29 February 2000

Second Chechen War: Eighty-four Russian paratroopers are killed in a rebel attack on a guard post near Ulus Kert.

Second Chechen War

Second Chechen War
Part of the Chechen–Russian conflict
Russian artillery shells Chechen positions
near the village of Duba-Yurt in January 2000.
DateBattle phase: 26 August 1999 – 30 April 2000[5]
Insurgency phase: 1 May 2000 – 15 April 2009
(9 years, 7 months and 3 weeks)
Chechnya, parts of Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Caucasus. Terrorist incidents across the country, mainly in Moscow and South Russia.

Russian victory

Territorial integrity of the Russian Federation is preserved. Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is abolished.

 Russian Federation

Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
Caucasian Front
Caucasus Emirate
Flag of Jihad Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya[1][2][3][4]
Commanders and leaders
Boris Yeltsin
(Until 31 December 1999)
Vladimir Putin
(After 31 December 1999)
Igor Sergeyev
Viktor Kazantsev
Gennady Troshev
Vladimir Boldyrev
Alexander Baranov
Anatoliy Serdyukov
Sergei Ivanov
Nikolai Patrushev
Valentin Korabelnikov
Anatoly Kvashnin
Yuri Baluyevsky
Akhmad Kadyrov 
Alu Alkhanov
Ramzan Kadyrov
Sergey Abramov
Mukhu Aliyev
Sulim Yamadayev 
Buvadi Dakhiyev 
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev
(assassinated in exile)
Aslan Maskhadov 
Abdul Halim Sadulayev 
Akhmadov brothers 
Dokka Umarov 
Ilyas Akhmadov
Turpal-Ali Atgeriyev 
Isa Munayev
Akhmed Avtorkhanov 
Ibn al-Khattab 
Abu al-Walid 
Abu Hafs al-Urduni 
Ali Taziev
Supyan Abdullayev 
Shamil Basayev 
Ruslan Gelayev 
Salman Raduyev 
Rappani Khalilov 
Yassir al-Sudani 
Abdulla Kurd 
~80,000 (in 1999) ~22,000[6]–30,000[7]
(in 1999)
Casualties and losses
3,536–3,635 soldiers,[8][9] 2,364–2,572 Interior ministry troops,[10][11][12] 1,072 Chechen police officers[13][14] and 106 FSB and GRU operatives killed[15]
Total killed: 7,217–7,425*
14,113 militants killed (1999–2002)[16]
2,186 militants killed (2003–2009)[17]
Total killed: 16,299

Civilian casualties:
Estimate up to 25,000 killed and up to 5,000 disappeared in Chechnya (AI estimate)[18]
Estimate total number of casualties:
~80,000 killed in Chechnya (GfbV estimate),[19]
More in neighbouring regions,
40-45,000 civilians killed (Kramer),[20]
More than 600 killed during attacks in Russia proper.
Other estimates for civilian dead 150,000 to 250,000[21][22] [23][24]

Total killed military/civilian: ~50,000–80,000

Others estimate~150,000–250,000
  • The Committee of soldiers' mothers group disputed the official government count of the number of war dead and claimed that 14,000 Russian servicemen were killed during the war from 1999 to 2005.[25]

The Second Chechen War (Russian: Втора́я чече́нская война́), also known as the Second Chechen Сampaign (Russian: Втора́я чече́нская кампа́ния) or officially (from the Russian point of view) Counter-terrorist operations on territories of North Caucasian region (Russian: Контртеррористические операции на территории Северо-Кавказского региона[26]) or the Second Russian invasion of Chechnya from Chechen point of view (Russian: Второе российское вторжение в Чечню), was an armed conflict on the territory of Chechnya and the border regions of the North Caucasus between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, also with militants of various Islamist groups, fought from August 1999 to April 2009.

On 9 August 1999, Islamist fighters from Chechnya infiltrated Russia's Dagestan region, declaring it an independent state and calling for a jihad until "all unbelievers had been driven out".[27] On 1 October, Russian troops entered Chechnya.[28][29] The campaign ended the de facto independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and restored Russian federal control over the territory.

During the initial campaign, Russian military and pro-Russian Chechen paramilitary forces faced Chechen separatists in open combat, and seized the Chechen capital Grozny after a winter siege that lasted from late 1999 until February 2000. Russia established direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000 and after the full-scale offensive, Chechen militant resistance throughout the North Caucasus region continued to inflict heavy Russian casualties and challenge Russian political control over Chechnya for several more years. Some Chechen separatists also carried out attacks against civilians in Russia. These attacks, as well as widespread human rights violations by Russian and separatist forces, drew international condemnation.

In mid-2000, the Russian government transferred certain military operations to pro-Russian Chechen forces. The military phase of operations was terminated in April 2002, and the coordination of the field operations were given first to the Federal Security Service and then to the MVD in the summer of 2003.

By 2009, Russia had severely disabled the Chechen separatist movement and large-scale fighting ceased. Russian army and interior ministry troops no longer occupied the streets. Grozny underwent reconstruction efforts and much of the city and surrounding areas were rebuilt quickly. Sporadic violence continues throughout the North Caucasus; occasional bombings and ambushes targeting federal troops and forces of the regional governments in the area still occur.[30][31]

On 15 April 2009, the government operation in Chechnya was officially over.[5] As the main bulk of the army was withdrawn, the burden of dealing with the low-level insurgency mainly fell on the shoulders of the local police force. Three months later the exiled leader of the separatist government, Akhmed Zakayev, called for a halt to armed resistance against the Chechen police force starting on 1 August and said he hoped that "starting with this day Chechens will never shoot at each other".[32]

The exact death toll from this conflict is unknown. Russian casualties are around 7,500 (official Russian casualty figures)[33] or about 14,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers.[25] Unofficial sources estimate a range from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians in Chechnya.[34]

Historical basis of the conflict

Russian Empire

Chechnya and the Caucasus region

Chechnya is an area in the Northern Caucasus which has constantly fought against foreign rule, including the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. The Russian Terek Cossack Host was established in lowland Chechnya in 1577 by free Cossacks who were resettled from the Volga to the Terek River. In 1783, Russia and the Georgian kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, under which Kartl-Kakheti became a Russian protectorate. To secure communications with Georgia and other regions of the Transcaucasia, the Russian Empire began spreading its influence into the Caucasus region, starting the Caucasus War in 1817. Russian forces first moved into highland Chechnya in 1830, and the conflict in the area lasted until 1859, when a 250,000-strong army under General Baryatinsky broke down the highlanders' resistance. Frequent uprisings in the Caucasus also occurred during the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78.

Soviet Union

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Chechens established a short-lived Caucasian Imamate which included parts of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia; there was also the secular pan-Caucasian Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus.[35] The Chechen states were opposed[citation needed] by both sides of the Russian Civil War and most of the resistance was crushed by Bolshevik troops by 1922. Then, months before the creation of the Soviet Union, the Chechen Autonomous Oblast of the Russian SFSR was established. It annexed a part of territory of the former Terek Cossack Host. Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia formed the Chechen–Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936. In 1941, during World War II, a Chechen revolt broke out, led by Khasan Israilov. Chechens were accused by Joseph Stalin of aiding Nazi forces. In February 1944 Stalin deported all the Chechens and Ingush to the Kazakh and Kirghiz SSRs. Up to a quarter of these people died during the "resettlement."[36][37][38] In 1957, after the death of Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev allowed the Chechens to return, and the Chechen republic was reinstated in 1958. Afterwards, the authority of the Soviet government gradually eroded.

First Chechen War

A Russian helicopter downed by Chechen militants near the capital Grozny, during the First Chechen War

During the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chechnya declared independence. In 1992, Chechen and Ingush leaders signed an agreement splitting the joint Chechen–Ingush republic in two, with Ingushetia joining the Russian Federation and Chechnya remaining independent. The debate over independence ultimately led to a small-scale civil war since 1992, in which the Russians supported the opposition forces against Dzhokhar Dudayev. Thousands of people of non-Chechen ethnicity (mostly Russians) fled the Chechen Republic, and Chechnya's industrial production began failing after Russian engineers and workers fled or were expelled. The First Chechen War began in 1994, when Russian forces entered Chechnya to "restore constitutional order". Following nearly two years of brutal fighting, in which an estimated tens of thousands to more than 100,000 people died, and the 1996 Khasavyurt ceasefire agreement, the Russian troops were withdrawn from the republic.[39]

Prelude to the Second Chechen War

Chaos in Chechnya

Cadets of the Ichkeria Chechen National Guard, 1999

Following the first war, the government's grip on the chaotic republic was weak, especially outside the ruined capital Grozny. The areas controlled by separatist groups grew larger and the country became increasingly lawless.[40] The war ravages and lack of economic opportunities left large numbers of heavily armed and brutalized former separatist fighters with no occupation but further violence. The authority of the government in Grozny was opposed by extremist warlords like Arbi Barayev and Salman Raduyev. Abductions and raids into other parts of the Northern Caucasus by various Chechen warlords had been steadily increasing.[41] In place of the devastated economic structure, kidnapping emerged as the principal source of income countrywide, procuring over $200 million during the three-year independence of the chaotic fledgling state.[42] It has been estimated that up to 1,300 people were kidnapped in Chechnya between 1996 and 1999,[40] and in 1998 a group of four Western hostages were murdered. In 1998, a state of emergency was declared by the authorities in Grozny. Tensions led to open clashes like the July 1998 confrontation in Gudermes in which some 50 people died in fighting between Chechen National Guard troops and the Islamist militias.

Russian–Chechen relations 1996–1999

Political tensions were fueled in part by allegedly Chechen or pro-Chechen terrorist and criminal activity in Russia, as well as by border clashes. On 16 November 1996, in Kaspiysk (Dagestan), a bomb destroyed an apartment building housing Russian border guards, killing 68 people. The cause of the blast was never determined, but many in Russia blamed Chechen separatists.[43] Three people died on 23 April 1997, when a bomb exploded in the Russian railway station of Armavir (Krasnodar Krai), and two on 28 May 1997, when another bomb exploded in the Russian railway station of Pyatigorsk (Stavropol Krai). On 22 December 1997, forces of Dagestani militants and Chechnya-based Arab warlord Ibn al-Khattab raided the base of the 136th Motor Rifle Brigade of the Russian Army in Buynaksk, Dagestan, inflicting severe losses on the men[44] and equipment of the unit.

The 1997 election brought to power the separatist president Aslan Maskhadov. In 1998 and 1999, President Maskhadov survived several assassination attempts,[45] blamed on the Russian intelligence services. In March 1999, General Gennady Shpigun, the Kremlin's envoy to Chechnya, was kidnapped at the airport in Grozny and ultimately found dead in 2000 during the war. On 7 March 1999, in response to the abduction of General Shpigun, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin called for an invasion of Chechnya. However, Stepashin's plan was overridden by the prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov.[46] Stepashin later said:[47]

The decision to invade Chechnya was made in March 1999... I was prepared for an active intervention. We were planning to be on the north side of the Terek River by August–September [of 1999] This [the war] would happen regardless to the bombings in Moscow... Putin did not discover anything new. You can ask him about this. He was the director of FSB at this time and had all the information.[48][49]

According to Robert Bruce Ware, these plans should be regarded as contingency plans. However, Stepashin did actively call for a military campaign against Chechen separatists in August 1999 when he was the prime minister of Russia. But shortly after his televised interview where he talked about plans to restore constitutional order in Chechnya, he was replaced in the PM's position by Vladimir Putin.[50]

In late May 1999, Russia announced that it was closing the Russian-Chechnya border in an attempt to combat attacks and criminal activity; border guards were ordered to shoot suspects on sight. On 18 June 1999, seven servicemen were killed when Russian border guard posts were attacked in Dagestan. On 29 July 1999, the Russian Interior Ministry troops destroyed a Chechen border post and captured an 800-meter section of strategic road. On 22 August 1999, 10 Russian policemen were killed by an anti-tank mine blast in North Ossetia, and, on 9 August 1999, six servicemen were kidnapped in the Ossetian capital Vladikavkaz.

Invasion of Dagestan

The Invasion of Dagestan was the trigger for the Second Chechen War. In August and September 1999, Shamil Basayev (in association with the Saudi-born Ibn al-Khattab, Commander of the Mujahedeen) led two armies of up to 2,000 Chechen, Dagestani, Arab and international mujahideen and Wahhabist militants from Chechnya into the neighboring Republic of Dagestan. This war saw the first (unconfirmed) use of aerial-delivered fuel air explosives (FAE) in mountainous areas, notably in the village of Tando.[51] By mid-September 1999, the militants were routed from the villages they had captured and pushed back into Chechnya. At least several hundred militants were killed in the fighting; the Federal side reported 275 servicemen killed and approximately 900 wounded.[29]

Bombings in Russia

Before the wake of the Dagestani invasion had settled, a series of bombings took place in Russia (in Moscow and in Volgodonsk) and in the Dagestani town of Buynaksk. On 4 September 1999, 62 people died in an apartment building housing members of families of Russian soldiers. Over the next two weeks, the bombs targeted three other apartment buildings and a mall; in total nearly 300 people were killed. A criminal investigation of the bombings was completed in 2002. The results of the investigation, and the court ruling that followed, concluded that they were organized by Achemez Gochiyaev, who remains at large, and ordered by Khattab and Abu Omar al-Saif (both of whom were later killed), in retaliation for the Russian counteroffensive against their incursion into Dagestan. Six other suspects have been convicted by Russian courts. However, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agents were caught by local police for planting one of the bombs, but were later released on orders from Moscow.[52] Many observers, including State Duma deputies Yuri Shchekochikhin, Sergei Kovalev and Sergei Yushenkov, cast doubts on the official version and sought an independent investigation. Some others, including David Satter, Yury Felshtinsky, Vladimir Pribylovsky and Alexander Litvinenko, as well as the secessionist Chechen authorities, claimed that the 1999 bombings were a false flag attack coordinated by the FSB in order to win public support for a new full-scale war in Chechnya, which boosted the popularity of Prime Minister and former FSB Director Vladimir Putin, brought the pro-war Unity Party to the State Duma in the 1999 parliamentary election, and secured Putin as president within a few months.[53][54][55][56][57][58][59]

1999–2000 Russian offensive

Air war

In late August and September 1999, Russia mounted a massive air campaign over Chechnya, with the stated aim of wiping out militants who invaded Dagestan the previous month. On 26 August 1999, Russia acknowledged bombing raids in Chechnya.[60] The Russian air strikes were reported to have forced at least 100,000 Chechens to flee their homes to safety; the neighbouring region of Ingushetia was reported to have appealed for United Nations aid to deal with tens of thousands of refugees.[61] On 2 October 1999, Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations admitted that 78,000 people had fled the air strikes in Chechnya; most of them went to Ingushetia, where they were arrived at a rate of 5,000 to 6,000 a day.

As of 22 September 1999, Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said that Russian troops had surrounded Chechnya and were prepared to retake the region, but the military planners were advising against a ground invasion because of the likelihood of heavy Russian casualties.

Land war

The Chechen conflict entered a new phase on 1 October 1999, when Russia's new Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared the authority of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and his parliament illegitimate.[citation needed] At this time, Putin announced that Russian troops would initiate a land invasion but progress only as far as the Terek River, which cuts the northern third of Chechnya off from the rest of the republic. Putin's stated intention was to take control of Chechnya's northern plain and establish a cordon sanitaire against further Chechen aggression; he later recalled that the cordon alone was "pointless and technically impossible," apparently because of Chechnya's rugged terrain. According to Russian accounts, Putin accelerated a plan for a major crackdown against Chechnya that had been drawn up months earlier.[62]

The Russian army moved with ease in the wide open spaces of northern Chechnya and reached the Terek River on 5 October 1999. On this day, a bus filled with refugees was reportedly hit by a Russian tank shell, killing at least 11 civilians;[63] two days later, Russian Su-24 fighter bombers dropped cluster bombs on the village of Elistanzhi, killing some 35 people.[64] On 10 October 1999, Maskhadov outlined a peace plan offering a crackdown on renegade warlords;[64] the offer was rejected by the Russian side. He also appealed to NATO to help end fighting between his forces and Russian troops, without effect.[65]

On 12 October 1999, the Russian forces crossed the Terek and began a two-pronged advance on the capital Grozny to the south. Hoping to avoid the significant casualties that plagued the first Chechen War, the Russians advanced slowly and in force, making extensive use of artillery and air power in an attempt to soften Chechen defences. Many thousands of civilians fled the Russian advance, leaving Chechnya for neighbouring Russian republics. Their numbers were later estimated to reach 200,000 to 350,000, out of the approximately 800,000 residents of the Chechen Republic. The Russians appeared to be taking no chances with the Chechen population in its rear areas, setting up "filtration camps" in October in northern Chechnya for detaining suspected members of bandformirovaniya militant formations (literally: "bandit formations").

On 15 October 1999, Russian forces took control of a strategic ridge within artillery range of the Chechen capital Grozny after mounting an intense tank and artillery barrage against Chechen fighters. In response, President Maskhadov declared a gazavat (holy war) to confront the approaching Russian army. Martial law was declared in Ichkeria and reservists were called, but no martial law or state of emergency had been declared in Chechnya or Russia by the Russian government.[66] The next day, Russian forces captured the strategic , within sight of Grozny, dislodging 200 entrenched Chechen fighters. After heavy fighting, Russia seized the Chechen base in the village of Goragorsky, west of the city.[67]

On 21 October 1999, a Russian Scud short-range ballistic missile strike on the central Grozny marketplace killed more than 140 people, including many women and children, and left hundreds more wounded. A Russian spokesman said the busy market was targeted because it was used by separatists as an arms bazaar.[68] Eight days later Russian aircraft carried out a rocket attack on a large convoy of refugees heading into Ingushetia, killing at least 25 civilians including Red Cross workers and journalists.[69] Two days later Russian forces conducted a heavy artillery and rocket attack on Samashki; some claimed that civilians were killed in Samashki in revenge for the heavy casualties suffered there by Russian forces during the first war.[70]

On 12 November 1999, the Russian flag was raised over Chechnya's second largest city, Gudermes, when the local Chechen commanders, the Yamadayev brothers, defected to the federal side; the Russians also entered the bombed-out former Cossack village of Assinovskaya. The fighting in and around Kulary continued until January 2000. On 17 November 1999, Russian soldiers dislodged separatists in Bamut, the symbolic separatist stronghold in the first war; dozens of Chechen fighters and many civilians were reported killed, and the village was levelled in the FAE bombing. Two days later, after a failed attempt five days earlier, Russian forces managed to capture the village of Achkhoy-Martan.

