The Political and Socio-economic Changes in Kuwait after Iraq’s Invasion in 1990:
Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait produced a profound impact on the development of this country. The changes that occurred after the invasion in 1990 practically defined the modern policy and socio-economic development of the country. In fact, Iraq’s invasion was an extremely important event in the history of Kuwait which, in actuality, resulted in humanitarian and ecological catastrophe, while the political stability in the region was undermined. At the same time, it is equally important to underline that the intervention of the US into the conflict between Iraq and Kuwait and the following defeat and retreat of Iraq shaped the further development of the region for decades to follow. In such a situation, it is extremely important to carefully analyze the consequences of the Iraqi invasion of the country and its political and socio-economic effects.
The political changes
First of all, it is necessary to point out that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait immediately resulted in the dramatic political changes. In this respect, a significant role has played the initial causes of the war since the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein primarily targeted at the establishment of the new political order in Kuwait. Such a change was extremely important to Iraq since it provided ample opportunities to Iraq to fully control the political life of the country.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that before the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the country was ruled by the local Emir, who, according to Iraqi leader was unpopular in his country and totally dependent on Americans1. This is why the change of the regime was one of the strategic goals of the Iraqi forces. In fact, it was the major condition of their final success was the establishment of the loyal regime with the government totally controlled by Iraq.
Consequently, taking into consideration such goals of the war, it was quite natural that after the invasion the Emir had lost all his power and, instead the new government was created. Apparently, this government could not be perceived as originally Kuwaiti government that was widely supported by the masses of people. In stark contrast, it was the government that was hostile to the local population not because of its actions but rather because it was not supported by Kuwaiti people. It should be said that the population of Iraq was quite conservative. In fact, it was a typical Arabia society which strictly followed the traditions that had persisted in the country for decades. At any rate, the royal power of Emir was naturally accepted by the local population and, in actuality, there was no political struggle in the country. Consequently, Kuwaiti people did not have any political experience in creating a government different from the government that could be controlled by the monarch, i.e. Emir.
In the result of such radical political change conducted by Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait, the local political life, being characterized by stability, was practically undermined and, in actuality, there was no really legitimate government that could be supported by large masses of people2.
In such a situation, in a short-term perspective, Iraqi invasion and the following political changes, i.e. the fall of Emir’s power and the creation of the new government, resulted in the undermining of the political stability in the country that threaten to the normal political development of Kuwait as well as to its socio-economic progress. What is more important, the puppet government of Kuwait controlled from Iraq was the government that was loyal to the foreign power and did not serve to the interest of the population of Iraq. Consequently, the Kuwaiti population was practically deprived of any opportunity to influence the government of its own country and could not influence or define the national policy, being practically deprived of an opportunity to define their own future.
In a long-term perspective, the political changes resulting from the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq were also extremely significant. It should be pointed out that in a long-term perspective the country had lost its political independence since after the fall of the Emir there remained no legitimate ruler of the country and, thus, the new government was influenced by the foreign powers, even after the retreat of Iraqi military forces since even thought the Emir regain the power his was obliged for his return to the power to the US and its allies.
The socio-economic changes
The impact of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was not less significant than the impact of substantial political changes conducted under the total control of Iraq. It should be pointed out that the socio-economic changes were significantly influenced by the political changes but, what is more important, they were basically the result of the military operations and the strategy of the scorched earth used by Iraqi troops when they were forced to leave Kuwait, being defeated by the US army and its allies.
First of all, it should be said that the invasion of Kuwait resulted in the annihilation of all existing debts of Iraq. In this respect, it is worthy of mention that before the invasion Iraq borrowed $1.4 billion for the war on Iran. Naturally, Iraq was supposed to repay all the debt to Kuwait. However, in the result of the invasion Iraq refused to repay the debt and, thus, Kuwaiti economy had lost a substantial sum of money which remained unpaid. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq deprived the former of an opportunity to fully benefit from its rich natural resources, especially oil resources. For instance, before the invasion there was a conflict between Iraq and Kuwait over the Rumaila oil field. In fact both countries wanted to establish their own control over the oil field and, naturally, on invading Kuwait, Iraq took Rumaila oil field under its own control. Moreover, after the invasion, Iraq controlled had got an opportunity to control the oil trade of Kuwait as well as Iraq acquired the disputable oil fields. As a result, the access of Kuwaiti to strategically important resources, i.e. oil, was substantially limited and the population of the country could not benefit from its own natural resources.
However, the real humanitarian, environmental and economic disaster occurred when Iraqi troops had to retreat. It should be said that while leaving Kuwait they used the scorched earth strategy setting in fire the major oil wells of Kuwait or releasing the oil from the wells to the Gulf. Naturally, it had disastrous effects not only to the local environment but to the national economy as well. In this respect, it is worthy of mention that the fires took more than nine months to extinguish fully and the cost of repairs to the oil infrastructure exceeded $5.12 billion3. Furthermore, many buildings were ruined in the result of the military operations that took place on the territory of Kuwait.
As a result, after Iraq’s invasion, Kuwait was practically in ruins. The county had to fully rebuild its infrastructure and many buildings. What is more important its strategic oil industry was also dramatically damaged and the costs of its reconstruction were enormous to the country that had just ended the exhausting war.
In such a situation, large masses of people turned to be in an extremely difficult socio-economic position since many of them had lost their jobs, homes, and had vague perspectives to change their life for better. Moreover, typically for any military conflict, the invasion of Kuwait was accompanied by the flow of refugees which attempted to save their life escaping from the area of the military conflict. At the same time, many Kuwaiti who did not manage to escape from the military zone suffered from the military operations and destruction of oil wells.
Obviously, the socio-economic changes resulting from the invasion basically referred to the totally ruined major industry of the country that needed to be reconstructed along with many buildings and infrastructure, and a profound socio-economic crisis that struck the entire country.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that in general the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq led to negative consequences. The dramatic political and socio-economic changes undermined the internal stability in the country and left Kuwait in an extremely disadvantageous position. In fact, this ex-ally of Iraq in the war on Iran was totally ruined in the result of military actions and the strategy of the scorched land used by the Iraqi army. Basically, the existing legitimate political regime was destroyed by the occupants and, even though it was reestablished after the Iraqis retreat, the new regime was rather dependent on foreign forces than really independent national regime or government. At the same time, the country needed enormous investments to recover form the socio-economic problems caused by the invasion which also made the country dependant on the foreign support. This is why it is possible to estimate that the destructions and dramatic socio-economic and political changes threatened to the independence of Kuwait.
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