Iraqi soldiers carry coffins containing the remains of ten of their comrades who were killed in Camp Speicher massacre.
Salahuddin – (IraqiNews.com) High Commission for Human rights announced on Wednesday pulling bodies of 25 victims of the massacre of Camp Speicher from Tigris River in Tikrit, and pointed out that it is keen to reveal the crimes, genocides and violations committed by the Islamic State extremist group.
The Commission said in a press release, “The commission followed the information about the discovery of a mass grave in al-Kosour area in Salahuddin province, and it held a number of meetings with the concerned authorities to open graves and pull the remains of martyrs from the Tigris River.”
“These efforts allowed the divers of River Emergency Directorate to pull the bodies of 25 victims of Camp Speicher massacre and handed them to Salahuddin Police Directorate,” the release explained.
The commission also renewed its condemnation of the dangerous violations committed by ISIS terrorist gangs, including genocides and crimes against humanity, and emphasized its humanitarian and national role to serve the Iraqi people.
On 12 June 2014, the Islamic State extremist group (ISIS) killed at least 1,700 Shia Iraqi Air Force cadets in an attack on Camp Speicher in Tikrit.
“Some of the chief officers of the camp ordered the cadets to have a rest for 15 days and to go to their families, with civilian clothes. While they were walking on the highway looking for a bus to take them near Baghdad. Then two buses being driven by Ayman Sabawi Ibrahim, the son of Saddam Hussein‘s half brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, stopped near them with 10 armed men inside of them.
They told the cadets that they were from the Arab tribes of Tikrit, and told them to follow them until they find buses to get them to Baghdad. Instead, several buses with ISIS members in them kidnapped the cadets and brought them to the Al-Qusour Al-Re’asiya region (The Presidential Palaces), where they committed the massacre.”
Several survivors assured that their head officers in the camp forced them to leave it.
“The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provided a strong evidence of a horrible war crime that needs further investigation. [ISIS] and other abusive forces should know that the eyes of Iraqis and the world are watching”.
The HRW also said that ISIS posted on its websites many videos and photographs showing how they beheaded, shot, and choked the victims while they celebrated.
The photos show masked ISIS fighters tying up the cadets and loading them up on trucks, with other photographs showing ISIS fighters executing dozens of the cadets while they are lying down. ISIS propaganda videos show them shooting at hundreds of lined up men in mass graves in the desert. Some cadets faked their death, covering themselves with blood and lying down to escape at night.
Survivor Ali Hussein Kadhim told his story to the New York Times following his escape from the massacre.
The Islamic State released the videos, as part of their propaganda video titled ‘Upon the Prophetic Methodology’. The cadets are seen to be cramped upon trucks, some of them wearing civilian clothes to hide their actual military uniform. Most of them lied on the ground, with their jeans stripped to reveal camouflages underneath. Some of the prisoners were forced to decry Iraq’s prime minister, others forced to say ‘Long Live the Islamic State’. Some of them lined up as a cadet was bashed with a rifle. The executions vary, from shooting them one by one to shooting them while lying down many times to ensure death.
The minister of defence, Sa’dun al-Dulaimi, stated that the massacre wasn’t sectarian in nature. although, the spokesman of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Qasim Atta, stated that there are almost 11,000 cadets and soldiers missing from Camp Speicher, he also stated that thousands were executed in near the Presidential Palaces, al-Bu Agail region and the Badoush prison by sectarian violence.
On 2 September, more than 100 members of the families of the killed and missing cadets and soldiers broke into the Iraqi Parliament and hit three of the security guards. After a day, a session started in the parliament with the attendance of representatives of the families and Sa’dun al-Dulaimi, along with other military officials to discuss the massacre.
On 16 September, the Kurdish Asayish arrested 4 people suspected to be involved in the massacre in southern Kirkuk. An unnamed security source stated:
“The operation was executed by relying on intelligence information to arrest them.”
On 18 September, the Iraqi Human Rights ministry stated that as of 17 September, the total of missing soldiers and cadets was 1095, denying the most popular figure of 1700 soldiers having been killed. The ministry added:
“The ministry relied in its statistics on spreading forms on the families of the missing people in Baghdad and the other Provinces within its quest to document the crimes and violations that the terrorist group of the Islamic State is committing towards our people.”
The Iraqi government ordered to pay 10,000,000 IQD (equivalent to US$8,600) to the families of the missing cadets.
Following the Iraqi forces’ victory over ISIS in Tikrit in early April 2015, mass graves containing some of the murdered cadets were located and the decomposed corpses began to be exhumed.
Two of the alleged perpetrators of the massacre were arrested in Forssa, Finland, in December 2015. The suspects were identified from ISIS propaganda videos in which the executions of 11 men took place. Police did not disclose whether the men had made applications for asylum in Finland.
In August 2016 thirty-six men were hanged for their part in the massacre.
On 6 September 2016, mass graves were found by the Kata’ib al-Imam brigade containing the remains of over 30 people killed in the massacre.
Of the 600 people wanted by Iraqi authorities in connection with the massacre, only 24 people have been convicted so far.
In July, a group of 28 men went on trial in Baghdad over the Camp Speicher killings, all but four of the men were given death sentences, with the remainder acquitted for lack of evidence.
The sentencing was greeted by cheers from the families of victims present, with many shouting “God is Great” and “Ya Hussein”, in reference to a revered Shia figure.
The net is slowly closing on IS and the news today that the Battle for Mosul has began could spell the beginning of the end of these Islamic Monsters and their twisted , wicked take Islam and Sharia Law ,which in my opinion has no place in the 21s Century anyway. See Shari Law
An Iraqi operation to recapture the city of Mosul, the last stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the country, has started.
Artillery began firing on the city early on Monday, in a long-awaited assault from Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces.
Tanks are now moving towards the city, which has been held by IS since 2014.
The UN has expressed “extreme concern” for the safety of up to 1.5 million people in the area.
The BBC’s Orla Guerin, who is with Kurdish forces east of Mosul, says tanks are advancing on the city, kicking up clouds of dust.
As the operation began, one Kurdish general said: “If I am killed today I will die happy because I have done something for my people.”
Islamic State lost over a quarter of its territory in Iraq and Syria
The Islamic State (ISIS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Syria and Iraq. According to defence analyst Information Handling Services (IHS), the group’s reach has been reduced by 28 per cent since January 2015.
IHS reported that ISIS-held territory fell from 78,000 km2 to 65,500 km2 during the first nine months of this year. However, the extremist group’s losses have decreased since last-July.
This change in tempo coincided with the launch of the Turkey-baked Euphrates Shield Operation and reduced Russian airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria.
“Last September, President Putin said it was Russia’s mission to fight international terrorism and specifically the Islamic State,” Alex Kokcharov, principal Russia analyst at IHS, said. “Our data suggests that is not the case.”
According to Kokcharov, Moscow’s top priority is to preserve President Assad’s government through military support. Putin seeks to “transform the Syrian civil war from a multi-party conflict into a binary one between the Syrian government and jihadist groups like the Islamic State; thereby undermining the case for providing international support to the opposition.”
While ISIS appears to have a short reprieve, they continue to loose strategic territory. In August, ISIS militants lost the border pocket of Manbij to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In February, the extremist group was expelled from strategic areas in Hasakah Governorate by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied SDF fighters.
The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army have recaptured dozens of villages and towns from ISIS over the past several months.
Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, the original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the “Left Coast” (east side) and the “Right Coast” (west side) as the two banks are described in the local language.
At the start of the 21st century, the majority of Mosul’s population was Arab with Arameans, Armenian, Turkmen, Kurdish, Yazidi, Shabaki and other minorities. The city’s population grew rapidly around the turn of the millennium and by 2004 was estimated to be 1,846,500. An estimated half million persons fled Mosul in the second half of 2014, and while some returned, more fled in 2015 as ISIL violence in the city worsened.
Historically, important products of the area include Mosul marble and oil.
The city of Mosul is home to the University of Mosul and its renowned Medical College, which together was one of the largest educational and research centres in Iraq and the Middle East. The University has since been closed but at the choice of the Islamic State’s leadership in Mosul, the Medical College remains open but barely functional.
Until 2014 the city was a historic centre for the Syriac orthodox church of the indigenous Arameans, containing the tombs of several Old Testament prophets such as Jonah which was destroyed by the Islamic State occupation army in July 2014.
The name of the city is first mentioned by Xenophon in his expeditionary logs in Achaemenid Assyria (Athura) of 401 BC, during the reign of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty in this region. There, he notes a small Assyrian town of “Mépsila” (Ancient Greek: Μέψιλα) on the Tigris somewhere about where modern Mosul is today (Anabasis, III.iv.10). It may be safer to identify Xenophon’s Mépsila with the site of Iski Mosul, or “Old Mosul”, about 30 km (19 mi) north of modern Mosul, where six centuries after Xenophon’s report, the SasanianPersian center of Budh-Ardhashīr was built. Be that as it may, the name Mepsila is doubtless the root for the modern name.
In its current Arabic form and spelling, the term Mosul, or rather “Mawsil”, stands for the “linking point” – or loosely, the Junction City, in Arabic. Mosul should not be confused with the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh which is located across the Tigris from Mosul on the eastern bank, at the famed archaeological mound of Kuyunjik (Turkoman for “sheep’s hill”). This area is known today as the town of Nebi Yunus (“prophet Jonah“) and is populated largely by Kurds, which makes it the only fully-Kurdish neighborhood in Mosul. The site contains the tomb of the Biblical Jonah, as he lived and died there, in the then capital of ancient Assyria. Today, this entire area has been absorbed into the Mosul metropolitan area. The indigenous [[Arameans] still refer to the entire city of Mosul as Nineveh (or rather, Ninweh).
The area in which Mosul lies was an integral part of Assyria from as early as the 25th century BC, and after the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC) and Neo-Sumerian Empire it again became a continuous part of Assyria proper from circa 2050 BC through to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire between 612–599 BC.
Mosul later succeeded Nineveh as the Tigris bridgehead of the road that linked Assyria and Anatolia with the short lived Median Empire and succeeding Achaemenid Empire (546–332 BC) where it was a part of the geo-political province of Athura (Assyria).
It became part of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander’s conquests in 332 BC. While little is known of the city from the Hellenistic period, Mosul likely belonged to the Seleucid satrapy of Syria (the Greek term for Assyria), which was conquered by the Parthian Empire circa 150 BC where it once more became a part of Athura.
The city changed hands once again with the rise of Sassanid Persia in 225 AD and became a part of Assuristan (Sassanid Persian for Assyria). Christianity was present among the indigenous Assyrian people in Mosul as early as the 1st century. It became an episcopal seat of the Assyrian Church of the East in the 6th century.
Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, “Siege of Mosul in 1261–63”, Jami’ al-tawarikh, Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
In the late 9th century control over the city was seized by the Turkish dynasts Ishaq ibn Kundajiq and his son Muhammad, but in 893 Mosul came once again under the direct control of the Abbasid Caliphate. In the early 10th century Mosul came under the control of the native Arab Hamdanid dynasty. From Mosul, the Hamdanids under Abdallah ibn Hamdan and his son Nasir al-Dawla expanded their control over the Jazira for several decades, first as governors of the Abbassids and later as de facto independent rulers. A century later they were supplanted by the Uqaylids.
Mosul was conquered by the Seljuks in the 11th century. After a period under semi-independent atabeg such as Mawdud, in 1127 it became the centre of power of the Zengid dynasty. Saladin besieged the city unsuccessfully in 1182 but finally gained control of it in 1186. In the 13th century it was captured by the Mongols led by Hulegu, but was spared the usual destruction since its governor, Badr al-Din Luʾluʾ, helped the Khan in his following campaigns in Syria. After the Mongol defeat in the Battle of Ain Jalut against the Mamluks, Badr al-Din’s son sided with the latter; this led to the destruction of the city, which later regained some importance but never recovered its original splendor. Mosul was thenceforth ruled by the Mongol Ilkhanid and Jalayrid dynasties, and escaped Tamerlan‘s destructions.
During 1165 Benjamin of Tudela passed through Mosul; in his papers he wrote that he found a small Jewish community estimated as 7000 people in Mosul, the community was led by rebbi Zakhi (זכאי) presumably connected to the King David dynasty. In 1288–1289, the Exilarch was in Mosul and signed a supporting paper for Maimonides. In the early 16th century Mosul was under the Turkmen federation of the Ak Koyunlu, but in 1508 it was conquered by the Persian Safawids.
Ottomans: 1535 to 1918
In 1535, OttomanSultanSuleyman the Magnificentadded Mosul to his empire by capturing it from his archrivals — Safavid Persia. Thenceforth Mosul was governed by a pasha. Mosul was celebrated for its line of walls, comprising seven gates with large towers, a renowned hospital (maristan) and a covered market (qaysariyya), and was also famous for its fabrics and flourishing trades.
