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US interests in the Gulf

United State's interests in the Gulf are primarily economic, borne out of the need to gain access to the rich oil reserves in the region.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2005 15:15 IST

United State's interests in the Gulf are primarily economic, borne out of the need to gain access to the rich oil reserves in the region. The heavy dependence of United State's population and economy on fossil fuels necessitated that the US had a say in oil production in Gulf and elsewhere.

Having established a good relationship with the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, the United States was eyeing on Iraqi oil reserves, one of the richest reserves in the world. United States, initially built a good relation with Iraq but when it came to bullying tactics, Saddam refused to be cowed down. Relations between the two nations soured as Saddam refused to toe US line.

Snubbed by Saddam, US found him to be a major challenge with his military might in the region. The invasion of Kuwait by Saddam's forces came as a blessing in disguise for the US to go all out against him.

Strategists, statesmen and the general public in United States quickly came to the conclusion that the US had significant interests in making certain that Saudi Arabia was not conquered by Saddam. Having rolled over Kuwait, Saddam already controlled over 20 per cent of the world's oil reserves. Saudi Arabia had an additional 20 per cent. Since the world economy was primarily driven by fossil fuels, US didn't want to let Saddam dictate the terms.

US response was swift as it moved its forces to Saudi Arabia to protect its oil reserves, within a couple of days of Iraqi invasion into Kuwait. After the United Nations set a deadline for a peaceful Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, United States started military action and massive air strikes against Iraq.

Then came the issue of weapons of mass destruction which Iraq was alleged to have stored in its arsenal. CIA has speculated that Iraq was on the brink of developing nuclear weapons and that it had huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Iraq had used its chemical weapons with impunity during its war with Iran.

The US construed Iraq's growing military might will affect it and Iraq would use its weapons against US personnel and interests. Taking this plea the United States continued to pressure Iraq and tried to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.

US-led coalition resorted to sir strikes and subsequently launched its biggest ground assault named "Operation Desert Storm" as Iraq refused to comply with the UN deadline of withdrawing from Kuwait by January 15.

With the Iraqi surrender and subsequent cease-fire United States led coalition won the war but failed in its attempt to dislodge Saddam Hussain. Saddam continues to be a thorn in the eyes of United States even today.

First Published: Nov 18, 2002 17:38 IST