History of US – Kuwait Relations:

Kuwait relations with the United States really began in the early 19th century, when sheik Mubarrak Al-Sabah, invited the Reformed Church of America to open a medical center in Kuwait (known by Kuwaitis as the American Hospital, which they did in 1911. Also, oil relations began in the 1930s, when Kuwait Oil Company was formed as a joint venture between the British Anglo-Persian Oil company and the American Gulf Oil company in December of 1933. In December of 1934, Sheik Ahmad granted a seventy-five-year oil concession to Kuwait Oil Company. The United States opened a consulate in Kuwait in October 1951, which was elevated to embassy status at the time of Kuwait’s independence 10 years later. The United States supports Kuwait’s sovereignty, security, and independence, as well as its multilateral diplomatic efforts to build greater cooperation among the GCC countries.

Strategic cooperation between the United States and Kuwait increased in 1987 with the implementation of a maritime protection regime that ensured the freedom of navigation through the Gulf for 11 Kuwaiti tankers that were reflagged with U.S. markings.

The U.S.-Kuwaiti strategic partnership intensified dramatically again after Iraqs invasion of Kuwait. The United States spearheaded UN Security Council demands that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait and its authorization of the use of force, if necessary, to remove Iraqi forces from the occupied country. The United States also played a dominant role in the development of the multinational military operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm that liberated Kuwait. The U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship has remained strong in the post-Gulf War period. Kuwait and the United States worked on a daily basis to monitor and to enforce Iraqs compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and Kuwait also provided the main platform for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Since Kuwaits liberation, the United States has provided military and defense technical assistance to Kuwait from both foreign military sales (FMS) and commercial sources. All transactions have been made by direct cash sale. The U.S. Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait is attached to the American embassy and manages the FMS program. U.S. military sales to Kuwait total $6.8 billion since 1992. Principal U.S. military systems currently purchased by the Kuwait Defense Forces are Patriot Missile systems, F-18 Hornet fighters, the M1A2 main battle tank, and the Apache helicopter.

Kuwaiti attitudes toward American products have been favorable since the Gulf War. In 1993, Kuwait publicly announced abandonment of the secondary and tertiary aspects of the Arab boycott of Israel (those aspects affecting U.S. firms). The United States is currently Kuwait’s largest supplier of goods and services, and Kuwait is the fifth-largest market in the Middle East. U.S. exports to Kuwait totaled $902 million in 2002. Provided their prices are reasonable, U.S. firms have a competitive advantage in many areas requiring advanced technology, such as oil field equipment and services, electric power generation and distribution equipment, telecommunications gear, consumer goods, and military equipment.

During the 2002-03 build up to and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Kuwait was a vital coalition partner, reserving a full 60% of its total land mass for use by coalition forces and donating upward of $350 million in assistance in kind (primarily fuel) to the effort. In the aftermath of OIF, Kuwait has been consistently involved in reconstruction efforts in Iraq, pledging $1.5 billion at the October 2003 international donors conference in Madrid.

Kuwait also is an important partner in the ongoing U.S.-led campaign against international terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and intelligence arenas and also supporting efforts to block financing of terrorist groups. On April 1, 2004, the Bush Administration designated Kuwait as a major non-NATO ally (MNNA).

As Kuwaiti vessels made up a large portion of the targets in these retaliatory raids, on 1 November 1986, Kuwait, a nonbelligerent, announced it would seek international protection for its ships. The Soviet Union responded first, agreeing to charter several Soviet tankers to Kuwait in early 1987. Washington, which has been approached first by Kuwait and which had postponed its decision, eventually followed Moscow’s lead. On 7 March 1987, the United States offered to reflag 11 Kuwaiti tankers and provide U.S. Navy protection. Kuwait accepted.

On 17 May 1987, an Iraqi attack aircraft fired two Exocet missiles, killing 37 sailors and wounding 21 others aboard USS Stark (FFG 31). Iraq apologized, claiming “pilot error.”