On 26 November 1999, Deputy Army Chief of Staff said that phase two of the Chechnya campaign was just about complete, and a final third phase was about to begin. According to Manilov, the aim of the third phase was to destroy "bandit groups" in the mountains. A few days later Russia's Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said Russian forces might need up to three more months to complete their military campaign in Chechnya, while some generals said the offensive could be over by New Year's Day. The next day the Chechens briefly recaptured the town of Novogroznensky.[71]

On 1 December 1999, after weeks of heavy fighting, Russian forces under Major General Vladimir Shamanov took control of , a village just south of Grozny. The Chechen and foreign fighters inflicted heavy losses on the Russian forces, reportedly killing more than 70 Russian soldiers before retreating,[72] suffering heavy losses of their own.[73] On the same day, Chechen separatist forces began carrying out a series of counter-attacks against federal troops in several villages as well as in the outskirts of Gudermes. Chechen fighters in Argun, a small town five kilometres east of Grozny, put up some of the strongest resistance to federal troops since the start of Moscow's military offensive.[citation needed] The separatists in the town of Urus-Martan also offered fierce resistance, employing guerilla tactics Russia had been anxious to avoid; by 9 December 1999, Russian forces were still bombarding Urus-Martan, although Chechen commanders said their fighters had already pulled out.[citation needed]

On 4 December 1999, the commander of Russian forces in the North Caucasus, General Viktor Kazantsev, claimed that Grozny was fully blockaded by Russian troops. The Russian military's next task was the seizure of the town of Shali, 20 kilometres south-east of the capital, one of the last remaining separatist-held towns apart from Grozny. Russian troops started by capturing two bridges that link Shali to the capital, and by 11 December 1999, Russian troops had encircled Shali and were slowly forcing separatists out. By mid-December the Russian military was concentrating attacks in southern parts of Chechnya and preparing to launch another offensive from Dagestan.

Siege of Grozny

A destroyed house in Grozny

The Russian assault on Grozny began in early December, accompanied by a struggle for neighbouring settlements. The battle ended when the Russian army seized the city on 2 February 2000. According to official Russian figures, at least 134 federal troops and an unknown number of pro-Russian militiamen died in Grozny. The separatist forces also suffered heavy losses, including losing several top commanders. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said that 2,700 separatists were killed trying to leave Grozny. The separatists said they lost at least 500 fighters in the mine field at .[74]

The siege and fighting devastated the capital like no other European city since World War II. In 2003 the United Nations called Grozny the most destroyed city on Earth.[75]

The Russians also suffered heavy losses as they advanced elsewhere, and from Chechen counterattacks and convoy ambushes. On 26 January 2000, the Russian government announced that 1,173 servicemen had been killed in Chechnya since October,[76] more than double the 544 killed reported just 19 days earlier.[77]

Battle for the mountains

Heavy fighting accompanied by massive shelling and bombing continued through the winter of 2000 in the mountainous south of Chechnya, particularly in the areas around Argun, Vedeno and Shatoy, where fighting involving Russian paratroopers had raged since 1999.

On 9 February 2000, a Russian tactical missile hit a crowd of people who had come to the local administration building in Shali, a town previously declared as one of the "safe areas", to collect their pensions. The attack was a response to a report that a group of fighters had entered the town. The missile is estimated to have killed some 150 civilians, and was followed by an attack by combat helicopters causing further casualties.[78] Human Rights Watch called on the Russian military to stop using FAE, known in Russia as "vacuum bombs", in Chechnya, concerned about the large number of civilian casualties caused by what it called "widespread and often indiscriminate bombing and shelling by Russian forces".[79] On 18 February 2000, a Russian army transport helicopter was shot down in the south, killing 15 men aboard, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo announced in a rare admission by Moscow of losses in the war.[80]

On 29 February 2000, United Army Group commander Gennady Troshev said that "the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya is over. It will take a couple of weeks longer to pick up splinter groups now." Russia's Defense Minister, Marshal of the Russian Federation Igor Sergeyev, evaluated the numerical strength of the separatists at between 2,000 and 2,500 men, "scattered all over Chechnya." On the same day, a Russian VDV paratroop company from Pskov was attacked by Chechen and Arab fighters near the village of in Chechnya's southern lowlands; at least 84 Russian soldiers were killed in the especially heavy fighting. The official newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that at least 659 separatists were killed, including 200 from the Middle East, figures which they said were based on radio-intercept data, intelligence reports, eyewitnesses, local residents and captured Chechens.[81] On 2 March 2000, an OMON unit from Podolsk opened fire on a unit from Sergiyev Posad in Grozny; at least 24 Russian servicemen were killed in the incident.

Fallen Russian soldiers in the Zhani-Vedeno ambush

In March a large group of more than 1,000 Chechen fighters, led by field commander Ruslan Gelayev, pursued since their withdrawal from Grozny, entered the village of Komsomolskoye in the Chechen foothills and held off a full-scale Russian attack on the town for over two weeks;[citation needed] they suffered hundreds of casualties,[citation needed] while the Russians admitted to more than 50 killed. On 29 March 2000, about 23 Russian soldiers were killed in a separatist ambush on an OMON convoy from Perm in Zhani-Vedeno.

On 23 April 2000, a 22-vehicle convoy carrying ammunition and other supplies to an airborne unit was ambushed near in the Vedeno Gorge by an estimated 80 to 100 "bandits", according to General Troshev. In the ensuing four-hour battle the federal side lost 15 government soldiers, according to the Russian defence minister. General Troshev told the press that the bodies of four separatist fighters were found. The Russian Airborne Troops headquarters later stated that 20 separatists were killed and two taken prisoner.[82] Soon, the Russian forces seized the last populated centres of the organized resistance. (Another offensive against the remaining mountain strongholds was launched by Russian forces in December 2000.)

Restoration of federal government

Russian President Vladimir Putin established direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000. The following month, Putin appointed Akhmad Kadyrov interim head of the pro-Moscow government. This development met with early approval in the rest of Russia, but the continued deaths of Russian troops dampened public enthusiasm. On 23 March 2003, a new Chechen constitution was passed in a referendum. The 2003 Constitution granted the Chechen Republic a significant degree of autonomy, but still tied it firmly to Russia and Moscow's rule, and went into force on 2 April 2003. The referendum was strongly supported by the Russian government but met a harsh critical response from Chechen separatists; many citizens chose to boycott the ballot.[citation needed] Akhmad Kadyrov was assassinated by a bomb blast in 2004. Since December 2005, his son Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the pro-Moscow militia known as kadyrovtsy, has been functioning as the Chechnya's de facto ruler. Kadyrov has become Chechnya's most powerful leader and, in February 2007, with support from Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov replaced Alu Alkhanov as president.


Guerrilla war in Chechnya

Guerrilla phase by year: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Although large-scale fighting within Chechnya had ceased, daily attacks continued, particularly in the southern portions of Chechnya and spilling into nearby territories of the Caucasus, especially after the Caucasus Front was established. Typically small separatist units targeted Russian and pro-Russian officials, security forces, and military and police convoys and vehicles. The separatist units employed IEDs and sometimes combined for larger raids. Russian forces retaliated with artillery and air strikes, as well as counter-insurgency operations. Most soldiers in Chechnya were kontraktniki (contract soldiers) as opposed to the earlier conscripts. While Russia continued to maintain a military presence within Chechnya, federal forces played less of a direct role. Pro-Kremlin Chechen forces under the command of the local strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, known as the kadyrovtsy, dominated law enforcement and security operations, with many members (including Kadyrov himself) being former Chechen separatists who had defected since 1999. Since 2004, the Kadyrovtsy were partly incorporated into two Interior Ministry units, North and South (Sever and Yug). Two other units of the Chechen pro-Moscow forces, East and West (Vostok and Zapad), were commanded by Sulim Yamadayev (Vostok) and Said-Magomed Kakiyev (Zapad) and their men.[83]

On 16 April 2009, the head of the Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, announced that Russia had ended its "anti-terror operation" in Chechnya, claiming that stability had been restored to the territory.[84] "The decision is aimed at creating the conditions for the future normalisation of the situation in the republic, its reconstruction and development of its socio-economic sphere," Bortnikov stated. While Chechnya had largely stabilised, there were still clashes with militants in the nearby regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Suicide attacks

Between June 2000 and September 2004, Chechen insurgents added suicide attacks to their tactics. During this period, there were 23 Chechen-related suicide attacks in and outside Chechnya, notably the hostage taking at an elementary school in Beslan, in which at least 334 people died.


Both sides of the war carried out multiple assassinations. The most prominent of these included the 13 February 2004 killing of exiled former separatist Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Qatar, and the 9 May 2004 killing of pro-Russian Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov during a parade in Grozny.

Caucasus Front

While anti-Russian local insurgencies in the North Caucasus started even before the war, in May 2005, two months after Maskahdov's death, Chechen separatists officially announced that they had formed a Caucasus Front within the framework of "reforming the system of military–political power." Along with the Chechen, Dagestani and Ingush "sectors," the Stavropol, Kabardin-Balkar, Krasnodar, Karachai-Circassian, Ossetian and Adyghe jamaats were included. This meant that practically all the regions of Russia's south were involved in the hostilities.

The Chechen separatist movement took on a new role as the official ideological, logistical and, probably, financial hub of the new insurgency in the North Caucasus.[85] Increasingly frequent clashes between federal forces and local militants continued in Dagestan, while sporadic fighting erupted in the other southern Russia regions, such as Ingushetia, and notably in Nalchik on 13 October 2005.

Human rights and terrorism

Human rights and war crimes

Russian officials and Chechen separatists have regularly and repeatedly accused the opposing side of committing various war crimes including kidnapping, murder, hostage taking, looting, rape, and assorted other breaches of the laws of war. International and humanitarian organizations, including the Council of Europe and Amnesty International, have criticized both sides of the conflict for "blatant and sustained" violations of international humanitarian law.

Western European rights groups estimate there have been about 5,000 forced disappearances in Chechnya since 1999.[86]

American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted in her 24 March 2000, speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights:

We cannot ignore the fact that thousands of Chechen civilians have died and more than 200,000 have been driven from their homes. Together with other delegations, we have expressed our alarm at the persistent, credible reports of human rights violations by Russian forces in Chechnya, including extrajudicial killings. There are also reports that Chechen separatists have committed abuses, including the killing of civilians and prisoners.... The war in Chechnya has greatly damaged Russia's international standing and is isolating Russia from the international community. Russia's work to repair that damage, both at home and abroad, or its choice to risk further isolating itself, is the most immediate and momentous challenge that Russia faces.[87]

According to the 2001 annual report by Amnesty International:

There were frequent reports that Russian forces indiscriminately bombed and shelled civilian areas. Chechen civilians, including medical personnel, continued to be the target of military attacks by Russian forces. Hundreds of Chechen civilians and prisoners of war were extra judicially executed. Journalists and independent monitors continued to be refused access to Chechnya. According to reports, Chechen fighters frequently threatened, and in some cases killed, members of the Russian-appointed civilian administration and executed Russian captured soldiers.[88]

The Russian government failed to pursue any accountability process for human rights abuses committed during the course of the conflict in Chechnya. Unable to secure justice domestically, hundreds of victims of abuse have filed applications with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In March 2005 the court issued the first rulings on Chechnya, finding the Russian government guilty of violating the right to life and even the prohibition of torture with respect to civilians who had died or forcibly disappeared at the hands of Russia's federal troops.[89] Many similar claims were ruled since against Russia.

Dozens of mass graves containing hundreds of corpses have been uncovered since the beginning of the First Chechen War in 1994. As of June 2008, there were 57 registered locations of mass graves in Chechnya.[90] According to Amnesty International, thousands may be buried in unmarked graves including up to 5,000 civilians who disappeared since the beginning of the Second Chechen War in 1999.[91] In 2008, the largest mass grave found to date was uncovered in Grozny, containing some 800 bodies from the First Chechen War in 1995.[90] Russia's general policy to the Chechen mass graves is to not exhume them.[92]

Terrorist attacks

Photos of the victims of the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis

Between May 2002 and September 2004, the Chechen and Chechen-led militants, mostly answering to Shamil Basayev, launched a campaign of terrorism directed against civilian targets in Russia. About 200 people were killed in a series of bombings (most of them suicide attacks), most of them in the 2003 Stavropol train bombing (46), the 2004 Moscow metro bombing (40), and the 2004 Russian aircraft bombings (89).

Two large-scale hostage takings, the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis and the 2004 Beslan school siege, resulted in the deaths of multiple civilians. In the Moscow stand-off, FSB Spetsnaz forces stormed the building on the third day using an unknown incapacitating chemical agent that proved to be lethal without sufficient medical care, resulting in deaths of 133 out of 916 hostages. In Beslan, some 20 hostages had been executed by their captors before the assault, and the ill-prepared assault itself (started hastily after explosions in the gym that had been rigged with explosives by the terrorists) resulted in 294 more casualties among the 1128 hostages, as well as heavy losses among the special forces.

Other issues

Pankisi crisis

Russian officials have accused the bordering republic of Georgia of allowing Chechen separatists to operate on Georgian territory and permitting the flow of militants and materiel across the Georgian border with Russia. In February 2002, the United States began offering assistance to Georgia in combating "criminal elements" as well as alleged Arab mujahideen activity in Pankisi Gorge as part of the War on Terrorism. Without resistance, Georgian troops have detained an Arab man and six criminals, and declared the region under control.[93] In August 2002, Georgia accused Russia of a series of secret air strikes on purported separatists havens in the Pankisi Gorge in which a Georgian civilian was reported killed.

On 8 October 2001, a UNOMIG helicopter was shot down in Georgia in Kodori Valley gorge near Abkhazia, amid fighting between Chechens and Abkhazians, killing nine including five UN observers.[94] Georgia denied having troops in the area, and the suspicion fell on the armed group headed by Chechen warlord Ruslan Gelayev, who was speculated to have been hired by the Georgian government to wage proxy war against separatist Abkhazia. On 2 March 2004, following a number of cross-border raids from Georgia into Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, Gelayev was killed in a clash with Russian border guards while trying to get back from Dagestan into Georgia.

Unilateral ceasefire of 2005

On 2 February 2005, Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov issued a call for a ceasefire lasting until at least 22 February (the day preceding the anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechen population). The call was issued through a separatist website and addressed to President Putin, described as a gesture of goodwill. On 8 March 2005, Maskhadov was killed in an operation by Russian security forces in the Chechen community of Tolstoy-Yurt, northeast of Grozny.

Shortly following Maskhadov's death, the Chechen separatist council announced that Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev had assumed the leadership, a move that was quickly endorsed by Shamil Basayev (Basayev himself died in July 2006). On 2 February 2006, Sadulayev made large-scale changes in his government, ordering all its members to move into Chechen territory. Among other things, he removed First Vice-Premier Akhmed Zakayev from his post (although later Zakayev was appointed a Foreign Minister[95]). Sadulayev was killed in June 2006, after which he was succeeded as the separatist leader by the veteran terrorist commander Doku Umarov.


As of November 2007, there were at least seven amnesties for separatist militants, as well as federal servicemen who committed crimes, declared in Chechnya by Moscow since the start of the second war. The first one was announced in 1999 when about 400 Chechen switched sides. (However, according to Putin's advisor and aide Aslambek Aslakhanov most of them were since killed, both by their former comrades and by the Russians, who by then perceived them as a potential "fifth column".[96]) Some of the other amnesties included one during September 2003 in connection with the adoption of the republic's new constitution, and then another between mid-2006 and January 2007. According to Ramzan Kadyrov, himself former separatist, more than 7,000 separatist fighters defected to the federal side ("returned to the peaceful life") by 2005. In 2006 more than 600 militants in Chechnya and adjacent provinces reportedly surrendered their arms in response to a six-month amnesty "for those not involved in any serious crimes".[97] In 2007, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights published a report entitled Amnestied People as Targets for Persecution in Chechnya, which documents the fate of several persons who have been amnestied and subsequently abducted, tortured and killed.

Government censorship of the media coverage

The first war, with its extensive and largely unrestricted coverage (despite deaths of many journalists), convinced the Kremlin more than any other event that it needed to control national television channels, which most Russians rely on for news, to successfully undertake any major national policy. By the time the second war began, federal authorities had designed and introduced a comprehensive system to limit the access of journalists to Chechnya and shape their coverage.[98]

The Russian government's control of all Russian television stations and its use of repressive rules, harassment, censorship, intimidation[99] and attacks on journalists almost completely deprived the Russian public of the independent information on the conflict. Practically all the local Chechen media are under total control of the pro-Moscow government, Russian journalists in Chechnya face intense harassment and obstruction[100] leading to widespread self-censorship, while foreign journalists and media outlets too are pressured into censoring their reports on the conflict.[101] In some cases Russian journalists reporting on Chechnya were jailed (Boris Stomakhin) or kidnapped (Andrei Babitsky), and foreign media outlets (American Broadcasting Company) banned from Russia. Russia's step came in retaliation for ABC's broadcast of an interview with Shamil Basayev, the Chechen rebel leader who ordered and/or carried out some of the worst terrorist acts in the country's history, including the school siege in Beslan that left 330 people dead.[102] The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was shut down on "extremism and national hatred" charges. According to a 2007 poll only 11 percent of Russians said they were happy with media coverage of Chechnya.[103]


Civilian losses

A Russian soldier stands on a mass grave of Chechens in Komsomolskoye, 2000

In the Second Chechen War, over 60,000 combatants and non-combatants were killed.[104] Civilian casualty estimates vary widely. According to the pro-Moscow Chechnya government, 160,000 combatants and non-combatants died or have gone missing in the two wars, including 30,000–40,000 Chechens and about 100,000 Russians;[105][106] while separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov (deceased) repeatedly claimed about 200,000 ethnic Chechens died as a consequence of the two conflicts.[107] As in the case of military losses, these claims can not be independently verified. According to a count by the Russian human rights group Memorial in 2007, up to 25,000 civilians have died or disappeared since 1999.[108] According to Amnesty International in 2007, the second war killed up to 25,000 civilians since 1999, with up to another 5,000 people missing.[109] However, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society set their estimate of the total death toll in two wars at about 150,000 to 200,000 civilians.[110]

Environmental damage

Environmental agencies warn that the Russian republic of Chechnya, devastated by war, now faces ecological disaster. A former aide to Boris Yeltsin believes Russian bombing has rendered Chechnya an "environmental wasteland."[111] There is a special concern over widespread oil spills and pollution from sewers damaged by war (the water is polluted to a depth of 250 m[112]), and chemical and radioactive pollution, as a result of the bombardment of chemical facilities and storages during the conflict.[113] Chechnya's wildlife also sustained heavy damage during the hostilities, as animals that had once populated the Chechen forests have moved off to seek safer ground.[114] In 2004, Russian government has designated one-third of Chechnya a "zone of ecological disaster" and another 40% "a zone of extreme environmental distress".[115]

Land mines

Chechnya is the most land mine-affected region worldwide.[116] Since 1994 there have been widespread use of mines, by both sides (Russia is a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons but not the 1996 protocol on land mines and other devices). The most heavily mined areas of Chechnya are those in which separatists continue to put up resistance, namely the southern regions, as well as the borders of the republic.[117] No humanitarian mine clearance has taken place since the HALO Trust was evicted by Russia in December 1999. In June 2002, Olara Otunnu, the UN official, estimated that there were 500,000 land mines placed in the region. UNICEF has recorded 2,340 civilian land mine and unexploded ordnance casualties occurring in Chechnya between 1999 and the end of 2003.

