Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War

Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War


Transcript of Meeting Between Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie

July 25, 1990 - Presidential Palace - Baghdad

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie - I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. (pause) As you know, I lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. (pause) We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your threat s against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship - not confrontation - regarding your intentions: Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait's borders?

Saddam Hussein - As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days; I am prepared to give negotiations only this one more brief chance. (pause) When we meet (with the Kuwaitis) and we see there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death.

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie - What solutions would be acceptable?

Saddam Hussein - If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab - our strategic goal in our war with Iran - we will make concessions (to the Kuwaitis). But, if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. (pause) What is the United States' opinion on this?

* U.S. Ambassador Glaspie - The United States is committed to maintaining a peaceful and prosperous state of affairs for the nations of the Gulf, including your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the desire to arrive at a diplomatic solution to this crisis and avoid a potential military confrontation. Would you not agree that the people of Iraq have seen enough bloodshed in recent years?

Saddam Hussein - You are of course correct; we saw far too much destruction in our war against the Ayatollah’s regime, enough to quench the most fervent warrior’s bloodlust. The Iraqi people do not wish for conflict, especially against brother Arabs, but we will not sit idle while Kuwait slits our throat.

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie - The United States has no desire to see that happen, but again we must stress the need to fully explore all options for a peaceful resolution.

Saddam Hussein - The people of Iraq are fully in agreement with you. We have been exploring these options and will continue to do so in the interests of preserving peace.

*And here we have the POD: In OTL Ambassador Glaspie said:
“We have no opinion on your Arab - Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”
Saddam smiled at this and the exchange concluded shortly thereafter. Her response gave him confidence that the United States would not intervene with any move he made on Kuwait; satisfied with this fortuitous turn of events he would launch the invasion of Kuwait a few days later on August 2, 1990.

Some hours later, Saddam sat alone in the meeting room deep in thought. The meeting with Glaspie has been unexpectedly, frustratingly fruitless. He had hoped for a clear indicator from the ambassador concerning U.S. intentions about Kuwait, but she had been all too vague on the issue. Committed to peace in the Gulf, but wishing to explore diplomatic options…if anything he was less able to gauge their potential reaction to a move on Kuwait than before. One thing unnerved him though: the Westerners weren’t willing to write off Kuwait as a local Arab issue, which meant the possibility of intervention and confrontation. There had been no promises, no ultimatums, but the possibility remained nonetheless. War with the Ayatollah and his fanatics was supposed to have been a swift, simple affair leaving Iraq as the new undisputed master of the Gulf, but things had gotten out of control and forced the country to fight for its life for the better part of a decade against the Persian onslaught. Iraq had shed its blood and expended its treasure to serve as a tireless bastion defending the Gulf from the depredations of Iran, only to endure a new assault from gutless bill collectors asking for repayment for the privilege of Iraq’s protection. No, the slights against his nation would not be endured…but he could not risk the uncertainty, the possibility that it could all come undone again. Iraq had stood alone during the Gulf War, and if it was to be victorious in the coming conflict it needed to learn who its friends were and gather them close. Enemies hiding behind smiling masks were everywhere, lying in wait just across his borders and sending their spies and saboteurs to arrange his downfall. Constant vigilance was needed to survive.