Although Mesopotamia had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1533, gains which were confirmed by the Peace of Amasya (1555) until the reconquest of Baghdad in 1638, and the resulting treaty of the year after, Ottoman control over Mesopotamia was not decisive,and the city of Mosul was considered “still a mere fortress, important for its strategic position as an offensive platform for Ottoman campaigns into Iraq, as well as a defensive stronghold and (staging post) guarding the approaches to Anatolia and to the Syrian coast. Then with the Ottoman reconquest of Baghdad (1638), the liwa’ of Mosul became an independent wilaya.”:202 After the Peace of Amasya, the Safavids recaptured most of Mesopotamia one more time during the reign of king Abbas I (r. 1588-1629). Amongst the newly appointed Safavid governors of Mesopotamia during those years, was Qasem Sultan Afshar, who was appointed governor of Mosul in 1622.
Despite being a part of the Ottoman Empire, during the four centuries of Ottoman rule Mosul was considered “the most independent district” within the Middle East, following the Roman model of indirect rule through local notables.:203–4 “Mosuli culture developed less along Ottoman–Turkish lines than along Iraqi–Arab lines; and Turkish, the official language of the State, was certainly not the dominant language in the province.”:203
In line with its status as a politically stable trade route between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf the city developed considerably during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Similar to the development of the Mamluk dynasty in Baghdad, during this time “the Jalili family was establishing itself as the undisputed master of Mosul”, and “helping to connect Mosul with a pre-Ottoman, pre-Turcoman, pre-Mongol, Arab cultural heritage which was to put the town on its way to recapturing some of the prestige and prominence it had enjoyed under the golden reign of Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’.”203
Along with the al-Umari and Tasin al-Mufti families, the Jalilis formed an “urban-based small and medium gentry and a new landed elite”, which proceeded to displace the control of previous rural tribes. Such families proceed to establish themselves through private enterprise, solidifying their influence and assets through rents on land and taxes on urban and rural manufacturing.
As well as elected officials, the social architecture of Mosul was highly influenced by the Dominican fathers who arrived in Mosul in 1750, sent by Pope Benedict XIV (Mosul had a large Christian population, predominantly Assyrians).They were followed by the Dominican nuns in 1873. They established a number of schools, health clinics, a printing press and an orphanage. The nuns also established workshops to teach girls sewing and embroidery. A congregation of Dominican sisters, founded in the 19th century, still had its motherhouse in Mosul by the early 21st century. Over 120 Assyrian Iraqi Sisters belonged to this congregation.
In the nineteenth century the Ottoman government started to reclaim central control over its outlying provinces. Their aim was to “restore Ottoman law, and rejuvenate the military” as well as reviving “a secure tax base for the government”.:24–26 In order to reestablish rule in 1834 the Sultan abolished public elections for the position of governor, and began “neutraliz[ing] local families such as the Jalilis and their class.”:28–29 and appointing new, non-Maslawi governors directly. In line with its reintegration within central government rule, Mosul was required to conform to new Ottoman reform legislation, including the standardization of tariff rates, the consolidation of internal taxes and the integration of the administrative apparatus with the central government.:26
This process started in 1834 with the appointment of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, who was to rule Mosul for the next four years. After the reign of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, the Ottoman government (wishing still to restrain the influence of powerful local families) appointed a series of governors in rapid succession, ruling “for only a brief period before being sent somewhere else to govern, making it impossible for any of them to achieve a substantial local power base.”:29 Mosul’s importance as a trading center declined after the opening of the Suez canal, which enabled goods to travel to and from India by sea rather than by land across Iraq and through Mosul.
A coffee house in Mosul, 1914.
Mosul remained under Ottoman control until 1918 when it was taken by the British, with a brief break in 1623 when Persia seized the city, and was the capital of Mosul Vilayet one of the three vilayets (provinces) of Ottoman Iraq.
The city’s fortunes revived with the discovery of oil in the area, from the late 1920s onward. It became a nexus for the movement of oil via truck and pipeline to both Turkey and Syria. Qyuarrah Refinery was built within about an hour’s drive from the city and was used to process tar for road-building projects. It was damaged but not destroyed during the Iran–Iraq War.
The opening of the University of Mosul in 1967 enabled the education of many in the city and surrounding areas.
Although this prevented Saddam‘s forces from mounting large-scale military operations again in the region, it did not stop the regime from implementing a steady policy of “Arabisation” by which the demography of some areas of Nineveh Governorate were gradually changed. Despite the program Mosul and its surrounding towns and villages remained home to a mixture of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Shabaks, a few Jews, and isolated populations of Yazidis, Mandeans, Kawliya and Circassians. Saddam was able to garrison portions of the 5th Army within the city of Mosul, had Mosul International Airport under military control, and recruited heavily from the city for his military’s officer corps; this may have been due to the fact that most of the officers and generals of the Iraqi Army were from Mosul long before the Saddam regime era.
Coalition Invasion in 2003 to 2014
Saddam Hussein’s sons Qusay and Uday were killed in a gun battle in Mosul on July 22, 2003
When the 2003 invasion of Iraq was being planned, the United States had originally intended to base troops in Turkey and mount a thrust into northern Iraq to capture Mosul. However, the Turkish parliament refused to grant permission for the operation. When the Iraq War did break out in March 2003, US military activity in the area was confined to strategic bombing with airdroppedspecial forces operating in the vicinity. Mosul fell on April 11, 2003, when the Iraqi Army 5th Corps, loyal to Saddam, abandoned the city and eventually surrendered, two days after the fall of Baghdad. US Army Special Forces with Kurdish fighters quickly took civil control of the city. Thereafter began widespread looting before an agreement was reached to cede overall control to US forces.
On July 22, 2003, Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, were killed in a gunbattle with Coalition forces in Mosul after a failed attempt at their apprehension. The city also served as the operational base for the US Army‘s 101st Airborne Division during the occupational phase of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. During its tenure, the 101st Airborne Division was able to extensively survey the city and, advised by the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, non-governmental organizations, and the people of Mosul, began reconstruction work by employing the people of Mosul in the areas of security, electricity, local governance, drinking water, wastewater, trash disposal, roads, bridges, and environmental concerns.
Other US Army units to have occupied the city include the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 172nd Stryker Brigade, the 3rd Brigade-2nd Infantry Division, 18th Engineer Brigade (Combat), Alpha Company 14th Engineer Battalion-555th Combat Engineer Brigade, 1st Brigade-25th Infantry Division, the 511th Military Police Company, the 812th Military Police Company and company-size units from Reserve components, an element of the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, and the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion which covered the areas north of the Green Line.
On June 24, 2004, a coordinated series of car-bombs killed 62 people, many of them policemen.
The memorial that stands outside the entrance to the Dining Hall on FOB Marez where the December 21, 2004 suicide attack occurred.
On December 21, 2004, fourteen US soldiers, four American employees of Halliburton, and four Iraqi soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a dining hall at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez next to the main US military airfield at Mosul. The Pentagon reported that 72 other personnel were injured in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest and the uniform of the Iraqi security services. The Islamist group Army of Ansar al-Sunna (partly evolved from Ansar al-Islam) declared responsibility for the attack in an Internet statement.
U.S. Army soldiers patrol the streets of Mosul, January 2005
In December 2007, Iraq reopened Mosul International Airport. An Iraqi Airways flight carried 152 Hajj pilgrims to Baghdad, the first commercial flight since US forces declared a no-fly zone in 1993, although further commercial flight remained prohibited. On January 23, 2008, an explosion in an apartment building killed 36 people. The following day, a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer assassinated the local police chief, Brig. Gen. Salah Mohammed al-Jubouri, the director of police for Ninevah province, as he toured the site of the blast.
In May 2008, a military offensive of the Ninawa campaign was launched by US-backed Iraqi Army Forces led by Maj. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the commander of military operations in Mosul, in the hope of bringing back stability and security to the city. Though the representatives of Mosul in the Iraqi Parliament, the intellectuals of the city, and other concerned humanitarian groups agreed on the pressing need for a solution to the unbearable conditions of the city, they still believed that the solution was merely political and administrative. They also questioned whether such a large scale military offensive would spare the lives of innocent people.
All these factors deprived the city of its historical, scientific, and intellectual foundations in the last 4 years, when many scientists, professors, academics, doctors, health professionals, engineers, lawyers, journalists, religious clergy (both Muslims and Christians), historians, as well as professionals and artists in all walks of life, were either killed or forced to leave the city under the threat of being shot, exactly as happened elsewhere in Iraq in the years following 2003.
In 2008, many Assyrian Christians (about 12,000) fled the city following a wave of murders and threats against their community. The murder of a dozen Assyrians, threats that others would be murdered unless they converted to Islam and the destruction of their houses sparked a rapid exodus of the Christian population. Some families crossed the borders to Syria and Turkey while others were given shelter in churches and monasteries. Accusations were exchanged between Sunni fundamentalists and some Kurdish groups for being behind this new exodus. For the time being the motivation of these acts is unclear, but some claims linked it to the imminent provincial elections which took place in January 2009, and the related Assyrian Christians’ demands for broader representation in the provincial councils.[
On June 10, 2014, Mosul was occupied by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Troop shortages and infighting among top officers and Iraqi political leaders played into Islamic State’s hands and fueled panic that led to the city’s abandonment. Kurdish intelligence had been warned by a reliable source in early 2014 that Mosul would be attacked by ISIL and ex-Baathists (and had informed the US and UK); however, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Defence Minister turned down repeated offers of help from the peshmerga.
Half a million people escaped on foot or by car in the next 2 days. ISIL acquired three divisions’ worth of up-to-date American arms and munitions—including M1129 Stryker 120-mm mortars and at least 700 armoured Humvee vehicles from the then fleeing, or since massacred, Iraqi army. Many residents initially welcomed ISIL and according to a member of the UK Defence Select Committee Mosul “fell because the people living there were fed up with the sectarianism of the Shia dominated Iraqi government.”
On 21 January 2015, the US began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish-launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.
Once home to 70,000 Arameans (Syriac) Christians there are possibly none left today in Mosul, any that do remain are forced to pay a tax for remaining Christian, and live under the constant threat of violence. The indigenous Arameans who have a history in the region dating back over 4,000 years suffered their Christian churches and monasteries being vandalised and burned down,their ancient heritage sites dating back to the Iron Age destroyed, their homes and possessions stolen by ISIL, and ultimatums to convert to Islam, leave their ancient homelands, or be murdered.
During the ISIS occupation of Mosul, phone lines have been cut by ISIL and cell phone towers and internet access destroyed.The residents of the city have been de facto prisoners, forbidden to leave the city unless they post with ISIL a significant collateral of family members, personal wealth and property. They may then leave the city upon paying a significant “departure tax” on a three-day pass (for a higher fee they can surrender their home, pay the fee and leave for good) and if those with a three-day pass fail to return in that time their assets will be seized and family will be killed.
Most female Yazidis from Mosul and the greater Mosul region (Nineveh) are imprisoned and occasionally many are slaughtered because of their resistance to being sold as sex slaves. The Islamic State occupiers have murdered or driven out most minority groups and converted some Yazidi males and Christians to Islam. Women are required to cover their bodies from head to foot in a strict variant of Sharia rule and men are required to fully grow their beards and hair as does the members of the Islamic State. Life in Mosul is one of violent oppression where people suspected of activism against the occupiers, resistance activities, homosexuality, promiscuity or adultery are brutally and summarily tortured and murdered.
The ISIS governor of Mosul, Alian Natiq Mabroush was killed on 18 March 2016 along with ten other jihadist leaders in a U.S. airstrike.
During the occupation residents have fought back against ISIS. In one notable incident they were able to kill five ISIS militants and destroy two of their vehicles.
Women must be accompanied by a male guardian and wear clothing that covers their body completely including gloves for the hands, niqab for the head and khimar for the full coverage of the body from shoulders to feet.
According to Canadian-based NGO “The RINJ Foundation” which operates medical clinics in Mosul, rape cases in the city prove a pattern of genocide and will lead to a conviction of genocide against the Islamic State, in the International Criminal Court, a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for war-time rape, genocide, crimes against humanity, and aggression.
The Islamic State was in August 2015 reported to be selling captured women and girls to sex slave traders.
Persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and destruction of cultural sites
ISIL issued an edict expelling (in effect ethnically cleansing) the remaining predominantly ethnic Assyrian and Armenian Christian Mosul citizens, after the Christians failed to attend a meeting to discuss their future status. According to Duraid Hikmat, an expert on minority relationships and resident of Mosul, the Christians were fearful to attend. Emboldened ISIL authorities systematically destroyed and vandalised Abrahamic cultural artifacts such as the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the tomb of Jonah, and a statue of the Virgin Mary. ISIL militants destroyed and pillaged the Tomb of Seth in Mosul. Artifacts within the tomb were removed to an unknown location.
Students from Muslim minorities have been abducted.
According to a UN report ISIL forces are persecuting ethnic groups in and near Mosul. The Assyrians, Kurds, Armenians, Yazidis, Turcoman, Mandeans and Shabaks are victims of unprovoked religiously motivated murders, assaults, theft, kidnappings and the destruction of their cultural sites.
