In order to weaken Arab nationalism, Britain blocks Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf by severing the territorial entity, "Kuwait" from the rest of Iraq. [3]


A mass movement of Kuwaiti youth called the "Free Kuwaiti Movement" defies British rule and submits a petition requesting the Iraqi government to reunify Kuwait and Iraq. [3]


Large oil reserves discovered by the US-British Kuwait Oil Company. Exploitation is delayed by World War II, but thereafter fuels the country's development into a modern commercial centre. [1]


Fearing an uprising, the Kuwaiti Sheik agrees to the establishment of a legislative council to represent the "Free Kuwaitis." The first meeting of the council in 1938 results in a unanimous resolution demanding that Kuwait revert back to Iraq. [3]


March-April - A popular uprising within Kuwait to reunify with Iraq erupts on March 10, 1939. The Kuwaiti Sheik, with British military support and "advisers," crushes the uprising, and kills or imprisons its participants. King Ghazi of Iraq publicly demands the release of the prisoners and warns the Sheik to end the repression of the Free Kuwaiti Movement. Ghazi ignors warnings by Britain to discontinue such public statements, and on April 5, 1939, he is found dead. It is widely assumed that he was assassinated by British agents. Faisal II is an infant at this time, and Nuri es-Said, a former officer of the Ottoman Army with British loyalties, becomes the de facto leader of Iraq. [3]


Major public-works programme begins; Kuwait's infrastructure is transformed, residents enjoy a high standard of living. [1]


U.S. and Britain inaugurate the Baghdad Pact, an anti-Soviet security agreement for Middle Eastern nations, including Iraq. The Baghdad Pact is widely perceived in the Arab world as alliance of regimes subordinate to British and U.S. power, and it is greeted with popular protests and riots. Nuri es-Said responds to the protests by jailing opposition leaders who demand that Iraq withdraw from the pact. However, he also begins secret negotiations with the U.S. and Britain for the return of Kuwait to Iraq in order to placate Iraqi national sentiment. [3]


January-July - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri es-Said addresses a meeting of the Baghdad Pact and publicly urges the return of Kuwait to Iraq. All pact members agree with the proposal, with the sole exception of Britain. Further diplomatic gestures from Iraq to Britain are rebuffed, and finally Iraq informs Britain that it is preparing documents and copies of secret understandings together with a formal memorandum, to be published before the world in July 1958. The British Ambassador responds to the Iraqi government that Great Britain had "approved in principle" the unification of Kuwait and Iraq, but requests a meeting in London with the Iraqi and British Prime Ministers and other government officials. But this meeting never takes place, because the Iraqi monarchy is overthrown on July 14, 1958 in a revolution led by General Abdel Karim Qassim. King Faisal II and Nuri es-Said are executed, and Britain immediately thereafter abrogates the agreement to return Kuwait to Iraq. [3]


June - Kuwait becomes independent with the end of the British protectorate; the sheikh becomes an emir. The country joins the Arab League. [1]

Qassim continues to alienate the U.S. and Britain, and Britain further exacerbates relations by declaring its Kuwait colony free and independent. Qassim holds a press conference on June 19, at which he declares that "Iraq regards Kuwait as an integral part of its territory." Following that press conference, Britain quickly masses troops in Kuwait with naval support in the Gulf. [3]

Britain's military intervention in Kuwait is ostensibly to defend the country from imminent Iraqi invasion. Declassified documents suggest, however, that British planners fabricated the threat to justify intervention. [2]


Elections held for National Assembly, under terms of newly-drafted constitution. [1]

Kuwait gains admission to the United Nations in 1963, the same year that Qassim is killed and his government overthrown in a CIA supported coup led by the Baath Party. [3]


Throughout the 1970s, Iraq offers compromises to Kuwait's rulers that will enable Iraq to gain access to its former islands in the Gulf. But no agreements are reached, and the floating border separating the two countries creeps northward. [3]


Emir suspends National Assembly, saying it is not acting in the country's interests. [1]


Iran-Iraq war: Kuwait supports Iraq strategically and financially. [1]


