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The Line in the Sand : The Fate of Kuwait and Beyond : How the Crisis in the Persian Gulf Developed

November 25, 1990

July 18 Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz accuses Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil. July 24 Iraq deploys thousands of troops on the Kuwaiti border. U.S. warships in the area are put on alert. Aug. 1 Iraq walks out of negotiations with Kuwait over Iraqi grievances. Aug. 2 Iraq's powerful army overruns Kuwait in a blitzkrieg invasion before dawn, seizing the emir's palace and other government buildings. The emir flees to safety in Saudi Arabia, but his brother dies defending the royal palace. U.S., Britain and France freeze Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets and Bush says the U.S. will place an economic embargo against Iraq. U.N. Security Council issues a resolution condemning the invasion and demands the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Baghdad's forces. Aug. 3 Gunfire echos through Kuwait City as Kuwaiti forces mount a last-ditch resistance. An estimated 100,000 Iraqi troops and 300 tanks gather along Kuwait's southern border with Saudi Arabia. Bush warns that "the integrity of Saudi Arabia' is a vital U.S. concern. U.S. and Soviet officials in Moscow issue joint statement condemning the invasion and calling for an immediate Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. State Dept. says 14 Americans working in Kuwaiti oil fields are missing and presumed captured by invading Iraqi troops. Arab League members meeting late into the night in Cairo agree to condemn the invasion, but five nations vote against it or abstain. Japan, West Germany, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg also freeze Kuwaiti assets. Aug. 4 Iraq announces new military government for Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. Bush, at Camp David, meets with advisors and then calls King Fahd to offer American military assistance. Aug. 5 Bush calls Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a liar and warns, "This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait." Defense Secretary Dick Cheney leaves for Saudi Arabia to discuss placing American troops there. Aug. 6 U.N. Security Council votes overwhelmingly to impose a worldwide embargo on trade with Iraq. Cheney shows Saudi leaders picture of Iraqi troops concentrations on the Saudi border and King Fahd agrees to permit the deployment of American troops on Saudi soil to deter an attack. Iraqi soldiers round up more then 200 foreigners--including 28 Americans--from two hotels in Kuwait and begin transporting them to Iraq. Aug. 7 Bush orders an initial contingent of U.S. combat troops and warplanes to Saudi Arabia, beginning Operation Desert Shield. State Dept. says that 3,500 Americans are trapped in Iraq and Kuwait because all the airports and border crossings are closed, but avoids using the word "hostage" because "we don't want to use red-flag words." Aug. 8 Iraq declares Kuwait has been annexed as Iraq's 19th province. Other oil-producing nations indicate they will step up production to make up for embargoed Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil. Aug. 9 Iraq formally closes the borders of Iraq and Kuwait. U.N. Security Council unanimously declares Iraqi annexation of Kuwait "null and void." Aug. 10 Arab leaders meet in Cairo, where 12 of 20 Arab League states vote to send all-Arab military force to join Americans in defense of Saudi Arabia. Hussein makes an emotional television appeal to Arab masses to "revolt against oppression" in a jihad against foreigners who desecrate Islam's holy shrines. Bush leaves for Kennebunkport to begin a scheduled three-week vacation. Aug. 11 Thousands of Arabs in Yemen and Jordan demonstrate against United States. Aug. 12 The United States says it has taken the decision to use force to interdict all trade with Iraq. Aug. 13 Iraqi troops in Kuwait round up more Americans and other Westerners from two hotels in Kuwait. King Hussein of Jordan secretly meets with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Aug. 14 King Hussein flies to Washington to meet with Bush. Aug. 15 In an effort to secure Iraq's eastern border with Iran, Hussein capitulates to all of Tehran's peace demands--including withdrawing from Iranian