Mosque of the Prophet Yunus or Younis (Jonah): On one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh ruins, used to rise the Mosque (an Assyrian Church year of Prophet Younis “Biblical Jonah“. Jonah the son of Amittai, from the 8th century BC, is believed to be buried here, where King Esarhaddon of Assyria had once built a palace. It was one of the most important mosques in Mosul and one of the few historic mosques that are found on the east side of the city. On July 24, 2014, the building was destroyed by explosives set by forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis (Georges): The mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Jerjis. Built of marble with shen reliefs and renovated last in 1393 AD it was mentioned by the explorer Ibn Jubair in the 12th century AD, and is believed also to embrace the tomb of Al-Hur bin Yousif.
Mashad Yahya Abul Kassem: Built in the 13th century it was on the right bank of the Tigris and was known for its conical dome, decorative brickwork and calligraphy engraved in Mosul blue marble.
Mosul library: Including the Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and the Mosul Museum Library. Among the 112,709 books and manuscripts thought lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers dating from the early 20th century, as well as maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period; some were registered on a UNESCO rarities list. The library was ransacked and destroyed by explosives on 25 February 2015.
Turkish diplomats and consular staff were detained for over 100 days.
Scores of people have been executed without fair trial. Civilians living in Mosul are not permitted to leave ISIS-controlled areas. ISIS has executed several civilians that were trying to flee Mosul.
The urban guerrilla warfare groups may be called the Nabi Yunus Brigade after the Nabi Yunus mosque, or the Kataeb al-Mosul (Mosul Brigade). The brigade claims to have killed ISIL members with sniper fire. In the countryside around Mosul, Kurdish and Assyrianmilitia have also taken up arms to resist ISIL oppression.
During the 20th century, Mosul city had been indicative of the mingling ethnic and religious cultures of Iraq. There used to be a SunniArab majority in urban areas, such as downtown Mosul west of the Tigris; across the Tigris and further north in the suburban areas, thousands of Arameans, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks, Yazidis and Armenians made up the rest of Mosul’s population. Shabaks were concentrated on the eastern outskirts of the city.
A church in Mosul in about 1850
Mosul had a Jewish population. Like their counterparts elsewhere in Iraq, most left in 1950–51. Most Iraqi Jews have moved to Israel, and some to the United States. In 2003, during the Iraq War, a rabbi in the American army found an abandoned, dilapidated synagogue in Mosul dating back to the 13th century
In the face of the deadly threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, many Kurdish women decide not to leave their survival to fate. Instead, they fight for their lives and their future. Taking up arms, they join the YPG – Kurdish People’s Protection Units that defend their town’s borders from the militants. The enemy fears female warriors. Jihadists believe if they are killed by a woman they will go straight to hell.
Women’s Protection Units
The Women’s Protection Units or Women’s Defense Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Jin) (YPJ) is a military organization that was set up in 2012 as the female brigade of the leftist People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, YPG) militia.The YPJ and YPG are the armed wing of a Kurdish coalition that has taken de facto control over much of Syria’s predominantly Kurdish north, Rojava.
The organization grew out of the Kurdish resistance movement, and as of late 2014 it had over 7,000 (or 10,000, according to TeleSUR) volunteer fighters between the ages of 18 and 40. They receive no funding from the international community and rely on the local communities for supplies and food.
The YPJ joined its brother organization, the YPG, in fighting against any groups that showed intentions of bringing the Syrian Civil War to Kurdish-inhabited areas. It has come under increased attacks from ISIL militants and was involved in the Siege of Kobanî.
The group played a critical role in rescuing the thousands of Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar by ISIL fighters in August 2014. One fighter said: “We need to control the area ourselves without depending on [the government]… They can’t protect us from [ISIL], we have to protect ourselves [and] we defend everyone … no matter what race or religion they are.
The group had been praised by feminists for “confront[ing] traditional gender expectations in the region” and “redefining the role of women in conflict in the region”. According to photographer Erin Trieb, “the YPJ is in itself a feminist movement, even if it is not their main mission”. She asserted that “they want ‘equality’ between women and men, and a part of why they joined was to develop and advance the perceptions about women in their culture”.
Various Kurdish media agency indicate that “YPJ troops have become vital in the battle against I.S.” in Kobanî.YPJ achievements in Rojava have attracted considerable international attention as a rare example of strong female achievement in a region in which women are heavily repressed.
On the frontline between Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants, a group of young women have mobilised.
They have left their homes and dreams behind to fight on the frontline. The women say they felt compelled to join the battles with men in order to protect their land. They call themselves the women defenders, or the YPJ (pron: Yuh-pah-Juy); pro-Kurdish Yekineyen Parastina Jin
17-year-old Dilbreen says she signed up to help liberate the country.
“I joined YPJ voluntarily. I joined them to defend the Kurds, the Arabs, the Christians, and all nationals. I will defend my country and all those who are fighting for it,” explained Dilbreen.
The women feel no different from the men fighters. However they believe that while men rely more on their physical strength, they use cunning, stealth and patience to get results.
One YPJ commander, Çiçek told euronews: “The male fighter fights physically, while the woman fights with her mind. The woman knows when to use weapons, and naturally she is a hater of war violence. However, we are forced to defend ourselves. We were raised on such thoughts.”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Popular Protection Units (YPG) have seen their numbers swell of late with new recruits coming from Europe, Australia and the United States to join the battle.
Captured, sold, raped: ISIS turns thousands of Christian women and children into sex slaves
Canadian Joins Kurdish women fighting
VANCOUVER — The city was out enjoying an overcast Saturday afternoon of grocery shopping on Davie Street, biking the Stanley Park Seawall and just staring at the freighters out in English Bay. But Hanna Bohman was thinking about leaving town.
It had been almost two months since she’d said goodbye to Syria, where she volunteered with the Kurdish women’s army known as the YPJ. And she was wondering: should she go back? “I’m thinking about it,” she said in an interview at a West End coffee shop. “I’m thinking about it a lot.”
Hanna BohmanHeavy metal-loving Heval Rosa, 19, and 22-year-old, Heval Azidan, who was Hanna Bohman’s best friend.
Pulling her back to the war zone were the “girls” — the female Kurdish guerillas she befriended during her months in Rojava, the independent state they are fighting to establish in northern Syria.
Girls like Heval Rosa.
In a video on Bohman’s tablet, Rosa sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck holding her grenade launcher. “She likes heavy metal,” recalled Bohman. “She asked me, ‘Do you have any heavy metal?’” Seeing the camera trained on her, Rosa stuck out her tongue.
Another video showed half-a-dozen women in camouflage sitting on a floor mat in an abandoned house playing a game, laughing like it was a sleepover. And then there was the video of the uniformed YPJ fighter who insisted that Bohman take her jacket because there was a cold wind.
The conflict in Syria has been hard on women. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has systematically raped them, sold them, traded them and enslaved them. Women have been forced to convert and cover themselves. They’ve been lured from Western countries to serve as comfort wives for lonely killers. But as Bohman found out, the women are fighting back.
The Women’s Defense Unit, or YPJ, was created three years ago and consists of some 7,500 Kurdish fighters. It is the women’s branch of a militia called the YPG, or People’s Protection Units. By decree, 40% of the spots in each YPG fighting unit are filled by women.
“The women fight just as much as the men,” said Bohman, 46, who is also known by her online alias, Tiger Sun. “I think the YPJ girls, they’re the real heroes because they’re not just fighting ISIL, they’re fighting for women’s rights.”
Hanna BohmanSeventeen-year-old Heval Canda was in charge of the fighters on duty. It was her job to pick who lived or died that day.
One of a handful of Canadians who have fought alongside Kurdish forces, Bohman was born in Zambia to Canadian parents. She returned to Canada when she was still a toddler and grew up with humanitarian ambitions, dreaming of flying aid missions in Africa.
Instead she worked a variety of jobs — sales, the oil fields, a horseracing track — until a workplace injury followed by a car accident made her rethink what she really wanted. “I realized I’d been spending too much of my time doing things I didn’t want to do,” she said.
She didn’t know much about the Kurdish people but she was familiar with ISIL and she thought, if Canadians were fighting for the extremist cause, why couldn’t she fight for the other side? After making contact with the YPJ through Facebook, she broke the news to her family. “I told my mother and a couple of friends,” she said. “I was really excited to get going.”
Hanna BohmanTeam commander Heval Arjin, 19, who gave Hanna Bohman her first grenades, playing a game with improvised cards.
But as she was leaving Qatar, next stop northern Iraq, she got nervous. She was trusting her life to people she didn’t know, at a time jihadists had discovered the profitability and shock value of kidnapping. The plane landed in Sulaymaniyah and she crossed a river at night to a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) camp. The setting reminded her of B.C.’s Okanagan. Nine other Westerners were there — from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
She had been told there would be 45 days of training, but by the time she got there they had reduced it to 15 days, and then five. It ended up consisting of five hours of firearms instruction, “everything I could have learned on YouTube,” she said.
Initially, she was assigned to a base where she dug ditches and took shifts on guard duty. The Shingal Mountains of Iraq were just across the border and the biggest threat was ISIL suicide trucks. From there, she moved closer to the action, joining a mobile fighting unit. They would capture a village, hold it and move on. “Most of the time (ISIL) would run away but sometimes they’d put up a fight and we’d just kill them off,” she said. Bohman said she never killed anyone herself.
The YPJ girls she met were young — 17, 18 and 19. Many were poorly educated, some had run away from forced marriages. She described them as a “peasant militia.” During downtime, they played volleyball, danced and sang nationalistic songs, she said. They seemed keenly aware they were fighting for women’s rights.
“As we say, the revolution of Rojava is a women’s revolution,” Feleknas Uca, a Turkish Member of Parliament who is also Kurdish and Yazidi, said in an interview at the Toronto Kurdish Community Centre. She said the YPJ was avenging ISIL’s treatment of women and joked that ISIL fighters were terrified of the sight of red shoes and makeup. “They are very afraid of women because they believe if they die by women they will not go to heaven.”
Hanna BohmanHeval Nujian, 22, told Hanna Bohman that she always smiled because it helps others feel better.
In contrast to ISIL’s misogyny the YPJ manifesto speaks optimistically about “gender freedom” and “struggling at all levels with an awareness of the idea of legitimate defense in the face of various forms of attacks against women.”
In June, Bohman rode with the Kurdish fighters as they captured the town of Tal Abyad. She was crossing a damaged bridge when she jumped and her legs buckled. She had lost so much muscle eating a diet of canned sardines and cucumber, she knew it was time to go home. “I didn’t want anyone getting hurt because I couldn’t carry my weight,” she said. “It was the safest thing for everybody.”
Nobody batted an eye when she got to Montreal airport, she said. “All they said to me was welcome home.” Two weeks later, however, a Canadian Security Intelligence Service officer tracked her down and they met for lunch, she said.
“I asked her why it took them so long to contact me and she said, ‘Well, we didn’t know you went,’” Bohman said. The CSIS officer did not seem concerned about Bohman’s encounters with the PKK. She only seemed interested in Canadians who had joined ISIL, Bohman said. “She wasn’t worried about me.”
Hanna BohmanHeval Silav taught herself how to speak, read, and write English, Arabic, and Kurdish, despite only being allowed to attend school for one year.
The Kurdish conflict has worsened since she left. A ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed and there have been several deadly skirmishes. Last month, a suspected ISIL suicide bomber killed 32 youths in Suruc, a Kurdish town in Turkey.
Bohman put her uniform back on for an Aug. 6 protest at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver after Turkey launched airstrikes on some of the PKK camps she had visited in Iraq. But she was undecided about going back to Syria.
A new travel zone ban proposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper may complicate matters. Although those fighting against ISIL are said to be exempted, it was unclear how the law would impact those like Bohman who rubbed shoulders with the PKK, a terrorist group under Canadian law.
“Should Sun be motivated enough by the Turkish offensive against the Kurds to return to fight with the YPG, she could suddenly find herself on the other side of Harper’s proposed travel ban law,” journalist and former infantryman Scott Taylor wrote in Esprit de Corps.
Bohman was well-aware of the problems she could face should she return. “What am I going to do that’s going to make me feel as useful and worthwhile?” she asked. “I’m not doing anything better here in Canada.”
20-year-old Danish Coed Joins Kobane Angels to Fight ISIS
A Danish woman has become the latest Westerner to travel to the besieged Syrian city of Kobane and join Kurdish forces bravely battling Islamic State militants.
Her name is Joanna Palani and she is a 20-year-old of Kurdish descent. Joanna is understood to have written a message on her Facebook page describing a minor foot injury she picked up during a ‘hard’ attack on the jihadist.
Minutes earlier she had updated the page with a photograph of herself calmly smiling while wearing military fatigues, a bullet proof vest and carrying a large assault rifle – threatening ISIS militants with the words: ‘See you on the front line tomorrow’.
Ms. Palani has become the latest Westerner to join the fight against ISIS in Kobane, where Syrian Kurds assisted by Iraqi Peshmerga troops and US and Arab coalition warplanes have managed to force hundreds of militants out of the center of the city.
Ms. Palani is the latest Westerner to join the fight against ISIS in Kobane (pictured), where Syrian Kurds assisted by Iraqi Peshmerga troops and US warplanes have forced hundreds of militants out the city center
Details of Ms. Palani’s journey to fight ISIS in Syria were reported by the Danish newspaper BT.
