Chapter II.  The Gulf Crisis and Japan's Foreign Policy


Section 1. How the Gulf Crisis Began and Ended


1. The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait

Since the middle of July 1990, confrontation between Iraq and Kuwait intensified on oil policies and other matters. The national revenue of Iraq depends mostly on oil, and Iraq considered it important to maintain high oil prices to ensure adequate revenue sources for the repayment of its debts and for its recovery from the Iran-Iraq war. Amid this situation, crude oil prices dropped in July from $18 to $12 per barrel. Iraq blamed Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates for the price drop, claiming that it was caused by the overproduction of crude oil by those countries in disregard of the national production quota set for them by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This produced enormous adverse effects on the Iraqi economy. Iraq was particularly harsh in blaming Kuwait, arguing that Kuwait constructed military and oil facilities on Iraqi territory while Iraq was concentrating on the Iran-Iraq war. On that pretext, Iraq demanded that Kuwait write off its debt obligations. Kuwait countered that Iraq's claim was totally unfounded.

In this way, the confrontation between the two countries became grave and Iraq began to deploy troops on the border with Kuwait around July 20. Reacting to this, Egypt and Saudi Arabia attempted to mediate between the two countries, which led to a meeting on July 31 between Iraq and Kuwait in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Iraq is also said to have clearly stated on occasions that it would not use armed forces against neighboring countries. However, at dawn on August 2, the Iraqi army that was amassed near the border suddenly invaded Kuwait. Iraq set up a puppet regime, "Interim Government of Free Kuwaitis." On August 8, Iraq announced the unification of the two countries, which in reality was annexation of Kuwait. The Iraqi army moved south toward the border of Saudi Arabia and gradually reinforced its troops from the estimated 100,000 which was initially used for the invasion of Kuwait and this led to the possibility of Iraq invading Saudi Arabia.


2. Peace Restoring Efforts by the International Community

The U.N. Security Council declared on August 2, the very day of the invasion, that the Iraqi action of ignoring the basic order of the international community was a violation of international law and adopted Resolution 660, which required the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Iraqi forces. Since Iraq ignored this resolution and did not withdraw from Kuwait, the U.N. Security Council adopted on August 6 Resolution 661, which obligated member countries to take economic sanctions against Iraq and Resolution 662 on August 9, which declared the invalidity of the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Arab League summit held on August 10 criticized Iraq and adopted a resolution requiring Arab countries to dispatch armed forces. Twelve out of the 20 participating countries supported this resolution and the other eight were either against it or abstained. Among the neighboring Arab countries of Iraq, only Jordan supported Iraq.

At the request of Saudi Arabia, which was exposed to the direct threat by Iraq, Western countries, led by the United States and the United Kingdom and Arab countries, such as Egypt and Morocco, deployed army and air force units to Saudi Arabia. The Western countries, led by the United States, also deployed fleets to the Gulf and its adjacent seas. Furthermore, on August 25, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 665, which required those countries that had deployed maritime forces to take necessary measures including official inspection of ships to ensure strict implementation of the economic sanctions against Iraq. Thus, the economic sanctions against Iraq based on the U.N. Security Council resolutions took hold on a global scale and army, navy and air forces from 28 countries were deployed in the Gulf area for the purpose of enforcing sanctions against Iraq as well as to restrain Iraq (Note). Among the Arab countries, Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia deployed armed forces. Japan decided to contribute by providing transportation, goods, medical care and funds, and also to extend economic cooperation to the surrounding countries and assistance in refugee relief efforts.

Despite these steps taken by the international community, Iraq did not show any intention of accepting the resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council. Moreover, Iraq forbade foreign residents in Iraq and Kuwait, who were under its control, to exit from the country and took further steps to hold foreign residents of the major Western countries, including Japan, as hostages and to send them to military and oil facilities as "human shields," an outrageous deed against humanity.


3. Search for a Peaceful Settlement

The international community took the basic stance of urging Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait on Iraq's own initiative through strict implementation of economic sanctions against Iraq, thereby bringing about a peaceful solution to the problem. However, Iraq kept ignoring the international community's demand and, as part of its efforts to justify its invasion of Kuwait, abruptly introduced the so-called "linkage argument," which insisted that the problem should be solved simultaneously with the issue of peace in the Middle East. Under these circumstances, the United States and the Soviet Union acted in unity to aim at the thorough implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and a peaceful solution of this Crisis, holding consultations on various occasions, including the U.S.-Soviet Summit in Helsinki on September 10, 1991.