He broke off his musings and glanced down at a map of the region. There, beckoning to the southeast lay the shining jewel of Kuwait. It would be such a simple matter to swallow up the domain of the impertinent sheiks, to stamp out Al-Sabah and his ilk. But his eyes continued to wander off the coast to the light blue of the Gulf. The Americans were out there in their ships, threatening to spoil everything just with their presence. Oh, they had been friendly enough during the war with keeping his ammunition boxes topped off, but only because it had served their interests. Iran-Contra had shown how fickle their interests could be, and he had every intention of avoiding a conflict with them. It was an impossible dilemma: Iraq needed the treasures of Kuwait and stabilization of the oil prices or the country would tear itself apart, but he was no longer certain that the Americans would sit idly by to let him act with impunity. However…maybe it wasn’t entirely impossible. The Americans had a marked aversion to prolonged bloodshed; the word Vietnam still hung like a specter over their military despite their lightning victories in Grenada and Panama. They would sue for peace if enough of their sons fell on the battlefield, he had no doubt of that. And if there was one thing the Iraqi army had excelled at during their years of conflict it was to dig in and make the enemy bleed itself white in useless assaults against their positions. He had to present them with a situation where they would avoid a conflict altogether, a situation they would see as hopeless to even bother with. Something where he could deny them their lightning victory…yes…it was certainly possible. His eyes started sweeping south, taking in the names of cities and provinces. Yes, he had to think on a larger scale to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans. Iraq could play the Great Game, could show the world that it was a force to be reckoned with. The victory and adoration so richly deserved would finally be his for the taking.

For now though, he had to play his hand carefully. In fact, he chuckled quietly to himself, he needed a better hand. It would take some time to arrange but with each passing moment he saw the future laid out for him to examine. It could work…he would make it work. He called out for an advisor waiting patiently just outside the door.

“Yes, your Excellency?”

“Contact my generals. I’m suspending plans for offensive operations against Kuwait for the time being. Recall our top officers from the field for an emergency planning session in Baghdad as soon as possible. Also, we shall need to arrange to receive some more guests in the near future. Iraq must thank her friends who have stood firm with her during this time of crisis.”

Excerpt from Mother of All Battles: A New Look at the Arabian War
By Simon Anderson Naval Institute Press 1995

Storm Clouds
Though Iraq’s armies remained stationed on Kuwait’s border as July turned to August and then September, the region slowly allowed itself to relax in the wake of Saddam’s series of threats. They convinced themselves that the shouts and gesticulations from Baghdad were merely posturing for the sake of maintaining his image among the Iraqi people. They understood that the strongman had to appear confident and in control, and so they tolerated his bellowing and saber rattling. Kuwait especially chose to ignore the endless fields of tanks, trucks and tents sitting within visual range of their border posts, assuming that they would find a compromise to the crisis in a meeting room as they had hoped all along. Talks with Saddam during the closing months of 1990 seemed to reinforce this belief; there were still outbursts of nationalistic fury from the dictator but the presence of his troops appeared as a point of leverage to showcase Iraq’s strength in the negotiations. Units slowly stood down from alert and returned home, some officials joked that Saddam was trying to found the Saddam Hussein Military City to imitate Saudi Arabia. However relaxed things appeared at first glance, behind the scenes Saddam was anything but idle. The meeting with Ambassador Glaspie had left him ultimately unsure of the United States’ intentions should he invade Kuwait, but he found himself low on alternative options. Influenced by overproduction from Kuwait and the UAE, the price of oil continued to hover around the $13 mark by the close of 1990. Just as he had feared, the membership of OPEC was taking independent stances on production and conferences were doing nothing to alleviate the stress to the Iraqi economy. Iraq needed money to ultimately rebuild, but a series of meetings arranged between Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials devolved into each side repeating its demands, each hoping to wear down the other into acquiescence. The meetings were ultimately a moot point, a public show of diplomatic spirit encouraged by Saddam while he continued to prepare.

Throughout the closing months of 1990 Hussein invited a number of foreign dignitaries to meet in Baghdad, ostensibly to discuss the ongoing negotiations over the Rumaila oilfield dispute. In a series of private sessions carefully kept secret from the prying eyes of the media, he set out to gauge the true relations of his neighbors and their potential reactions to a move on Kuwait. Of the meetings conducted, he found continued potential support from King Hussein of Jordan, though the King was notably averse to attach his country to any sort of military option. Yasser Arafat of the PLO proved to be a more productive interview, with the elderly leader praising Saddam’s threats against Israel, particularly his ‘burn half the country’ speech made earlier in the year. Arafat too was tiring of the continued foot dragging of Arab nations in arriving at a suitable peace settlement and the creation of a Palestinian state, if anything they seemed more set on appeasement of the Israelis and leaving the PLO to wither on its own. He agreed that a confrontation was coming, and that a significant restructuring was needed in order to successfully advance the PLO’s cause. Hussein and Arafat discussed a series of potential options that the PLO could undertake, and ways the Iraqi government could provide material and logistical support. They adjourned confident in their assigned roles, with Arafat returning to the West Bank to make preparations with his group.