Less than a month ago she had made a gave an interview to Politiken saying that she was dropping out mid-way through her college course and intended to join the fight against ISIS in Kobane.
It is likely Ms. Palani, who has lived in Denmark since she was three-years-old, has joined the KurdishYPJ regiment – the all-female force of the better known YPG (People’s Protection Unit). Both groups are affiliated with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which has been designated a terror
group by NATO, but Ms. Palani makes it clear that she does not agree with this assessment. The US has since removed the Kurds from the terrorist list and is now training and arming them.
‘The Kurds are fighting for democracy and Western values,’ she was quoted as saying.
‘If I get captured or killed, I will be proud of why I was killed. If I was afraid of the consequences of going down there, I would not consider it,’ she reportedly added.
In her earlier interview with Politiken before she left for Syria, Ms. Palani said she would do exactly the same thing had Denmark come under attack by Islamic extremists.
‘I love Denmark. I grew up here and I love the freedom of our society. If Denmark should ever be attacked, I’m going to go in the front row with a Danish flag around my shoulders,’ she was quoted as saying.’But I’ve Kurdish family, and right now it is the Kurds who are attacked by brainwashed Islamists,’ she added. She is far from the first Westerner to join the Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in Kobane.
There have been numerous other reports from Kobane of Westerners travelling taking up arms against the militants – including claims that a number of European biker gangs had ridden to Syria and are helping to assist the resistance.
One of the greatest fears that ISIS fighters have is to be captured or killed by Kobane Female Fighters. Would Allah allow them access to their “virgins” when it was a women who took them out? It is up to “Allah” I guess, said one fighter! This morning Kurdish fighters captured six buildings from ISIS near Kobane and seized a large haul of their weapons and ammunition, a group monitoring the war said.
The terror group has been desperately trying to capture the town for more than two months in an assault that has driven tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians over the border into Turkey.
The six buildings seized by Kurdish fighters this morning were in a strategic location in the town’s north, close to Security Square where the main municipal offices are based, said Rami Abdurrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
His group that tracks the three-year-old conflict in Syria using sources on the ground.
The Kurds also took a large quantity of rocket-propelled grenade launchers, guns and machine gun ammunition.
The clashes killed around 13 Islamic State militants, including two senior fighters who had been helping to lead the militant group’s assault on the town, he said.
Kurdish forces appear to have made other gains in recent days of fighting.
Last week they blocked a road Islamic State was using to resupply its forces, the first major gain against the jihadists after weeks of violence.
‘During the last few days we have made big progress in the east and southeast,’ said Idris Nassan, an official in Kobane.
Nevertheless, Islamic State still appeared to be holding a significant grip on the town. Abdurrahman estimated it controlled more than 50 percent of the city.
The IRA’s initial strategy was to use force to cause the collapse of the government of Northern Ireland and to inflict enough casualties on British forces that the British government would be forced by public opinion to withdraw from the region. This policy involved recruitment of volunteers, increasing after the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident, in which the British military killed unarmed protesters, and launching attacks against British military and economic targets. The campaign was supported by arms and funding from Libya and from some groups in the United States.
The IRA agreed to a ceasefire in February 1975, which lasted nearly a year before the IRA concluded that the British were drawing them into politics without offering any guarantees in relation to the IRA’s goals (as well as launching an intelligence offensive), and hopes of a quick victory receded. As a result, the IRA launched a new strategy known as “the Long War”. This saw them conduct a war of attrition against the British and increase emphasis on political activity, via the political party Sinn Féin.
The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to the Armalite and ballot box strategy, with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The abortive attempt at an escalation of the military part of that strategy led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political compromise to end the conflict, with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and secret talks with British civil servants, the IRA ultimately called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement. When the British government, dependent on Ulster Unionist Party votes at Westminster, then demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the IRA called off its ceasefire in February 1996.
This demand was quickly dropped after the May 1997 general election in the UK. The IRA ceasefire was then reinstated in July 1997 and Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The IRA’s armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 640 civilians. The IRA itself lost 275–300 members and an estimated 10,000 imprisoned at various times over the 30-year period.
On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”, and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was “committed to the political path” and no longer represented “a threat to peace or to democratic politics”, and that the IRA’s Army Council was “no longer operational or functional”. The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland. Two small groups split from the Provisional IRA, the Continuity IRA in 1986, and the Real IRA in 1997. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity.
On 26 July 2012, it was announced that some former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army were merging with the Real Irish Republican Army, other independent republican paramilitary groups and the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (but, notably, not with the Continuity Irish Republican Army) into a unified formation known simply as the “Irish Republican Army”. This new IRA group is estimated by Police Service of Northern Ireland intelligence sources to have between 250 and 300 active militants and many more supporting associates.
An IRA badge – the Phoenix is frequently used to symbolise the origins of the Provisional IRA.
In August 1969, a confrontation between Catholic residents of the Bogside and police Londonderry ollowing an Apprentice Boys of Derry march led to a large communal riot now referred to as the Battle of the Bogside – three days of fighting between rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs and police who saturated the area with CS gas.
Protests and riots organised by NICRA in support of the Bogsiders began elsewhere in the Province sparking retaliation by Protestant mobs; the subsequent burning, damage to property and intimidation largely against the minority community forced 1,505 Catholics from their homes in Belfast in what became known as the Northern Ireland riots of August 1969, with over 200 Catholic homes being destroyed or requiring major repairs and a number of people were killed on both sides, some by the forces of law and order. The Irish Republican Army had been poorly armed and unable to adequately defend the Catholic community, which had been considered one of its traditional roles since the 1920s.
Veteran republicans were critical of the IRA’s Dublin leadership which, for political reasons, had refused to prepare for aggressive action in advance of the violence. On 24 August Joe Cahill, Seamus Twomey, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Billy McKee and several other future Provisional leaders came together in Belfast intending to remove the Belfast leadership and turn back to traditional militant republicanism. Although the pro-Goulding commander Billy McMillen stayed in command, he was told it was only for three months and he was not to have any communication with the IRA’s Dublin based leadership.
Traditional republicans formed the “Provisional” Army Council in December 1969, after an IRA Army convention was held at Knockvicar House in Boyle, County Roscommon. The two main issues were the acceptance of the “National Liberation Strategy” and a motion to end abstentionism and to recognise the British, Irish and Northern Ireland parliaments. While the motion on the “National Liberation Strategy” was passed unanimously the motion on abstentionism was only passed by 28 votes to 12. Opponents of this change argued strongly against the ending of abstentionism, and when the vote took place, Seán Mac Stíofáin, present as IRA Director of Intelligence, announced that he no longer considered that the IRA leadership represented republican goals. However, there was not a walkout. Those opposed, who included Mac Stíofáin and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, refused to go forward for election to the new IRA Executive.
While others canvassed support throughout Ireland, Mac Stíofáin was a key person making a connection with the Belfast IRA under Billy McKee and Joe Cahill, who had refused to take orders from the IRA’s Dublin leadership since September 1969, in protest at their failure to defend Catholic areas in August. Nine out of thirteen IRA units in Belfast sided with the Provisionals in December 1969, roughly 120 activists and 500 supporters. The first “Provisional” Army Council was composed of Seán Mac Stíofáin, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Paddy Mulcahy, Sean Tracey, Leo Martin, and Joe Cahill, and issued their first public statement on 28 December 1969, stating:
We declare our allegiance to the 32 county Irish republic, proclaimed at Easter 1916, established by the first Dáil Éireann in 1919, overthrown by forces of arms in 1922 and suppressed to this day by the existing British-imposed six-county and twenty-six-county partition states.
The Sinn Féin party split along the same lines on 11 January 1970, when a third of the delegates walked out of the Ard Fheis in protest at the party leadership’s attempt to force through the ending of abstentionism, despite its failure to achieve a two-thirds majority vote of delegates required to change the policy. Despite the declared support of that faction of Sinn Féin, the early Provisional IRA was extremely suspicious of political activity, arguing rather for the primacy of armed struggle.
There are allegations that the early Provisional IRA received arms and funding from the Fianna Fáil-led Irish government in 1969, resulting in the 1970 “Arms trial” in which criminal charges were pursued against two former government ministers. Roughly £100,000 was donated by the Irish government to “Defence Committees” in Catholic areas and, according to historian Richard English, “there is now no doubt that some money did go from the Dublin government to the proto-Provisionals”.
The Provisionals maintained the principles of the pre-1969 IRA; they considered both British rule in Northern Ireland and the government of the Republic of Ireland to be illegitimate, insisting that the Provisional IRA’s Army Council was the only valid government, as head of an all-island Irish Republic. This belief was based on a series of perceived political inheritances which constructed a legal continuity from the Second Dáil.
The Provisionals inherited most of the existing IRA organisation in the north by 1971 and the more militant IRA members in the rest of Ireland. In addition, they recruited many young nationalists from the north, who had not been involved in the IRA before, but had been radicalised by the communal violence that broke out in 1969. These people were known in republican parlance as “sixty niners”, having joined after 1969. The Provisional IRA adopted the Phoenix as symbol of the Irish republican rebirth in 1969. One of its common slogans is “out of the ashes rose the provisionals”.
All levels of the organisation were entitled to send delegates to IRA General Army Conventions (GACs). The GAC was the IRA’s supreme decision-making authority. Before 1969, GACs met regularly. Since 1969, there have only been two, in 1970 and 1986, owing to the difficulty in organising such a large gathering of an illegal organisation in secret.
The GAC in turn elected a 12-member IRA Executive, which selected seven volunteers to form the IRA Army Council. For day-to-day purposes, authority was vested in the Army Council which, as well as directing policy and taking major tactical decisions, appointed a Chief of Staff from one of its number or, less commonly, from outside its ranks.
PIRA re-enacment in Galbally, County Tyrone (2009)
The Chief of Staff would appoint an adjutant general as well as a General Headquarters (GHQ), which consisted of heads of the following departments:
Republican colour party in Dublin – March 2009. The blue flag being carried at the front is that of “Dublin Brigade IRA”
The IRA was divided into a Northern Command, which operated in the nine Ulster counties as well as County Leitrim and County Louth, and a Southern Command, operating in the rest of Ireland. The Provisional IRA was originally commanded by a leadership based in Dublin. However, in 1977, parallel to the introduction of cell structures at local level, command of the “war-zone” was given to the Northern Command. According to Ed Moloney, these moves at reorganisation were the idea of Ivor Bell, Gerry Adams and Brian Keenan.
The IRA refers to its ordinary members as volunteers (or óglaigh in Irish). Up until the late 1970s, IRA volunteers were organised in units based on conventional military structures. Volunteers living in one area formed a company as part of a battalion, which could be part of a brigade, although many battalions were not attached to a brigade.
For most of its existence, the IRA had five Brigade areas within what it referred to as the “war-zone”. These Brigades were located in Armagh, Belfast, Derry, Donegal and Tyrone/Monaghan. The Belfast Brigade had three battalions, respectively in the west, north and east of the city. In the early years of the Troubles, the IRA in Belfast expanded rapidly. In August 1969, the Belfast Brigade had just 50 active members. By the end of 1971, it had 1,200 members, giving it a large but loosely controlled structure.
The Derry Brigade had two battalions – one based in Derry City, known as the South Derry Brigade, and another in Donegal. The Derry Battalion became the Derry Brigade in 1972 after a rapid increase in membership following Bloody Sunday when British paratroopers killed 13 unarmed demonstrators at a civil rights march. Volunteers based in Donegal were a part of the Derry Brigade as well. County Armagh had three battalions, two very active ones in South Armagh and a less active unit in North Armagh. For this reason the Armagh IRA unit is often referred to as the South Armagh Brigade. Similarly, the Tyrone/Monaghan Brigade, which operated from around the Border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is often called the East Tyrone Brigade. Fermanagh, South Down and North Antrim had units not attached to Brigades. The leadership structure at battalion and company level was the same: each had its own commanding officer, quartermaster, explosives officer and intelligence officer. There was sometimes a training officer or finance officer.
Active service units
Ulster Defence Association – Hunting The IRA (Documentary
From 1973, the IRA started to move away from the larger conventional military organisational principle owing to its security vulnerability. A system of two parallel types of unit within an IRA brigade was introduced in place of the battalion structures. Firstly, the old “company” structures were used for tasks such as “policing” nationalist areas, intelligence gathering, and hiding weapons. These were essential support activities. However, the bulk of actual attacks were the responsibility of a second type of unit, the active service unit (ASU). To improve security and operational capacity, these ASUs were smaller, tight-knit cells, usually consisting of five to eight members. The ASU’s weapons were controlled by a brigade’s quartermaster. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was estimated that in the late 1980s the IRA had roughly 300 members in ASUs and about another 450 serving in supporting roles.
The exception to this reorganisation was the South Armagh Brigade, which retained its traditional hierarchy and battalion structure and used relatively large numbers of volunteers in its actions.
The IRA’s Southern Command, located in the Republic of Ireland, consists of a Dublin Brigade and a number of smaller units in rural areas. These were charged mainly with the importation and storage of arms for the Northern units and with raising finances through robberies and other means.