Military losses

Military casualty figures from both sides are impossible to verify and are generally believed to be higher. In September 2000, the National Endowment for Democracy compiled the list of casualties officially announced in the first year of the conflict, which, although incomplete and with little factual value, provide a minimum insight in the information war. According to the figures released by the Russian Ministry of Defence on in August 2005, at least 1,250 Russian Armed Forces soldiers have been killed in action 1999–2005.[118] This death toll did not include losses of Internal Troops, the FSB, police and local paramilitaries, all of whom at least 1,720 were killed by October 2003.[110] The independent Russian and Western estimates are much higher; the Union of the Committees of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia for instance estimated about 2,000 Russian Army servicemen have been killed between 1999 and 2003.[108]

Political radicalization of the separatist movement

The Chechens had become increasingly radicalized. Former Soviet Armed Forces officers Dzhokhar Dudayev and Aslan Maskhadov have been succeeded by people who rely more on Islamist, rather than the secular nationalistic feelings of the population. While Dudayev and Maskhadov were seeking from Moscow recognition of the independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, other leaders spoke out more about the need to expel Russia from the territory of the whole North Caucasus, an impoverished mountain region inhabited mostly by Muslim, non-Russian ethnic groups.[citation needed]

In April 2006, asked whether negotiations with Russians are possible, the top separatist commander Doku Umarov answered: "We offered them many times. But it turned out that we constantly press for negotiations and it's as if we are always standing with an extended hand and this is taken as a sign of our weakness. Therefore we don't plan to do this any more." In the same month, the new separatist spokesman Movladi Udugov said that attacks should be expected anywhere in Russia: "Today, we have a different task on our hands – total war, war everywhere our enemy can be reached. (...) And this means mounting attacks at any place, not just in the Caucasus but in all Russia." Reflecting growing radicalization of the Chechen-led militants, Udugov said their goal was no longer Western-style democracy and independence, but the Islamist "North Caucasian Emirate".[citation needed]

Flag of the Caucasian Emirate

This trend ultimately resulted in the October 2007 declaration of Caucasus Emirate by Doku Umarov where he also urged for a global Jihad, and the between the moderates, and the radical Islamists fighting in Chechnya and the neighbouring regions with ties in the Middle East.[119] Some commanders, still fighting along with Doku Umarov, like Anzor Astemirov, have publicly denounced the idea of a global Jihad, but keep fighting for the independence of Caucasus states.[120]

The struggle has garnered support from Muslim sympathizers around the world nonetheless, and some of them have been willing to take up arms. Many commentators think it is likely that Chechen fighters have links with international Islamist separatist groups. The BBC said in an online Q&A on the conflict: "It has been known for years that Muslim volunteers have traveled to Chechnya to join the fight, reportedly after attending training camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan."[108] Projecting back from the post-9/11 period, some have linked Chechen resistance to Russia to the al-Qaida global jihad movement. However, the number of foreign jihad fighters in Chechnya was at most in the hundreds.[121] Most Western observers prior to September 11th regarded the alleged al-Qaida links claimed by Russian government with skepticism. The Clinton and Bush administrations, as well as other NATO governments, uniformly dismissed Moscow's rhetoric concerning the existence of Chechens in Afghanistan and Afghans in Chechnya as Soviet-style "agitprop" (agitation-propaganda) until September 11th occurred.[122]

Islamic radicalisation process has also affected on Chechen separatist movement's support abroad. In 2013, the Tsarnaev brothers launched a suicide attack in Boston in claim of jihad, accusing the United States for killing Muslims of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, weakened sympathy for Chechen resistance from Russia globally and increased xenophobia against Chechens and Muslims in the United States.[123] Rampant Islamic terrorism in Europe and the exclusive role of the Chechens on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, most notably Abu Omar al-Shishani, also dragged Chechen separatist movement in jeopardy due to increasing anti-Islamic sentiment on the rise in Europe, even in some of the most Russophobic countries in Europe like Poland.[124][125][126]

Impact on the Chechen population

According to a 2006 report by Médecins Sans Frontières, "the majority of Chechens still struggle through lives burdened by fear, uncertainty and poverty." A survey conducted by MSF in September 2005 showed that 77% of the respondents were suffering from "discernible symptoms of psychological distress".[127]

As of 2008, the infant mortality rate stood at 17 per 1,000, the highest in Russia;[128] There are reports of growing a number of genetic disorders in babies and unexplained illnesses among school children.[113] One child in 10 is born with some kind of anomaly that requires treatment. Some children whose parents can afford it are sent to the neighbouring republic of Dagestan, where treatment is better; Chechnya lacks sufficient medical equipment in most of its medical facilities.[129] According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), since 1994 to 2008 about 25,000 children in Chechnya have lost one or both parents.[130] A whole generation of Chechen children is showing symptoms of psychological trauma. In 2006, Chechnya's pro-Moscow deputy health minister, said the Chechen children had become "living specimens" of what it means to grow up with the constant threat of violence and chronic poverty.[131] In 2007, the Chechen interior ministry has identified 1,000 street children involved in vagrancy; the number was increasing.[132][133]

According to official statistics, Chechnya's unemployment rate in August 2009 was 32.9%. By 2017, this figure had decreased to 13.9%.[134][135] Many people remain homeless because so much of Chechnya's housing was destroyed by the Russian federal forces and many people have not yet been given compensation.[136] Not only the social (such as housing and hospitals) and economic infrastructure but also the foundations of culture and education, including most of educational and cultural institutions, were destroyed over the course of the two wars in Chechnya.[137] However ongoing reconstruction efforts have been rebuilding the region at a quick pace over the past few years, including new housing, facilities, paved roads and traffic lights, a new mosque, and restoration of electricity to much of the region.[138] Governmental, social and commercial life remain hobbled by bribery, kidnapping, extortion and other criminal activity; reports by the Russian government estimate that the organized crime sector is twice the Russian average and the government is widely perceived to be corrupt and unresponsive.[139]

Hundreds of thousands of Chechens were displaced by the conflict, including 300,000 at the height of the conflict in 2000.[108] Most of them were displaced internally in Chechnya and in neighbouring republic of Ingushetia, but thousands of refugees also went into exile, with, as of 2008, most of them residing in the European Union countries.

Impact on the Russian population

The start of the war bolstered the domestic popularity of Vladimir Putin as the campaign was started one month after he had become Russian prime minister.[103] The conflict greatly contributed to the deep changes in the Russian politics and society.[140]

Since the Chechen conflict began in 1994, cases of young veterans returning embittered and traumatized to their home towns have been reported all across Russia. Psychiatrists, law-enforcement officials, and journalists have started calling the condition of psychologically scarred soldiers "Chechen syndrome" (CS), drawing a parallel with the post-traumatic stress disorders suffered by Soviet soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. According to Yuri Alexandrovsky, deputy director of the Moscow Serbsky Institute in 2003, at least 70% of the estimated 1.5 million Chechnya veterans suffered CS.[141] Many of the veterans came back alcoholic, unemployable and antisocial.[140] Thousands were also physically disabled for life and left with very limited help from the government.[142]

According to the 2007 study by Memorial and human rights organisations, Russian policemen lose their qualifications and professional skills during their duty tours in Chechnya.[143] This conflict was linked to the rising brutality and general criminalisation of the Russian police forces. According to human rights activists and journalists, tens of thousands of police and security forces that have been to Chechnya learned patterns of brutality and impunity and brought them to their home regions, often returning with disciplinary and psychological problems. Reliable numbers on police brutality are hard to come by, but in a statement released in 2006, the internal affairs department of Russia's Interior Ministry said that the number of recorded crimes committed by police officers rose 46.8% in 2005. In one nationwide poll in 2005, 71% of respondents said they didn't trust their police at all; in another, 41% Russians said they lived in fear of police violence.[144][145] According to Amnesty International, torture of detainees in Russia is now endemic.[140] Since 2007, police officers from outside Caucasus are now not only being sent to Chechnya, but to all the region's republics.[143]

The wars in Chechnya, and the associated Caucasian terrorism in Russia, were a major factor in the growth of intolerance, xenophobia, and racist violence in Russia, directed in a great part against the people from Caucasus.[140] The Russian authorities were unlikely to label random attacks on people of non-Russian ethnicity as racist, preferring calling it "hooliganism".[citation needed] The number of murders officially classified as racist more than doubled in Russia between 2003 and 2004. The violence included acts of terrorism such as the 2006 Moscow market bombing which killed 13 people.[146][147] In 2007, 18-year-old Artur Ryno claimed responsibility for 37 racially motivated murders in the course of one year, saying that "since school [he] hated people from the Caucasus."[148] On 5 June 2007, an anti-Chechen riot involving hundreds of people took place in the town of Stavropol in southern Russia. Rioters demanded the eviction of ethnic Chechens following the murder of two young Russians who locals believed were killed by Chechens. The event revived memories of a recent clash between Chechens and local Russians in Kondopoga over an unpaid bill, when two Russians were killed.[149] The Caucasians also face ethnic-related violence in the ranks of Russian Army.[150]


In 2005, there were about 60,000 Federal troops in Chechnya, but that number has since decreased significantly. Tony Wood, a journalist and author who has written extensively about Chechnya, estimated there were about 8,000 local security forces remaining in the region as of 2007. Independent analysts say there are no more than 2,000 armed terrorists combatants still fighting, while Russia says only a few hundred remain. There is still some sporadic fighting in the mountains and south of the republic, but Russia has scaled down its presence significantly leaving the local government to stabilize things further.[108] In February 2008 the President of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Dokka Umarov, spoke of "thousands of fighters" when he addressed a speech to all his fighters in the mountains.[151]

Akhmad Kadyrov, formerly a leading separatist mufti, had switched sides in 2000

Most of the more prominent past Chechen separatist leaders have died or have been killed, including former president Aslan Maskhadov and leading warlord and terrorist attack mastermind Shamil Basayev. Meanwhile, the fortunes of the Chechen independence movement sagged, plagued by the internal disunity between Chechen moderates and Islamist radicals and the changing global political climate after 11 September 2001, as well as the general war-weariness of the Chechen population. Large-scale fighting has been replaced by guerrilla warfare and bombings targeting federal troops and forces of the regional government, with the violence often spilling over into adjacent regions. Since 2005, the insurgency has largely shifted out of Chechnya proper and into the nearby Russian territories, such as Ingushetia and Dagestan; the Russian government, for its part, has focused on the stabilization of the North Caucasus.

Throughout the years Russian officials have often announced that the war is over. In April 2002, President Vladimir Putin's declared that the war in Chechnya was over.[152] The Russian government maintains the conflict officially ended in April 2002,[152][153] and since then has continued largely as a peacekeeping operation.

In a 10 July 2006, interview with the BBC, Sergei Ivanov, Russia's then–prime minister and former minister of defense, said that "the war is over," and that "the military campaign lasted only 2 years."[154]

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Ramzan Kadyrov, the current president of the Chechnya, has also stated the war is over.[155] Others believe the war ended in 2003 with the passage of a Moscow-backed constitutional referendum and the election of pro-Moscow president Akhmad Kadyrov, while some consider the conflict on-going.[156] Some independent observers, including Álvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy for the Council of Europe, and Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have said that the war has largely concluded as of 2006.[157][158]

The separatists deny that the war is over, and guerrilla warfare continues throughout the North Caucasus. Colonel Sulim Yamadayev, Chechnya's second most powerful loyalist warlord after Kadyrov, also denied that the war is over. In March 2007, Yamadayev claimed there were well over 1,000 separatists and foreign Islamic militants entrenched in the mountains of Chechnya alone: "The war is not over, the war is far from being over. What we are facing now is basically a classic partisan war and my prognosis is that it will last two, three, maybe even five more years."[159] According to the CIA factbook, Russia has severely disabled the Chechen separatist movement, although sporadic violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus.[160] The overall security situation in Chechnya remains exceedingly difficult to accurately report due to the near monopoly the Russian government has on media covering the issue.[161] In May 2007, Amnesty International refuted claims by the government that the conflict has ended, stating "while large-scale military operations have been reduced, the conflict continues."[162] The strength of the separatists has for many years been unknown. Although Russia has killed a lot of separatists throughout the war, many young fighters have joined the separatists.[163]

An estimation, based on the war reports, shows that in the past three years Federal casualties are higher than the number of coalition casualties of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present).[164][165][166] With the abolition of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the proclamation of the Caucasus Emirate by the president of the separatist movement Dokka Umarov, the conflict in Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus is often referred to as the "War in the North Caucasus". The Russian government has given no new name to the conflict while most international observers still refer to it as a continuation of the Second Chechen War.[167]

Dmitry Medvedev meets with Alexander Bortnikov on 27 March 2009 to discuss the ending of counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya.

In late April 2008, the Human Rights Commissioner for the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, visited Russia's Caucasian republics. After wrapping up the week-long visit, he said he observed a number of positive developments in Chechnya, and that there was "obvious progress". He also noted that the judicial system in Chechnya was functioning properly. According to Hammarberg, missing people and the identification of missing bodies were still the two biggest human rights issues in the region, and he expressed his wish that further efforts be done to clarify the issue. President Putin responded to his comments, saying that the visit was of "great significance", and that Russia will take into account what the council had to say.[168][169][170]

Counter-insurgency operations have been conducted by Russian army in Chechnya since 1999. President of Chechnya, and former separatist, Ramzan Kadyrov declared this phase to end in March 2009.[171] On 27 March 2009, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev met with Alexander Bortnikov, the Director of the Federal Security Service to discuss the official ending of counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya. Medvedev directed the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, which Bortnikov also heads, to report to the Russian government on this issue, which will then be decided by the Russian parliament.[172] However Medvedev asserted that situation in Chechnya must remain under direct control of the FSB. Close to 480 active insurgents are currently[when?] fighting in the mountains under leadership of field commander Doku Umarov according to official data.[173]

On 16 April 2009, the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya was officially ended.[5]

People of the Second Chechen War

Russian political leaders and commanders

President of Russia
(in chronological order) Boris Yeltsin (died 2007), Vladimir Putin
Chiefs of the FSB, the GRU, and the General Staff of the Armed Forces
Nikolai PatrushevValentin KorabelnikovAnatoly Kvashnin, Yuri Baluyevsky
Commander of the Joint Group of Forces in the North Caucasus
(in chronological order) Vladimir Moltenskoy, , Valery Baranov (maimed 2004), Yakov Nedobitko
Commander of the North Caucasus Military District
(in chronological order) Viktor Kazantsev, Gennady Troshev, Vladimir Boldyrev, Alexander Baranov
Defence Minister of the Russian Federation
(in chronological order) Igor Sergeyev, Sergei Ivanov, Anatoliy Serdyukov
Interior Minister of Russia
(in chronological order) Vladimir Rushailo, Boris Gryzlov, Rashid Nurgaliyev
Military commandant of Chechnya
Yevgeniy Abrashin, Ivan Babichev, Grigory Fomenko, Leonid Krivonos
President of the Chechen Republic
(in chronological order) Akhmad Kadyrov (assassinated 2004), Alu Alkhanov, Ramzan Kadyrov
Pro-Russian Chechen commanders and politicians
Salman Abuyev (assassinated 2001), Artur Akhmadov, Ruslan Alkhanov, Abu Arsanukayev, Aslambek Aslakhanov, Movladi Baisarov (assassinated 2006), Shamil Burayev, Zina Batyzheva, Odes Baysultanov, Alimbek Delimkhanov, Adam Demilkhanov, Adam Deniyev (assassinated 2000), Rudnik Dudayev †, Taus Dzhabrailov, Bislan Gantamirov, Musa Gazimagomadov (died 2003), Hussein Isayev (assassinated 2004), Idris Gaibov, Muslim Ilyasov, Zelimkhan Kadyrov (died 2004), Said-Magomed Kakiyev, Nusreda Khabuseyeva †, Magomed Khambiyev, Ibragim Khultygov, Rezvan Kutsuyev, Supyan Makhchayev, Malik Saidullayev, Sultan Satuyev, Movsar Temirbayev, Raybek Tovzayev (killed 2001), Ruslan Tsakayev (died 2003), Said-Selim Tsuyev, Dzhabrail Yamadayev (assassinated 2003), Khalid Yamadayev, Ruslan Yamadayev, Sulim Yamadayev, Alambek Yasayev, Aud Yusupov †, Akhmad Zavgayev (assassinated 2002), and others
Russian commanders and politicians
Sergey Abramov, Mukhu Aliyev, Aslambek Aslakhanov, Mikhail Babich, Viktor Barsukov, Aleksandr Bespalov, Yuri Budanov (imprisoned 2003–2009, assassinated 2011), Boris Fadeyev, Gaidar Gadzhiyev (assassinated 2001), Magomed Gazimagomedov, Nikolai Goridov (assassinated 2002), Aleksandr Kayak (assassinated 2005), Oleg Khotin, Alexander Kolmakov, Dzhabrail Kostoyev (assassinated 2006), Abukar Kostoyev (killed 2004), Anatoly Kyarov (assassinated 2008), Alexander Lentsov, Adilgerei Magomedtagirov, Magomedali Magomedov, Ibragim Malsagov, Mikhail Malofeyev (killed 2000), Valery Manilov, Mark Metsayev †, Magomed Omarov (assassinated 2005), Boris Podoprigora, Aleksandr Potapov, Anatoly Pozdnyakov (assassinated 2001), Mikhail Rudchenko (assassinated 2002), Yan Sergunin (assassinated 2004), Vladimir Shamanov, Igor Shifrin (assassinated 2002), Georgy Shpak, German Ugryumov (died 2001), Pavel Varfolomeyev (assassinated 2001), Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Sergei Zveryev (assassinated 2000), Murat Zyazikov, and others

