Young Pioneer Tours

The Republic of Kuwait – 1990

That is not a misprint, but rather another YPT obsession that of former states. The Republic of Kuwait being a very brief and unrecognised state that existed between the 1990 invasion, the incorporation of Kuwait as the 19th province and its eventual liberation.

To read about Saddam Hussein’s Palaces click here

Why did Iraq invade Kuwait?

Not a question I expect to rank well on Google and a question that millions upon millions have asked. Why they invaded can and will be debated, but we do know that it led to the overthrow of the Baathist regime and everything that followed. 

To read about Baathism click here.

And what did follow? Well everything from ISIS to the overthrow of Gaddafi and perhaps even the migrant crisis, depending on your take on things.

We though will offer at least a few theories, or options on why Iraq invaded Kuwait. Technically Iraq never recognised Kuwait, yet saw it as its 19th state and a vestige of imperialism. But evidence of this is flimsy and perhaps more a result of Iraqi imperialism. 

And then there is oil and money. Iraq borrowed billions from Kuwait to fight the Iraq – Iran war, with gulf states supporting the Sunni governed Iraq. The debt which ran into the billions was enough to cripple Iraq and was only exacerbated by Kuwait who not only ramped up crude oil production, but were driving down the price, which drastically affected Iraqi coffers. At this point it looked look Kuwait were literally trolling Iraq.

In the end Kuwait was accused of side-ways drilling and thus stealing Iraqi oil, so they invaded.

Was America involved with Iraq invading Kuwait?

Now obviously at YPT we are very apolitical, so would not dream of implying anything, but we will say what some people believe. To summarise things a little. April Glaspie the US Ambassador to Iraq asked about the military preparations by Iraq around Kuwait, further telling the Iraqis inspired by the friendship and not by confrontation, that “the US did not have an opinion (on the internal affairs of the Middle-East)”. Or, as Iraq saw it, carte-blanche to invade. 

You can read what Quora has to say about this here

But wasn’t Iraq an ally of the US? It certainly was, especially against Iran, but the end of the Soviet Union was nigh and new issues were starting to arise. However you look at things, Iraq invading Kuwait led to US troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as the eventual invasion of Iraq. If one were concerned about oil, having troops guard it would be a smart move. 

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990, with the government falling very quickly to the the vastly superior Iraqi army, who immediately declared the Republic of Kuwait – which we will get to later.

Iraq was asked very nicely to withdraw, to which it refused. A military buildup was done from August 1990 to January 1991, with Operation Dessert Storm starting on 17 January, led by storming Norman Schwarzkopf. 

The war lasted not all that long, lasting basically 5 weeks as the Iraqis could not counter the much superior coalition army. Iraq for its part set 600 Kuwaiti oil fields on fire, as well as shooting rockets at Israel in the hope it would retaliate and create a great big holy war. Saddam though was left in power, with good old fashioned sanctions being used instead. Due to what was to happen later this was to be referred to as the First Gulf War, as more were to come.

The Republic of Kuwait 

So, while we could talk about the rights and wrongs, the politics and the like, let’s avoid that and go onto a more regular YPT theme, short-lived unrecognised states. We present the Republic of Kuwait. 

In the early stages of the war the elite Iraqi Republican Guard went into Kuwait allegedly to assist with an internal “coup” by revolutionaries. Now whilst this was largely a fabrication, not everyone in Kuwait supported the Royal Family and there certainly were revolutionary elements in the country.

Political parties are tolerated in Kuwait, but play no part in government, many of whom seek genuine democratic change from the current and then autocratic rule. In the 1980s and early 1990s, revolutionary governments like those in Syria or Iraq were feared by the Royalist regimes, most of which survive today. 

Proclamation of the Republic of Kuwait

Declared on 4 August it deposed the Emir accusing him of human rights abuses and plundering the nation’s wealth; not all that shocking. Initially Iraq said it would help the new Republic of Kuwait, which it boasted had 100,000 volunteer groups, before leaving.

Alas Iraq misjudged the Kuwaiti people and despite hoping opposition groups would join in the Quisling government instead backed the Royal Family. For its brief period of existence it was supposed to be a unitary Republic, but in reality was a Baathist military dictatorship. 

Its Prime Minister was Alaa Hussein Ali, a dual national of both nations and a member of the Kuwait military. He was head of a nine member junta controlling the country. He would later become Iraqi deputy PM after Kuwait was incorporated into Iraq. He was sentenced to death in absentia, but returned to Kuwait in 2000 to fight his case. He was eventually given life in prison. 

The end of the Republic of Kuwait

On 28th August, realising the puppet state would not work, the Republic of Kuwait was converted into the Saddamiyat al-Mitla’ District, named after Saddam Hussein and the 19th province of Iraq.

It lasted until the liberation of Kuwait on the 28th February and the return of the Emir and reestablisment of the slightly boringly named State of Kuwait.

So, the Republic of Kuwait never issued banknotes, made stamps, played a football match, or even entered an Olympics, but exist it certainly did, even if no tourists ever went. So while you cannot visit the Republic of Kuwait, we can at least show you the remnants.

To join us in Kuwait you can check out our next tour here

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