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Hi, I'm Ben Arrona, here for About.com. I'm a historian with a Master's degree in American History, and this is an overview of the first Gulf War.In 1990, while on the verge of negotiating a lasting peace with long-time rival Iran, Iraq leader, Saddam Hussein, accused the tiny country of Kuwait, with whom Iraq shared a border, of stealing oil from his Ar-Rumayiah oil fields. On August 2, 1990, Hussein's Iraqi Army began the invasion of Kuwait. This brought forth swift condemnation from both a majority of the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council. The latter issued economic sanctions against Hussein's Iraq and called on Hussein to pull out of Kuwait.Responding, in part, to a call for support, President George H.W. Bush, working with the permission of the Saudi government, deployed the United States military into Saudi Arabia to prep for action against Iraq. This military build-up in the Saudi desert, called Operation Desert Shield, also had non-U.S. troops coming from other NATO countries, as well as Arab league countries such as Egypt. Living up to its name, the build-up operation was designed in such a way to prevent an Iraqi attack or invasion against Saudi Arabia.In response to this build-up, Iraq bolstered its occupation forces in Kuwait and declared jihad against the U.S.-led coalition massing south of its border. This was done in an effort to gain Islamic support but ended up falling flat. On November 29th, 1990, the United Nations Security Council gave the green light to use force against Iraq if it did not withdraw from Kuwait by January 15th. This did not compel Hussein to remove his occupation forces, and on January 17th, 1991, U.S. forces initiated the first phase of Operation Desert Storm, with a massive air assault on Iraq.The coalition first hit Iraq's weapons plants, air defenses, and communications networks. The first Gulf War was called "the video game war" by some for its use of laser-guided smart bombs and other new high tech weapons, many of which had an accompanying video feed to show the action. Launched on February 24th, Operation Desert Sabre was the ground portion of the Gulf War. The victory was decisive.With Iraqi troops fleeing Kuwait and simply offering little resistance inside Southern Iraq, President Bush declared a ceasefire on February 28th. It was estimated that as many as 10,000 Iraqi troops were killed during the Gulf War, while the coalition forces had 300 casualties. While the victory was one-sided, it did not come without some setbacks. Kuwait sustained massive damage and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein remained in power. The latter would lead to a longer protracted conflict within the region a decade later.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.
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