Separatist political leaders and commanders

President of Ichkeria
(in chronological order) Aslan Maskhadov (killed 2005), Sheikh Abdul Halim (killed 2006), Dokka Umarov (killed 2013)
Chechen separatist commanders and politicians
Salman Abuyev (defected), Aslambek Abdulkhadzhiev (killed 2002), Artur Akhmadov (defected), Ilyas Akhmadov, Uvais Akhmadov, Ruslan Alikhadzhyev (forcibly disappeared 2000), Ruslan Alkhanov (defected), Vakha Arsanov (killed or murdered in captivity 2005), Turpal-Ali Atgeriev (died or murdered in captivity 2002), Akhmed Avtorkhanov (killed 2005), Arbi Barayev (killed 2001), Movsar Barayev (killed 2002), Shamil Basayev (killed 2006), Rizvan Chitigov (killed 2005), Lecha Dudayev (killed 2000), Suleiman Elmurzayev (killed 2007), Idris Gaibov (defected), Ruslan Gelayev (killed 2004), Sultan Geliskhanov (captured 2006), Lecha Islamov (died or murdered in captivity 2005), Aslambek Ismailov (killed 2000), Khunkarpasha Israpilov (killed 2000), Magomed Khambiyev (defected), Umar Khambiyev, Ibragim Khultygov (defected), Isa Munayev (killed 2015), Isa Muskiyev (killed 2006), Abu Movsayev (killed 2000), Khozh-Ahmed Noukhayev (unknown fate), Salman Raduyev (died or murdered in captivity 2002), Salautdin Temirbulatov (imprisoned), Movladi Udugov, Yamadayev brothers (defected), Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev (assassinated 2004), Akhmed Zakayev, and others
North Caucasian and foreign militant leaders
Anzor Astemirov (killed 2010), Muslim Atayev (killed 2005), Alan Digorsky, Ilias Gorchkhanov (killed 2005), Rappani Khalilov (killed 2007), Ibn al-Khattab (assassinated 2002), Abdul Madzhid (killed September 2008), Rasul Makasharipov (killed 2005), Muhannad (killed 2011), Abu Hafs al-Urduni (killed 2006), Abu al-Walid (killed 2004), Akhmed Yevloyev (captured 2010), and others

Other associated people

Andrei Babitsky, Supian Ependiyev (killed 1999), Adlan Khasanov (killed 2004), Ramzan Mezhidov (killed 1999), Anna Politkovskaya (assassinated 2006), Roddy Scott (killed 2002), Fatima Tlisova, and others
Victims of human rights abuses
Ruslan Alikhadzhyev (kidnapped 2000, presumed dead), Shakhid Baysayev (kidnapped 2000, presumed dead), Zura Bitiyeva (murdered with her family 2003), Elza Kungayeva (kidnapped, raped and murdered 2000), Nura Luluyeva (kidnapped and murdered 2000), Zelimkhan Murdalov (forcibly disappeared 2001, presumed dead), Malika Umazheva (murdered 2002), Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev (forcibly disappeared 2000, presumed dead), and others
Ruslan Aushev, Shamil Beno, Aleksey Galkin, Nur-Pashi Kulayev (imprisoned 2006, unknown fate), Sergei Lapin (imprisoned 2005), Timur Mutsurayev, Lidia Yusupova, and others

See also


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External links

Timelines and chronologies
Human rights issues

28 February 1991

The first Gulf War ends.

Gulf War

Gulf War
Gulf War Photobox.jpg
Clockwise from top: USAF F-15Es, F-16s, and a F-15C flying over burning Kuwaiti oil wells; British troops from the Staffordshire Regiment in Operation Granby; camera view from a Lockheed AC-130; the Highway of Death; M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle
Date2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991
(6 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)

Coalition victory

  • State of Kuwait restored
  • Iraqi Kurdistan obtains autonomy, establishment of the northern Iraq no fly zone by the US
  • Belligerents
     United States
     United Kingdom
     Saudi Arabia
    Commanders and leaders
    956,600, including 700,000 US troops[5][6] 650,000 soldiers
    Casualties and losses

    292 killed (147 killed by enemy action, 145 non-hostile deaths)
    467 wounded in action
    776 wounded[7]
    31 tanks destroyed/disabled[8][9][10][11][12][13] [14][15]
    28 Bradley IFVs destroyed/damaged
    1 M113 APC destroyed
    2 British Warrior APCs destroyed
    1 Artillery Piece destroyed
    75 Aircraft destroyed[18]
    4,200 killed
    12,000 captured
    ≈200 tanks destroyed/captured
    850+ other armored vehicles destroyed/captured
    57 aircraft lost
    8 aircraft captured (Mirage F1s)

    17 ships sunk, 6 captured[19]
    25,000–50,000 killed[20]
    75,000+ wounded[7]
    80,000 captured[20]
    3,300 tanks destroyed[20]
    2,100 APCs destroyed[20]
    2,200 Artillery Pieces destroyed[20]
    110 Aircraft destroyed[18]
    137 Aircraft escaped to Iran[18]
    19 ships sunk, 6 damaged[18]

    Kuwaiti civilian losses:
    Over 1,000 killed[21]
    600 missing people[22]
    Iraqi civilian losses:
    About 3,664 killed[23]

    Other civilian losses:
    75 killed in Israel and Saudi Arabia, 309 injured

    The Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 – 17 January 1991) for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes. The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War or Iraq War,[24][25][26][a] before the term "Iraq War" became identified instead with the post-2003 Iraq War. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images from cameras on board US bombers during Operation Desert Storm.[27][28]

    On 2 August 1990 the Iraqi Army invaded and occupied Kuwait, which was met with international condemnation and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the UN Security Council. Together with the UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher,[29] American President George H. W. Bush deployed US forces into Saudi Arabia, and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the coalition, forming the largest military alliance since World War II. The great majority of the coalition's military forces were from the US, with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as leading contributors, in that order. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia paid around US$32 billion of the US$60 billion cost.[30]

    The war marked the introduction of live news broadcasts from the front lines of the battle, principally by the US network CNN.[31][32][33]

    The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial and naval bombardment on 17 January 1991, continuing for five weeks. This was followed by a ground assault on 24 February. This was a decisive victory for the coalition forces, who liberated Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The coalition ceased its advance and declared a ceasefire 100 hours after the ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and areas on Saudi Arabia's border. Iraq launched Scud missiles against coalition military targets in Saudi Arabia and against Israel.


    Throughout the Cold War, Iraq had been an ally of the Soviet Union, and there was a history of friction between it and the United States. The US was concerned with Iraq's position on Israeli–Palestinian politics. The US also disliked Iraqi support for many Arab and Palestinian militant groups such as Abu Nidal, which led to Iraq's inclusion on the developing US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism on 29 December 1979.

    The US remained officially neutral after Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980, which became the Iran–Iraq War, although it provided resources, political support, and some "non-military" aircraft to Iraq.[34] In March 1982, Iran began a successful counteroffensive (Operation Undeniable Victory), and the US increased its support for Iraq to prevent Iran from forcing a surrender. In a US bid to open full diplomatic relations with Iraq, the country was removed from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Ostensibly, this was because of improvement in the regime's record, although former US Assistant Defense Secretary Noel Koch later stated: "No one had any doubts about [the Iraqis'] continued involvement in terrorism ... The real reason was to help them succeed in the war against Iran."[35]

    With Iraq's newfound success in the war, and the Iranian rebuff of a peace offer in July, arms sales to Iraq reached a record spike in 1982. When Iraqi President Saddam Hussein expelled Abu Nidal to Syria at the US's request in November 1983, the Reagan administration sent Donald Rumsfeld to meet Saddam as a special envoy and to cultivate ties. By the time the ceasefire with Iran was signed in August 1988, Iraq was heavily debt-ridden and tensions within society were rising.[36] Most of its debt was owed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq pressured both nations to forgive the debts, but they refused.[37]

    Donald Rumsfeld, US special envoy to the Middle East, meets Saddam Hussein on 19–20 December 1983.

    The Iraq–Kuwait dispute also involved Iraqi claims to Kuwait as Iraqi territory.[34] Kuwait had been a part of the Ottoman Empire's province of Basra, something that Iraq claimed made it rightful Iraqi territory.[38] Its ruling dynasty, the al-Sabah family, had concluded a protectorate agreement in 1899 that assigned responsibility for its foreign affairs to the United Kingdom. The UK drew the border between the two countries in 1922, making Iraq virtually landlocked.[34] Kuwait rejected Iraqi attempts to secure further provisions in the region.[38]

    Iraq also accused Kuwait of exceeding its OPEC quotas for oil production. In order for the cartel to maintain its desired price of $18 a barrel, discipline was required. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait were consistently overproducing; the latter at least in part to repair losses caused by Iranian attacks in the Iran–Iraq War and to pay for the losses of an economic scandal. The result was a slump in the oil price – as low as $10 a barrel – with a resulting loss of $7 billion a year to Iraq, equal to its 1989 balance of payments deficit.[39] Resulting revenues struggled to support the government's basic costs, let alone repair Iraq's damaged infrastructure. Jordan and Iraq both looked for more discipline, with little success.[40] The Iraqi government described it as a form of economic warfare,[40] which it claimed was aggravated by Kuwait slant-drilling across the border into Iraq's Rumaila oil field.[41] At the same time, Saddam looked for closer ties with those Arab states that had supported Iraq in the war. This move was supported by the US, who believed that Iraqi ties with pro-Western Gulf states would help bring and maintain Iraq inside the US' sphere of influence.[42]

    In 1989, it appeared that Saudi–Iraqi relations, strong during the war, would be maintained. A pact of non-interference and non-aggression was signed between the countries, followed by a Kuwaiti-Iraqi deal for Iraq to supply Kuwait with water for drinking and irrigation, although a request for Kuwait to lease Iraq Umm Qasr was rejected.[42] Saudi-backed development projects were hampered by Iraq's large debts, even with the demobilization of 200,000 soldiers. Iraq also looked to increase arms production so as to become an exporter, although the success of these projects was also restrained by Iraq's obligations; in Iraq, resentment to OPEC's controls mounted.[43]

    Iraq's relations with its Arab neighbors – in particular Egypt – were degraded by mounting violence in Iraq against expatriate groups, who were well-employed during the war, by unemployed Iraqis, among them demobilized soldiers. These events drew little notice outside the Arab world because of fast-moving events directly related to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. However, the US did begin to condemn Iraq's human rights record, including the well-known use of torture.[44] The UK also condemned the execution of Farzad Bazoft, a journalist working for the British newspaper The Observer.[34] Following Saddam's declaration that "binary chemical weapons" would be used on Israel if it used military force against Iraq, Washington halted part of its funding.[45] A UN mission to the Israeli-occupied territories, where riots had resulted in Palestinian deaths, was vetoed by the US, making Iraq deeply skeptical of US foreign policy aims in the region, combined with the reliance of the US on Middle Eastern energy reserves.[46]

    In early July 1990, Iraq complained about Kuwait's behavior, such as not respecting their quota, and openly threatened to take military action. On the 23rd, the CIA reported that Iraq had moved 30,000 troops to the Iraq-Kuwait border, and the US naval fleet in the Persian Gulf was placed on alert. Saddam believed an anti-Iraq conspiracy was developing – Kuwait had begun talks with Iran, and Iraq's rival Syria had arranged a visit to Egypt.[47] Upon review by the Secretary of Defense, it was found that Syria indeed planned a strike against Iraq in the coming days. Saddam immediately used funding to incorporate central intelligence into Syria and ultimately prevented the impending air strike. On 15 July 1990, Saddam's government laid out its combined objections to the Arab League, including that policy moves were costing Iraq $1 billion a year, that Kuwait was still using the Rumaila oil field, that loans made by the UAE and Kuwait could not be considered debts to its "Arab brothers".[47] He threatened force against Kuwait and the UAE, saying: "The policies of some Arab rulers are American ... They are inspired by America to undermine Arab interests and security."[48] The US sent aerial refuelling planes and combat ships to the Persian Gulf in response to these threats.[49] Discussions in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, mediated on the Arab League's behalf by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, were held on 31 July and led Mubarak to believe that a peaceful course could be established.[50]

    On the 25th, Saddam met with April Glaspie, the US Ambassador to Iraq, in Baghdad. The Iraqi leader attacked American policy with regards to Kuwait and the UAE:

    So what can it mean when America says it will now protect its friends? It can only mean prejudice against Iraq. This stance plus maneuvers and statements which have been made has encouraged the UAE and Kuwait to disregard Iraqi rights ... If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force. We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you ... We do not place America among the enemies. We place it where we want our friends to be and we try to be friends. But repeated American statements last year made it apparent that America did not regard us as friends.[51]

    Glaspie replied:

    I know you need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait ... Frankly, we can only see that you have deployed massive troops in the south. Normally that would not be any of our business. But when this happens in the context of what you said on your national day, then when we read the details in the two letters of the Foreign Minister, then when we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the UAE and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression against Iraq, then it would be reasonable for me to be concerned.[51]

    Saddam stated that he would attempt last-ditch negotiations with the Kuwaitis but Iraq "would not accept death."[51]

    According to Glaspie's own account, she stated in reference to the precise border between Kuwait and Iraq, "...  that she had served in Kuwait 20 years before; 'then, as now, we took no position on these Arab affairs'."[52] Glaspie similarly believed that war was not imminent.[50]

    Invasion of Kuwait

    Map of Kuwait

    The result of the Jeddah talks was an Iraqi demand for $10 billion[53] to cover the lost revenues from Rumaila; Kuwait offered $500 million.[53] The Iraqi response was to immediately order an invasion,[54] which started on 2 August 1990 with the bombing of Kuwait's capital, Kuwait City.

    At the time of the invasion, the Kuwaiti military was believed to have numbered 16,000 men, arranged into three armored, one mechanised infantry and one under-strength artillery brigade.[55] The pre-war strength of the Kuwait Air Force was around 2,200 Kuwaiti personnel, with 80 fixed-wing aircraft and 40 helicopters.[55] In spite of Iraqi saber rattling, Kuwait did not mobilize its force; the army had been stood down on 19 July,[56] and at the time of the Iraqi invasion many Kuwaiti military personnel were on leave.

    By 1988, at the end of the Iran–Iraq war, the Iraqi Army was the world's fourth largest army, consisting of 955,000 standing soldiers and 650,000 paramilitary forces in the Popular Army. According to John Childs and André Corvisier, a low estimate shows the Iraqi Army capable of fielding 4,500 tanks, 484 combat aircraft and 232 combat helicopters.[57] According to Michael Knights, a high estimate shows the Iraqi Army capable of fielding one million men and 850,000 reservists, 5,500 tanks, 3,000 artillery pieces, 700 combat aircraft and helicopters; it held 53 divisions, 20 special-forces brigades, and several regional militias, and had a strong air defense.[58]

    Iraqi commandos infiltrated the Kuwaiti border first to prepare for the major units, which began the attack at midnight. The Iraqi attack had two prongs, with the primary attack force driving south straight for Kuwait City down the main highway, and a supporting attack force entering Kuwait farther west, but then turning and driving east, cutting off Kuwait City from the country's southern half. The commander of a Kuwaiti armored battalion, 35th Armoured Brigade, deployed them against the Iraqi attack and was able to conduct a robust defense at the Battle of the Bridges near Al Jahra, west of Kuwait City.[59]

    Kuwaiti aircraft scrambled to meet the invading force, but approximately 20% were lost or captured. A few combat sorties were flown against Iraqi ground forces.[60]

    Iraqi Army T-72M main battle tanks. The T-72M tank was a common Iraqi battle tank used in the Gulf War.
    An Iraqi Air Force Bell 214ST transport helicopter, after being captured by a US Marine Corps unit at the start of the ground phase of Operation Desert Storm

    The main Iraqi thrust into Kuwait City was conducted by commandos deployed by helicopters and boats to attack the city from the sea, while other divisions seized the airports and two airbases. The Iraqis attacked the Dasman Palace, the Royal Residence of Kuwait's Emir, Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, which was defended by the Emiri Guard supported with M-84 tanks. In the process, the Iraqis killed Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir's youngest brother.

    Within 12 hours, most resistance had ended within Kuwait, and the royal family had fled, leaving Iraq in control of most of Kuwait.[54] After two days of intense combat, most of the Kuwaiti military were either overrun by the Iraqi Republican Guard, or had escaped to Saudi Arabia. The Emir and key ministers were able to get out and head south along the highway for refuge in Saudi Arabia. Iraqi ground forces consolidated their control of Kuwait City, then headed south and redeployed along the Saudi border. After the decisive Iraqi victory, Saddam initially installed a puppet regime known as the "Provisional Government of Free Kuwait" before installing his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid as Kuwait's governor on 8 August.

    After the invasion, the Iraqi military looted over $1,000,000,000 in banknotes from Kuwait's Central Bank.[61] At the same time, Saddam Hussein made the Kuwaiti dinar equal to the Iraqi dinar, thereby lowering the Kuwaiti currency to one-twelfth of its original value. In response, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah ruled the banknotes as invalid and refused to reimburse stolen notes, which became worthless because of a UN embargo. After the conflict ended, many of the stolen banknotes made their way back into circulation. Today, the stolen banknotes are a collectible for numismatists.[62]

    Kuwaiti resistance movement

    Kuwaitis founded a local armed resistance movement following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.[63][64][65] The Kuwaiti resistance's casualty rate far exceeded that of the coalition military forces and Western hostages.[66] The resistance predominantly consisted of ordinary citizens who lacked any form of training and supervision.[66]

    Run-up to the war

    Diplomatic means

    A key element of US political, military and energy economic planning occurred in early 1984. The Iran–Iraq war had been going on for five years by that time and there were significant casualties on both sides, reaching into the hundreds of thousands. Within President Ronald Reagan's National Security Council concern was growing that the war could spread beyond the boundaries of the two belligerents. A National Security Planning Group meeting was formed, chaired by then Vice President George Bush, to review US options. It was determined that there was a high likelihood that the conflict would spread into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, but that the United States had little capability to defend the region. Furthermore, it was determined that a prolonged war in the region would induce much higher oil prices and threaten the fragile recovery of the world economy, which was just beginning to gain momentum. On 22 May 1984, President Reagan was briefed on the project conclusions in the Oval Office by William Flynn Martin who had served as the head of the NSC staff that organized the study. The full declassified presentation can be seen here.[67] The conclusions were threefold: first, oil stocks needed to be increased among members of the International Energy Agency and, if necessary, released early in the event of oil market disruption; second, the United States needed to beef up the security of friendly Arab states in the region; and third, an embargo should be placed on sales of military equipment to Iran and Iraq. The plan was approved by President Reagan and later affirmed by the G-7 leaders headed by the United Kingdom's Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in the London Summit of 1984. The plan was implemented and became the basis for US preparedness to respond to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1991.