Following the violence of August 1969, the IRA began to arm and train to protect nationalist areas from further attack. After the Provisionals’ split from the Official IRA the Provisional IRA began planning for an all-out offensive action against what it claimed was British occupation.
The Official IRA were opposed to such a campaign because they felt it would lead to sectarian conflict, which would defeat their strategy of uniting the workers from both sides of the sectarian divide. The IRA Border Campaign in the 1950s had avoided actions in urban centres of Northern Ireland to avoid civilian casualties and resulting sectarian violence. The Provisional IRA, by contrast, was primarily an urban organisation, based originally in Belfast and Derry.
The Provisional IRA’s strategy was to use force to cause the collapse of the Northern Ireland administration and to inflict casualties on the British forces such that the British government be forced by public opinion to withdraw from Ireland. According to journalist Brendan O’Brien, “the thinking was that the war would be short and successful. Chief of Staff Seán Mac Stíofáin decided they would ‘escalate, escalate and escalate’ until the British agreed to go”. This policy involved recruitment of volunteers and carrying out attacks on British forces, as well as mounting a bombing campaign against economic targets. In the early years of the conflict, IRA slogans spoke of, “Victory 1972″ and then “Victory 1974″. Its inspiration was the success of the “Old IRA” in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922). In their assessment of the IRA campaign, the British Army would describe these years, 1970–72, as the “insurgency phase”.
The British government held secret talks with the IRA leadership in 1972 to try and secure a ceasefire based on a compromise settlement within Northern Ireland after the events of Bloody Sunday when IRA recruitment and support increased. The IRA agreed to a temporary ceasefire from 26 June to 9 July. In July 1972, Seán Mac Stíofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Ivor Bell, Seamus Twomey, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met a British delegation led by William Whitelaw. The Irish republicans refused to consider a peace settlement that did not include a commitment to British withdrawal, a retreat of the British Army to its barracks, and a release of republican prisoners. The British refused and the talks broke up.
Éire Nua and the 1975 ceasefire
The Provisionals’ goal in this period was the abolition of both the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland states and their replacement with a new all-Ireland federal republic, with decentralised governments and parliaments for each of the four Irish historic provinces. This programme was known as Éire Nua (New Ireland). The Éire Nua programme remained IRA policy until discontinued by the Army Council in 1979. Éire Nua remained Sinn Féin policy until 1982.
By the mid-1970s, the hopes of the IRA leadership for a quick military victory were receding. The British military was unsure of when it would see any substantial success against the IRA. Secret meetings between Provisional IRA leaders Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Billy McKee with British Secretary of State for Northern IrelandMerlyn Rees secured an IRA ceasefire which began in February 1975. The IRA initially believed that this was the start of a long-term process of British withdrawal, but later came to the conclusion that Rees was trying to bring them into peaceful politics without offering them any guarantees. Critics of the IRA leadership, most notably Gerry Adams, felt that the ceasefire was disastrous for the IRA, leading to infiltration by British informers, the arrest of many activists and a breakdown in IRA discipline resulting in sectarian killings and a feud with fellow republicans in the Official IRA. At this time, the IRA leadership, short of money, weapons and members, was on the brink of calling off the campaign. The ceasefire, however, broke down in January 1976.
The “Long War
IRA political poster from the 1980s, featuring a quote from Bobby Sands – “There can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically”.
Thereafter, the IRA evolved a new strategy which they called the “Long War”. This underpinned IRA strategy for the rest of the Troubles and involved the re-organisation of the IRA into small cells, an acceptance that their campaign would last many years before being successful and an increased emphasis on political activity through Sinn Féin. A republican document of the early 1980s states, “Both Sinn Féin and the IRA play different but converging roles in the war of national liberation. The Irish Republican Army wages an armed campaign… Sinn Féin maintains the propaganda war and is the public and political voice of the movement”. The 1977 edition of the Green Book, an induction and training manual used by the IRA, describes the strategy of the “Long War” in these terms:
A war of attrition against enemy personnel [British Army] based on causing as many deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their [the British] people at home for their withdrawal.
A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy’s financial interests in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term investment in our country.
To make the Six Counties… ungovernable except by colonial military rule.
To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
Confidential documents released on 30 December 2008 from the British state archives show that the IRA leadership proposed a ceasefire and peace talks to the British government in 1978. The British refused the offer. Prime Minister James Callaghan decided that there should be “positive rejection” of the approach on the basis that the republicans were not serious and “see their campaign as a long haul”. Irish State documents from the same period say that the IRA had made a similar offer to the British the previous year. An Irish Defence Forces document, dated 15 February 1977, states that “It is now known that feelers were sent out at Christmas by the top IRA leadership to interest the British authorities in another long ceasefire.”
1981 hunger strikes and electoral politics
Insight: The 1981 Hunger Strike 20 Years On – 2001
After the success of IRA hunger strikers in mobilising support and winning elections on an Anti H-Block platform in 1981, republicans increasingly devoted time and resources to electoral politics, through the Sinn Féin party. Danny Morrison summed up this policy at a 1981 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual meeting) as a “ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other”.
The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to what was referred to by Danny Morrison as, “the Armalite and ballot box strategy” with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The perceived stalemate along with British government’s hints of a compromise and secret approaches in the early 1990s led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political agreement to end the conflict, with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and secret talks with British civil servants, the IRA ultimately called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement. When the British government then demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the organisation called off its ceasefire in February 1996. The renewed bombings caused severe economic damage, with the Manchester bombing and the Docklands bombing causing approximately £500 million in combined damage. After the ceasefire was reinstated in July 1997, Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The IRA’s armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 630 civilians. The IRA itself lost 275–300 members, of an estimated 10,000 total over the 30-year period.
According to author Ed Moloney, the IRA made an attempt to escalate the conflict with the so-called “Tet Offensive” in the 1980s, which was reluctantly approved by the Army Council and did not prove successful. On the other hand, public speeches from two Northern Ireland Secretaries of State, Peter Brooke and Patrick Mayhew hint that, given the cessation of violence, a political compromise with the IRA was possible. Gerry Adams entered talks with John Hume, the leader of the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1993, and secret talks were also conducted since 1991 between Martin McGuinness and a senior MI6 officer, Michael Oatley. Thereafter, Adams increasingly tried to disassociate Sinn Féin from the IRA, claiming they were separate organisations and refusing to speak on behalf of the IRA. Within the Republican Movement (the IRA and Sinn Féin), the new strategy was described by the acronym “TUAS”, meaning either “Tactical Use of Armed Struggle” or “Totally Unarmed Strategy”.
Weaponry and operations
The Armalite AR-18, obtained by the IRA from an IRA member in the United States in the early 1970s, was an emotive symbol of its armed campaign
An AK-47 assault rifle (over 1,000 of which were donated by Muammar Gaddafi to the IRA in the 1980s)
Heckler & Koch G3. 100 of these, stolen from the Norwegian police, finished up with the IRA
In the early days of the Troubles the IRA was very poorly armed, mainly with old World War II weaponry such as M1 Garands and Thompson submachine guns, but starting in the early 1970s it procured large amounts of modern weaponry from such sources as supporters in the United States, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and arms dealers in Europe, America, the Middle East and elsewhere. The Libyans supplied the IRA with the RPG-7.
In the first years of the conflict, the IRA’s main activities were providing firepower to support nationalist rioters and defending nationalist areas from attacks. The IRA gained much of its support from these activities, as they were widely perceived within the nationalist community as being defenders of Irish nationalist and Roman Catholic people against aggression.
Grand Hotel following a bomb attack
Thatcher and the IRA Dealing with Terror BBC Documentary 2014 Full
From 1971–1994, the IRA launched a sustained offensive armed campaign that mainly targeted the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and economic targets in Northern Ireland. In addition, some IRA members carried out attacks against Protestant civilians.
The IRA was chiefly active in Northern Ireland, although it took its campaign to England and mainland Europe. The IRA also targeted certain British government officials, politicians, judges, establishment figures, British Army and police officers in England, and in other areas such as the Republic of Ireland, West Germany and the Netherlands. By the early 1990s, the bulk of the IRA activity was carried out by the South Armagh Brigade, well known through its sniping operations and attacks on British Army helicopters. The bombing campaign principally targeted political, economic and military targets, and approximately 60 civilians were killed by the IRA in England during the conflict.
It has been argued that this bombing campaign helped convince the British government (who had hoped to contain the conflict to Northern Ireland with its Ulsterisation policy) to negotiate with Sinn Féin after the IRA ceasefires of August 1994 and July 1997.
Ceasefires and decommissioning of arms
On 31 August 1994, the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire. However, from February 1996 until July 1997, the IRA called off its 1994 ceasefire because of its dissatisfaction with the state of negotiations. They re-instated the ceasefire in July 1997, and it has been in operation since then.
A “Sniper at Work” sign in Crossmaglen. The PIRA used snipers as a tactic in south Armagh to disrupt foot patrols
Having compared the weapons destroyed with the British security forces’ estimates of the IRA weaponry, and because of the IRA’s full involvement in the process of destroying the weapons, the IICD arrived at their conclusion that all IRA weaponry has been destroyed.
Since the process of decommissioning was completed, unnamed sources in MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have reported to the press that not all IRA arms were destroyed during the process. This claim remains unsubstantiated so far. In its report dated April 2006 the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) stated that it had no reason to disbelieve the IRA or to suspect that it had not fully decommissioned. It believed that any weaponry that had not been handed in had been retained locally and against the wishes of the IRA leadership. The Russian and British Intelligence services alleged that during the decommissioning process the IRA secretly purchased a consignment of 20 Russian special forces AN-94 rifles in Moscow.
In mid-July 2013, the Gardaí displayed arms and explosives (Semtex) recently recovered from dissident republicans in the Dublin area. The Gardaí believe this Semtex to have come from the Libyan connection back in the 1980s and therefore should have been decommissioned.
Apart from its armed campaign, the IRA has also been involved in many other activities.
IRA, purely sectarian, calculated slaughter of Protestants at Kingsmill
The IRA publicly condemned sectarianism and sectarian attacks. However, some IRA members became involved in sectarian tit-for-tat violence and attacked Protestants in retaliation for attacks on Catholics. Of those killed by the IRA, Sutton classifies 130 (about 7%) of them as sectarian killings of Protestants. Unlike loyalists, the IRA denied responsibility for sectarian attacks and the members involved used covernames, such as Republican Action Force. Many in the IRA opposed these sectarian attacks, but others deemed them effective in preventing sectarian attacks on Catholics.
Some unionists allege that the IRA took part in “ethnic cleansing” of the Protestant minority in rural border areas, such as Fermanagh. Many local Protestants allegedly believed that the IRA tried to force them into leaving. However, most Protestants killed by the IRA in these areas were members of the security forces, and there was no exodus of Protestants.
Alleged involvement in organised crime
The IRA have allegedly been involved in criminal activities, including racketeering, bank robbery, fuel laundering, drug dealing and kidnapping.
In 2004, £26.5m was stolen from the Northern Bank‘s vaults in Belfast city centre. The British and Irish governments agreed with the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s report blaming the robbery on the IRA. On 18 January 2005, the IRA issued a statement denying any involvement in the robbery. In February 2005, the Independent Monitoring Commission’s Fourth Report stated their belief that the robbery was carried out with the prior knowledge and authorisation of the IRA’s leadership. Commentators including Suzanne Breen have stated that the IRA was the only organisation capable of carrying out the raid. In May 2009, two men were arrested in Cork, and charged with IRA membership and offences relating to the robbery.
According to several sources, the organisation has also been involved in the Irish drugs trade. A 1999 report by John Horgan and Max Taylor cited Royal Ulster Constabulary reports, alleging that this involves the “licensing” of drug operations to criminal gangs and the payment of protection money, rather than direct involvement. However, Chief of the RUC Drugs Squad Kevin Sheehy notes “the Provisional IRA did its best to stop volunteers from becoming directly involved [in drugs]” and noted that on one occasion an IRA member caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use was “disowned and humiliated” in his local area. According to Horgan and Taylor’s report, the IRA are also involved in several legitimate businesses including taxi firms, construction, restaurants and pubs. The IRA have also been involved in racketeering, which involves the extortion of money from legitimate businesses for “protection”.
Speaking at Sinn Féin 2005 Ard Fheis, Gerry Adams stated that “‘There is no place in republicanism for anyone involved in criminality”. However, he went on to say “we refuse to criminalise those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives”.
In 2013 it was reported that an Italian police investigation had revealed links between the IRA and the Mafia in a €450m money laundering scheme.