National Assembly recalled; dissolved again in 1986. [1]


Domestic security concerns, particularly about Iran's perceived influence over the Shi'ite minority, prompt the deportations of thousands of expatriates, many of them Iranian. [1]


August - Iran and Iraq agree a cease fire. [4]

The war with Iran has left Iraq in ruins. When Saddam Hussein launched his eight year war against Iran, Iraq had $40 billion in hard currency reserves. But by the end of the war, his nation is $80 billion in debt. Iraq is pressed to repay the $80 billion to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, with interest. While Iraq was distracted by its war, Kuwait had accumulated 900 square miles of Iraqi territory by advancing its border with Iraq northward. This was presented to Iraq as a fait accompli and it gave Kuwait access to the Rumaila oil field. The Kuwaiti Sheik had purchased the Santa Fe Drilling Corporation of Alhambra, California, for $2.3 billion and proceeded to use its slant drilling equipment to gain access to the Iraqi oil field. [3]


March - Kuwait demands a 50% increase in the OPEC quota. The demand is rejected but Kuwait goes ahead, doubling oil production to over 2 million barrels a day. Some of this comes from the disputed Rumaila oil field, situated on the Iraq / Kuwait border. [4]

Kuwait demands that Iraq pay back the 30 billion dollars it had loaned them during the war. Iraq tries to negotiate but Kuwait responds with an intransigence that surprises observers. [4]

The CIA allegedly agrees to help Kuwait put economic pressure on Iraq. [4]

William Webster (director of the CIA) testifies before Congress that US dependence on Gulf oil had risen from 5% in 1973 to 10% in 1989, predicting it would reach 25% by 2000. [4]

General Norman Schwarzkopf makes several visits to Kuwait prior to the Iraqi invasion. [4]


Kuwait, under U.S. tutelage has increased its oil production to undermine OPEC quotas thereby driving the price of Iraqi oil down from $28 per barrel to $11 per barrel and further ruining the Iraqi economy. Appeals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, and other countries to the Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to stick to OPEC production levels are met with increased naval activity in the Persian Gulf by the United States. In February, Saddam Hussein speaks at the Amman summit on the relationship between oil production and the U.S. navy buildup and warns that the Gulf people and the rest of the Arabs face subordination to American interests. [3]

Following this speech the Western press carries stories of Saddam's missiles, chemical weapons and nuclear potential. The Israeli press speculate about pre-emptive strikes such as the Israeli attack on Iraq's nuclear power plant in 1981. In spite of Iraqi diplomatic appeals, Kuwait and the Emirates increase oil production, harming their own economic interests, but damaging Iraq's even more so. Kuwait refuses to relinquish Iraqi territory it had acquired during the Iran Iraq war which Kuwait had helped finance. Kuwait also rejects production quotas and rejects appeals to cease pumping oil from Iraq's Rumaila oil reserve. It refuses to forgo any of Iraq's debt. [3]

August - Two days before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee that the United States has no defense treaty relationship with any Gulf country." The New York Daily News editorialized on September 29, 1990, "Small wonder Saddam concluded he could overrun Kuwait. Bush and Co. gave him no reason to believe otherwise." [3] [4]

On August the 2nd Iraq invades Kuwait. President George Bush phones King Hussein of Jordan and tells him he has 48 hours to reach a negotiated settlement. King Hussein brokers a conference between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq to take place on the 5th. Saddam tells him he will go, and begin withdrawing troops on that day, providing no condemnation is made at the Arab league Summit. [4]

When Hussein arrived in Jordan he discovers that Egypt, under duress, from the US, has introduced a resolution condemning the invasion, which was adopted by the Arab League. [4]

Iraq makes a peace proposal which links withdrawal from Kuwait to discussions of the Israeli occupied territory, and replacement of US troops with UN monitored Arab troops in the Gulf. Bush rejects it. [4]

In mid August Iraq submits a new proposal for an Iraqi withdrawal and release of foreign nationals in return for the lifting of sanctions, access to the Gulf, and control of the Rumaila oil fields. The plan is delivered to Brent Scowcroft, Bush's National Security Advisor. Secretary of State James Baker denied the offer had been made, an embarassing lie since The Whitehouse simultaneously acknowledged it. [4]