Ironically, Washington used the Stark incident to blame Iran for escalating the war and sent its own ships to the Gulf to escort eleven Kuwaiti tankers that were “reflagged” with the American flag and had American crews. Iran refrained from attacking the United States naval force directly, but it used various forms of harassment, including mines, hit-and-run attacks by small patrol boats, and periodic stop-and-search operations. On several occasions, Tehran fired its Chinese-made Silkworm missiles on Kuwait from Al Faw Peninsula. When Iranian forces hit the reflagged tanker Sea Isle City in October 1987, Washington retaliated by destroying an oil platform in the Rostam field and by using the United States Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) commandos to blow up a second one nearby.

Within a few weeks of the Stark incident, Iraq resumed its raids on tankers but moved its attacks farther south, near the Strait of Hormuz. Washington played a central role in framing UN Security Council Resolution 598 on the Gulf war, passed unanimously on July 20; Western attempts to isolate Iran were frustrated, however, when Tehran rejected the resolution because it did not meet its requirement that Iraq should be punished for initiating the conflict.

American units had already found a dozen mines in Persian Gulf shipping lanes when the Navy began escorting re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers during Operation EARNEST WILL in July 1987. During the very first escort mission, a mine ripped into the re-flagged supertanker Bridgeton. That first month, three tankers hit mines and minesweeping operations by Navy helicopters began. Later that summer, U.S. forces captured the Iranian minelayer Iran Ajr while it was deploying mines in international shipping lanes and U.S. helicopters repelled an attack by Iranian speedboats.

In October 1987, U.S. surface forces destroyed an armed Iranian oil complex in retaliation for an Iranian missile attack on a U.S.-flagged tanker. On 19 October 1987, an attack was launched by four US guided-missile destroyers, the Young, Hoel, Kidd and Leftwich, against the Iranian oil platforms Result and Reshadat, owned and operated by the National Iranian Oil Company in the Persian Gulf. The Resalat and Reshadat platforms are located in the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of the Islamic Republic. They form part of a larger series of oil installations involving more than 100 producing wells and platforms essential to the Iranian commercial oil industry. On 19 October 1987, a radio warning was issued by the US naval forces of the attack, with the information to personnel on the platform that firing would begin in 20 minutes. At 1400 hours, the US vessels began their attack using 5-inch guns, the largest naval artillery in the Persian Gulf at the time. The attack lasted for 90 minutes, and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition were used. As a result of the attack, one platform was completely obliterated, and the other was 90 per cent destroyed. This resulted in the complete stoppage of oil production from the underlying oilfields. In statements made after the incident, the United States justified the attack as a “lawful exercise of the right of self-defense”, and as a “measured response” to an alleged Iranian attack against the reflagged Kuwaiti tanker Sea Isle City said to have been launched from the Fao Peninsula along the northern stretches of the Persian Gulf.

In early 1988, the Gulf was a crowded theater of operations. At least ten Western navies and eight regional navies were patrolling the area, the site of weekly incidents in which merchant vessels were crippled. The Arab Ship Repair Yard in Bahrain and its counterpart in Dubayy, United Arab Emirates (UAE), were unable to keep up with the repairs needed by the ships damaged in these attacks.

It was during these operations that USS Vincennes (CG 49) shot down an Iranian commercial Airbus A300B2-202 airliner [Iran Air Flight 655] on 03 July 1988 after mistaking it for an Iranian F-14. The total of 290 dead civilian passengers, included 66 children. On 22 February 1996 the United States agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million in compensation ($300,000 per wage earning victim, $150,000 per non wage earner) for the 248 Iranians killed in the shoot down.

Gulf War:

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait. Four days later, President George Bush ordered the deployment of U.S. forces to defend Saudi Arabia in an action named Operation Desert Shield. A 43-day war, Operation Desert Storm, began in January 1991, resulting in the liberation of Kuwait. Following is a detailed chronology of the Gulf War:

