An invasion brought on by ignorance

Friday 14/08/2015
A 1991 photo shows a long line of vehicles abandoned by fleeing Iraqi troops in Kuwait

A quarter of a century after Saddam Hussein’s ill-fated invasion and occupation of Kuwait, Iraq is in ruins while Kuwait is thriving.

Saddam laid the foundation for the end of Iraq as we knew it and the ultimate destruction of the country. He fired the first shot that led to the tragedy that we are wit­nessing across the region today.
This was only compounded by the war launched by US president George W. Bush and its regional re­percussions. The only beneficiary of this succession of disasters was Iran, which used it to expand its presence not just in Iraq but across the region.
In fact, earlier in 2015 we saw official confirmation from Iran that Baghdad, which previously sought control of Kuwait, is under Teh­ran’s control and guardianship.
On August 2, 1990, the world was shocked by the Iraqi army marching on Kuwait.
Almost nobody had predicted this. How could this be possible in the 20th century, observers asked. While the actual event was historic, its repercussions have been seismic.
This insane military adventure launched by Saddam’s Iraq can be seen as part of a broader Arab phenomenon of general ignorance of the global balance of power. Saddam failed to understand that the balance of power was simply not in his favour and that the international community would not sit idly by while he invaded and occupied his smaller neighbour.
Saddam was not just ignorant of the regional and global balance of power. He was ignorant of everything when it came to Kuwait. At the time, there was not a single Kuwaiti who sup­ported or accepted this occupa­tion. No occupation can succeed under such circumstances. In fact, the Iraqi occupation produced a sense of unity and national­ism that had not been seen there before.
There was a simple lack of understanding of what was going on in the world and the reper­cussions of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War and a world under a new world order with just one superpower, the United States. He did not ask how Washington would view his military adventure. He did not question what the reaction would be from Saudi Arabia or other Arab Gulf states or how his ill-thought-out occupation would change the regional balance of power.
With this illogical attempt, Iraq effectively signed its own death warrant. What we see today is the natural result of Saddam’s military adventurism.
After the occupation of Kuwait, Tehran took the decision to roll up its sleeves and get involved in Iraq. It attempted to topple the regime in 1991 when it backed a popular uprising in Shia majority areas of the country.
But what Iran failed to do in 1991, during the George H.W. Bush era, it implemented in 2003 dur­ing the administration of his son, George W. Bush.
Iran was a participant in the US-led war on Iraq in 2003. What George H.W. Bush refused, George W. Bush allowed, and this was completed by current US President Barack Obama. This can all be traced back to the historic mistake made by Saddam. It is the entire region today that is paying the price.
Saddam placed the first brick in the process that would ultimately end Iraq and this is an operation that is entering its final stages. This is something that has gone beyond Iraq, to affect Syria and Lebanon after the Iranian expansion project has come into its own.