“Cutting a few throat is better than cutting the means of living,” said Saddam Hussein, on July 17, 1990, as a warning to Kuwait. The history reveals that the threat didn’t just remain to be words.
August 2, 1990, marked a day for Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Four divisions of the Iraqi Army SF units and Iraqi Republican Guard, 100,000 troops and 300 tanks flooded into the country. It was a day when fighting men were found screaming overhead, airports were seized, Kuwait aircrafts were shot from the sky, its forces were trounced and nearly the entire Navy sunk.
Some Kuwaiti forces could successfully delay the operations, while trying to push away the incoming Iraqi military. However, it didn’t prove to be much effective, and by the end of the day, the entire country had fallen. The royal family of Kuwait was forced to escape. Only a few armed militia movements and resistance were left. It took only two days for Iraq to completely control the country.
Kuwait’s army numbered just 16,000 at the time of invasion. On the other hand, Iraq had nearly 950,000 men, 4,500 tanks and hundreds of fighter jets and helicopters.
The United Nations Security council, by the end of August, called for an instant withdrawal of all the occupying forces. Besides, an international coalition from five countries — the United States, UAE, Syria, Morocco and Oman — was formed, which united forces from about 30 countries. Since the Second World War, this was the largest military alliance.
On August 25, that year, the UN set a deadline of January 15, 1991, for Iraqi forces’ complete withdrawal. However, it was ignored, Owing to that, the allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm, and a massive air bombardment of Iraq happened, along with hundreds of thousands of armed attacks.
On February 24, a ground invasion started, and Kuwait was liberated on February 27, 1991.
The devastation and bloodshed caused by Iraqis, through executions, looting and the widespread destruction of homes, was massive. Their forces set fire to nearly 700 oil wells, and as they withdrew, they placed land mines around them in a scorched-earth policy.
Around 300,000 Kuwaitis were estimated to have fled the country, during the invasion period. Most of them went to Saudi Arabia, while around 70,000 took shelter in the UAE. But in February, when Kuwait was liberated, nearly all the refugees returned to their homes.