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25 years later: Did Kuwait invasion doom Iraq?

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the start of the 1990 Kuwait crisis, which played a decisive role in altering the region.
President George H.W. Bush is surrounded by a sea of U.S. military personnel as he greets troops following an arrival ceremony in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Dhahran November 22, 1990. Bush celebrates Thanksgiving Day with U.S. troops from all branches of the military deployed here after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.   Reuters/Terry Bochatey ( SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE - RTR2ZNUI

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait a quarter of a century ago transformed America’s role in the Middle East profoundly. We are still living with the legacy of the crisis of the summer of 1990.

The Kuwait crisis of 1990 came up like a summer storm with little or no warning. Twenty-five years ago, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein threatened Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) publicly, demanding that they reduce oil production to raise prices to $20 a barrel. Saddam warned that the two Gulf emirates were stealing money from Iraq by exceeding their OPEC quotas and that Baghdad would take “effective action to put things right.” Immediately the CIA reported Saddam was massing his elite Republican Guard at the border with Kuwait. By July 25, 1990, the Iraqis had mobilized over 100,000 troops on the border. Kuwait and the UAE agreed to cut production but Saddam was planning much more. On Aug. 1, 1990, his army invaded Kuwait, conquering it within hours. The CIA warned President George H.W. Bush that Saddam now “controlled the second- and third-largest proven oil reserves in the Gulf with the fourth-largest army in the world.” On Aug. 5, 1990, the CIA told Bush the Iraqis were massing to attack Saudi Arabia. When the CIA director was asked in the Cabinet Room at the White House what would be the earliest Iraq could attack, the answer was “now,” according to Bush and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft's 1998 book "A World Transformed."

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