It was the meeting with the newly minted President of a unified Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, that would prove to have the greatest consequences for the Arabian peninsula. Saleh had been too young to take part in the Yemeni Civil War of 1962-1970, but had still served in the North Yemeni military during its infrequent border clashes with the Marxist People’s Republic of South Yemen. With the country’s surprisingly amicable unification in early 1990, he found himself in charge of a country with a substantial military thanks to the efforts of the Soviet Union and a people just learning to truly live side by side one another again. Like most Yemenis, he carried a deep seated hatred of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its efforts supporting the opposing royalist regime during the civil war. He had openly supported Saddam and his demands concerning Kuwait, the debt payments and the levels of oil production. The overproduction of states like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had played similar havoc with the Yemeni economy, and Saleh was eager for a change in the status quo. While initially reluctant at the meeting when presented with Saddam’s goals, he tacitly signed on with the Iraqi president’s plans for a chance to share the coming glory of a new era. Yemen would no longer be looked down upon or manipulated by the kingdom of the Sauds, the newly joined people of Yemen would be able to unite against a traditional outward foe, and would be promised numerous benefits and privileges for making useful contributions to the coming campaign. Saleh’s agreement proved to be the coup of Saddam’s private diplomatic efforts, significantly allaying whatever doubts he may have courted concerning what he felt was the now inevitable showdown with the Kuwaitis.

Months of effort and preparation reached their culmination in the morning hours of March 1, 1991. At 0200 hours local time, Kuwaiti border posts awoke to a barrage of shells from positions across the border they had long come to ignore as part of the landscape. The token forces of the Kuwaiti army in defensive positions were swiftly overrun by columns of T-72 tanks and BMP-2 armored personnel carriers filled with shock troops of the Iraqi Army’s elite Republican Guard divisions. Overhead, transport helicopters and gunships swept by speeding towards Kuwait City with commando teams on board to help prepare the way for additional waves of troops. Off the coast, Iraqi marines and special naval forces landed at the coastal Dasman Palace of the Emir and began engaging the palace’s personal security detail. Despite the speed and ferocity of the assault, they failed to capture Emir Jaber Al-Sabah, who had fled with most of the royal family in a convoy of luxury cars south to Saudi Arabia. In a move to preserve the honor of the Emir’s family, Al-Sabah’s youngest brother Fahad Al-Sabah remained behind to direct resistance activities; he was killed in the gun battle with the landed marines later that morning while defending the palace.

By late afternoon on March 1, the main Iraqi thrust into Kuwait had reached and occupied Kuwait City, linking up successfully with airborne forces that had arrived earlier that morning to take control of the airports and government facilities. Despite some isolated instances of resistance, the invasion was relatively light in terms of combat casualties, with most Kuwaiti forces too stunned by the unexpected assault to mount an effective defensive strategy. Some troops fought back where they could, others surrendered, but most fled south to the assumed protection of Saudi Arabia, with reported instances of jets taking off from nearby highways as their airbases were being overrun. As the people of Kuwait woke to the sounds of thunder and the sudden discovery of new overlords, a few journalists on the scene noted that aside from scattered checkpoints throughout the city and a lockdown on the airports and government facilities, the occupation had surprisingly few troops on the ground to keep order within the city. What they couldn’t immediately see was that the majority of Republican Guard units were continuing to push south towards the Saudi border, leaving skeleton forces behind to keep the peace until follow-on units could take responsibility.