The IRA saw itself as the police force of nationalist areas of Northern Ireland during the Troubles instead of the RUC. This was made possible by a feeling of mistrust by some members of the community against the police force and army. The feeling, that the RUC, B-Specials, UDR, British Army and other arms of the Governmental apparatus in Northern Ireland were biased against the nationalist community was not new; it predated the Troubles and took in organisations like the Ulster Defence Volunteers, a home guard body of World War II, who were also widely considered sectarian. Catholics did, however, serve in the UDV,Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
Also, the RUC and other forces of the authorities were, in some instances, reluctant to enter or patrol certain Nationalist areas unless it was in armoured Land Rovers and in convoy. Police stations were also heavily armoured because of persistent attacks from the IRA. This gave them the appearance of being fortresses. This vacuum in policing was functional for the IRA because it stopped the local community being in contact with the police which may have posed a threat if information was passed. Therefore, the community would turn to the IRA first to deal with troublemakers or those practising what came to be called “anti-social behaviour”. In efforts to stamp out “anti-social behaviour” and alleged instances of drug dealing reported to or noticed by the organisation, the IRA killed or otherwise attacked suspected drug dealers and other suspected criminals. These attacks varied in severity and depended on various factors. In the first instance, the IRA may warn their intended victim, with further transgressions escalated to an attack known as a “punishment beating”. The process which the IRA went through to determine an offender’s “guilt” or “innocence” was never open to debate or scrutiny. The IRA also engaged in attacks that broke the bones of alleged offenders, or involved shooting through the hands, or knees for persistent offenders of activities such as joyriding or drug dealing. In certain cases, for persistent offenders the IRA would intimidate the individual into leaving the country; this was known as being “put out” of the community/country, and the clear message given to individuals served with these notices was that if they returned to the community/country they would be killed. This practice was frequently criticised by all sections of the political establishment in Northern Ireland as “summary justice“.
Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, speaking in the Dáil Éireann, challenged Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, over allegations of sexual abuse cover up by Sinn Féin/IRA. In the same debate Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said victims of sex abuse by IRA members were sworn to silence. Adams denied there was any Sinn Féin cover up and accused Kenny and Martin of politicising the issue. Adams also apologised to abuse victims who he said were “let down” by the IRA’s failure to properly investigate their claims of abuse.
Killing of alleged informers
IRA execute suspected informer | South Armagh | 20th July 1991
In an effort to stamp out what the IRA termed “collaboration with British forces” and “informing”, they killed a number of Catholic civilians, such as Joseph Fenton. Purges against these individuals, whom the IRA considered traitors to their own community and to the cause of nationalism, were most prevalent when the IRA found itself persistently vulnerable to infiltration. Investigations into informers and infiltration are suspected to have been dealt with by an IRA unit called the Internal Security Unit (ISU), known colloquially as the “Nutting Squad”. This unit is said to be directly attached to IRA GHQ. Where a confession was solicited, the victim was often exiled or executed with a bullet in the back of the head. The body was either buried or, later in the IRA campaign, left in a public place, often in South Armagh.
One particular example of the killing of a person deemed by the IRA to have been an informer that is the source of continuing controversy is that of Jean McConville from Belfast, who was killed by the IRA. Ed Moloney and IRA sources continue to claim she was an informer despite the Police Ombudsman recently stating that this was not the case. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have described the killing as a “war crime“. Her family contend that she was killed as a punishment for aiding a dying British soldier in West Belfast, however this claim has been rejected in an official investigation, while neither the Sutton Index or Lost Lives record the death of any British soldier near her home prior to her killing. In March 2014, Ivor Bell – former IRA Chief of Staff – was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville. In April 2014, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was arrested and questioned by PSNI detectives in relation to the abduction and murder of Jean McConville. He was released four days later without charge.
In March 2007, Police OmbudsmanNuala O’Loan announced that there would be an inquiry into claims of collusion between IRA members working as agents for the Special Branch and other agencies and the British security forces.
Leading Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) member Joseph O’Connor was shot dead in Ballymurphy, west Belfast on 11 October 2000. Claims have been made by O’Connor’s family and people associated with the RIRA that he was killed by the IRA as the result of a feud between the organisations, but Sinn Féin denied the claims. No-one has been charged with his killing.
An IRA signpost with the word “Provoland” underneath in Strathroy, Omagh, County Tyrone.
The IRA was responsible for more deaths than any other organisation during the Troubles. Two detailed studies of deaths in the Troubles, the CAIN project at the University of Ulster, and the book Lost Lives, differ slightly on the numbers killed by the IRA. CAIN gives a minimum figure of 1,707 and a maximum of 1,823, while Lost Lives gives a figure of 1,781. Of these, about 1,100 were members or former members of the security forces (the British Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary etc.), while between 510 and 640 were civilians. The civilian figure also includes civilians employed by British forces, politicians, members of the judiciary, and alleged criminals and informers. The remainder were either loyalist or republican paramilitary members (including over 100 IRA members accidentally killed by their own bombs or shot for being security force agents or informers).
A little under 300 IRA members were killed in the Troubles. In addition, roughly 50–60 members of Sinn Féin were killed. However, many more IRA volunteers were imprisoned than killed. Journalists Eamonn Mallie and Patrick Bishop estimate in their book The Provisional IRA that roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest (senior officers are required to surrender their post after being arrested), retiring from the armed campaign or “disillusionment”. They give 10,000 as the total number of past and present IRA members at that time.
The IRA described its actions throughout “The Troubles” as a military campaign waged against the British Army, the RUC, other security forces, judiciary, loyalist politicians and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, England and Europe. The IRA considers these groups to be all part of the same apparatus. As noted above, the IRA seeks to draw a direct descendancy from the original IRA and those who engaged in the Irish War of Independence. The IRA sees the previous conflict as a guerrilla war which accomplished some of its aims, with some remaining “unfinished business”.
A process called “Criminalisation” was begun in the mid-1970s as part of a British strategy of “Criminalisation, Ulsterisation, and Normalisation”. The policy was outlined in a 1975 British strategy paper titled “The Way Ahead”, which was not published but was referred to by Labour’s first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, and came to be the dominant British political theme in the conflict as it raged into the 1980s.
Another categorisation avoids the terms “guerrilla” or “terrorist” but does view the conflict in military terms. The phrase originated with the British military strategist Frank Kitson who was active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. In Kitson’s view, the violence of the IRA represented an “insurrection” situation, with the enveloping atmosphere of belligerence representing a “low intensity conflict” – a conflict where the forces involved in fighting operate at a greatly reduced tempo, with fewer combatants, at a reduced range of tactical equipment and limited scope to operate in a military manner.
Membership of the IRA remains illegal in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but IRA prisoners convicted of offences committed before 1998 have been granted conditional early release as part of the Good Friday Agreement. In the United Kingdom a person convicted of membership of a “proscribed organisation”, such as the IRA, still nominally faces imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Strength and support
In the early to mid-1970s, the numbers recruited by the IRA may have reached several thousand, but these were reduced when the IRA re-organised its structures from 1977 onwards. An RUC report of 1986 estimated that the IRA had 300 or so members in Active Service Units and up to 750 active members in total in Northern Ireland. This does not take into consideration the IRA units in the Republic of Ireland or those in Britain, continental Europe, and throughout the world. In 2005, the then Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell told the Dáil that the organisation had “between 1,000 and 1,500″ active members.
According to the book The Provisional IRA (by Eamon Mallie and Patrick Bishop), roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest, “retirement” or disillusionment. In later years, the IRA’s strength has been somewhat weakened by members leaving the organisation to join hardline splinter groups such as the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA. According to former Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, these organisations have little more than 150 members each.
Few Protestant voters voted for Sinn Féin. In 1992, many of them voted for SDLP West Belfast candidate Joe Hendron rather than a unionist candidate to make sure Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin lost his seat in the constituency.
The IRA have had contacts with foreign governments and other illegal armed organisations.
Libya has been the biggest single supplier of arms and funds to the IRA, donating large amounts: three shipments of arms in the early 1970s and another three in the mid-1980s, the latter reputedly enough to arm two regular infantry battalions.
The IRA has also received weapons and logistical support from Irish Americans in the United States. Apart from the Libyan aid, this has been the main source of overseas IRA support. American support has been weakened by the War against Terrorism, and the fallout from the events of 11 September 2001.
In the United States in November 1982, five men were acquitted of smuggling arms to the IRA after they claimed the Central Intelligence Agency had approved the shipment, although the CIA denied this. There are allegations of contact with the East German Stasi, based on the testimony of a Soviet defector to British intelligence Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin revealed that although the Soviet KGB gave some weapons to the Marxist Official IRA, it had little sympathy with the Provisionals. The IRA has received some training and support from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1977, the Provisionals received a ‘sizeable’ arms shipment from the PLO, including small arms, rocket launchers and explosives, but this was intercepted at Antwerp after the Israeli intelligence alerted its European counterparts. According to Dr Mir Ali Montazam, one-time first secretary at the Iranian embassy, Iran played a key part in funding the IRA during the 1980s. Iranian officials deposited £4 million into a secret Jersey bank account, funded by the sale of artwork from the Iranian Embassy in London. Hadi Ghaffari, the “machinegun mullah”, was sent to Belfast and organised the distribution of the money via sympathetic Irish businessmen.
Falls Road in 1981
It has been alleged that the IRA had a co-operative relationship with Basque militant group ETA since the early 1970s. In 1973 it was accused of providing explosives for the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco in Madrid. In the 1970s, ETA also exchanged a quantity of handguns for training in explosives with the IRA. In addition, the leaders of the political wings of the respective Irish republican and Basque separatist movements have exchanged visits on several occasions to express solidarity with each other’s cause. Prominent former IRA prisoners such as Brendan McFarlane and Brendan Hughes have campaigned for the release of ETA prisoners. In the mid-1990s after the IRA ceasefire, Basque media outlets followed the process carefully, sending a team to follow the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday as they campaigned for apology.
IRA propaganda poster
In May 1996, the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s internal security service, publicly accused Estonia of arms smuggling, and claimed that the IRA had contacted representatives of Estonia’s volunteer defence force, Kaitseliit, and some non-government groups to buy weapons. In 2001, three Irish men, who later became known as the Colombia Three, were arrested after allegedly training Colombian guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in bomb making and urban warfare techniques. The US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations in its report of 24 April 2002 concluded “Neither committee investigators nor the Colombians can find credible explanations for the increased, more sophisticated capacity for these specific terror tactics now being employed by the FARC, other than IRA training”.
The IRA ceasefire in 1997 formed part of a process that led to the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. One aim of the Agreement is that all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland cease their activities and disarm by May 2000.
Calls from Sinn Féin led the IRA to commence disarming in a process that was monitored by Canadian General John de Chastelain‘s decommissioning body in October 2001. However, following the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing government in 2002, which was partly triggered by allegations that republican spies were operating within Parliament Buildings and the Civil Service, the IRA temporarily broke off contact with General de Chastelain.
In December 2004, attempts to persuade the IRA to disarm entirely collapsed when the Democratic Unionist Party, under Ian Paisley, insisted on photographic evidence. Justice Minister Michael McDowell (in public, and often) insisted that there would need to be a complete end to IRA activity.
At the beginning of February 2005, the IRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process, but in July 2005 it declared that its campaign of violence was over, and that transparent mechanisms would be used, under the de Chastelain process, to satisfy the Northern Ireland communities that it was disarming totally.
End of the armed campaign
On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”, and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was “committed to the political path” and no longer represented “a threat to peace or to democratic politics”, and that the IRA’s Army Council was “no longer operational or functional”. The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland. Two small groups split from the IRA, the Continuity IRA in 1986, and the Real IRA in 1997. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity.
In a statement read by Séanna Breathnach, the organisation stated that it had instructed its members to dump all weapons and not to engage in “any other activities whatsoever” apart from assisting “the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”. Furthermore, the organisation authorised its representatives to engage immediately with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to verifiably put its arms beyond use “in a way which will further enhance public confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible”.
This is not the first time that organisations styling themselves IRA have issued orders to dump arms. After its defeat in the Irish Civil War in 1924 and at the end of its unsuccessful Border Campaign in 1962, the IRA Army Council issued similar orders. However, this is the first time in Irish republicanism that any organisation has voluntarily decided to dispose of its arms. Some authors, like Patrick McCarthy, Peter Taylor and Brendan O’Brien concluded that, unlike previous IRA campaigns, the provisionals were not defeated.
On 25 September 2005, international weapons inspectors supervised the full disarmament of the IRA, a long-sought goal of Northern Ireland’s peace process. The office of IICD chairman John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who oversaw the weapons’ decommissioning at secret locations, released details regarding the scrapping of many tons of IRA weaponry at a news conference in Belfast on 26 September. He said the arms had been “put beyond use” and that they were “satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA’s arsenal.”
The IRA permitted two independent witnesses, including a Methodist minister, Rev. Harold Good, and Father Alec Reid, a Roman Catholic priest close to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, to view the secret disarmament work.Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), complained that since the witnesses were appointed by the IRA themselves, rather than being appointed by the British or Irish governments, they therefore could not be said to be unbiased witnesses to the decommissioning. Nationalists and Catholics viewed his comments as reflecting his refusal to support devolution in Northern Ireland with Catholics in power.
In 2011 Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “The war is over. The IRA is gone. The IRA embraced, facilitated and supported the peace process. When a democratic and peaceful alternative to armed struggle was created the IRA left the stage.” In 2014 Adams said: “The IRA is gone. It is finished”.
Continuing activities of IRA members
The 10th report published in April 2006 from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), an organisation monitoring activity by paramilitary groups on behalf of the British and Irish governments, prefaced its remarks about IRA activity by commenting that the IRA leadership has committed itself to following a peaceful path and that in the last three months this process has involved the further dismantling of the IRA as a military structure.
