolution 686, the right to use “all necessary measures” under resolution 678 will “remain valid.”

Resolution 687 was adopted on 3 April 1991 which finally and formally declared a ceasefire. This resolution was adopted by 12 votes to one (Cuba) with two abstentions (Yemen and Ecuador). Some of the main provisions of the resolution included guarantee of boundary and allocation of islands between Iraq and Kuwait, deployment of a United Nations observer unit to monitor the demilitarised zone, destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all chemical and biological weapons and all ballistic missiles, UN inspection of Iraq’s biological, chemical and missile capabilities, return of all Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq, payment of compensation by Iraq, continuation of sanctions, repatriation of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, renouncement of the practice of terrorism and declaration of ceasefire.

Iraq called this resolution “unjust” and “iniquitous” and was “an unprecedented assault” on Iraq.[14] But Iraq, having no other choice, had to accept the resolution on 6 April 1991.[15] This resolution was also criticised in the following words: “It was not a negotiated agreement but a unilaterally formulated one, imposed on Iraq. The peace was dictated. The Council exceeded its powers because its Charter nowhere empowers the UN to impose a settlement on parties to a dispute.”[16] With the Iraqi acceptance of the resolution, the ceasefire formally came into effect.

Post-War Situation and the UN

Soon after the ceasefire, the UN took steps to actively participate in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Iraq and Kuwait. Several UN missions and teams went to Iraq and Kuw
ait to assess the humanitarian situation there. Their reports highlighted hunger, thirst, disease, desolation, destruction and death. According to one report, 170,000 children under five would die in 1991 because of the war and economic sanctions. It was remarked, “The sit
uation was absurd. While UN and other agencies were struggling with totally inadequate resources to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, another UN body, the Security Council was insisting that Iraq be denied the opportunity to sell its own oil in order to buy food, medicines and other supplies.”[17]

A direct effect of the ceasefire resolution, particularly the continuation of sanctions was that “There now began a massive onslaught on the Iraqi civilian population – denied the means to rebuild a totally shattered social and industrial infrastructure, denied uncontaminated drinking water, denied medical facilities, and denied food in adequate quantities. The US policy represented one of the most comprehensive campaigns of biological warfare – denying relief to a diseased and starving people – in modern times.”[18]

Some more resolutions were adopted later that year – 688 (5 April); 692 (20 May); 697, 699 and 700 (17 June); 706 and 707 (15 August); 712 (19 September); 713 (25 September); 715 (11 October) – dealing with the post-war situation and reparation in Iraq.

In retrospect, it can be said that the Gulf War was not an UN war at all. The UN was marginalised on all occasions. It was the US that ran the whole operation. The US, it seemed, was clearly intent on using force right from the beginning. Even before the invasion of 2 August 1990, the US having knowledge of the threat did not warn the UN and made no efforts to stop it. It never directly negotiated with Iraq after the ‘storm’ nor was the UN asked to act as mediator.[19]

When the war finally came, the UN Secretary General remarked that “… the war in the Gulf is not UN war, and the World Body has no control over it… we are informed through the Security Council about military operation but after they have taken place.”[20] He also said, “We cannot consider it as an UN war in the sense that there is no UN flag. They are not in blue UN helmets. There is no UN control over military operations.”

Several peace plans came forward from different quarters, even from Iraq. However, none of them could succeed in bringing the war to an end, for; they are rejected by the US. The UN could do nothing. “The Americans had used the Security Council when it suited them, calling it into session again and again when Iraq invaded Kuwait and accepting resolutions critical of Iraq in order to ratify its own condemnation of Iraq. But once the war began, the Americans with enthusiastic British support, did all they could to stop the Security Council playing any part, and when they failed to hold the line, made sure its proceedings were in secret. Perez de Cuellar, who should have been a man at the centre of events, was never consulted and never informed of what was going on.”[21]

India and the Gulf Crisis

Historically, there have always been good relations between India and Iraq. Therefore when Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990, India was in a big dilemma. Neither did India want to offend Saddam Hussein nor did it want to go against the UN. India decided to toe the middle line for sometime by making a statement that, “India was opposed to the use of force in any form of relations between states.”

