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*** facts iraq and standoff *** pt1

  1. Overview of Iraq Crisis
    Last updated February 2002

    What is the Crisis?
    The Persian Gulf War in 1991 ended in a stalemate between Iraq and the international forces led by the United States and the first President George Bush. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was driven out of Kuwait, the country he had invaded six months earlier. The peace agreement called for Iraq to destroy any chemical or biological weapons, and a team of United Nations inspectors regularly searched the country to make sure this was happening. A strict embargo kept Iraq from selling oil or buying weapons on the international markets until the United Nations would rule it in full compliance with the terms of the peace treaty. The United States kept Iraqi aircraft from flying in the southern or northern part of the country.

    This situation continued through the 1990s, with continual blustering between Hussein and Bush's successor, U.S. President Bill Clinton, over the role of inspectors. Hussein claimed to have the entire country open to the inspectors and demanded that the embargoes be lifted immediately. Clinton claimed that inspectors were being blocked and that sanctions should continue indefinitely.

    Iraq is one of the world's biggest oil producers, and U.S. and Saudi tycoons made billions of dollars a year while its oil was blocked. Hussein had originally invaded Kuwait because of an oil dispute. President Bush had made his millions of dollars as an oil man. The politics of the region are the politics of oil and there is big money to be made and lost by the winners and losers of international conflicts there. Many came to believe that Iraq would continue to be punished indefinitely so that it's oil would remain off the market. The U.S. and British wanted the oil embargo to continue, while the Russians and French (who wanted to profit by buying and distribute Iraqi oil) wanted them lifted. As the 1990s progressed, the international front against Iraq was cracking, with each country in the coalition adopting positions that would give it the greatest oil profits.

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