Forward elements of the Republican Guard’s 1st Hammurabi Armored Division reached the Kuwaiti-Saudi border by 1800 hours on March 2, throwing back one last defensive position by Kuwaiti Chieftain tanks just north of the line. To the shock and dismay of the already panicky Saudi border guards, the Iraqi T-72s opened fire on the border posts on the move, rapidly obliterating what few defensive structures were in place before continuing to roll south on the coastal highway. By nightfall, Iraqi forces had arrived at the gates of the sleepy little coastal town of Al Khafji, pushing a frantic exodus of fleeing Kuwaiti and Saudi troops before their guns. The darkness of the desert night was illuminated by the pyres of flaming vehicles, as well as the headlights of Iraqi mechanized troops hurrying to keep pace with their tanker brethren.

Hundreds of miles to the south, the violation of the Saudi border was the signal that poised Yemeni forces had been waiting for. For the past several months, the Yemeni army had slowly drawn up plans and prepared for the word from Iraq to proceed with their part of the plan. In a series of well publicized press releases, Yemeni troops had positioned themselves close to the Saudi border in a declared effort to drill with mountain campaigning among the hills of western Yemen. Given the relative stability on the Kuwaiti border and the stated openness of the Yemeni military, Saudi officials issued alerts to forces along the southern border to be on their guard but took no further precautions. As Saudi troops listened to the rolling thunder of Yemeni troops maneuvering and firing barrages at hillsides, they gradually relaxed and went back to business as usual. This sense of security came to a crashing halt in the early morning hours of March 3 as M-60 and T-62 tanks swept across the porous southern border into Saudi Arabia, attacking along two highways towards the towns of Najran and Jizan. The specter of war had turned its eye upon the House of Saud, and as dawn broke on March 3 they found themselves under attack from both north and south.
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Thanks! I should have the next installment up tomorrow; still need to do a bit more reading before I can finish up Part III (mostly economic/UN stuff for the period that I'm not as familiar with). I'd been wanting to do an alt-Gulf War timeline for a while now and the more I learned about Yemen's role during the campaign the more I wanted to see what happened when we threw Ali Saleh into the mix.
The old Harpoon computer game I had featured a scenario in which Iraq and Yemen were on the same side. This is cool. Of course, the USAF and USN might be called in to respond and be nearly alone.

And, there is the matter of Bin Laden...
Exactly so, everyone involved is fighting against the clock to get their objectives accomplished. And rest assured, Bin Laden will be making an appearance at some point.
Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War

March 3 1991
Transcript of President Saddam Hussein's speech over the Baghdad radio, as translated and distributed by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a Federal agency, via the Federal News Service:

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.

O great people; O stalwart men in the forces of holy war and faith, glorious men of the mother of battles; O zealous, faithful and sincere people in our glorious nations, and among all Muslims and all virtuous people in the world; O glorious Iraqi women:

It is with a light and happy spirit that I tell you of the wondrous deeds of our valiant armed forces in our fight against aggression and the ranks of infidelity. For some time now we as a people have been held as slaves by both the treacherous Croesus and the Wahhabi merchants of Riyadh. As a compassionate and merciful man of the faith, I sought to reason with them in a fair and just manner, but my overtures fell on cold hearts. They were foolish to reject my reasonable and measured requests to ensure the survival of the people of Iraq. We, who held back the tide of the Ayatollah’s Persian hordes, who ensured that Arab families could sleep in their beds without worrying about their throats being slit in the night. Our sacrifice has been seen by the illegitimate overlords of the Arab Gulf as insignificant; they ask for our blood to be shed to protect them and then demand yet more of us to fill their already overflowing coffers. These illegitimate dogs seek to lay the Arab world at the feet of the Westerners and their puppet-master Israel. I have rejected this notion and my compassion is at an end. I have heard the cries of the downtrodden in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, I have listened to their pleas for a just regime they can look to with pride. Your cries have not fallen on deaf ears my brother Arabs, I have heard all. On the first day of this month I ordered our soldiers to liberate the corrupt nations of the Gulf from their oppressive rulers. I made this difficult decision with a heavy heart, for no man of faith should have to fight against his brothers. It is a decision that must be made however, to protect the Arab people from the depredations of the Israelis and their Western puppets. The corrupt state of the Croesus has already fallen to our courageous soldiers, and they shall merely be the first in the great battle to come. The house of Arabs is filled with poorly built columns, it is now up to us to tear down the rotten structure and build anew.

