Thirty years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait

In this file photo taken on April 2, 1991, an abandoned Iraqi Soviet-made T-62 tank sits in the Kuwaiti desert as an oil well at al-Ahmadi oil field is burning in the background. (AFP)
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Updated 30 July 2020

Thirty years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait

  • Tensions spiral after Iraq accuses Kuwait of stealing petrol in 1990, leading to the Gulf war
  • More than a decade later, in 2003, Kuwait serves as a bridgehead for the US-led invasion of Iraq

PARIS: On August 2, 1990, the army of  Saddam Hussein swarmed into neighboring Gulf emirate Kuwait, annexing the small oil-rich territory.
Seven months later, Iraq was chased out by a US-led international coalition, leaving behind a devastated and pillaged Kuwait, and 750 oil wells ablaze.
Here is a recap of the conflict and its aftermath:

On July 18, 1990, tensions spiral after Iraq accuses Kuwait of stealing petrol from the Rumaila oil field and encroaching on its territory.
Saddam demands $2.4 billion from the emirate.
Kuwait counters, saying Iraq is trying to drill oil wells on its territory.
It is one of several disputes, the most complex involving their border — a bone of contention since Kuwait’s independence in 1961.
Iraq also accuses the emirate of flooding the oil market, driving down crude prices.
Attempts by the Arab League and Saudi Arabia to mediate an end to the crisis fail and talks are suspended on August 1.

The next day, Iraq invades.
“Iraqi troops began at 2 a.m. local time to violate our northern borders, to enter Kuwait territory and to occupy positions within Kuwait,” Radio Kuwait announces in its first news bulletin.
It is followed by patriotic music and calls on Kuwaitis “to defend their land, their sand and their dunes.”
Violent clashes with heavy weaponry break out in Kuwait City between Kuwaiti units and the Iraqi army.
Faced with 100,000 Iraqi troops and 300 tanks, the 16,000-strong Kuwaiti army is overwhelmed.
The capital falls that morning and Kuwait’s head of state Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah flees to Saudi Arabia.
His brother Fahd is killed as Iraqi troops seize the palace.
In Baghdad official radio announces the end of the “traitor regime” it accuses of being an accomplice in an “American Zionist plot,” aimed at undermining the recovery of the Iraqi economy.

The international community condemns the invasion and oil prices soared on world markets.
At an emergency meeting, the UN Security Council demands the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Washington freezes Iraqi assets in the US and its subsidiaries abroad, along with Kuwaiti assets, to prevent them benefiting Baghdad.
The Soviet Union, Iraq’s main arms supplier, halts its deliveries.
On August 6, the UN Security Council slaps a trade, financial and military embargo on Iraq.
Two days later, the US president George H.W. Bush announces he is sending troops to Saudi Arabia.
Iraq closes its borders to foreigners. Thousands of western, Arab and Asian civilians are held against their will in Iraq or Kuwait, with some 500 people used for months as human shields at strategic sites.

On August 8, Baghdad announces Kuwait’s “total and irreversible” incorporation into Iraq.
Later in the month, Iraq annexes the emirate as its 19th province.
“Kuwait is part of Iraq,” Saddam declares.

On November 29, the UN Security Council authorizes the use of “all necessary means” to force Iraq out of Kuwait if it has not withdrawn its troops voluntarily by January 15, 1991.
Baghdad rejects the ultimatum.
On January 17, after diplomatic initiatives fail, Operation Desert Storm is launched with intensive bombardments of Iraq and Kuwait.
On February 24, Bush announces a ground offensive.
The allied troops free the emirate in days.
Bush announces on February 27 the liberation of Kuwait and the cessation of hostilities the next day, at 0400 GMT.
Iraq accepts all UN resolutions.
The crisis divides Arab states.
Egyptian and Syrian armies take part in the coalition, but it is denounced by other Arab countries.
More than a decade later, in 2003, Kuwait serves as a bridgehead for the US-led invasion of Iraq, which leads to the overthrow of Saddam.


Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

Updated 25 October 2020

Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

  • ‘This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people’
  • Dubai has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence

DUBAI: Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.
“This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people,” said Obaid Al-Hathboor, director of Dubai’s Transport Security Department.
The emirate already operates a biometric system using facial recognition at its international airport.
Dubai, which sees itself as a leading “smart city” in the Middle East, has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence.
Both sectors will be on show when it opens the multi-billion-dollar Expo fair.
“We aspire to raise our performance by building on our current capabilities, to ensure a high level of security in metro stations and other transport sectors,” said Hathboor.
Earlier this week, under the watch of Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the city’s police used facial recognition in a simulated scenario to identify gunmen launching an attack on a metro station.
A special police unit, trained in the United States, helped “evacuate” commuters from the station in the mock attack, before working in tandem with a control center to apprehend the suspects.
Members of the special unit will be sent to major metro stations during Expo 2020.
The six-month event was delayed by one year due to coronavirus, and is now set to open in October 2021.
It was expected to attract 15 million visitors before the global economy and transport systems were disrupted by the pandemic.
Jamal Rashed, of Dubai Police’s Transport Security Department, said the facial recognition technology will be rolled out in the coming months in all metro stations.
Other technology already in use to combat the spread of the coronavirus, such as helmets with thermal cameras and smart glasses, will also be used to identify and manage large crowds.
“It took at least five hours to identify a suspect before,” said Rashed. “With this technology, it takes less than a minute.”
But while the technology to identify individuals has simplified lives, such as being used for unlocking phones, it has also raised concerns over privacy.
Berlin-based advocacy group AlgorithmWatch says that at least 10 European police forces use facial recognition technology — a trend that privacy and rights groups are concerned about.
China has also been criticized for the facial recognition systems in its public surveillance network.