    Within hours of the invasion, Kuwait and US delegations requested a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.[68][69] On 3 August 1990, the Arab League passed its own resolution, which called for a solution to the conflict from within the league, and warned against outside intervention. Iraq and Libya were the only two Arab League states that opposed the resolution for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait; the PLO opposed it as well.[70] The Arab states of Yemen and Jordan – a Western ally which bordered Iraq and relied on the country for economic support[71] – opposed military intervention from non-Arab states.[72] The Arab state of Sudan aligned itself with Saddam.[71]

    On 6 August, Resolution 661 placed economic sanctions on Iraq.[73][74] Resolution 665[69] followed soon after, which authorized a naval blockade to enforce the sanctions. It said the "use of measures commensurate to the specific circumstances as may be necessary ... to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify their cargoes and destinations and to ensure strict implementation of resolution 661."[75][76]

    President Bush visiting American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990

    The US administration had at first been indecisive with an "undertone ... of resignation to the invasion and even adaptation to it as a fait accompli" until the UK's prime minister Margaret Thatcher played a powerful role, reminding the President that appeasement in the 1930s had led to war, that Saddam would have the whole Gulf at his mercy along with 65 percent of the world's oil supply, and famously urging President Bush "not to go wobbly".[29]

    Once persuaded, US officials insisted on a total Iraqi pullout from Kuwait, without any linkage to other Middle Eastern problems, accepting the British view that any concessions would strengthen Iraqi influence in the region for years to come.[77]

    On 12 August 1990, Saddam "propose[d] that all cases of occupation, and those cases that have been portrayed as occupation, in the region, be resolved simultaneously". Specifically, he called for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and "mutual withdrawals by Iraq and Iran and arrangement for the situation in Kuwait." He also called for a replacement of US troops that mobilized in Saudi Arabia in response to Kuwait's invasion with "an Arab force", as long as that force did not involve Egypt. Additionally, he requested an "immediate freeze of all boycott and siege decisions" and a general normalization of relations with Iraq.[78] From the beginning of the crisis, President Bush was strongly opposed to any "linkage" between Iraq's occupation of Kuwait and the Palestinian issue.[79]

    On 23 August, Saddam appeared on state television with Western hostages to whom he had refused exit visas. In the video, he asks a young British boy, Stuart Lockwood, whether he is getting his milk, and goes on to say, through his interpreter, "We hope your presence as guests here will not be for too long. Your presence here, and in other places, is meant to prevent the scourge of war."[80]

    Another Iraqi proposal communicated in August 1990 was delivered to US National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft by an unidentified Iraqi official. The official communicated to the White House that Iraq would "withdraw from Kuwait and allow foreigners to leave" provided that the UN lifted sanctions, allowed "guaranteed access to the Persian Gulf through the Kuwaiti islands of Bubiyan and Warbah", and allowed Iraq to "gain full control of the Rumaila oil field that extends slightly into Kuwaiti territory". The proposal also "include[d] offers to negotiate an oil agreement with the United States 'satisfactory to both nations' national security interests,' develop a joint plan 'to alleviate Iraq's economical and financial problems' and 'jointly work on the stability of the gulf.'"[81]

    On 29 November 1990, the Security Council passed Resolution 678, which gave Iraq until 15 January 1991 to withdraw from Kuwait, and empowered states to use "all necessary means" to force Iraq out of Kuwait after the deadline.

    In December 1990, Iraq made a proposal to withdraw from Kuwait provided that foreign troops left the region and that an agreement was reached regarding the Palestinian problem and the dismantlement of both Israel's and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The White House rejected the proposal.[82] The PLO's Yasser Arafat expressed that neither he nor Saddam insisted that solving the Israel–Palestine issues should be a precondition to solving the issues in Kuwait, though he did acknowledge a "strong link" between these problems.[83]

    Ultimately, the US and UK stuck to their position that there would be no negotiations until Iraq withdrew from Kuwait and that they should not grant Iraq concessions, lest they give the impression that Iraq benefited from its military campaign.[77] Also, when US Secretary of State James Baker met with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Switzerland, for last minute peace talks in early 1991, Aziz reportedly made no concrete proposals and did not outline any hypothetical Iraqi moves.[84]

    On 14 January 1991, France proposed that the UN Security Council call for "a rapid and massive withdrawal" from Kuwait along with a statement to Iraq that Council members would bring their "active contribution" to a settlement of the region's other problems, "in particular, of the Arab–Israeli conflict and in particular to the Palestinian problem by convening, at an appropriate moment, an international conference" to assure "the security, stability and development of this region of the world." The French proposal was supported by Belgium (at the moment one of the rotating Council members), Germany, Spain, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and several non-aligned nations. The US, the UK, and the Soviet Union rejected it; US Ambassador to the UN Thomas Pickering stated that the French proposal was unacceptable, because it went beyond previous Council resolutions on the Iraqi invasion.[85][86][87] France dropped this proposal when it found "no tangible sign of interest" from Baghdad.[88]

    Military means

    F-15Es parked during Operation Desert Shield

    One of the West's main concerns was the significant threat Iraq posed to Saudi Arabia. Following Kuwait's conquest, the Iraqi Army was within easy striking distance of Saudi oil fields. Control of these fields, along with Kuwaiti and Iraqi reserves, would have given Saddam control over the majority of the world's oil reserves. Iraq also had a number of grievances with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had lent Iraq some 26 billion dollars during its war with Iran. The Saudis had backed Iraq in that war, as they feared the influence of Shia Iran's Islamic revolution on its own Shia minority. After the war, Saddam felt he should not have to repay the loans due to the help he had given the Saudis by fighting Iran.

    Soon after his conquest of Kuwait, Saddam began verbally attacking the Saudis. He argued that the US-supported Saudi state was an illegitimate and unworthy guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. He combined the language of the Islamist groups that had recently fought in Afghanistan with the rhetoric Iran had long used to attack the Saudis.[89]

    US Army soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade during the Gulf War

    Acting on the Carter Doctrine policy, and out of fear the Iraqi Army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, US President George H. W. Bush quickly announced that the US would launch a "wholly defensive" mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, under the codename Operation Desert Shield. The operation began on 7 August 1990, when US troops were sent to Saudi Arabia, due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for US military assistance.[53] This "wholly defensive" doctrine was quickly abandoned when, on 8 August, Iraq declared Kuwait to be Iraq's 19th province and Saddam named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid, as its military-governor.[90]

    The US Navy dispatched two naval battle groups built around the aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Independence to the Persian Gulf, where they were ready by 8 August. The US also sent the battleships USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin to the region. A total of 48 US Air Force F-15s from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, landed in Saudi Arabia and immediately commenced round-the-clock air patrols of the Saudi–Kuwait–Iraq border to discourage further Iraqi military advances. They were joined by 36 F-15 A-Ds from the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing at Bitburg, Germany. The Bitburg contingent was based at Al Kharj Air Base, approximately an hour south east of Riyadh. The 36th TFW would be responsible for 11 confirmed Iraqi Air Force aircraft shot down during the war. There were also two Air National Guard units stationed at Al Kharj Air Base, the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Fighter Wing flew bombing missions with 24 F-16s flying 2,000 combat missions and dropping four million pounds (1,800,000 kilograms; 1,800 metric tons) of munitions, and the New York Air National Guard's 174th Fighter Wing from Syracuse flew 24 F-16s on bombing missions. Military buildup continued from there, eventually reaching 543,000 troops, twice the number used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Much of the material was airlifted or carried to the staging areas via fast sealift ships, allowing a quick buildup.

    Creating a coalition

    Nations that deployed coalition forces or provided support.[91] (On behalf of Afghanistan, 300 Mujaheddin joined the coalition on Feb 11, 1991. Niger contributed 480 troops to guard shrines in Mecca and Medina on Jan 15, 1991.)[92]

    A series of UN Security Council resolutions and Arab League resolutions were passed regarding Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. One of the most important was Resolution 678, passed on 29 November 1990, which gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline until 15 January 1991, and authorized "all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660", and a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force if Iraq failed to comply.[93]

    To ensure that economic backing, Baker went on an 11-day journey to nine countries in September 1990, which the press dubbed "The Tin Cup Trip". The first stop was Saudi Arabia, which a month before had already granted permission to the United States to use its facilities. However, Baker believed that Saudi Arabia, an immensely wealthy nation, should assume some of the cost of the military efforts, since one of the most important military objectives was to defend Saudi Arabia. When Baker asked King Fahd for 15 billion dollars, the King readily agreed, with the promise that Baker ask Kuwait for the same amount.

    The next day, 7 September, he did just that, and the Emir of Kuwait, displaced in a Sheraton hotel outside his invaded country, easily agreed. Baker then moved to enter talks with Egypt, whose leadership he considered to be "the moderate voice of the Middle East". President Mubarak of Egypt was furious with Saddam for his invasion of Kuwait, and for the fact that Saddam had assured Mubarak that an invasion was not his intention. Egypt received approximately $7 billion in debt forgiveness for its providing of support and troops for the US-led intervention.[94]

    After stops in Helsinki and Moscow to smooth out Iraqi demands for a Middle-Eastern peace conference with the Soviet Union, Baker traveled to Syria to discuss its role in the crisis with its President Hafez Assad. Assad had a deep personal enmity towards Saddam, which was defined by the fact that "Saddam had been trying to kill him [Assad] for years." Harboring this animosity and being impressed with Baker's diplomatic initiative to visit Damascus (relations had been severed since the 1983 bombing of US Marine barracks in Beirut), Assad agreed to pledge up to 100,000 Syrian troops to the coalition effort. This was a vital step in ensuring Arab states were represented in the coalition. In exchange, Washington gave Syrian dictator President Hafez al-Assad the green light to wipe out forces in opposition to Syria's rule in Lebanon and arranged for weapons valued at a billion dollars to be provided to Syria, mostly through Gulf states.[95] In exchange for Iran's support for the US-led intervention, the US government promised the Iranian government to end US opposition to World Bank loans to Iran. On the day before the ground invasion began, the World Bank gave Iran the first loan of $250m.[95]

    Baker flew to Rome for a brief visit with the Italians in which he was promised the use of some military equipment, before journeying to Germany to meet with American ally Chancellor Kohl. Although Germany's constitution (which was brokered essentially by the United States) prohibited military involvement in outside nations, Kohl committed a two billion dollar contribution to the coalition's war effort, as well as further economic and military support of coalition ally Turkey, and the transportation of Egyptian soldiers and ships to the Persian Gulf.[96]

    General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. and President George Bush visit US troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990.

    A coalition of forces opposing Iraq's aggression was formed, consisting of forces from 34 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the US itself. It was the largest coalition since World War II.[97] US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. was designated to be the commander of the coalition forces in the Persian Gulf area. The Soviet Union also supported United States intervention.

    Although they did not contribute any forces, Japan and Germany made financial contributions totaling $10 billion and $6.6 billion respectively. US troops represented 73% of the coalition's 956,600 troops in Iraq.[98]

    Many of the coalition countries were reluctant to commit military forces. Some felt that the war was an internal Arab affair or did not want to increase US influence in the Middle East. In the end, however, many nations were persuaded by Iraq's belligerence towards other Arab states, offers of economic aid or debt forgiveness, and threats to withhold aid.[99]

    Justification for intervention

    Dick Cheney meets with Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence and Aviation in Saudi Arabia to discuss how to handle the invasion of Kuwait.

    The US and the UN gave several public justifications for involvement in the conflict, the most prominent being the Iraqi violation of Kuwaiti territorial integrity. In addition, the US moved to support its ally Saudi Arabia, whose importance in the region, and as a key supplier of oil, made it of considerable geopolitical importance. Shortly after the Iraqi invasion, US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney made the first of several visits to Saudi Arabia where King Fahd requested US military assistance. During a speech in a special joint session of the US Congress given on 11 September 1990, US President George Bush summed up the reasons with the following remarks: "Within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then that I decided to act to check that aggression."[100]

    The Pentagon stated that satellite photos showing a buildup of Iraqi forces along the border were this information's source, but this was later alleged to be false. A reporter for the St. Petersburg Times acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images made at the time in question, which showed nothing but empty desert.[101]

    Other justifications for foreign involvement included Iraq's history of human rights abuses under Saddam. Iraq was also known to possess biological weapons and chemical weapons, which Saddam had used against Iranian troops during the Iran–Iraq War and against his own country's Kurdish population in the Al-Anfal campaign. Iraq was also known to have a nuclear weapons program, but the report about it from January 1991 was partially declassified by the CIA on 26 May 2001.[102]

    Public relations campaign targeting the public

    Gen. Colin Powell (left), Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., and Paul Wolfowitz (right) listen as Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney addresses reporters regarding the 1991 Gulf War.

    Although there were human rights abuses committed in Kuwait by the invading Iraqi military, the alleged incidents that received the most publicity in the US were fabrications of the public relations firm hired by the government of Kuwait to influence US opinion in favor of military intervention. Shortly after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the organization Citizens for a Free Kuwait was formed in the US. It hired the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for about $11 million, paid by Kuwait's government.[103]

    Among many other means of influencing US opinion, such as distributing books on Iraqi atrocities to US soldiers deployed in the region, "Free Kuwait" T-shirts and speakers to college campuses, and dozens of video news releases to television stations, the firm arranged for an appearance before a group of members of the US Congress in which a young woman identifying herself as a nurse working in the Kuwait City hospital described Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators and letting them die on the floor.[104]

    The story helped tip both the public and Congress towards a war with Iraq: six Congressmen said the testimony was enough for them to support military action against Iraq and seven Senators referenced the testimony in debate. The Senate supported the military actions in a 52–47 vote. However, a year after the war, this allegation was revealed to be a fabrication. The young woman who had testified was found to be a member of Kuwait's Royal Family, in fact the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the US.[104] She hadn't lived in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion.

    The details of the Hill & Knowlton public relations campaign, including the incubator testimony, were published in John R. MacArthur's Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War,[105] and came to wide public attention when an Op-ed by MacArthur was published in The New York Times. This prompted a reexamination by Amnesty International, which had originally promoted an account alleging even greater numbers of babies torn from incubators than the original fake testimony. After finding no evidence to support it, the organization issued a retraction. President Bush then repeated the incubator allegations on television.

    At the same time, the Iraqi Army committed several well-documented crimes during its occupation of Kuwait, such as the summary execution without trial of three brothers after which their bodies were stacked in a pile and left to decay in a public street.[106] Iraqi troops also ransacked and looted private Kuwaiti homes; one residence was repeatedly defecated in.[107] A resident later commented: "The whole thing was violence for the sake of violence, destruction for the sake of destruction ... Imagine a surrealistic painting by Salvador Dalí".[108]

    US President Bush repeatedly compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler.[109]

    Early battles

    Air campaign

    The USAF F-117 Nighthawk, one of the key aircraft used in Operation Desert Storm

    The Gulf War began with an extensive aerial bombing campaign on 16 January 1991. For 42 consecutive days and nights, the coalition forces subjected Iraq to one of the most intensive air bombardments in military history. The coalition flew over 100,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tons[clarification needed] of bombs,[110] and widely destroying military and civilian infrastructure.[111] The air campaign was commanded by USAF Lieutenant General Chuck Horner, who briefly served as US Central Command's Commander-in-Chief – Forward while General Schwarzkopf was still in the US.

    A day after the deadline set in Resolution 678, the coalition launched a massive air campaign, which began the general offensive codenamed Operation Desert Storm. The first priority was the destruction of Iraq's Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. The sorties were launched mostly from Saudi Arabia and the six carrier battle groups (CVBG) in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

    An Iraqi T-54A or Type 59 tank lies destroyed after a coalition bombing attack during Operation Desert Storm.

    The next targets were command and communication facilities. Saddam Hussein had closely micromanaged Iraqi forces in the Iran–Iraq War, and initiative at lower levels was discouraged. Coalition planners hoped that Iraqi resistance would quickly collapse if deprived of command and control.

    The air campaign's third and largest phase targeted military targets throughout Iraq and Kuwait: Scud missile launchers, weapons research facilities, and naval forces. About a third of the coalition's air power was devoted to attacking Scuds, some of which were on trucks and therefore difficult to locate. US and British special operations forces had been covertly inserted into western Iraq to aid in the search for and destruction of Scuds.

    Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses, including man-portable air-defense systems, were surprisingly ineffective against enemy aircraft, and the coalition suffered only 75 aircraft losses in over 100,000 sorties, 44 due to Iraqi action. Two of these losses are the result of aircraft colliding with the ground while evading Iraqi ground-fired weapons.[112][113] One of these losses is a confirmed air-air victory.[114]

    Iraqi Scud missile strikes on Israel and Saudi Arabia

    Iraq's government made no secret that it would attack if invaded. Prior to the war's start, in the aftermath of the failed US–Iraq peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, a reporter asked Iraq's English-speaking Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz: "Mr. Foreign Minister, if war starts ... will you attack?" His response was: "Yes, absolutely, yes."[115][116]

    Five hours after the first attacks, Iraq's state radio broadcast declaring that "The dawn of victory nears as this great showdown begins." Iraq fired eight missiles the next day. These missile attacks were to continue throughout the war. A total of 88 Scud missiles were fired by Iraq during the war's seven weeks.[117]

    Scud Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) with missile in upright position

    Iraq hoped to provoke a military response from Israel. The Iraqi government hoped that many Arab states would withdraw from the Coalition, as they would be reluctant to fight alongside Israel.[79] Following the first attacks, Israeli Air Force jets were deployed to patrol the northern airspace with Iraq. Israel prepared to militarily retaliate, as its policy for the previous 40 years had always been retaliation. However, President Bush pressured Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir not to retaliate and withdraw Israeli jets, fearing that if Israel attacked Iraq, the other Arab nations would either desert the coalition or join Iraq. It was also feared that if Israel used Syrian or Jordanian airspace to attack Iraq, they would intervene in the war on Iraq's side or attack Israel. The coalition promised to deploy Patriot missiles to defend Israel if it refrained from responding to the Scud attacks.[118][119]

    The Scud missiles targeting Israel were relatively ineffective, as firing at extreme range resulted in a dramatic reduction in accuracy and payload. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a total of 74 Israelis died as a result of the Iraqi attacks: two directly and the rest from suffocation and heart attacks.[120] Approximately 230 Israelis were injured.[121] Extensive property damage was also caused, and according to Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Damage to general property consisted of 1,302 houses, 6,142 apartments, 23 public buildings, 200 shops and 50 cars."[122] It was feared that Iraq would fire missiles filled with nerve agents such as sarin. As a result, Israel's government issued gas masks to its citizens. When the first Iraqi missiles hit Israel, some people injected themselves with an antidote for nerve gas. It has been suggested that the sturdy construction techniques used in Israeli cities, coupled with the fact that Scuds were only launched at night, played an important role in limiting the number of casualties from Scud attacks.[123]

    Israeli civilians taking shelter from missiles (top) and aftermath of attack in Ramat Gan, Israel (bottom)

    In response to the threat of Scuds on Israel, the US rapidly sent a Patriot missile air defense artillery battalion to Israel along with two batteries of MIM-104 Patriot missiles for the protection of civilians.[124] The Royal Netherlands Air Force also deployed a Patriot missile squadron to Israel and Turkey. The Dutch Defense Ministry later stated that the military use of the Patriot missile system was largely ineffective, but its psychological value for the affected populations was high.[125]

    Aftermath of an Iraq Armed Forces strike on US barracks

    Coalition air forces were also extensively exercised in "Scud hunts" in the Iraqi desert, trying to locate the camouflaged trucks before they fired their missiles at Israel or Saudi Arabia. On the ground, special operations forces also infiltrated Iraq, tasked with locating and destroying Scuds. Once special operations were combined with air patrols, the number of attacks fell sharply, then increased slightly as Iraqi forces adjusted to coalition tactics.