Tariq Aziz again says Iraq is willing to negotiate. There is serious Saudi interest in the proposal, but the US pressures the Saudis to retract a statement to that effect. [4]

Hussein suggests televised debates between himself, President Bush and Margaret Thatcher. This is rejected. [4]

September - The Iraqi Foreign Ministry publishes verbatim the transcripts of meetings between Saddam Hussein and high level U.S. officials. Knight-Ridder columnist James McCartney acknowledges that the transcripts were not disputed by the U.S. State Department. U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie informed Hussein that, "We have no opinion on...conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait." She reiterated this position several times, and added, "Secretary of State James Baker has directed our official spokesman to emphasize this instruction." A week before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Baker's spokesperson, Margaret Tutwiler and Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly both stated publicly that "the United States was not obligated to come to Kuwait's aid if it were attacked." (Santa Barbara News-Press September 24, 1990). [3]

Bush tells congress that huge numbers of Iraqi troops and tanks are massing in Kuwait to threaten Saudi Arabia. Russian satellite pictures show nothing of the sort. [4]

November - Hussein again expresses willingness to talk. [4]

Bush falsely claims Hussein is close to having nuclear weapons. [4]

The US bribes and bullies UN member states to secure votes for UN Security Council Resolution 678, which authorises 'all necessary means' to uphold previous resolutions and restore peace and security in the area. [4]

December - Bush directs Schwarzkopf to attack at 7:00pm EST on 16th January, to coincide with the evening news. There are now 540 000 US troops in the Gulf. [4]


January - Iraq offers to withdraw. [4]

On the 9th January James Baker meets Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz. Bush tells Baker to offer no negotiation or compromise. [4]

Bush announces that Iraq has rejected a diplomatic solution. [4]

On the 16th January Bush orders bombing to begin. [4]

Congressman Henry Gonzalez moves to impeach Bush on five counts: “Bush has conspired to engage the US in a massive war against Iraq [.....] Bush has committed the US without congressional consent and contrary to the UN Charter to an act of war [.....] Bush has conspired to commit crimes against peace in violation of the charters of the UN, Nuremberg and the US constitution.” [4]

On the 17th January at 7:00pm EST bombardment of Iraq begins. Within the first hours of the war 85% of all electrical power generation in Iraq is destroyed. Within two days not a single baby incubator is functioning in Iraq. [4]

On the 23rd January Colin Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, announces attacks on Iraqi nuclear facilities, without any regard for the UN General Assembly vote or the Geneva Convention. [4]

March - Emir returns, imposes three-month period of martial law. [1]


Under domestic and international pressure, Emir gives green light to National Assembly elections. Opposition forces perform well in the vote. [1]


UN demarcates new Kuwait-Iraq border, awarding a port and a number of oil wells to Kuwait. US troops despatched to Kuwait following Iraqi border incursions. [1]


Iraq officially recognises Kuwait's independence and the UN-demarcated borders following UN pressure and Russian mediation. [1]


Emir suspends National Assembly after bitter feud between MPs and cabinet about misprints in state-published edition of the Koran. Government supporters suffer shock setback in resulting elections; liberals and Islamists predominate in the new assembly. [1]


March - Summit in Beirut: Kuwait and Iraq move towards normalising relations; Iraq promises not to stage a repeat of its 1990 invasion. [1]


March - Tens of thousands of soldiers converge on the Kuwait-Iraq border for a US-led military campaign against Iraq. [1]

July - Islamist and pro-government candidates fare well in parliamentary elections. There are major losses for liberal candidates. [1]

Emir appoints Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah prime minister, separating post from role of heir to throne for first time since independence. [1]


January - Government says up to 200 indictments against Saddam Hussein and his top aides for war crimes during the 1990-91 occupation are being prepared. [1]

Kuwait says it is prepared to waive a "significant" proportion of Iraqi debt. [1]

May - Cabinet puts forward draft legislation which would allow women to vote and to stand for parliament. [1]