The major policy objective of India under Prime Minister VP Singh was the repatriation of the 170,000-180,000 Indians stranded in Kuwait. From August, Air India started massive airlifting operations and by October, almost 160,000 Indians were returned home. The VP Singh government later denounced the Iraqi invasion and demanded the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi force from Kuwait. However, India did not take any further steps to resolve the crisis. After resolution 661 was adopted, India’s import of crude oil from Iraq stopped. This greatly affected India’s earnings and India had to as the UN for assistance.[22]

On November 1990, there was a change of government in India. VP Singh was replaced by Chandrasekhar of Janata (S). The Chandrasekhar government too remained a passive spectator to the Gulf Crisis. There were no active diplomatic efforts on the part of India to diffuse the crisis. However, there were some shifts in the Indian stand now. There was a general impression that India was toeing the US line. India now blamed Saddam Hussein and Iraq for the crisis.

Just before the air campaign, the Foreign Minister VC Shukla and the Deputy Foreign Minister Digvijay Singh visited several countries to bring about some solution to the problem, but to no avail. When the war finally came, India maintained a conspicuous silence. The Indian peace proposal fell on deaf ears. The late Rajiv Gandhi also put forward his peae-package while criticising the government for reducing India to a “hapless spectator.” His main focus was on the replacement of the US-led coalition by a UN force and the withdrawal of Iraqi forces.[23]

Adding to the confusion was the discourse that US planes were being refuelled at Bombay since 9 January 1991. It caused a great political turmoil in India, when major political parties started to point their fingers at each other. The Congress, the Janata Dal and the left parties severely criticised the government for being an ‘ally’ of the US. The BJP on the other hand, backed the government arguing that India must support the UN and extend all help to the coalition forces.[24]

Some analysis pointed out that the government’s decision to permit the refuelling was because of the improved relations between the US and India. Besides, the economic situation in India had forced it to ask an IMF loan of 1.8 billion dollars. Then, three days after the loan was sanctioned, the refuelling started. No one believed that this was a coincidence.[25]

Though the government resisted and dogged the salvo of criticisms for some time, the Congress’s threat to withdraw support led the government to stop the refuelling facility provided to the Americans.

The Nonaligned Movement also came in for a lot of criticisms for its actions (or more appropriately, inactions). Iraq and Kuwait are both members of the NAM. The first high-level meeting of NAM to discuss the Gulf Crisis was held on 11 September 1990. This meeting was attended by the Indian Foreign Minister IK Gujral. It was announced that NAM would set up a ‘catalyst group’ to bring the crisis to an end.

The Belgrade meeting of NAM on 11 February 1991 produced no desired results. But it was decided that they should send a team to both the sides. The team to visit Baghdad on 23 February was to be composed of the Foreign Ministers of India, Cuba, Iran and Yugoslavia. The beginning of the ground war however blew the plan into oblivion. NAM could no longer play any role as the focus was on the UN and the US.

India’s role through the war fared no better. When the Iraqi invasion took place, India was not a member of the Security Council; therefore it did not take part in any of the meetings of the UN Security Council and its resolutions. India however expressed its support to the UN. India’s dilemma began only after 1 January 1991 when it became a member of the Security Council. India abstained, along with China and Yemen in the first voting of the first resolution after 678 on 2 March 1991.

India voted for the ceasefire resolution (687) after certain clauses were changed with its insistence. India had reservations with some provisions relating to the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait and also with the provisions relating to the destruction of Iraqi nuclear weapons because India had apprehensions that they would have further implications on the Kashmir issue and India’s own nuclear programme.[26]

Throughout the war, India was criticised for not playing any decisive role, and seems to be only interested in the repatriation of the stranded Indians in K
uwait and in the continuation of its oil supplies. Besides, India did not take any decisive steps as a regional leader and as an important member of NAM to diffuse the crisis. The pro
vision of refuelling facilities and its subsequent withdrawal also showed India’s indecisiveness and reluctance to play any pro-active role in international politics. It also seems that India’s role “… ended up in solving neither Iraq nor Kuwait and certainly not our own country.”[27]

However, to arrive at a balanced assessment of India’s role in the crisis, certain factors must be understood. In the first place, the government in India was a minority government. The Janata (S) had only 68 members out of 473 in the Lok Sabha. The Congress support with 193 members was vital to its survival. Thus, it was unable to act decisively. The subsequent shift in India’s foreign policy towards the US-led coalition should also be seen in the light of the economic situation in India. This shift may also have been caused by certain elements within the government that are pro-US. Moreover, India, through NAM could not act because of the attitudes of the coalition force under the US as well as that of Saddam Hussein.

Post-War Developments (up to 2001): a chronology

1992: The UN Security Council resolutions 706 and 712 (1991) had allowed Iraq to sell petroleum worth up to 1,600 million dollars over a six months period, the revenue from which was to be controlled by the UN. Iraq in 1992 rejected the terms of the resolutions and withdrew from all negotiations on this issue. Resolution 778 was adopted on 2 October 1992 to put pressure on Iraq to accept resolutions 706 and 712. Iraqi request to lift sanctions was rejected.

