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THE HISTORY OF IRAQ'S CLAIM OVER KUWAIT

  As a political entity, Kuwait is older than Iraq. Whereas Kuwait, as an Arab sheikhdom that previously recognised the suzerainty of the Ottoman Emperor in Istanbul (Constantinople), initiated the signing of a defence treaty with Britain in 1899, Iraq formally became an independent state only in 1932.
  Iraq had, since the Middle Ages, been a vaguely defined geographical region stretching from Baghdad to the central Iranian city of Isfahan, and obtained its present boundaries for the first time in the 1920s,in the wake of the Turkish defeat in the first world war. Britain put together the former Turkish provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra and installed at the head of the new state the former Prince Faisal of Mecca. In doing so, Britain actually used the fledgling Royal Air Force to bomb the Kurds of the Mosul province to force them to accept Arab domination of the new state. Many famous RAF commanders of the second world war learned the potential of bombing in Iraq.
  Iraq was thus an artificial creation, and has been an unhappy place since its reluctant birth.
  Even though he had been installed by the British, King Faisal 1st laid claim to Kuwait on account of its having once been part of the Basra province. This stemmed from the King's need to give the Iraqis a convincing sense of their new national identity. His son, King Qazi, upheld the claim and, when he died in a car accident, the rumor spread that the British had Killed him for that reason.
  After the violent overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, Prime Minister General Abdelkarim Qasim resurrected the claim to Kuwait to divert attention from his government's internal failures. When Kuwait regained its sovereignty in 1961 Britain, under Prime Minister Harold MacMillan sent 6,000 troops to the sheikhdom as a potent deterrent to a feared Iraqi attack. Among the Royal Marines first into Kuwait, landed by helicopter from the commando carrier Bulwark, was the young lieutenant Paddy Ashdown. The young officer and his men feared the Iraqis were already there but, in fact, the Iraqis had not violated Kuwait's borders. The prompt British action ensured they did not for another 29 years.
  In the subsequent years Iraq mostly under Saddam himself, signed numerous treaties with Kuwait and exchanged ambassadors with it. The invasion of Kuwait on August 2nd 1990 was thus transparently an act of blatant aggression- one of the most blatant since Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1945.


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