The report commented that there was no paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the leadership; there is a substantial erosion in the IRA’s capacity to return to a military campaign; and, that the IRA had no intentions of returning to violence. However the IMC report also noted that following decommissioning, the IRA still retained a considerable amount of weaponry beyond what was needed for self-defence.
The IMC has come in for criticism (mainly by republicans) as having been set up outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as a sop to Unionism. Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy stated that the IMC was established outside and in breach of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and that it is politically biased, and had an anti-Sinn Féin agenda.
On 4 October 2006, the IMC ruled that the IRA were no longer a threat.
In late 2008, the The Sunday Times quoted a senior Garda intelligence officer as saying that “the IRA had recruited in recent years, still held arms despite apparently decommissioning the lot, and was being maintained in ‘shadow form.’” The Gardaí also said that the IRA was still capable of carrying out attacks. A senior member of the PSNI, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan, said that it was unlikely that the IRA would disband in the foreseeable future.
At the end of March 2010, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said that the IRA were still active and that they had been responsible for a number of incidents in his constituency including a punishment shooting and an armed robbery during which a shot was fired.
In August 2010, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the Republican Network for Unity and the UPRG, claimed that the IRA were responsible for a shooting incident in the Gobnascale area of Derry. It is claimed that up to 20 masked men, some armed with handguns, attacked a group of teenagers who were engaging in anti-social behaviour at an interface area. A number of the teenagers were attacked and shots were fired into the air. The men are then reported to have removed their masks when the PSNI arrived and were subsequently identified as members of the Republican Movement. Sinn Féin denied the IRA were involved.
The IRA traditionally uses a well-known signature in its public statements, which are all issued under the pseudonym of “P. O’Neill” of the “Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin”. According to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, it was Seán Mac Stiofáin, as chief of staff of the IRA, who invented the name. However, under his usage, the name was written and pronounced according to Irish orthography and pronunciation as “P. Ó Néill”. According to Danny Morrison, the pseudonym “S. O’Neill” was used during the 1940s.
Throughout the Troubles, some members of the IRA passed information to the security forces. Members of the IRA suspected of being informants were usually executed after an IRA court-martial. In the 1980s, many more IRA members were imprisoned on the testimony of former IRA members known as “supergrasses” such as Raymond Gilmour. A Belfast newspaper has claimed that secret documents show that half of the IRA’s top men were also British informers.
In recent years, there have been some high profile allegations of senior IRA figures having been British informers. In May 2003, a number of newspapers named Freddie Scappaticci as the alleged identity of the British Force Research Unit‘s most senior informer within the IRA, code-named Stakeknife, who is thought to have been head of the IRA’s internal security force, charged with rooting out and executing informers. Scappaticci denies that this is the case and, in 2003, failed in a legal bid to force the then NIO Minister, Jane Kennedy, to state he was not an informer. She has refused to do so, and since then Scappaticci has not launched any libel actions against the media making the allegations.
On 16 December 2005, senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson appeared before TV cameras in Dublin and confessed to being a British spy for twenty years. He was expelled from Sinn Féin and was said to have been debriefed by the party. Donaldson was a former IRA volunteer and subsequently highly placed Sinn Féin party member. Donaldson had been entrusted by Gerry Adams with the running of Sinn Féin’s operations in the US in the early 1990s. On 4 April 2006, Donaldson was found shot dead at his retreat near Glenties in County Donegal. When asked whether he felt Donaldson’s role as an informer in Sinn Féin was significant, the IRA double agent using the pseudonym “Kevin Fulton” described Donaldson’s role as a spy within Sinn Féin as “the tip of the iceberg”. The Real IRA claimed responsibility for his assassination on 12 April 2009.
On 8 February 2008, Roy McShane was taken into police protection after being unmasked as an informant. McShane, a former IRA member, had been Gerry Adams’ personal driver for many years. Adams said he was “too philosophical” to feel betrayed.
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20th Century Battlefields – Gulf War (1991) full video
The Hussein Family From Life To Death – Horrors of Hussein –
Full History Documentary
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 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait.
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[a] before the term “Iraq War” became identified instead with the 2003 Iraq War (also referred to in the U.S. as “Operation Iraqi Freedom“). The Iraqi Army‘s occupation of Kuwait that began 2 August 1990 was met with international condemnation, and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the U.N. Security Council. U.S. President George H. W. Bush deployed U.S. forces into Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the Coalition, the largest military alliance since World War II. The great majority of the Coalition’s military forces were from the U.S., with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as leading contributors, in that order. Saudi Arabia paid around US$36 billion of the US$60 billion cost.
The war was marked by the introduction of live news broadcasts from the front lines of the battle, principally by the U.S. network CNN. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images from cameras on board U.S. bombers during Operation Desert Storm.
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 drove the Iraqi military from Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The Coalition ceased its advance and declared a cease-fire 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 U.S. was concerned with Iraq’s position on Israeli–Palestinian politics, and its disapproval of the nature of the peace between Israel and Egypt. The U.S. also disliked Iraqi support for many Arab and Palestinian militant groups such as Abu Nidal, which led to Iraq’s inclusion on the developing U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism on 29 December 1979. The U.S. 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. In March 1982, Iran began a successful counteroffensive (Operation Undeniable Victory), and the U.S. increased its support for Iraq to prevent Iran from forcing a surrender. In a U.S. bid to open full diplomatic relations with Iraq, the country was removed from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Ostensibly this was because of improvement in the regime’s record, although former U.S. 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.” 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 U.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. Most of its debt was owed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq pressured both nations to forgive the debts, but they refused.
Map of Kuwait
The Iraq–Kuwait dispute also involved Iraqi claims to Kuwait as Iraqi territory. Kuwait had been a part of the Ottoman Empire‘s province of Basra, something that Iraq claimed made it rightful Iraq territory. Kuwait’s 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. Kuwait rejected Iraqi attempts to secure further provisions in the region.
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. 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. The Iraqi government described it as a form of economic warfare, which it claimed was aggravated by Kuwait slant-drilling across the border into Iraq’s Rumaila oil field. At the same time, Saddam looked for closer ties with those Arab states that had supported Iraq in the war. This was supported by the U.S., who believed that Iraqi ties with pro-Western Gulf states would help bring and maintain Iraq inside the U.S.’ sphere of influence.
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. 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.
Iraq’s relations with its Arab neighbors – in particular Egypt – were degraded by mounting violence in Iraq against expatriate groups, well-employed during the war, by Iraqi unemployed, among them demobilized soldiers. These events drew little notice outside the Arab world because of fast-moving events in Eastern Europe. The U.S. did, however, begin to condemn Iraq’s human rights record, including the well-known use of torture. The UK also condemned the execution of Farzad Bazoft, a journalist working for the British newspaper The Observer. 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. A U.N. mission to the Israeli-occupied territories, where riots had resulted in Palestinian deaths, was vetoed by the U.S., making Iraq deeply skeptical of U.S. foreign policy aims in the region, combined with the U.S.’ reliance on Middle Eastern energy reserves.
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 U.S. 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. 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”. 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.” The U.S. sent aerial refuelling planes and combat ships to the Persian Gulf in response to these threats. 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.
“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.”
“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.” 
Saddam stated that he would attempt last-ditch negotiations with the Kuwaitis but Iraq “would not accept death”.
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’.” Glaspie similarly believed that war was not imminent.
The result of the Jeddah talks was an Iraqi demand for $10 billion to cover the lost revenues from Rumaila; the Kuwaiti response was to offer $9 billion. The Iraqi response was to immediately order the invasion. On 2 August 1990, Iraq launched the invasion by bombing 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. The pre-war strength of the Kuwait Air Force was around 2,200 Kuwaiti personnel, with 80 aircraft and forty helicopters. In spite of Iraqi saber-rattling, Kuwait didn’t have its forces on alert; the army had been stood down on 19 July.
By 1988, at the Iran–Iraq War’s end, the Iraqi Army was the world’s fourth largest army; it consisted 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. 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; and held 53 divisions, 20 special-forces brigades, and several regional militias, and had a strong air defense.
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 (Battle of the Bridges), near Al Jahra, west of Kuwait City.
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.
Within 12 hours, most resistance had ended within Kuwait and the royal family had fled, leaving Iraq in control of most of Kuwait. 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.
Kuwaiti resistance movement
Kuwaitis founded a local armed resistance movement following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti resistance’s casualty rate far exceeded that of the coalition military forces and Western hostages. The resistance predominantly consisted of ordinary citizens who lacked any form of training and supervision. The majority of Kuwaitis who stayed in Kuwait during the Gulf War were Shias.
Run-up to the war
A key element of U.S. political-military and energy economic planning occurred in early 1984. The Iran–Iraq war had been going on for five years and there were significant casualties on both sides, reaching 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 H. W. Bush to review U.S. 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. 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 thirdly an embargo should be placed on sales of military equipment to Iran and Iraq. The Plan was approved by the President Reagan and later affirmed by the G-7 leaders headed by Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the London Summit of 1984. The plan was implemented and became the basis for U.S. preparedness to respond to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1991.
Within hours of the invasion, Kuwait and U.S. delegations requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops. On 3 August, 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 which opposed a resolution for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The PLO opposed it as well. The Arab states of Yemen and Jordan – a Western ally which bordered Iraq and relied on the country for economic support – opposed military intervention from non-Arab states. The Arab state of Sudan aligned itself with Saddam.
On 6 August, Resolution 661 placed economic sanctions on Iraq.Resolution 665 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.”
President Bush visiting American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990.
From the beginning, U.S. officials insisted on a total Iraqi pullout from Kuwait, without any linkage to other Middle Eastern problems, fearing any concessions would strengthen Iraqi influence in the region for years to come.
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 U.S. 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. From the beginning of the crisis, President Bush was strongly opposed to any “linkage” between Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait and the Palestinian issue.
Saddam Hussein detained several Westerners, with video footage shown on state television
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.”
Another Iraqi proposal communicated in August 1990 was delivered to U.S. 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 U.N. 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.'”
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. The PLO‘s Yasser Arafat expressed that neither he nor Saddam insisted that solving the Israeli–Palestinian issues should be a precondition to solving the issues in Kuwait, though he did acknowledge a “strong link” between these problems.
Ultimately, the U.S. stuck to its 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. Also, when U.S. 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.
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.
On 14 January 1991, France proposed that the U.N. 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 U.S., the UK, and the Soviet Union rejected it; U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Pickering stated that the French proposal was unacceptable, because it went beyond previous Council resolutions on the Iraqi invasion. France dropped this proposal when it found “no tangible sign of interest” from Baghdad.
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 shouldn’t 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 U.S.-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.
Acting on the Carter Doctrine‘s policy, and out of fear the Iraqi Army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, U.S. President George H. W. Bush quickly announced that the U.S. would launch a “wholly defensive” mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia under the codename Operation Desert Shield. Operation Desert Shield began on 7 August 1990 when U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for U.S. military assistance. 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.
The U.S. Navy dispatched two naval battle groups built around the aircraft carriersUSS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Independence to the Persian Gulf, where they were ready by 8 August. The U.S. also sent the battleships USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin to the region. A total of 48 U.S. 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 1-hour southeast 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 4 million pounds 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.
A series of U.N. 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.
To ensure that economic backing, Baker went on an eleven-day journey to nine countries that the press dubbed “The Tin Cup Trip”. The first stop was Saudi Arabia, who 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 decisive military objectives was defending 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. Therefore, he was willing to commit troops to the coalition forces to quell Saddam, as well as relieved the United States was willing to forgive his country’s 7.1 billion dollar debt.
After stops in Helsinki and Moscow to smooth out Iraqi demands for a middle-eastern peace conference with Russia (then 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 U.S. 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.
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 was willing to repay his gratitude for the United States with 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 execution of the transport of Egyptian soldiers and ships to the Persian Gulf.
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, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the U.S. itself. It was the largest coalition since World War II. U.S. 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. U.S. troops represented 73% of the Coalition’s 956,600 troops in Iraq.
Many of the Coalition’s forces were reluctant to join. Some felt that the war was an internal Arab affair, or didn’t want to increase U.S. 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.
The U.S. and the U.N. gave several public justifications for involvement in the conflict, the most prominent being the Iraqi violation of Kuwaiti territorial integrity. In addition, the U.S. 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, U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney made the first of several visits to Saudi Arabia where King Fahd requested U.S. military assistance. During a speech in a special joint session of the U.S. Congress given on 11 September 1990, U.S. President George H. W. 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.”
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.
Although there were human rights abuses committed in Kuwait by the invading Iraqi military, the alleged incidents which received most publicity in the U.S. were inventions of the public relations firm hired by the government of Kuwait to influence U.S. opinion in favor of military intervention. Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the organization Citizens for a Free Kuwait was formed in the U.S. It hired the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for about $11 million, paid by Kuwait’s government.
Among many other means of influencing U.S. opinion (distributing books on Iraqi atrocities to U.S. 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 U.S. Congress in which a 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.
