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Persian Gulf War

The Iraqi economy was severely weakened by the war with Iran, and the regime of Saddam Hussein became deeply unpopular. To divert attention from his domestic problems, and to punish neighboring Kuwait for its part in depressing the price of oil, Hussein directed his forces to invade and annex Kuwait in August 1990. In response, an international coalition led by the United States launched an air attack against Iraq in January 1991. After a brief ground war the coalition defeated Iraqi forces by the end of February.

The conflict highlighted significant changes in world politics and international relations since the late 1980s. The decline of the USSR, which had been involved in Middle Eastern affairs since the 1950s, combined with a lack of support from other Arab countries that had traditionally banded together, left Saddam Hussein with virtually no allies. The Iraqi people, exhausted after eight years of fighting Iran, did not support the invasion of Kuwait. Many Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and the smaller Persian Gulf states, lent military support to the coalition that defeated Iraq. Fearing regional instability, the coalition did not attempt to remove Hussein from power. The lack of international support for Kurdish and Shia rebel groups in Iraq after the war further showed the hesitancy of other nations to become involved in Iraqi internal affairs.

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