The Persian Gulf War | History In A Nutshell

Saddam Hussein instigated the Persian Gulf War with his invasion of Iraq’s next door neighbor Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The introductory segment of this edition of History In A Nutshell sets the stage by highlighting the background behind Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait: debts incurred from the Iran-Iraq War, and Iraq’s difficulties in paying back its creditors from that conflict.

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein earned notoriety for his brutal suppression of political dissidents, oppression of Kurds living in northern Iraq, and his desire for nuclear weapons. World criticism did not hinder Saddam from partaking in any of his heinous actions. Despite attempts from world leaders to prevent rising tensions between Iraq and Kuwait, peace talks eventually failed, and Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Saddam believed the United States would not want to become involved in another unpopular foreign war similar to Vietnam.

The United States and the United Nations responded quickly to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. With multiple United Nations sanctions, and chances to leave, Saddam refused to withdraw his military from Kuwait. An Allied Coalition of around thirty-five countries was formed with the purpose of driving the Iraqi military out of Kuwait, and enforcing U.N. sanctions. Under the leadership of General Norman Schwarzkopf, Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Desert Sabre were successful in liberating Kuwait.

Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard forces were on the run from American and British Army armored divisions. After the allied victory at the Battle of Medina Ridge, Saddam was afraid that the allies would push forward into Baghdad. President George H.W. Bush, in agreement with Colin Powell (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), a ceasefire was declared on February 28, 1991. While Saddam Hussein was allowed to remain in power until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the allied victory in the Persian Gulf War allowed the American military to regain its confidence after the Vietnam War.

History in a Nutshell is a series that explains historical events in layman's terms. Produced by, a K-12 website owned and managed by South Carolina ETV.