1993: In 1993, UN weapons inspectors arrived in Iraq. Another team abruptly left Iraq after Iraq refused the setting up of surveillance equipments at its missile testing locations. For the rest of the year, talks between the UN and Iraq remained inconclusive.

1994: In March 1994, another Iraqi request to lift sanctions was again rejected. With this, a division within the Council emerged. Russia, France and China are in favour of lifting the sanctions. On October, in an apparent move to draw attention to its plight, Iraq moved its forces towards Kuwait. Iraq announced later that it would withdraw. Prompted by this, the Council on 10 October passed resolution 949 that warns Iraq to desist from using its forces against its neighbours or the UN. By December, it was announced by the head of UNSCOM that he believed Iraq no longer have any nuclear or ballistic weapons.

1995: In 1995, another resolution (986) was adopted that was aimed at the partial resumption of exports of Iraqi oil. In the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UN held at New York during 22-24 October 1995, the Iraqi Vice President Tariq Aziz said, “unipolarism” led to “hasty application of… sanctions and the use of armed force.” This has “deprived… people of their basic human rights…” and led to “the death of thousands of children, women and the elderly due to lack of food and medication.”[28]

1996: In early January 1996, Iraq indicated its willingness to enter into a dialogue on a ‘oil-for-food’ agreement with the UN. After several rounds of talks, it was finally agreed that up to 4000 million dollars worth of Iraqi oil would be sold a year to purchase food and medicine. On 27 March, the Council adopted resolution 1051 that established a system to monitor all exports to Iraq that could be used for the production of weapons of mass destruction. This was apparently prompted by the announcement made by the head of UNSCOM Rolf Ekeus that Iraq was in possession of missiles and biological weapons.

1997: After the deliberate violation of the air exclusion zone by Iraq in April and the subsequent remark of the US president that Saddam is the biggest threat and the refusal of Iraq to allow arms inspectors to work, the Council passed yet another resolution (1115) on 21 June 1997, warning Iraq that more sanctions may come. In October, the Revolutionary Command Council criticised the high proportion of Americans in UNSCOM. Resolution 1137 was adopted that warned Iraq to stop expelling US personnel. In December, Iraq suspended oil exports.

1998: Oil exports from Iraq resumed in January. Security Council resolution 1153 adopted on 20 February doubled the six-monthly income permitted to the Iraqi government to 5200 million dollars. Resolution 1175 of June continued the distribution plan of humanitarian supplies. Iraq was also permitted to improve its oil productions. Just when it seems that things will get better, the ‘discovery’ of VX spoilt it all. In December, the US and UK launched attacks on Iraq. This elicited widespread demonstrations across the Middle East.

1999: In January, after the French proposal of replacement of UNSCOM was opposed by the US, Iraq voted in parliament renouncing all previous commitments made to the Security Council. In March, reports came that the CIA has been using UNSCOM as a cover for operations in Iraq. New demands were made for the replacement of UNSCOM by a new system of monitoring. In December, the Council adopted Resolution 1284 that replaced UNSCOM by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) which was charged with monitoring Iraq.

2000: In January, the IAEA inspectors went into Iraq. The sanctions imposed on Iraq had a deep impact on the civilian population. In February, the ICRC reported that infant mortality had trebled since 1990, and water supplies had deteriorated. Air strikes still continued.[29]

2001: In mid-January, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War stated, “Kuwait deserved invasion” and warned that Baghdad would fight back if the US continued its anti-Iraq policy under the new US President George W. Bush.[30] On 16 February, about two dozen US and British warplanes bombed five “military targets” in and around Baghdad in the biggest strike against Iraq since 1998. In response, Iraq announced that “… their aggression will achieve nothing but failure.”[31] This strike came under criticisms from China, Russia, France, India, Egypt, Syria, Canada and Turkey who felt that the US and Britain had overstepped their line. They agreed that strikes must be sanctioned by the Security Council.

Prime Minister AB Vajpayee slams the US for its air raid and said that India was in favour of lifting sanctions, and that the no-fly zones “do not come within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions.”[32]

Again on 22 February, US warplanes strike Iraqi’s air-defence targets in northern Iraq. These strikes were followed by large demonstrations with the demonstrators calling for jihad.


