Operation "Desert storm" - Maxicours

Operation "Desert storm"

On August 2nd, 1990, Saddam Hussein's troops invaded Kuwait. The main cause that led to this invasion was a conflict over oilfields and the price of oil.
The United Nations (UN) demanded withdrawal from Iraq and imposed economic, financial and military sanctions : the operation was called "Desert Shield".

In December 1990, the UN Security Council issued an ultimatum to Iraq : the Allied Forces (the USA and 27 other nations) would go into the attack if Iraq did not withdraw before January 15th, 1991. Negotiations failed.
On 16th January 1991, operation "Desert Storm" was officially launched.

1. Operation "Desert Storm"
It was led by the American generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell. Air raids started against military targets in Iraq, and strategic places in Kuwait. Most fighter planes took off from military air bases in Saudi Arabia.
Communication centres, bridges, oil wells, power plants, chemical plants and military positions were hit by conventional and laser-guided bombs, long or medium-range missiles ("Tomahawk").

On January 17th 1991, Iraq launched the first SCUD missile attack, countered by American anti-missile missiles ("Patriots").

On February 24th, a four-day ground war started and on February 28th, 1991, cease-fire was proclaimed.

The UN Security Council had imposed conditions : Iraq had to destroy its chemical and biological weapons.

2. The consequences
"Desert Storm" was said to be a "clean war" but Iraqi casualties amounted to 80.000-150.000 troops and 100.000-200.000 civilians whereas coalition losses amounted to less than 200.

Consequences on environment were very important (due above all to oil spills).

Two thirds of the Iraqi military forces were destroyed, but because of political considerations, they were not completely annihilated and Saddam Hussein remained in place so as not to imperil the stability of the Middle East region.

One of the most outstanding features of this war was the full "live" coverage which was given by the different media. They insisted on the technological supremacy of the allied forces and proved to be an additional weapon on both sides.

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