After the latter half of September, various efforts were made to seek a peaceful settlement of the problem. President Francois Mitterrand of France and President George Bush of the United States proposed a peaceful solution to the problem in their respective speeches at the United Nations. Evgeniy M. Primakov, as a Special Envoy of the President of the Soviet Union, visited Arab and Western countries. Arab countries, such as Algeria and Morocco, made their own attempts to peacefully solve the problem. As for Japan, Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama and Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu respectively visited the Middle Eastern countries in August and in October and consulted with the leaders of relevant countries to find ways to cope with the problem. Japan also made direct contacts with Iraq, including Deputy Foreign Minister Hisashi Owada's contact in December with the close advisors of President Saddam Hussein in Geneva. Iraq, on its part, reacted positively to the proposal made by President Mitterrand, and showed willingness to avoid military conflict and search for political solutions in the meeting with Soviet Presidential Advisor Primakov and through dialogues with some Arab countries. However, no changes were made after all in its basic stance to refuse to withdraw from Kuwait and abide by the U.N. Security Council resolutions.


4. Adoption of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 678

As mentioned above, despite the efforts made by the international community, Iraq did not change its attitude at all. Iraq remained in Kuwait, destroying the country, trampling on human rights. Under these circumstances, the United States and other countries announced in November that the multinational forces would be reinforced, and diplomatic efforts began toward adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution concerning the use of armed force. On November 29, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 678 that allowed the U.N. member countries that sent troops to the multinational forces to take "all necessary means" including the use of force if Iraq did not comply with the series of U.N. Security Council resolutions by January 15, 1991.

Standing on the position of the international community that resorting to force could become unavoidable as the case may be, President Bush proposed to Iraq on November 30 that a direct dialogue be held through mutual visit of Foreign Ministers of both countries. Iraq announced on December 1 its acceptance of this U.S. proposal. Iraq also decided to release all the foreign nationals held hostage in Iraq on December 7.


5. From Adoption of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 678 to the Use of Force by the Multinational Forces

On January 9, 1991, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Iraq's Foreign Minister Abdul Tariq Aziz met for six and a half hours in Geneva. The meeting ended without any specific result since Iraq showed no flexibility whatsoever on implementing resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council. Other Arab countries also made their own diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution of the problem, such as the visit by President Bendjedid Chadli of Algeria to Iraq, which also did not produce any tangible result.

Meanwhile, through such means as Prime Minister Kaifu's letter to President Hussein of Iraq, Japan repeatedly appealed to Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and to peacefully solve the problem.

On January 13, immediately before the deadline for withdrawal stipulated by Resolution 678 of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez De Cuellar visited Baghdad and made a last-minute attempt to persuade President Hussein. However, President Hussein did not touch upon the question of withdrawal, thus producing no progress.


6. Commencement of Use of Force against Iraq

Since Iraq did not show any sign of withdrawal despite the arrival of the deadline stipulated by Resolution 678 of the U.N. Security Council, the multinational forces led by the United States launched an air operation against Iraq at dawn on January 17, 1991.

Against this action, Iraq after mid-January attacked Israel and the eastern and middle part of Saudi Arabia with Scud missiles. Iraq's attack on Israel was intended to transform the situation into an Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel coped with this by refraining from counterattacking Iraq while reserving the right.


7. From the Start of the Ground Battle to the Cease-fire

On February 15, the Iraqi Revolutionary Council issued the statement which made the first reference by Iraq to Resolution 660 of the U.N. Security Council, which required the immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait, and to the issue of withdrawal itself. However, this announcement not only avoided when and how Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait but also linked a number of conditions, such as the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, with its own withdrawal from Kuwait. It was therefore not acceptable to the international community.

On February 18, Foreign Minister Aziz of Iraq visited the Soviet Union and met with President Mikhail Gorbachev. Based on this meeting, the Soviet Union announced on February 22 an eight-point proposal concerning Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.


The Outline of the U.N. Security Council Resolution Relating to the Gulf Crisis


While highly valuing the Soviet efforts, President Bush issued on the same day a condition that Iraq should start withdrawing from Kuwait immediately and unconditionally by noon January 23, U.S. Eastern Standard Time, if Iraq was to avoid a ground war. Iraq did not respond to this demand, and the multinational forces began a major ground operation against the Iraqi forces on January 23.

The operation proceeded with an overwhelming superiority of the multinational forces. As Iraqi soldiers surrendered or fled in droves, President Hussein announced on February 26 that Iraq would completely withdraw from Kuwait on the same day. On February 27, President Bush announced that the American and multinational forces would cease hostilities against Iraq at midnight February 28, U.S. Eastern Standard Time (100 hours after the commencement of the ground operation). On February 28, Iraq finally announced its acceptance of the 12 U.N. Security Council resolutions in a letter from Foreign Minister Aziz to the Chairman of the U.N. Security Council, who confirmed the receipt of the letter on the same day. With this, the use of force by the multinational forces ended and the cease-fire, in effect, took hold. On April 3, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 687, which is on the formal cease-fire. On April 11, the Chairman of the U.N. Security Council handed a letter declaring the cease-fire to the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, and the cease-fire based on Resolution 687 of the U.N. Security Council was officially established. Thus the Gulf Crisis came to an end.



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Note :The number of countries that sent forces to the Gulf region is 29 when People's Republic of Korea, which deployed troops in the Gulf region after the multinational forces resorted to arms, is included.