As the current process of sanctions, strikes, inspection, verification and the likes continue, it is very likely that Iraq could use it in his own favour. Using the “sympathy strategy”, Iraq can get oil deals from France, Russia and China. Moreover, with more frequent attacks on Iraq, more Gulf War allies are now siding with Iraq, Egypt and Syria had already signed trade agreements with Iraq. Even within the Security Council, the crack has become more vocal in their criticism of the embargo imposed on Iraq. The Iraqi people do not have much of a choice except to rally behind Saddam Hussein.[33]

However, the US and UK are still very firm in their commitment to contain Saddam Hussein who had been labelled by them as the most dangerous man in the world. On the other hand, Iraq is determined to stay defiant. Iraq now asserts that UN arms inspectors will never be allowed back into the country.[34] Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan exhorted the Security Council to find a common ground on Iraq.

It is now very important that both the sides change their attitude before talking about peace. To assure any lasting peace, it is imperative to stri
ke at the roots of instability. For this, the Persian Gulf countries need to be well integrated, embark on confidence building measures, create regional alliance and common securi
ty and build up non-offensive defence.[35]

Even after ten years, the crisis in the Gulf is still to be solved. One is left to wonder when it will be. For the moment, however, the end of the crisis is nowhere in sight.

June 2001


[1] Agreement between the British government and the Sheikh of Kuwait regarding the non-reception of foreign representatives and non-cession of territory to foreign powers or subjects, 23 January 1899 in Lauterpacht et al (eds) The Kuwait Crisis: Basic Documents (1991)

[2] Security Council Official Records (SCOR), sixteenth year, 958th meeting, 5 July 1961, paras 55, 65

[3] Iraq TV, 8pm (IST), 17 July 1990. Quoted in Gazi Ibdewi Abdulghafour, The Tragedy: Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait. Genesis, Consequences and Conflict Resolution (New Delhi: Lancers Books, 1993) p. 67

[4] S/PV, 2932, 2 August 1990

[5] UN Document S/20503, 13 August 1990

[6]  Article 50 of the UN Charter states, “If preventive or enforcement measures against any State are taken by the Security Council, any other state, whether a member of the United Nations or not, which finds itself confronted with special economic problems arising from the carrying out of these measures shall have the right to consult the Security Council with regard to solution of the problems.”

[7] S/PV, 2963, 29 November 1990

[8]  UN Document S/22090, 17 January 1991

[9]  UN Document S/22172, 30 January 1991

[10]  UN Document S/22275 and S/22276, 27 February 1991

[11]  UN Document S/22274, 27 February 1991 and S/22288, 28 February 1991

[12] UN Document S/PV 2963, 29 November 1990

[13] JK Baral and JN Mahanty, “India and the Gulf Crisis: The Response of a Minority Government,” Pacific Affairs, Vol. 65, No. 3, Fall 1992, pp. 368-84.

[14] UN Document S/22496, 6 April 1991

[15] UN Document S/22480, 11 April 1991

[16] Gazi Ibdewi Abdulghafour, The Tragedy, p. 139

[17] Geoff Simons, The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and National Justice,( Basingstoke; Macmillan, 2nd Edition, 1998) p. 52

[18] Geoff Simons, Iraq-Primus Inter Pariahs: A Crisis Chronology, 1997-1998 (Basingstoke; Macmillan, 1999) p. 54

[19] Pierre Salinger, “The United States, The nited Nations and the Gulf War,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 49, No. 4, Autumn 1995, pp. 593-613

[20] UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar in an interview to PTI-TV, 5 February 1991

[21] John Bulloch and Harvey Morris, Saddam’s War: The Origins of the Kuwait Conflict and the International Response (London; Faber and Faber, 1991) p. 200

[22] UN Document  S/21711, 5 September 1990

[23] The Times of India (New Delhi), 21 January 1991.

[24] JK Banal and JN Mohanty, “India and the Gulf Crisis,” p. 374-75

[25] Ibid. p. 377

[26] Ibid. p. 383

[27] Deccan Herald, 19 April 1991

[28] Address by Taha M. Marouf, Iraq Vice President in UN at 50: Statements by World Leaders, New York, 22-24 October 1995 (NY;UN, 1996)

[29] Middle East and North Africa 2001 (London, Europa Publications 2000, 47th Edition 2001, 2000) pp. 578-599

[30] Hindustan Times, (New Delhi) 16 January 2001

[31] Hindustan Times (New Delhi), 17 February 2001

[32] Times of India (New Delhi), 18 February 2001

[33] Times of India (New Delhi) 21 February 2001.

[34] Hindustan Times (New Delhi), 28 February 2001

[35] Farah Naaz, “Security in the Persian Gulf,” Strategic Analysis, Vol. XXIV, No. 12, March 2001, pp. 2257-2271

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