  • JANUARY 15: Iraq ignores U.N. ultimatum to withdraw from Kuwait or be forced out.
  • JANUARY 16: Operation Desert Storm begins at 6 p.m. St. Louis time (3 a.m. Jan. 17 in Iraq) with massive air and missile attacks on targets in Iraq and Kuwait.
  • JANUARY 17: Iraq attacks Israel with seven Scud missiles. A U.S. Patriot missile intercepts the first Scud, over Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The air offensive against Iraqi forces begins.
  • JANUARY 18: Bush authorizes the call-up of up to 1 million National Guardsmen and reservists for up to two years. The first Iraqi Scud missile strikes in Israel.
  • JANUARY 19: U.S. troops raid oil platforms off Kuwait, capturing first Iraqi prisoners of war.
  • JANUARY 20: Iraqi television broadcasts pictures of seven captured coalition airmen.
  • JANUARY 22: Iraq begins blowing up Kuwaiti oil wells.
  • JANUARY 25: Iraq creates massive oil slick in Persian Gulf.
  • JANUARY 26: Pentagon confirms the Louisville is the first submarine to launch a cruise missile in combat. More than 72,000 war protesters march in Washington.
  • JANUARY 30: Scores of Iraqi tanks and thousands of troops advance into Saudi Arabia. Attacks are countered by U.S. Marines, Saudi and Qatari troops. Eleven Marines die.
  • JANUARY 31: Saudi and Qatari troops, backed by U.S. artillery, retake Khafji, Saudi Arabia.
  • FEBRUARY 1: Allies bomb 10-mile-long Iraqi armored column headed into Saudi Arabia.
  • FEBRUARY 8: Defense Secretary Dick Cheney gives strongest indication to date that a ground war is coming.
  • FEBRUARY 12: Allied forces open combined land-sea-air barrage against Iraqis in Kuwait — the largest battlefield action to date.
  • FEBRUARY 13: Stealth fighters drop two bombs on fortified underground facility in Baghdad. Iraqi officials claim at least 500 civilians are killed.
  • FEBRUARY 14: Pentagon says allied planes have destroyed at least 1,300 of Iraq’s 4,280 tanks, 800 of its 2,870 armored vehicles and 1,100 of its 3,110 artillery pieces.
  • FEBRUARY 15: Iraq says it is prepared to withdraw from Kuwait but adds a number of demands. Bush dismisses the Iraqi offer.
  • FEBRUARY 20: Schwarzkopf says Iraq is on the verge of collapse.
  • FEBRUARY 22: Bush issues ultimatum for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait to avoid ground war.
  • FEBRUARY 23: The allied ground assault begins at 7 p.m. St. Louis time (4 a.m. Feb. 24 in Iraq).
  • FEBRUARY 24: Oil wells in Kuwait continue to burn after Iraqis ignite an estimated 700 wells on Feb. 23.
  • FEBRUARY 25: Allied forces are reported on the outskirts of Kuwait City. U.S. officials report four U.S. soldiers are killed in first days of ground assault.
  • FEBRUARY 26: Iraqi forces are in full retreat with allied forces pursuing. Iraqi prisoners of war number more than 30,000.
  • FEBRUARY 27: The first Kuwaiti troops enter Kuwait City. Bush declares suspension of offensive combat and orders a cease-fire effective at midnight Kuwait time.
  • MARCH 1: Cease-fire terms are negotiated in Safwan, Iraq.
  • MARCH 2: 24th Infantry Division fights Hammurabi Division as it flees, destroying 600 vehicles.
  • MARCH 3: Iraqi leaders formally accept cease-fire terms.
  • MARCH 4: Ten allied POWs are freed.
  • MARCH 5: Thirty-five allied POWs are released.
  • MARCH 8: After two weeks of nonstop minesweeping operations, the port of Kuwait City is declared safe and allowed to reopen.
  • MARCH 14: The emir of Kuwait returns from exile.
  • MARCH 17: Department of Defense announces first troop redeployment home. (24th Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.)
  • APRIL 5: Bush announces U.S. relief supply airdrops to Kurdish refugees in Turkey and northern Iraq.
  • APRIL 6: Iraq accepts U.N. terms for a formal cease-fire.
  • APRIL 7: U.S. transports deliver 72,000 pounds of supplies in first six Operation Provide Comfort missions.
  • APRIL 9: The Security Council approves Resolution 689, establishing a United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission to monitor a permanent cease-fire.
  • APRIL 11: Security Council announces that a formal cease-fire has been established, ending the Gulf War.

Source: www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS21513.pdf