    As the Scud attacks continued, the Israelis grew increasingly impatient, and considered taking unilateral military action against Iraq. On 22 January 1991, a Scud missile hit the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, after two coalition Patriots failed to intercept it. Three elderly people suffered fatal heart attacks, another 96 people were injured, and 20 apartment buildings were damaged.[126][127] After this attack, the Israelis warned that if the US failed to stop the attacks, they would. At one point, Israeli commandos boarded helicopters prepared to fly into Iraq, but the mission was called off after a phone call from US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, reporting on the extent of coalition efforts to destroy Scuds and emphasizing that Israeli intervention could endanger US forces.[128]

    In addition to the attacks on Israel, 47 Scud missiles were fired into Saudi Arabia, and one missile was fired at Bahrain and another at Qatar. The missiles were fired at both military and civilian targets. One Saudi civilian was killed, and 78 others were injured. No casualties were reported in Bahrain or Qatar. The Saudi government issued all its citizens and expatriates with gas masks[citation needed] in the event of Iraq using missiles with chemical or biological warheads. The government broadcast alerts and 'all clear' messages over television to warn citizens during Scud attacks.

    On 25 February 1991, a Scud missile hit a US Army barracks of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, out of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, stationed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers and injuring over 100.[129]

    Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia (Battle of Khafji)

    Military operations during Khafji's liberation

    On 29 January, Iraqi forces attacked and occupied the lightly defended Saudi city of Khafji with tanks and infantry. The Battle of Khafji ended two days later when the Iraqis were driven back by the Saudi Arabian National Guard,[citation needed] supported by Qatari forces[citation needed] and US Marines.[citation needed] The allied forces used extensive artillery fire.

    Both sides suffered casualties, although Iraqi forces sustained substantially more dead and captured than the allied forces. Eleven Americans were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, an additional 14 US airmen were killed when their AC-130 gunship was shot down by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, and two US soldiers were captured during the battle. Saudi and Qatari forces had a total of 18 dead. Iraqi forces in Khafji had 60–300 dead and 400 captured.

    The Battle of Khafji was an example of how air power could single-handedly hinder the advance of enemy ground forces. Upon learning of Iraqi troop movements, 140 coalition aircraft were diverted to attack an advancing column consisting of two armored divisions in battalion-sized units. Precision stand-off attacks were conducted during the night and through to the next day. Iraqi vehicle losses included 357 tanks, 147 armored personnel carriers, and 89 mobile artillery pieces. Some crews simply abandoned their vehicles upon realizing that they could be destroyed by guided bombs without warning, stopping the divisions from massing for an organized attack on the town. One Iraqi soldier, who had fought in the Iran–Iraq War, remarked that his brigade "had sustained more punishment from allied airpower in 30 minutes at Khafji than in eight years of fighting against Iran."[130]

    Counter reconnaissance

    Iraqi tanks destroyed by Task Force 1-41 Infantry, February 1991

    Task Force 1-41 Infantry was a US Army heavy battalion task force from the 2nd Armored Division (Forward). It was the spearhead of VII Corps, consisting primarily of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, and the 4th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment. Task Force 1–41 was the first coalition force to breach the Saudi Arabian border on 15 February 1991, and to conduct ground combat operations in Iraq engaging in direct and indirect fire fights with the enemy on 17 February 1991.[131] Shortly after arrival in theatre Task Force 1–41 Infantry received a counter-reconnaissance mission.[132] 1–41 Infantry was assisted by the 1st Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry Regiment. This joint effort would become known as Task Force Iron.[133] Counter-reconnaissance generally includes destroying or repelling the enemy's reconnaissance elements and denying their commander any observation of friendly forces. On 15 February 1991 4th Battalion of the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment fired on a trailer and a few trucks in the Iraqi sector that were observing American forces.[134] On 16 February 1991 several groups of Iraqi vehicles appeared to be performing reconnaissance on the Task Force and were driven away by fire from 4–3 FA.[135] Another enemy platoon, including six vehicles, was reported as being to the northeast of the Task Force. They were engaged with artillery fire from 4–3 FA.[136] Later that evening another group of Iraqi vehicles was spotted moving towards the center of the Task Force. They appeared to be Iraqi Soviet-made BTRs and tanks. For the next hour the Task Force fought several small battles with Iraqi reconnaissance units. TF 1–41 IN fired TOW missiles at the Iraqi formation destroying one tank. The rest of the formation was destroyed or driven away by artillery fire from 4–3 FA.[136] On 17 February 1991 the Task Force took enemy mortar fire, but the enemy forces managed to escape.[137] Later that evening the Task Force received enemy artillery fire but suffered no casualties.[138]


    Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment pose with a captured Iraqi tank, February 1991
    Destroyed Iraqi tanks burning at the Battle of Norfolk, February 1991
    An Iraqi Republican Guard tank destroyed by Task Force 1–41 Infantry, February 1991
    M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems attack Iraqi positions, February 1991

    Task Force 1-41 Infantry was the first coalition force to breach the Saudi Arabian border on 15 February 1991 and conduct ground combat operations in Iraq engaging in direct and indirect fire fights with the enemy on 17 February 1991.[139] Prior to this action the Task Force's primary fire support battalion, 4th Battalion of the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, participated in a massive artillery preparation. Around 300 guns from multiple nations participated in the artillery barrage. Over 14,000 rounds were fired during these missions. M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems contributed an additional 4,900 rockets fired at Iraqi targets.[140] Iraq lost close to 22 artillery battalions during the initial stages of this barrage,[141] including the destruction of approximately 396 Iraqi artillery pieces.[141]

    By the end of these raids Iraqi artillery assets had all but ceased to exist. One Iraqi unit that was totally destroyed during the preparation was the Iraqi 48th Infantry Division Artillery Group.[142] The group's commander stated his unit lost 83 of its 100 guns to the artillery preparation.[142] This artillery prep was supplemented by air attacks by B-52 bombers and Lockheed AC-130 fixed wing gunships.[143] 1st Infantry Division Apache helicopters and B-52 bombers conducted raids against Iraq's 110th Infantry Brigade.[144] The 1st Engineer Battalion and 9th Engineer Battalion marked and proofed assault lanes under direct and indirect enemy fire to secure a foothold in enemy territory and pass the 1st Infantry Division and the British 1st Armored Division forward.[139][145]

    On 24 February 1991 the 1st Cavalry Division conducted a couple artillery missions against Iraqi artillery units.[146] One artillery mission struck a series of Iraqi bunkers, reinforced by Iraqi T-55 tanks, in the sector of the Iraqi 25th Infantry Division.[146] The same day the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division with the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 32nd Armor, and the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry destroyed Iraqi bunkers and combat vehicles in the sector of the Iraqi 25th Infantry Division.[146] On 24 February 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division rolled through the breach in the Iraqi defense west of Wadi Al-Batin and also cleared the northeastern sector of the breach site of enemy resistance.[139] Task Force 3-37th Armor breached the Iraqi defense clearing four passage lanes and expanding the gap under direct enemy fire.[139] Also on 24 February the 1st Infantry Division along with the 1st Cavalry Division destroyed Iraqi outposts and patrols belonging to the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division.[147] The two divisions also began capturing prisoners.[147] The 1st Infantry Division cleared a zone between Phase Line Vermont and Phase Line Kansas.[147] Once the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Battalion, 37th Armor reached the Iraqi rear defensive positions it destroyed an Iraqi D-30 artillery battery and many trucks and bunkers.[148]

    Task Force 1-41 Infantry was given the task of breaching Iraq's initial defensive positions along the Iraq–Saudi Arabia border.[139] The 1st Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry Regiment handled similar responsibilities in its sector of operations.[139] The 1st Infantry Division's 5th Battalion, 16th Infantry also played a significant role clearing the trenches and captured 160 Iraqi soldiers in the process.[148] Once into Iraqi territory Task Force 1-41 Infantry encountered multiple Iraqi defensive positions and bunkers. These defensive positions were occupied by a brigade-sized element.[149] Task Force 1-41 Infantry elements dismounted and prepared to engage the enemy soldiers who occupied these well-prepared and heavily fortified bunkers.[149] The Task Force found itself engaged in six hours of combat in order to clear the extensive bunker complex.[149] The Iraqis engaged the Task Force with small arms fire, RPGs, mortar fire, and what was left of Iraqi artillery assets. A series of battles unfolded resulting in heavy Iraqi casualties and the Iraqis being removed from their defensive positions with many becoming prisoners of war. Some escaped to be killed or captured by other coalition forces.[150] In the process of clearing the bunkers Task Force 1-41 captured two brigade command posts and the command post of the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division.[151] The Task Force also captured a brigade commander, several battalion commanders, company commanders, and staff officers.[151] As combat operations progressed Task Force 1-41 Infantry engaged at short range multiple dug in enemy tanks in ambush positions.[131] For a few hours, bypassed Iraqi RPG-equipped anti-tank teams, T-55 tanks, and dismounted Iraqi infantry fired at passing American vehicles, only to be destroyed by other US tanks and fighting vehicles following the initial forces.[152]

    The 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-16 Infantry cleared four lanes simultaneously through an enemy fortified trench system while inflicting heavy casualties on Iraqi forces.[139] Task Force 2-16 continued the attack clearing over 21 km (13 mi) of entrenched enemy positions resulting in the capture and destruction of numerous enemy vehicles, equipment, personnel and command bunkers.[139]

    Ground campaign

    Ground troop movements 24–28 February 1991 during Operation Desert Storm

    The ground campaign consisted of three or possibly four of the largest tank battles in American military history.[153][154] The battles at 73 Easting, Norfolk, and Medina Ridge are well noted for their historic significance.[153] Some consider the battle of Medina Ridge the largest tank battle of the war.[139] The US Marine Corps also fought the biggest tank battle in its history at Kuwait International Airport.[154] The US 3rd Armored Division also fought a significant battle at Objective Dorset not far from where the battle of Norfolk was taking place. The US 3rd Armored Division destroyed approximately 300 enemy combat vehicles during this particular encounter with Iraqi forces.[139] The Iraqis suffered the loss of over 3,000 tanks and over 2,000 other combat vehicles during these battles against the American-led coalition.[20]

    Kuwait's liberation

    US M1A1 Abrams tanks from the 3rd Armored Division along the Line of Departure

    US decoy attacks by air attacks and naval gunfire the night before Kuwait's liberation were designed to make the Iraqis believe the main coalition ground attack would focus on central Kuwait.

    Iraqi Type 69 tank on the road into Kuwait City during the Gulf War
    Two Iraqi tanks lie abandoned near Kuwait City on 26 February 1991.

    For months, American units in Saudi Arabia had been under almost constant Iraqi artillery fire, as well as threats from Scud missile or chemical attacks. On 24 February 1991, the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions and the 1st Light Armored Infantry Battalion crossed into Kuwait and headed toward Kuwait City. They encountered trenches, barbed wire, and minefields. However, these positions were poorly defended, and were overrun in the first few hours. Several tank battles took place, but otherwise coalition troops encountered minimal resistance, as most Iraqi troops surrendered. The general pattern was that the Iraqis would put up a short fight before surrendering. However, Iraqi air defenses shot down nine US aircraft. Meanwhile, forces from Arab states advanced into Kuwait from the east, encountering little resistance and suffering few casualties.[citation needed]

    Despite the successes of coalition forces, it was feared that the Iraqi Republican Guard would escape into Iraq before it could be destroyed. It was decided to send British armored forces into Kuwait 15 hours ahead of schedule, and to send US forces after the Republican Guard. The coalition advance was preceded by a heavy artillery and rocket barrage, after which 150,000 troops and 1,500 tanks began their advance. Iraqi forces in Kuwait counterattacked against US troops, acting on a direct order from Saddam Hussein himself. Despite the intense combat, the Americans repulsed the Iraqis and continued to advance towards Kuwait City.[citation needed]

    Kuwaiti forces were tasked with liberating the city. Iraqi troops offered only light resistance. The Kuwaitis quickly liberated the city despite losing one soldier and having one plane shot down. On 27 February, Saddam ordered a retreat from Kuwait, and President Bush declared it liberated. However, an Iraqi unit at Kuwait International Airport appeared not to have received the message and fiercely resisted. US Marines had to fight for hours before securing the airport, after which Kuwait was declared secure. After four days of fighting, Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait. As part of a scorched earth policy, they set fire to nearly 700 oil wells and placed land mines around the wells to make extinguishing the fires more difficult.[citation needed]

    Initial moves into Iraq

    Destroyed LAV-25

    The war's ground phase was officially designated Operation Desert Saber.[155] The first units to move into Iraq were three patrols of the British Special Air Service's B squadron, call signs Bravo One Zero, Bravo Two Zero, and Bravo Three Zero, in late January. These eight-man patrols landed behind Iraqi lines to gather intelligence on the movements of Scud mobile missile launchers, which could not be detected from the air, as they were hidden under bridges and camouflage netting during the day.[156] Other objectives included the destruction of the launchers and their fiber-optic communications arrays that lay in pipelines and relayed coordinates to the TEL operators that were launching attacks against Israel. The operations were designed to prevent any possible Israeli intervention. Due to lack of sufficient ground cover to carry out their assignment, One Zero and Three Zero abandoned their operations, while Two Zero remained, and was later compromised, with only Sergeant Chris Ryan escaping to Syria.

    Iraqi T-62 knocked out by 3rd Armored Division fire

    Elements of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division of the US Army performed a direct attack into Iraq on 15 February 1991, followed by one in force on 20 February that led directly through seven Iraqi divisions which were caught off guard.[citation needed] On 17 January 1991 the 101st Airborne Division Aviation Regiment fired the first shots of the war when eight AH-64 helicopters successfully destroyed two Iraqi early warning radar sites.[157] From 15–20 February, the Battle of Wadi Al-Batin took place inside Iraq; this was the first of two attacks by 1 Battalion 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division. It was a feint attack, designed to make the Iraqis think that a coalition invasion would take place from the south. The Iraqis fiercely resisted, and the Americans eventually withdrew as planned back into the Wadi Al-Batin. Three US soldiers were killed and nine wounded, with one M2 Bradley IFV turret destroyed, but they had taken 40 prisoners and destroyed five tanks, and successfully deceived the Iraqis. This attack led the way for the XVIII Airborne Corps to sweep around behind the 1st Cav and attack Iraqi forces to the west. On 22 February 1991, Iraq agreed to a Soviet-proposed ceasefire agreement. The agreement called for Iraq to withdraw troops to pre-invasion positions within six weeks following a total ceasefire, and called for monitoring of the ceasefire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council.

    The coalition rejected the proposal, but said that retreating Iraqi forces would not be attacked,[citation needed] and gave 24 hours for Iraq to withdraw its forces. On 23 February, fighting resulted in the capture of 500 Iraqi soldiers. On 24 February, British and American armored forces crossed the Iraq–Kuwait border and entered Iraq in large numbers, taking hundreds of prisoners. Iraqi resistance was light, and four Americans were killed.[158]

    Coalition forces enter Iraq

    Iraqi 'Saddam' main battle tank destroyed during Operation Desert Storm
    Destroyed Iraqi civilian and military vehicles on the Highway of Death
    Aerial view of destroyed Iraqi T-72 tank, BMP-1 and Type 63 armored personnel carriers and trucks on Highway 8 in March 1991
    The oil fires caused were a result of the scorched earth policy of Iraqi military forces retreating from Kuwait.
    Remains of a downed F-16C
    A Bradley IFV burns after being hit by Iraqi T-72 fire

    Shortly afterwards, the US VII Corps, in full strength and spearheaded by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, launched an armored attack into Iraq early on 24 February, just to the west of Kuwait, taking Iraqi forces by surprise. Simultaneously, the US XVIII Airborne Corps launched a sweeping "left-hook" attack across southern Iraq's largely undefended desert, led by the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized). This movement's left flank was protected by the French Division Daguet. The 101st Airborne Division conducted a combat air assault into enemy territory.[157] The 101st Airborne Division had struck 249 km (155 mi) behind enemy lines.[157] It was the deepest air assault operation in history.[157] Approximately 400 helicopters transported 2,000 soldiers into Iraq where they destroyed Iraqi columns trying to flee westward and prevented the escape of Iraqi forces.[159] The 101st Airborne Division travelled a further 80 to 100 km (50 to 60 mi) into Iraq.[157] By nightfall, the 101st cut off Highway 8 which was a vital supply line running between Basra and the Iraqi forces.[157] The 101st had lost 16 soldiers in action during the 100-hour war and captured thousands of enemy prisoners of war.

    The French force quickly overcame Iraq's 45th Infantry Division, suffering light casualties and taking a large number of prisoners, and took up blocking positions to prevent an Iraqi counterattack on the coalition's flank. The movement's right flank was protected by the United Kingdom's 1st Armoured Division. Once the allies had penetrated deep into Iraqi territory, they turned eastward, launching a flank attack against the elite Republican Guard before it could escape. The Iraqis resisted fiercely from dug-in positions and stationary vehicles, and even mounted armored charges.

    Unlike many previous engagements, the destruction of the first Iraqi tanks did not result in a mass surrender. The Iraqis suffered massive losses and lost dozens of tanks and vehicles, while US casualties were comparatively low, with a single Bradley knocked out. Coalition forces pressed another 10 km into Iraqi territory, and captured their objective within three hours. They took 500 prisoners and inflicted heavy losses, defeating Iraq's 26th Infantry Division. A US soldier was killed by an Iraqi land mine, another five by friendly fire, and 30 wounded during the battle. Meanwhile, British forces attacked Iraq's Medina Division and a major Republican Guard logistics base. In nearly two days of some of the war's most intense fighting, the British destroyed 40 enemy tanks and captured a division commander.