territories and releasing prisioners of war--bringing the long Iran-Iraq war to a formal close. Aug. 17 Bush decides to call up military reserves to ease shortages of doctors, cargo handlers and other specialists. He commandeers 38 commercial jets to ferry them to the Middle East. Aug. 18 The first shots of the crisis are fired in warning across the bow of two Iraqi oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian gulf. The tankers do not appear to alter course. Aug. 20 Bush abandons diplomatic euphemism and declares that the 3,000 Americans remaining in Iraq and Kuwait "are, in fact, hostages." Iraq orders all embassies in Kuwait to close by the end of the week. Iraq announces it has carried out a plan to move Western hostages to vital military installations to use as "human shields" to deter any U.S. attack. Aug. 22 Bush signs an order placing 40,000 American reservists on active duty by Sept. 1. The U.S. announces that along with other countries, it will defy Iraqi orders to close its embassy in Kuwait. Jordan, overwhelmed by refugees, announces that it is closing its borders and asks the United Nations for relief. Aug. 24 Iraq warns that Kuwaits who harbor foreigners face the dealth penalty. Iraqi troops surround the embassies of several Western countries and cut off electricity and water to those inside. Hussein broadcasts meeting with English-speaking hostages. Aug. 25 By a vote of 13 to 0, with Cuba and Yemen abstaining, the U.N. Security Council grants the U.S. and other nations the right to enforce the embargo by military means. Aug. 28 Hussein announces that he will permit all foreign women and children to leave Iraq. U.S. expells 36 Iraqi Embassy personnel and places tight travel restrictions on remaining Iraqi officials. Bush returns from Kennebunkport to brief 170 members of Congress, who indicate their overwhelming support for his conduct of the crisis. Aug. 29 U.S. intelligence reports say Iraq troops in Kuwait now number 265,000. Aug. 30 Bush says he will request cash from other nations--including Saudi Arabia, West Germany and Japan--to help cover the enormous costs of economic sanctions and military operations in the Gulf. Sept. 6 Iraq imposes a new law mandating life imprisonment for those caught fleeing Kuwait. Sept. 7 First U.S. evacuation flight carries 167 American hostages home from Kuwait. Sept. 9 Bush and Gorbachev hold a quickly-called summit meeting in Helsinki where they declare unconditional support for international sanctions against Iraq. They warn that if current steps fail they are "prepared to take additional ones." Sept. 11 Bush, addressing a joint session of Congress, warns that the seige of Iraq may be long but vows that American resolve will not falter. Sept. 13 Security Council decides to permit humanitarian food shipments to Iraq provided they are distributed by third parties such as the Red Cross. Sept. 14 Iraqi troops storm the French Ambassador's residence in Kuwait and capture four French citizens. Sept. 15 Flight carrying 285 American and Canadian citizens arrives in the United States. Sept. 16 A videotaped message from President Bush to the Iraqi people is broadcast over Iraqi television. Sept. 17 Cheney fires Air Force Chief of Staff Michael J. Dugan for disclosing "top secret" information about the Pentagon's Persian Gulf military strategy. Sept. 18 Pentagon reports that the number of Iraqi troops in Kuwait has grown to 360,000. Sept. 21 Iraq expells three U.S. diplomats and the military attaches of 11 European embassies in Baghdad. The U.S. in turn expells three Iraqi diplomats from Washington. Bush warns that international sanctions "are going to take some time to work," and Administration officials tell members of Congress to prepare for a long standoff. Sept. 22 A U.S.