The story was an influence in tipping 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. A year after the war, however, this allegation was revealed to be a fabrication. The 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 U.S. 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 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992), 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. Iraqi troops also ransacked and looted private Kuwaiti homes; one residence was repeatedly defecated in. 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“.
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 for Coalition forces was the destruction of Iraq’s Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. The sorties were launched mostly from Saudi Arabia and the six Coalition 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 Coalition 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 one-third of the Coalition’s air power was devoted to attacking Scuds, some of which were on trucks and therefore difficult to locate. U.S. 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 Coalition aircraft and the Coalition suffered only 75 aircraft losses in over 100,000 sorties, 44 of which were the result of Iraqi action. Two of these losses are the result of aircraft colliding with the ground while evading Iraqi ground fired weapons. One of these losses is a confirmed air-air victory.
Iraqi missile strikes on Israel and Saudi Arabia
Scud Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) with missile in upright position.
Iraq’s government made no secret that it would attack if invaded. Prior to the war’s start, Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s English-speaking Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, was asked in the aftermath of the failed U.S.–Iraq peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, by a reporter. “Mr. Foreign Minister, if war starts … will you attack?” His response was, “Yes, absolutely, yes.”
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.
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. 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 forty 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.
Israeli civilians taking shelter from rockets (left) and aftermath of attack in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv (right)
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. Approximately 230 Israelis were injured. 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.” 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.
Aftermath of an Iraq Armed forces strike on U.S. barracks.
In response to the threat of Scuds on Israel, the U.S. 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. 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.
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 and two Coalition Patriots that had been fired to intercept it but missed hit the Israeli city of Ramat Gan. The incident caused three elderly people to suffer fatal heart attacks. Another 96 people were injured, and 20 apartment buildings were damaged. After this attack, the Israelis warned that if the U.S. failed to stop the attacks, they would. At one point, Israeli commandos were loaded onto helicopters prepared to fly into Iraq, but the mission was called off after a phone call from U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, reporting on the extent of Coalition efforts to destroy Scuds and emphasizing that Israeli intervention could endanger U.S. forces.
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 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 U.S. Army barracks of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, out of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, stationed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers and injuring over 100.
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, supported by Qatari forces and U.S. Marines. 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 U.S. airmen were killed when their AC-130 gunship was shot down by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, and two U.S. 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.”[111
The war’s ground phase was officially designated Operation Desert Saber.
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 couldn’t be detected from the air, as they were hidden under bridges and camouflage netting during the day. 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.
Elements of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army performed a direct attack into Iraq on 15 February 1991, followed by one in force on 20 February that led directly through 7 Iraqi divisions which were caught off guard. 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 U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded as well with only 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 cease-fire, and called for monitoring of the cease-fire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council.
The Coalition rejected the proposal, but said that retreating Iraqi forces wouldn’t be attacked, and gave twenty-four hours for Iraq to begin withdrawing 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 4 Americans were killed.
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 counter-attack 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 U.S. casualties were comparatively low, with a single Bradley knocked out. Coalition forces pressed another ten kilometers 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 U.S. soldier was killed by an Iraqi land mine, another five by friendly fire, and thirty 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, U.S. forces attacked the village of Al Busayyah, meeting fierce resistance. They suffered no casualties, but destroyed a considerable amount of military hardware and took prisoners.
On 25 February 1991, Iraqi forces fired a Scud missile at an American barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The missile attack killed 28 U.S. military personnel.
The Coalition’s advance was much swifter than U.S. generals had expected. On 26 February, Iraqi troops began retreating from Kuwait, after they had set its oil fields on fire (737 oil wells were set 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. Hundreds 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 150 miles (240 km) of Baghdad before withdrawing back to Iraq’s border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
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.
Civilians and Coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the retreat of Iraqi forces from Kuwait as a result of Operation Desert Storm
Persian Gulf Veterans National Medal of the U.S. 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 approved 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 24 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 large, and that they soon would be liberated from Saddam.
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 U.S. support came, Iraqi generals remained loyal to Saddam and brutally crushed the Kurdish uprising. 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, due to 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.
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.
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 U.S. casualties, and while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the  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.— Dick Cheney
Instead of a greater involvement of its own military, the U.S. hoped that Saddam would be overthrown in an internal coup d’état. The CIA used its assets in Iraq to organize a revolt, but the Iraqi government defeated the effort.
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.
Germany and Japan provided financial assistance and donated military hardware, but didn’t send direct military assistance. This later became known as checkbook diplomacy.
United States of America
The United States of America deployed the largest amount of troops for the war, about 540,000.
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 squadrons and Royal Navy vessels were mobilized in the Persian Gulf. The Royal Air Force, using various aircraft, operated from airbases in Saudi Arabia. Almost 2,500 armored vehicles and 53,462 troops were shipped for action.
The second largest European contingent was from France, which committed 18,000 troops. Operating on the left flank of the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, the main French Army force was the 6th Light Armoured Division, 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.
Italy participated in the military operations in the Persian Gulf by sending a naval task force (consisting of one destroyer, five frigates, one amphibious assault ship and two supply vessels, which have alternated in the area of operations during the conflict), but especially through the use of eight Tornado fighter-bombers (plus 2 reserve), which participated in the bombing of Iraqi military targets, making a total of 226 sorties (589 hours of flight) and releasing a total of 565 MK83 bombs.
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 U.S.-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 U.N.-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.
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 U.S. hospital ship, and a naval clearance diving team took part in de-mining Kuwait’s port facilities following the end of combat operations. While the Australian forces did not see combat, they did play a significant role in enforcing the sanctions put in place against Iraq following Kuwait’s invasion, as well as other small support contributions to Operation Desert Storm. Following the war’s end, Australia deployed a medical unit on Operation Habitat to northern Iraq as part of Operation Provide Comfort.
Over 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed by Iraqis. More than 600 Kuwaitis went missing during Iraq’s occupation, 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. 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.
Bush spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said at the time, “We don’t know why civilians were at that location.” According to satellite images and eyewitness accounts both before and after the strike, the facility was clearly marked and monitored by satellite, which would show it being used as a shelter throughout the air strikes; in addition, as noted by Human Rights Watch, the “Pentagon concedes that it knew the Amiriyah facility had been used as a civil-defense shelter during the Iran-Iraq war, but U.S. officials gave no warning that they considered its protected status as a civilian shelter to have ended.” 
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. According to the Project on Defense Alternatives study, 3,664 Iraqi civilians were killed in the conflict. 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.
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. A report commissioned by the U.S. 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. 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.
The DoD reports that U.S. forces suffered 148 battle-related deaths (35 to friendly fire), with one pilot listed as MIA (his remains were found and identified in August 2009). A further 145 Americans died in non-combat accidents. The U.K. suffered 47 deaths (9 to friendly fire, all by U.S. forces), France 2, and the other countries, not including Kuwait, suffered 37 deaths (18 Saudis, 1 Egyptian, 6 UAE, and 3 Qataris). At least 605 Kuwaiti soldiers were still missing 10 years after their capture.
The largest single loss of life among Coalition forces happened on 25 February 1991, when an Iraqi Al Hussein missile hit a U.S. military barrack in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 U.S. 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.
The largest accident among Coalition forces happened on 21 March 1991, when a Royal Saudi Air Force C-130H crashed in heavy smoke on approach to Ras Mishab Airport, Saudi Arabia. 92 Senegalese soldiers and 6 Saudi crew members were killed.
The number of Coalition wounded in combat was 776, including 458 Americans.
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.
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 U.S. troops who died in battle, 24% were killed by friendly fire, a total of 35 service personnel. A further 11 died in detonations of coalition munitions. Nine British military personnel were killed in a friendly fire incident when a USAFA-10 Thunderbolt II destroyed a group of two WarriorIFVs.
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. There has been widespread speculation and disagreement about the causes of the illness and the reported birth defects. Researchers found that infants born to male veterans of the 1991 war had higher rates of two types of heart valve defects. Gulf War veterans’ children born after the war 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. Some factors considered as possibilities include exposure to depleted uranium, chemical weapons, anthrax vaccines given to deploying soldiers, and/or infectious diseases. Major Michael Donnelly, a USAF officer during the War, helped publicize the syndrome and advocated for veterans’ rights in this regard.
Effects of depleted uranium
Approximate area and major clashes in which DU rounds were used.
Depleted uranium was used in the war in tank kinetic energy penetrators and 20–30 mm cannon ordnance. Significant controversy regarding the long term safety of depleted uranium exists, although detractors claim pyrophoric, genotoxic, and teratogenicheavy metal effects. Many have cited its use during the war as a contributing factor to a number of instances of health issues in the conflict’s veterans and surrounding civilian populations. However, scientific opinion on the risk is mixed.
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
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. These vehicles and the retreating soldiers were subsequently attacked, resulting in a 60 km stretch of highway strewn with debris—the Highway of Death.
Chuck Horner, Commander of U.S. 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.”
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 U.S. 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. Every American in the assault was inside an armored vehicle. One newspaper story reported that U.S. commanders estimated thousands of Iraqi soldiers surrendered, escaping live burial during the two-day assault 24–26 February 1991. 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… ‘” However, after the war, the Iraqi government said that only 44 bodies were found. In his book The Wars Against Saddam, John Simpson alleges that U.S. forces attempted to cover up the incident. 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.” Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney did not mention the First Division’s tactics in an interim report to Congress on Operation Desert Storm. In the report, Cheney acknowledged that 457 enemy soldiers were buried during the ground war.
A Palestinian exodus from Kuwait took place during and after the Gulf War. During the Gulf War, more than 200,000 Palestinians voluntarily fled Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait due to harassment and intimidation by Iraqi security forces, in addition to getting fired from work by Iraqi authority figures in Kuwait. After the Gulf War, the Kuwaiti authorities forcibly pressured nearly 200,000 Palestinians to leave Kuwait in 1991. Kuwait’s policy, which led to this exodus, was a response to alignment of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO with Saddam Hussein, who had earlier invaded Kuwait.
The Palestinians who fled Kuwait were Jordanian citizens. In 2013, there were 280,000 Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin in Kuwait. In 2012, 80,000 Palestinians (without Jordanian citizenship) lived in Kuwait.
Saudi Arabia expelled Yemeni workers after Yemen supported Saddam during the Gulf War.
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 …” 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.” However, the U.N. subsequently spent billions rebuilding hospitals, schools, and water purification facilities throughout the country.
Abuse of Coalition POWs
During the conflict, Coalition aircrews shot down over Iraq were displayed as prisoners of war on TV, most with visible signs of abuse. Among several testimonies to poor treatment, Air Force Captain Richard Storr was allegedly tortured by Iraqis during the war. Iraqi secret police broke his nose, dislocated his shoulder and punctured his eardrum. Royal Air Force Tornado crewmembers John Nichol and John Peters have both alleged that they were tortured during this time. 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. Flight surgeon (later General) Rhonda Cornum was raped by one of her captors after the Black Hawk she was riding in was shot down while searching for a downed F-16 pilot.
Since the war, the U.S. 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. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia after the war was one of the stated motivations behind the 11 September terrorist attacks, the Khobar Towers bombing, and the date chosen for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings (7 August), which was eight years to the day that U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia.Osama bin Laden interpreted the Islamic prophet Muhammad as banning the “permanent presence of infidels in Arabia”. In 1996, bin Laden issued a fatwa, calling for U.S. 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.
On 6 August 1990, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the U.N. 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 U.N. 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.
The draining of the Qurna Marshes (or Mesopotamian 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).
The draining of the Qurna 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.
On 23 January, Iraq dumped 400 million US gallons (1,500,000 m3) of crude oil into the Persian Gulf, causing the largest offshore oil spill in history at that time. It was reported as a deliberate natural resources attack to keep U.S. 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). About 30–40% of this came from allied raids on Iraqi coastal targets.
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 1991.
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. By that time, however, the fires had burned for approximately ten months, causing widespread pollution.
The cost of the war to the United States was calculated by the U.S. Congress to be $61.1 billion. 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. U.S. 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.
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.
Precision-guided munitions, such as the U.S. Air Force’s AGM-130 guided missile, 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, and daisy cutters, 15,000-pound bombs which can disintegrate everything within hundreds of yards.
Global Positioning System 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.
Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and satellite communication systems were also important. Two examples of this are the U.S. Navy’s Grumman E-2 Hawkeye and the U.S. 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 why 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.
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 Red Armydivisions in East Germany. The role of the Scuds which were armed with nuclear and chemical warheads was to destroy command, control, and communication facilities and delay full mobilization of Western German and Allied Forces in Germany. It could also be used to directly target ground forces.
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. Concerns were raised of possible chemical or biological warheads on these rockets, but if they existed, they were not used.
The U.S. Patriot missile was used in combat for the first time. The U.S. military claimed a high effectiveness against Scuds at the time, but later analysis gives figures as low as nine percent, with forty-five percent of the 158 Patriot launches being against debris or false targets. The Dutch Ministry of Defense, which also sent Patriot missiles to protect civilians in Israel and Turkey, later disputed the higher claim. 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. Both the U.S. Army and the missile manufacturers maintained the Patriot delivered a “miracle performance” in the Gulf War.
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Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in these documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in Islamic State. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
ISIS – “Islamic” Extremism?
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