    Meanwhile, US forces attacked the village of Al Busayyah, meeting fierce resistance. The US force destroyed a considerable amount of military hardware and took prisoners, while suffering no casualties.

    On 25 February 1991, Iraqi forces fired a Scud missile at an American barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The missile attack killed 28 US military personnel.[160]

    The coalition's advance was much swifter than US generals had expected. On 26 February, Iraqi troops began retreating from Kuwait, after they had set 737 of its oil wells on fire. A long convoy of retreating Iraqi troops formed along the main Iraq–Kuwait highway. Although they were retreating, this convoy was bombed so extensively by coalition air forces that it came to be known as the Highway of Death. Thousands of Iraqi troops were killed. American, British, and French forces continued to pursue retreating Iraqi forces over the border and back into Iraq, eventually moving to within 240 km (150 mi) of Baghdad, before withdrawing back to Iraq's border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.[161]

    One hundred hours after the ground campaign started, on 28 February, President Bush declared a ceasefire, and he also declared that Kuwait had been liberated.

    The end of active hostilities

    Civilians and coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the retreat of Iraqi forces from Kuwait
    Persian Gulf Veterans National Medal of the US military

    In coalition-occupied Iraqi territory, a peace conference was held where a ceasefire agreement was negotiated and signed by both sides. At the conference, Iraq was authorized to fly armed helicopters on their side of the temporary border, ostensibly for government transit due to the damage done to civilian infrastructure. Soon after, these helicopters and much of Iraq's military were used to fight an uprising in the south. The rebellions were encouraged by an airing of "The Voice of Free Iraq" on 2 February 1991, which was broadcast from a CIA-run radio station out of Saudi Arabia. The Arabic service of the Voice of America supported the uprising by stating that the rebellion was well supported, and that they soon would be liberated from Saddam.[162]

    In the North, Kurdish leaders took American statements that they would support an uprising to heart, and began fighting, hoping to trigger a coup d'état. However, when no US support came, Iraqi generals remained loyal to Saddam and brutally crushed the Kurdish uprising.[citation needed] Millions of Kurds fled across the mountains to Turkey and Kurdish areas of Iran. These events later resulted in no-fly zones being established in northern and southern Iraq. In Kuwait, the Emir was restored, and suspected Iraqi collaborators were repressed. Eventually, over 400,000 people were expelled from the country, including a large number of Palestinians, because of PLO support of Saddam. Yasser Arafat didn't apologize for his support of Iraq, but after his death, the Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas' authority formally apologized in 2004.[163]

    There was some criticism of the Bush administration, as they chose to allow Saddam to remain in power instead of pushing on to capture Baghdad and overthrowing his government. In their co-written 1998 book, A World Transformed, Bush and Brent Scowcroft argued that such a course would have fractured the alliance, and would have had many unnecessary political and human costs associated with it.

    In 1992, the US Defense Secretary during the war, Dick Cheney, made the same point:

    I would guess if we had gone in there, we would still have forces in Baghdad today. We'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

    And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don't think you could have done all of that without significant additional US casualties, and while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war.

    And the question in my mind is, how many additional American casualties is Saddam [Hussein] worth? And the answer is, not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.[164]

    On 10 March 1991, 540,000 US troops began moving out of the Persian Gulf.[citation needed]

    On March 15, 1991, the US-led coalition restored to power Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the unelected authoritarian ruler of Kuwait. Kuwaiti democracy advocates had been calling for restoration of Parliament that the Emir had suspended in 1986.[165]

    Coalition involvement

    Coalition troops from Egypt, Syria, Oman, France, and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm

    Coalition members included Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.[166]

    Germany and Japan provided financial assistance and donated military hardware, although they did not send direct military assistance. This later became known as checkbook diplomacy.


    HMAS Sydney in the Persian Gulf in 1991

    Australia contributed a Naval Task Group, which formed part of the multi-national fleet in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, under Operation Damask. In addition, medical teams were deployed aboard a US hospital ship, and a naval clearance diving team took part in de-mining Kuwait's port facilities following the end of combat operations. Australian forces experienced a number of incidents in the first number of weeks of the Desert Storm Campaign including the detection of significant air threats from Iraq as a part of the outer perimeter of Battle Force Zulu; the detection of free sea floating mines and assistance to the aircraft carrier USS Midway. The Australian Task Force was also placed at great risk with regard to the sea mine threat, with HMAS Brisbane narrowly avoiding a mine. The Australians played a significant role in enforcing the sanctions put in place against Iraq following Kuwait's invasion. Following the war's end, Australia deployed a medical unit on Operation Habitat to northern Iraq as part of Operation Provide Comfort.[167]


    Argentine Navy Alouette III helicopter onboard USNS Comfort, February 1991

    Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1991 Gulf War sending a destroyer, ARA Almirante Brown (D-10), a corvette, ARA Spiro (P-43) (later replaced by another corvette, ARA Rosales (P-42)) and a supply ship (ARA Bahía San Blas (B-4)) to participate on the United Nations blockade and sea control effort of the Persian Gulf. The success of "Operación Alfil" (English: "Operation Bishop") as it was known, with more than 700 interceptions and 25,000 nautical miles (46,000 km) sailed in the theatre of operations helped to overcome the so-called "".[168]

    Argentina was later classified by the US as major non-NATO ally due to her contributions during the war.[169]


    A fighter jet taking off from a runway
    Canadian CF-18 Hornets participated in combat during the Gulf War.

    Canada was one of the first countries to condemn Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and it quickly agreed to join the US-led coalition. In August 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney committed the Canadian Forces to deploy a Naval Task Group. The destroyers HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Athabaskan joined the maritime interdiction force supported by the supply ship HMCS Protecteur in Operation Friction. The Canadian Task Group led the coalition's maritime logistics forces in the Persian Gulf. A fourth ship, HMCS Huron, arrived in-theater after hostilities had ceased and was the first allied ship to visit Kuwait.

    Following the UN-authorized use of force against Iraq, the Canadian Forces deployed a CF-18 Hornet and CH-124 Sea King squadron with support personnel, as well as a field hospital to deal with casualties from the ground war. When the air war began, the CF-18s were integrated into the coalition force and were tasked with providing air cover and attacking ground targets. This was the first time since the Korean War that Canada's military had participated in offensive combat operations. The only CF-18 Hornet to record an official victory during the conflict was an aircraft involved in the beginning of the Battle of Bubiyan against the Iraqi Navy.[170]

    The Canadian Commander in the Middle East was Commodore Kenneth J. Summers.


    French and American soldiers inspecting an Iraqi Type 69 tank destroyed by the French Division Daguet during Operation Desert Storm

    The second largest European contingent was from France, which committed 18,000 troops.[166] Operating on the left flank of the US XVIII Airborne Corps, the French Army force was the Division Daguet, including troops from the French Foreign Legion. Initially, the French operated independently under national command and control, but coordinated closely with the Americans (via CENTCOM) and Saudis. In January, the Division was placed under the tactical control of the XVIII Airborne Corps. France also deployed several combat aircraft and naval units. The French called their contribution Opération Daguet.

    United Kingdom

    British Army Challenger 1 main battle tank during Operation Desert Storm

    The United Kingdom committed the largest contingent of any European state that participated in the war's combat operations. Operation Granby was the code name for the operations in the Persian Gulf. British Army regiments (mainly with the 1st Armoured Division), Royal Air Force, Naval Air Squadrons and Royal Navy vessels were mobilized in the Persian Gulf. Both Royal Air Force and Naval Air Squadrons, using various aircraft, operated from airbases in Saudi Arabia and Naval Air Squadrons from various vessels in the Persian Gulf. The United Kingdom played a major role in the Battle of Norfolk where its forces destroyed over 200 Iraqi tanks and a large quantity of other vehicles.[171][172] After 48 hours of combat the British 1st Armoured Division destroyed or isolated four Iraqi infantry divisions (the 26th, 48th, 31st, and 25th) and overran the Iraqi 52nd Armored Division in several sharp engagements.[172]

    Chief Royal Navy vessels deployed to the Persian Gulf included Broadsword-class frigates, and Sheffield-class destroyers; other R.N. and RFA ships were also deployed. The light aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea.

    Special operations forces were deployed in the form of several SAS squadrons.

    A British Challenger 1 achieved the longest range confirmed tank kill of the war, destroying an Iraqi tank with an armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot (APFSDS) round fired over a distance of 4,700 metres (2.9 mi)—the longest tank-on-tank kill shot recorded.[173][174]



    Over 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed by Iraqis.[175] More than 600 Kuwaitis went missing during Iraq's occupation,[176] and approximately 375 remains were found in mass graves in Iraq. The increased importance of air attacks from both coalition warplanes and cruise missiles led to controversy over the number of civilian deaths caused during Desert Storm's initial stages. Within Desert Storm's first 24 hours, more than 1,000 sorties were flown, many against targets in Baghdad. The city was the target of heavy bombing, as it was the seat of power for Saddam and the Iraqi forces' command and control. This ultimately led to civilian casualties.

    In one noted incident, two USAF stealth planes bombed a bunker in Amiriyah, causing the deaths of 408 Iraqi civilians who were in the shelter.[177] Scenes of burned and mutilated bodies were subsequently broadcast, and controversy arose over the bunker's status, with some stating that it was a civilian shelter, while others contended that it was a center of Iraqi military operations, and that the civilians had been deliberately moved there to act as human shields.

    Saddam's government gave high civilian casualty figures in order to draw support from Islamic countries. The Iraqi government claimed that 2,300 civilians died during the air campaign.[178] According to the Project on Defense Alternatives study, 3,664 Iraqi civilians were killed in the conflict.[179]

    A Harvard University study predicted tens of thousands of additional Iraqi civilians deaths by the end of 1991 due to the "public health catastrophe" caused by the destruction of the country's electrical generating capacity. "Without electricity, hospitals cannot function, perishable medicines spoil, water cannot be purified and raw sewage cannot be processed," the Harvard report said. The US government refused to release its own study of the effects of the Iraqi public health crisis.[180]

    An investigation by Beth Osborne Daponte estimated total civilian fatalities at about 3,500 from bombing, and some 100,000 from the war's other effects.[181][182][183] Daponte later raised her estimate of the number of Iraqi deaths caused directly and indirectly by the Gulf War to between 142,500 and 206,000.[184]


    A United Nations report in March 1991 described the effect on Iraq of the US-led bombing campaign as "near apocalyptic," bringing back Iraq to the "pre-industrial age."[185] The exact number of Iraqi combat casualties is unknown, but is believed to have been heavy. Some estimate that Iraq sustained between 20,000 and 35,000 fatalities.[181] A report commissioned by the US Air Force estimated 10,000–12,000 Iraqi combat deaths in the air campaign, and as many as 10,000 casualties in the ground war.[186] This analysis is based on Iraqi prisoner of war reports.

    According to the Project on Defense Alternatives study, between 20,000 and 26,000 Iraqi military personnel were killed in the conflict while 75,000 others were wounded.[179]

    According to Kanan Makiya, "For the Iraqi people, the cost of enforcing the will of the United Nations has been grotesque."[187] General Schwarzkopf talked about "a very, very large number of dead in these units, a very, very large number indeed.”[188] The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Les Aspin, estimated that "at least 65,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed".[188] A figure was supported by Israeli sources who speak of "one to two hundred thousand Iraqi casualties." Most of the killing "took place during the ground war. Fleeing soldiers were bombed with a neat device known as a “fuel-air explosive."[188]


    Coalition troops killed by country
    Country Total Enemy
    Accident Friendly
     United States 146 111 35 35 [189]
     Senegal 92 92 [190]
     United Kingdom 47 38 1 9 [191]
     Saudi Arabia 24 18 6 .[192][193]
     France 9 2 [189]
     United Arab Emirates 6 6 [194]
     Qatar 3 3 [189]
     Syria 2 [1]
     Egypt 11 5 .[193][195]
     Kuwait 1 1 [196]
    Sailors from a US Navy honor guard carry Navy pilot Scott Speicher's remains.

    The US Department of Defense reports that US forces suffered 148 battle-related deaths (35 to friendly fire[197]), with one pilot listed as MIA (his remains were found and identified in August 2009). A further 145 Americans died in non-combat accidents.[189] The UK suffered 47 deaths (nine to friendly fire, all by US forces), France nine,[189] and the other countries, not including Kuwait, suffered 37 deaths (18 Saudis, one Egyptian, six UAE and three Qataris).[189] At least 605 Kuwaiti soldiers were still missing 10 years after their capture.[198]

    The largest single loss of life among coalition forces happened on 25 February 1991, when an Iraqi Al Hussein missile hit a US military barrack in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 US Army Reservists from Pennsylvania. In all, 190 coalition troops were killed by Iraqi fire during the war, 113 of whom were American, out of a total of 358 coalition deaths. Another 44 soldiers were killed and 57 wounded by friendly fire. 145 soldiers died of exploding munitions or non-combat accidents.[199]

    The largest accident among coalition forces happened on 21 March 1991, a Royal Saudi Air Force C-130H crashed in heavy smoke on approach to Ras Al-Mishab Airport, Saudi Arabia. 92 Senegalese soldiers and six Saudi crew members were killed.[193]

    The number of coalition wounded in combat was 776, including 458 Americans.[200]

    190 coalition troops were killed by Iraqi combatants, the rest of the 379 coalition deaths being from friendly fire or accidents. This number was much lower than expected. Among the American dead were three female soldiers.

    Friendly fire

    While the death toll among coalition forces engaging Iraqi combatants was very low, a substantial number of deaths were caused by accidental attacks from other Allied units. Of the 148 US troops who died in battle, 24% were killed by friendly fire, a total of 35 service personnel.[201] A further 11 died in detonations of coalition munitions. Nine British military personnel were killed in a friendly fire incident when a USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II destroyed a group of two Warrior IFVs.


    Gulf War illness

    Many returning coalition soldiers reported illnesses following their action in the war, a phenomenon known as Gulf War syndrome or Gulf War illness. Common symptoms that were reported are chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and gastrointestinal disorder.[202] There has been widespread speculation and disagreement about the causes of the illness and the possibly related birth defects. Researchers found that infants born to male veterans of the 1991 war had higher rates of two types of heart valve defects. Some children born after the war to Gulf War veterans had a certain kidney defect that was not found in Gulf War veterans' children born before the war. Researchers have said that they did not have enough information to link birth defects with exposure to toxic substances.[203]

    In 1994, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration published a report entitled, "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Gulf War". This publication, called the Riegle Report, summarized testimony this committee had received establishing that the US had in the 1980s supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical and biological warfare technology, that Hussein had used such chemical weapons against Iran and his own native Kurds, and possibly against US soldiers as well, plausibly contributing to the Gulf War Syndrome.

    Effects of depleted uranium

    Approximate area and major clashes in which DU rounds were used

    The US military used depleted uranium in tank kinetic energy penetrators and 20–30 mm cannon ordnance. Significant controversy regarding the long term safety of depleted uranium exists, including claims of pyrophoric, genotoxic, and teratogenic heavy metal effects. Many have cited its use during the war as a contributing factor to a number of major health issues in veterans and in surrounding civilian populations, including in birth defects child cancer rates. Scientific opinion on the risk is mixed.[204][205][206] In 2004, Iraq had the highest mortality rate due to leukemia of any country.[207][208][209][210]

    Depleted uranium has 40% less radioactivity than natural uranium, but the negative effects should not be overlooked.[211] Some say that depleted uranium is not a significant health hazard unless it is taken into the body. External exposure to radiation from depleted uranium is generally not a major concern because the alpha particles emitted by its isotopes travel only a few centimeters in air or can be stopped by a sheet of paper. Also, the uranium-235 that remains in depleted uranium emits only a small amount of low-energy gamma radiation. However, if allowed to enter the body, depleted uranium, like natural uranium, has the potential for both chemical and radiological toxicity with the two important target organs being the kidneys and the lungs.[212]

    Highway of Death

    On the night of 26–27 February 1991, some Iraqi forces began leaving Kuwait on the main highway north of Al Jahra in a column of some 1,400 vehicles. A patrolling E-8 Joint STARS aircraft observed the retreating forces and relayed the information to the DDM-8 air operations center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[213] These vehicles and the retreating soldiers were subsequently attacked by two A-10 aircraft, resulting in a 60 km stretch of highway strewn with debris—the Highway of Death. New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd wrote, "With the Iraqi leader facing military defeat, Mr. Bush decided that he would rather gamble on a violent and potentially unpopular ground war than risk the alternative: an imperfect settlement hammered out by the Soviets and Iraqis that world opinion might accept as tolerable."[214]

    Chuck Horner, Commander of US and allied air operations, has written:

    [By February 26], the Iraqis totally lost heart and started to evacuate occupied Kuwait, but airpower halted the caravan of Iraqi Army and plunderers fleeing toward Basra. This event was later called by the media "The Highway of Death." There were certainly a lot of dead vehicles, but not so many dead Iraqis. They'd already learned to scamper off into the desert when our aircraft started to attack. Nevertheless, some people back home wrongly chose to believe we were cruelly and unusually punishing our already whipped foes.

    By February 27, talk had turned toward terminating the hostilities. Kuwait was free. We were not interested in governing Iraq. So the question became "How do we stop the killing."[215]

    Bulldozer assault

    An armored bulldozer similar to the ones used in the attack

    Another incident during the war highlighted the question of large-scale Iraqi combat deaths. This was the "bulldozer assault", wherein two brigades from the US 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) were faced with a large and complex trench network, as part of the heavily fortified "Saddam Hussein Line". After some deliberation, they opted to use anti-mine plows mounted on tanks and combat earthmovers to simply plow over and bury alive the defending Iraqi soldiers. Not a single American was killed during the attack. Reporters were banned from witnessing the attack, near the neutral zone that touches the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.[216] Every American in the assault was inside an armored vehicle.[216] Patrick Day Sloyan of Newsday reported, "Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Vulcan armored carriers straddled the trench lines and fired into the Iraqi soldiers as the tanks covered them with mounds of sand. 'I came through right after the lead company,' [Col. Anthony] Moreno said. 'What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with peoples' arms and things sticking out of them ... '"[217] However, after the war, the Iraqi government said that only 44 bodies were found.[218] In his book The Wars Against Saddam, John Simpson alleges that US forces attempted to cover up the incident.[219] After the incident, the commander of the 1st Brigade said: "I know burying people like that sounds pretty nasty, but it would be even nastier if we had to put our troops in the trenches and clean them out with bayonets."[217] Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney did not mention the First Division's tactics in an interim report to Congress on Operation Desert Storm.[216] In the report, Cheney acknowledged that 457 enemy soldiers were buried during the ground war.[216]

    Palestinian exodus from Kuwait

    A Palestinian exodus from Kuwait took place during and after the Gulf War. During the Gulf War, more than 200,000 Palestinians fled Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait due to harassment and intimidation by Iraqi security forces,[220] in addition to getting fired from work by Iraqi authority figures in Kuwait.[220] After the Gulf War, the Kuwaiti authorities forcibly pressured nearly 200,000 Palestinians to leave Kuwait in 1991.[220] Kuwait's policy, which led to this exodus, was a response to alignment of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO with Saddam Hussein.