-chartered flight of American citizens leaves Baghdad for London, bringing to 2,000 the number of Americans evacuated from Iraq and Kuwait. Sept. 25 U.N. Security Council imposes an air embargo against Iraq and Kuwait. Sept. 28 Bush holds his first meeting with the Kuwaiti emir in Washington who tells him that Iraq is pillaging his country and repopulating it with outsiders. The next day U.S. officials say the timetable for possible military action against Iraq is shortening. Oct. 3 The Senate overwhelmingly approves a resolution supporting Bush's Persian Gulf policy. Oct. 4 Hussein reportedly pays a visit to Kuwait for the first time since Aug. 2. Oct. 12 Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu asks Japanese Parliament to permit Japanese soldiers to serve in the Persian Gulf. A planeload of 250 Americans and their dependents arrive from Kuwait to Raleigh, N.C. Speaker of Egypt's Parliament is gunned down by terrorists in Cairo. Oct. 13 Kuwait's exiled rulers, meeting in Saudi Arabia, promise to institute democratic reforms when they liberate their country from Iraqi occupation. Oct. 14 Pentagon announces that the U.S. now has more than 200,000 troops in the region, along with 1,000 tanks, nearly 500 combat aircraft and 59 Navy warships. Oct. 16 On a campaign trip to Iowa, Bush says Hussein will be held accountable for "unprecedented acts of brutality in Kuwait." Bush's speech is interupted by three hecklers protesting U.S. policy in the Gulf. Oct. 17 Baker tells Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the administration must be free to attack Iraq without getting specific approval from Capitol Hill. Oct. 18 Completing a world-wide diplomatic mission, Soviet envoy Yevgeny Primakov meets with Bush in Washington, bringing news from a visit with Hussein the previous week. Oct. 19 Iraq orders foreigners in Kuwait to register with authorities by Nov. 5. Iraq announces that it will begin rationing gasoline. Oct. 20 Canada abandons its embassy in Kuwait, leaving only the U.S., Britain and France with diplomatic missions. In New York, 4,000 demonstrators march down Broadway to protest the U.S.-led military buildup in the Middle East. Smaller rallies are held in other cities. Oct. 21 On a private mission to Baghdad, former British Prime Minister Edward Heath wins the release of 70 sick and elderly Britons. In Paris, Cheney says the U.S. believes it has all the authority it needs from the U.N. to justify an attack on Iraqi forces in Kuwait. Oct. 22 An Iraqi-American friendship society visiting Baghdad announces that they have won the release of some sick and elderly American hostages. Oct. 24 14 American hostages newly released from Iraq say their captors starved them and refused them medical attention. Oct. 30 Ten U.S. sailors are killed when a steam line explodes on the assault ship Iwo Jima in waters off Bahrain. The incident raises the U.S. military death toll in Operation Desert Shield to 42. Members of Congress meet with Bush at the White House and urge him to carefully evaluate all options before authorizing a military offensive against Iraq. Nov. 1 Bush, escalating his verbal offensive against Iraq, says that Hussein is more brutal than Adolf Hitler. Iraq announces that family members of Western hostages will be permited to visit during the Christmas holidays. Nov. 2 Bush announces he will visit American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving. Nov. 4 On the first stop of a Mideast tour, Baker gives a pep talk to 4,200 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Nov. 5 Baker and Saudi's King Fahd reach a new military command and control agreement. It guarantees that American troops will be under the command of American officers if they launch an offensive operation against Iraq. Nov. 6 Pentagon releases figures showing U.S. troop deployment for Operation Desert Shield has reached 230,000. Nov. 8 Bush announces plans to double U.S. forces in the Gulf. The move significantly raises the stakes in the standoff. Nov. 16 Bush leaves Washington on trip to Europe and the Middle East. Baker, in Brussels, rejects a Soviet suggestion that the solution to crisis be linked to the problems of Israel's occupation of land claimed by Palestinians. Nov. 18 Hussein offers to begin releasing all Western hostages on Christmas Day. U.S. officials quickly rejected the overture. Nov. 19 Iraq announces it will pour 250,000 more troops into Kuwait. Gorbachev declines to back a new U.N. resolution authorizing an attack to drive Iraq from Kuwait. Rough seas forces U.S. to cancel Marine landing exercise using Hovercraft on beach in eastern Saudi Arabia. About 75 Americans who had been held hostage arrive on flight to Washington. Nov. 20 Hussein orders all German hostages freed. Nov. 22 Bush visits American soldiers in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day.

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