Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part II

There is general acceptance among Third World War historians that July, 1987 was a most inopportune time for Saddam Hussein to play a high stakes game of poker. A global war was underway. The United States and Soviet Union were fixed on the struggle for supremacy and national survival being waged. Smaller nations in Europe and elsewhere, either aligned with a respective superpower or not, were being fed to the fire. Through the first days of the war Iraq had remained unbowed, watching as the carnage of war descended upon the Persian Gulf region. Saddam Hussein’s eyes were darting from east to west in search of the best possible deal for his country, and himself. He believed it would only be a matter of time before either the US or Soviet Union approached him. Given how the first week of war had gone, his money was on Moscow to make the first overture.

The Soviet Union did not let Saddam down, approaching him with designs for a partnership that would make Iraq the region’s dominant power in the post-war era. On the surface, Iraq accepted the proposal enthusiastically. This was not a façade by any stretch of the imagination. However, even before the partnership was official, Iraq’s leader was searching for a way to increase the potential rewards without expending an excessive amount of treasure.

Saddam had eventually found a way and put his plan into action. Now, on the afternoon of D+15 the consequences of that were coming home to roost so to speak. The tepid Iraq-Soviet quasi-alliance was dead. Soviet troops, civilian workers, and diplomats were preparing to leave Iraq. Iranian forces were continuing to mass opposite Iraq’s eastern border. On the Kuwait-Saudi border 2,000 Iraqi soldiers had surrendered to US forces. Meanwhile in Baghdad, the US embassy was making discreet inquiries to the Iraqi government concerning when its forces would start their promised withdrawal from Kuwait.

A host of variables in play, but the one surety, at least in Saddam’s mind, was the Soviet promise to even the score if deceived. Given the scope of the betrayal, the Iraqi strongman was sure it was not an empty threat. Moscow would seek revenge. The Backfire flyover of Baghdad was proof of that. Hussein played out a string of revenge scenarios in his mind, with each one becoming more graphic. Unfortunately for him, Soviet retaliation was not the only challenge facing Iraq at the time.

Iran was still building up its forces on the eastern border. Iraq’s defense minister informed Saddam if the Iranians moved within the next twenty-four hours Basra would fall. More time was needed for the Republican Guard divisions now moving north from Kuwait, as well as interior Iraq, to arrive. The Iraqi leader’s closest aides were divided on Iranian intentions. Some believed Iran was simply posturing and was not ready to rekindle the war with Iraq. The defense minister and senior generals were quite certain Iran regarded Iraq as being distracted and sought to take advantage of it. In either case, the Iranian threat, real or imagined, could not be ignored.

Then there was Kuwait. Saddam had guaranteed the United States it would begin withdrawing its forces from the occupied emirate within thirty-six hours of Iraq’s ‘invasion of Saudi Arabia’ being defeated. With no visible signs of that withdrawal being noticeable, the US ambassador had become suspicious and was now making inquiries. The Americans, in Saddam’s mind, were less of a threat than the Soviet Union. Washington cared about its image in the Persian Gulf region and would not send a fleet of B-52s to level Baghdad. US patience with Iraq was destined to wear thin at one point or another. Saddam planned to string them along for as long as possible with empty promises and conveniently placed delays. But when all was said and done, the Iraqi leader had no intention of handing Kuwait over to the United States. The former emirate was no longer a sovereign nation-state, but now a province of Iraq.


11 Replies to “Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. Let’s see how that works for him! It’s 1987. I’m a Junior in high school. Still got a couple years before my boots hit the ground! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Schaff. Marketing and all starts in early Feb with a release the week of 1 March. Kind of embarassed to say this but as of now, I haven’t decided on a title 🙂


  2. Iron Eagle 3- A joint effort of Soviet and USA pilots go Saddam hunting with the help of CNN’s Arthur Kent.

    There is your next book idea Mike. Throw me some of the royalties when you can. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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