    The Palestinians who fled Kuwait were Jordanian citizens.[221] In 2013, there were 280,000 Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin in Kuwait.[222] In 2012, 80,000 Palestinians (without Jordanian citizenship) lived in Kuwait.[223]

    Saudi Arabia expelled Yemeni workers after Yemen supported Saddam during the Gulf War.[224]

    Coalition bombing of Iraq's civilian infrastructure

    In the 23 June 1991 edition of The Washington Post, reporter Bart Gellman wrote: "Many of the targets were chosen only secondarily to contribute to the military defeat of Iraq ... Military planners hoped the bombing would amplify the economic and psychological impact of international sanctions on Iraqi society ... They deliberately did great harm to Iraq's ability to support itself as an industrial society ..."[225] In the Jan/Feb 1995 edition of Foreign Affairs, French diplomat Eric Rouleau wrote: "[T]he Iraqi people, who were not consulted about the invasion, have paid the price for their government's madness ... Iraqis understood the legitimacy of a military action to drive their army from Kuwait, but they have had difficulty comprehending the Allied rationale for using air power to systematically destroy or cripple Iraqi infrastructure and industry: electric power stations (92 percent of installed capacity destroyed), refineries (80 percent of production capacity), petrochemical complexes, telecommunications centers (including 135 telephone networks), bridges (more than 100), roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies."[226] However, the UN subsequently spent billions rebuilding hospitals, schools, and water purification facilities throughout the country.[227]

    Abuse of Coalition POWs

    During the conflict, coalition aircrew shot down over Iraq were displayed as prisoners of war on TV, most with visible signs of abuse. Amongst several testimonies to poor treatment,[228] USAF Captain Richard Storr was allegedly tortured by Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War. Iraqi secret police broke his nose, dislocated his shoulder and punctured his eardrum.[229] Royal Air Force Tornado crew John Nichol and John Peters have both alleged that they were tortured during this time.[230][231] Nichol and Peters were forced to make statements against the war in front of television cameras. Members of British Special Air Service Bravo Two Zero were captured while providing information about an Iraqi supply line of Scud missiles to coalition forces. Only one, Chris Ryan, evaded capture while the group's other surviving members were violently tortured.[232] Flight surgeon (later General) Rhonda Cornum was raped by one of her captors[233] after the Black Hawk helicopter in which she was riding was shot down while searching for a downed F-16 pilot.

    Operation Southern Watch

    Since the war, the US has had a continued presence of 5,000 troops stationed in Saudi Arabia – a figure that rose to 10,000 during the 2003 conflict in Iraq.[234] Operation Southern Watch enforced the no-fly zones over southern Iraq set up after 1991; oil exports through the Persian Gulf's shipping lanes were protected by the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet.

    Since Saudi Arabia houses Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest sites, many Muslims were upset at the permanent military presence. The continued presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia after the war was one of the stated motivations behind the 11 September terrorist attacks,[234] the Khobar Towers bombing, and the date chosen for the 1998 US embassy bombings (7 August), which was eight years to the day that US troops were sent to Saudi Arabia.[235] Osama bin Laden interpreted the Islamic prophet Muhammad as banning the "permanent presence of infidels in Arabia".[236] In 1996, bin Laden issued a fatwa, calling for US troops to leave Saudi Arabia. In a December 1999 interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai, bin Laden said he felt that Americans were "too near to Mecca" and considered this a provocation to the entire Islamic world.[237]


    On 6 August 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Council's sanctions committee. From 1991 until 2003, the effects of government policy and sanctions regime led to hyperinflation, widespread poverty and malnutrition.

    During the late 1990s, the UN considered relaxing the sanctions imposed because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis. Studies dispute the number of people who died in south and central Iraq during the years of the sanctions.[238][239][240]

    Draining of the Qurna Marshes

    The draining of the Qurna Marshes was an irrigation project in Iraq during and immediately after the war, to drain a large area of marshes in the Tigris–Euphrates river system. Formerly covering an area of around 3,000 square kilometers, the large complex of wetlands were almost completely emptied of water, and the local Shi'ite population relocated, following the war and 1991 uprisings. By 2000, United Nations Environment Programme estimated that 90% of the marshlands had disappeared, causing desertification of over 7,500 square miles (19,000 km2).[citation needed]

    The draining of the Qurna Marshes also called The Draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes occurred in Iraq and to a smaller degree in Iran between the 1950s and 1990s to clear large areas of the marshes in the Tigris-Euphrates river system. Formerly covering an area of around 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi), the large complex of wetlands was 90% drained prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The marshes are typically divided into three main sub-marshes, the Hawizeh, Central, and Hammar Marshes and all three were drained at different times for different reasons. Initial draining of the Central Marshes was intended to reclaim land for agriculture but later all three marshes would become a tool of war and revenge.[241]

    Many international organizations such as the UN Human Rights Commission, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Wetlands International, and Middle East Watch have described the project as a political attempt to force the Marsh Arabs out of the area through water diversion tactics.[241]

    Oil spill

    On 23 January, Iraq dumped 400 million US gallons (1,500,000 m3) of crude oil into the Persian Gulf,[243] causing the largest offshore oil spill in history at that time.[242] It was reported as a deliberate natural resources attack to keep US Marines from coming ashore (Missouri and Wisconsin had shelled Failaka Island during the war to reinforce the idea that there would be an amphibious assault attempt).[244] About 30–40% of this came from allied raids on Iraqi coastal targets.[245]

    Kuwaiti oil fires

    Oil well fires rage outside Kuwait City in 1991

    The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by the Iraqi military setting fire to 700 oil wells as part of a scorched earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 after conquering the country but being driven out by coalition forces. The fires started in January and February 1991, and the last one was extinguished by November.[246]

    The resulting fires burned out of control because of the dangers of sending in firefighting crews. Land mines had been placed in areas around the oil wells, and a military cleaning of the areas was necessary before the fires could be put out. Somewhere around 6 million barrels (950,000 m3) of oil were lost each day. Eventually, privately contracted crews extinguished the fires, at a total cost of US$1.5 billion to Kuwait.[247] By that time, however, the fires had burned for approximately 10 months, causing widespread pollution.


    The cost of the war to the United States was calculated by the US Congress in April 1992 to be $61.1 billion[248] (equivalent to $100 billion in 2018).[249] About $52 billion of that amount was paid by other countries: $36 billion by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf; $16 billion by Germany and Japan (which sent no combat forces due to their constitutions). About 25% of Saudi Arabia's contribution was paid in the form of in-kind services to the troops, such as food and transportation.[248] US troops represented about 74% of the combined force, and the global cost was therefore higher.

    Effect on developing countries

    Apart from the impact on Arab States of the Persian Gulf, the resulting economic disruptions after the crisis affected many states. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) undertook a study in 1991 to assess the effects on developing states and the international community's response. A briefing paper finalized on the day that the conflict ended draws on their findings which had two main conclusions: Many developing states were severely affected and while there has been a considerable response to the crisis, the distribution of assistance was highly selective.[250]

    The ODI factored in elements of "cost" which included oil imports, remittance flows, re-settlement costs, loss of export earnings and tourism. For Egypt, the cost totaled $1 billion, 3% of GDP. Yemen had a cost of $830 million, 10% of GDP, while it cost Jordan $1.8 billion, 32% of GDP.

    International response to the crisis on developing states came with the channeling of aid through The Gulf Crisis Financial Co-ordination Group. They were 24 states, comprising most of the OECD countries plus some Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. The members of this group agreed to disperse $14 billion in development assistance.

    The World Bank responded by speeding up the disbursement of existing project and adjustment loans. The International Monetary Fund adopted two lending facilities – the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) and the Compensatory & Contingency Financing Facility (CCFF). The European Community offered $2 billion[clarification needed] in assistance.[250]

    Media coverage

    The war was heavily televised. For the first time, people all over the world were able to watch live pictures of missiles hitting their targets and fighters departing from aircraft carriers. Allied forces were keen to demonstrate their weapons' accuracy.

    In the United States, the "big three" network anchors led the war's network news coverage: ABC's Peter Jennings, CBS's Dan Rather, and NBC's Tom Brokaw were anchoring their evening newscasts when air strikes began on 16 January 1991. ABC News correspondent Gary Shepard, reporting live from Baghdad, told Jennings of the city's quietness. But, moments later, Shepard was back on the air as flashes of light were seen on the horizon and tracer fire was heard on the ground.

    On CBS, viewers were watching a report from correspondent Allen Pizzey, who was also reporting from Baghdad, when the war began. Rather, after the report was finished, announced that there were unconfirmed reports of flashes in Baghdad and heavy air traffic at bases in Saudi Arabia. On the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Mike Boettcher reported unusual air activity in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Moments later, Brokaw announced to his viewers that the air attack had begun.

    Still, it was CNN whose coverage gained the most popularity and indeed its wartime coverage is often cited as one of the landmark events in the network's history, ultimately leading to the establishment of CNN International. CNN correspondents John Holliman and Peter Arnett and CNN anchor Bernard Shaw relayed audio reports from Baghdad's Al-Rashid Hotel as the air strikes began. The network had previously convinced the Iraqi government to allow installation of a permanent audio circuit in their makeshift bureau. When the telephones of all of the other Western TV correspondents went dead during the bombing, CNN was the only service able to provide live reporting. After the initial bombing, Arnett remained behind and was, for a time, the only American TV correspondent reporting from Iraq.

    In the United Kingdom, the BBC devoted the FM portion of its national speech radio station BBC Radio 4 to an 18-hour rolling news format creating Radio 4 News FM. The station was short lived, ending shortly after President Bush declared the ceasefire and Kuwait's liberation. However, it paved the way for the later introduction of Radio Five Live.

    Two BBC journalists, John Simpson and Bob Simpson (no relation), defied their editors and remained in Baghdad to report on the war's progress. They were responsible for a report which included an "infamous cruise missile that travelled down a street and turned left at a traffic light."[251]

    Newspapers all over the world also covered the war and Time magazine published a special issue dated 28 January 1991, the headline "War in the Gulf" emblazoned on the cover over a picture of Baghdad taken as the war began.

    US policy regarding media freedom was much more restrictive than in the Vietnam War. The policy had been spelled out in a Pentagon document entitled Annex Foxtrot. Most of the press information came from briefings organized by the military. Only selected journalists were allowed to visit the front lines or conduct interviews with soldiers. Those visits were always conducted in the presence of officers, and were subject to both prior approval by the military and censorship afterward. This was ostensibly to protect sensitive information from being revealed to Iraq. This policy was heavily influenced by the military's experience with the Vietnam War, in which public opposition within the US grew throughout the war's course. It was not only the limitation of information in the Middle East; media were also restricting what was shown about the war with more graphic depictions like Ken Jarecke's image of a burnt Iraqi soldier being pulled from the American AP wire whereas in Europe it was given extensive coverage.[252][253][254]

    At the same time, the war's coverage was new in its instantaneousness. About halfway through the war, Iraq's government decided to allow live satellite transmissions from the country by Western news organizations, and US journalists returned en masse to Baghdad. NBC's Tom Aspell, ABC's Bill Blakemore, and CBS News' Betsy Aaron filed reports, subject to acknowledged Iraqi censorship. Throughout the war, footage of incoming missiles was broadcast almost immediately.

    A British crew from CBS News, David Green and Andy Thompson, equipped with satellite transmission equipment, traveled with the front line forces and, having transmitted live TV pictures of the fighting en route, arrived the day before the forces in Kuwait City, broadcasting live television from the city and covering the entrance of the Arab forces the next day.

    Alternative media outlets provided views in opposition to the war. Deep Dish Television compiled segments from independent producers in the US and abroad, and produced a 10-hour series that was distributed internationally, called The Gulf Crisis TV Project.[255] The series' first program War, Oil and Power[256] was compiled and released in 1990, before the war broke out. News World Order[257] was the title of another program in the series; it focused on the media's complicity in promoting the war, as well as Americans' reactions to the media coverage. In San Francisco, Paper Tiger Television West produced a weekly cable television show with highlights of mass demonstrations, artists' actions, lectures, and protests against mainstream media coverage at newspaper offices and television stations. Local media outlets in cities across the USA screened similar oppositional media.

    The organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) critically analyzed media coverage during the war in various articles and books, such as the 1991 Gulf War Coverage: The Worst Censorship was at Home.[258]


    The following names have been used to describe the conflict itself: Gulf War and Persian Gulf War are the most common terms for the conflict used within western countries, though it may also be called the First Gulf War (to distinguish it from the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent Iraq War). Some authors have called it the Second Gulf War to distinguish it from the Iran–Iraq War.[259] Liberation of Kuwait (Arabic: تحرير الكويت‎) (taḥrīr al-kuwayt) is the term used by Kuwait and most of the coalition's Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Terms in other languages include French: la Guerre du Golfe and German: Golfkrieg (Gulf War); German: Zweiter Golfkrieg (Second Gulf War); French: Guerre du Koweït (War of Kuwait).

    Operational names

    Most of the coalition states used various names for their operations and the war's operational phases. These are sometimes incorrectly used as the conflict's overall name, especially the US Desert Storm:

    • Operation Desert Shield was the US operational name for the US buildup of forces and Saudi Arabia's defense from 2 August 1990, to 16 January 1991.
    • Operation Desert Storm was the US name of the airland conflict from 17 January 1991, through 28 February 1991.
      • Operation Desert Sabre (early name Operation Desert Sword) was the US name for the airland offensive against the Iraqi Army in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (the "100-hour war") from 24–28 February 1991, in itself, part of Operation Desert Storm.
    • Operation Desert Farewell was the name given to the return of US units and equipment to the US in 1991 after Kuwait's liberation, sometimes referred to as Operation Desert Calm.
    • Operation Granby was the British name for British military activities during the operations and conflict.
    • Opération Daguet was the French name for French military activities in the conflict.
    • Operation Friction was the name of the Canadian operations
    • Operazione Locusta (Italian for Locust) was the Italian name for the operations and conflict.

    Campaign names

    The US divided the conflict into three major campaigns:

    • Defense of Saudi Arabian country for the period 2 August 1990, through 16 January 1991.
    • Liberation and Defense of Kuwait for the period 17 January 1991, through 11 April 1991.
    • Southwest Asia Cease-Fire for the period 12 April 1991, through 30 November 1995, including Operation Provide Comfort.


    USS Missouri launching a Tomahawk missile. The Gulf War was the last conflict in which battleships were deployed in a combat role (as of 2017).

    Precision-guided munitions were heralded as key in allowing military strikes to be made with a minimum of civilian casualties compared to previous wars, although they were not used as often as more traditional, less accurate bombs. Specific buildings in downtown Baghdad could be bombed while journalists in their hotels watched cruise missiles fly by.

    Precision-guided munitions amounted to approximately 7.4% of all bombs dropped by the coalition. Other bombs included cluster bombs, which disperse numerous submunitions,[260] and daisy cutters, 15,000-pound bombs which can disintegrate everything within hundreds of yards.

    Global Positioning System (GPS) units were relatively new at the time and were important in enabling coalition units to easily navigate across the desert. Since military GPS receivers were not available for most troops, many used commercially available units. To permit these to be used to best effect, the "selective availability" feature of the GPS system was turned off for the duration of Desert Storm, allowing these commercial receivers to provide the same precision as the military equipment.[261]

    Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and satellite communication systems were also important. Two examples of this are the US Navy's Grumman E-2 Hawkeye and the US Air Force's Boeing E-3 Sentry. Both were used in command and control area of operations. These systems provided essential communications links between air, ground, and naval forces. It is one of several reasons coalition forces dominated the air war.

    American-made color photocopiers were used to produce some of Iraq's battle plans. Some of the copiers contained concealed high-tech transmitters that revealed their positions to American electronic warfare aircraft, leading to more precise bombings.[262]

    Scud and Patriot missiles

    Military personnel examine the remains of a Scud.

    The role of Iraq's Scud missiles featured prominently in the war. Scud is a tactical ballistic missile that the Soviet Union developed and deployed among the forward deployed Soviet Army divisions in East Germany.

    Scud missiles utilize inertial guidance which operates for the duration that the engines operate. Iraq used Scud missiles, launching them into both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some missiles caused extensive casualties, while others caused little damage.[citation needed]

    The US Patriot missile was used in combat for the first time. The US military claimed a high effectiveness against Scuds at the time, but later analysis gives figures as low as 9%, with 45% of the 158 Patriot launches being against debris or false targets.[263] The Dutch Ministry of Defense, which also sent Patriot missiles to protect civilians in Israel and Turkey, later disputed the higher claim.[125] Further, there is at least one incident of a software error causing a Patriot missile's failure to engage an incoming Scud, resulting in deaths.[264] Both the US Army and the missile manufacturers maintained the Patriot delivered a "miracle performance" in the Gulf War.[263]

    Popular culture

    The Gulf War has been the subject of several video games including Conflict: Desert Storm, Conflict: Desert Storm II and Gulf War: Operation Desert Hammer. There have also been numerous depictions in film including Jarhead (2005), which is based on US Marine Anthony Swofford's 2003 memoir of the same name.[265]

    See also


    1. ^ The numbering of Persian Gulf conflicts depends on whether the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) is referred to as the First (Persian) Gulf War (English language sources prior to the start of the Kuwait war in 1990 usually called it the Gulf War), which would make the 1990 war the Second (Persian) Gulf War. Different sources may call the conflicts by different names. The name 'Persian Gulf' is itself a subject of dispute. The start date of the Kuwait War can also be seen as either August 1990 (when Iraq's Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait) or as January 1991 (the start of Operation Desert Storm, when the US-led coalition forced Iraq out of Kuwait), so that the war is also often called the 1991 Gulf War, the 1990–1991 Gulf War, the 1990s Gulf War, etc ... This dating is also used to distinguish it from the other two 'Gulf Wars'.


    1. ^ a b Miller, Judith. "Syria Plans to Double Gulf Force." The New York Times, 27 March 1991.
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