I implore now for the people of the Arab world to heed my call for liberation. The forces of Yemen have already answered the call of Iraq and stand shoulder to shoulder with us. Already they move north to free the people of Saudi Arabia from their treacherous masters, and our combined forces shall crush the rotten structure like a vise. I ask you, followers of God, to join us in our great endeavor, to overthrow corruption and treachery where you find it, and help us build a new world of prosperity for all Arabs, free from the machinations of Israel and the Western imperialists. The soldiers of faith will triumph over the soldiers of wrong, O stalwart men. God willing, we shall be victorious.

Excerpt from Mother of All Battles: A New Look at the Arabian War
By Simon Anderson Naval Institute Press 1995

While the Iraqi assault against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had taken the world by surprise, they were completely shocked by the Yemeni incursion into southern Saudi Arabia. Yemen had openly supported Iraq in its various disputes, but an active military alliance between the two countries had simply not been considered as a possibility by the various intelligence agencies. The CIA in particular came under intense scrutiny from the Bush administration over its failure to predict either the Iraqi or Yemeni attacks. Blame would be properly assigned to the appropriate scapegoats in due time, but for the moment the primary concern was the U.S. response to the blatant aggression of two Middle Eastern countries upon their neighbors. The United States had a stated imperative from the days of the Carter Doctrine to defend interests in the Gulf region, but as tanks and troops continued to pour into Saudi Arabia, the range of available options from in theater forces was depressingly limited.

Overseeing U.S. military affairs in the Gulf region was Central Command, or CENTCOM. Established in 1983 by the Reagan administration as an update to the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, CENTCOM had managed forces during the tanker wars in the closing years of the Iran-Iraq War, including Operations Nimble Archer and Praying Mantis. The Iraqi/Yemeni invasion had come during a period when CENTCOM was working to shift its strategic focus. Until 1990, its annual training exercise Internal Look had practiced the response of U.S. forces to a hypothetical Soviet invasion of Iran. In this event, troops shipped from overseas would arrive to take control of pre-positioned war stocks and then move inland to establish defensive positions among the Zagros Mountains of northern Iran. Upon taking command of CENTCOM in 1989, General Norman Schwarzkopf set about strengthening ties with the various Arab states of the Gulf, hosting several inter-state military exercises throughout 1990 and updating the obsolete Internal Look war plan for its ’90 edition with a hypothetical attack coming from Iraq this time. The results of the exercise had been deemed satisfactory at the time, with Army airborne and Marine units serving as stopgaps until the arrival of heavier units to turn back the invasion. For the moment though, the Middle East forces consisted of 5 warships operating out of a naval base in Qatar assigned with patrolling the Gulf, a leftover from the tanker war. With the stark reality of their wargame coming to life in the worst way possible, Schwarzkopf and CENTCOM were now tasked finding and implementing a solution as quickly as possible.

On March 3 a special envoy from the U.S. consisting of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman, General Schwarzkopf and several other specialists and advisors in Middle Eastern affairs flew to meet with King Fahd in the coastal city of Jidda to discuss potential response options. In a short and tense meeting with the King and advising members of the family, Fahd agreed to host American forces on Saudi soil and give them access to ports and airfields. There was a brief moment of argument among the Saudi family when one of the princes wavered on the possibility of allowing Western troops to operate on Saudi territory instead of relying on Arab armies, remarking “We must be careful not to rush into a decision.” The King retorted with, “The Kuwaitis did not rush into a decision, and today they are all guests in our hotels!” The meeting broke up shortly afterward, and Cheney gave approval to Schwarzkopf to put plans in motion to counter the invasions.

President Bush had made it clear that the incursion into Saudi Arabia constituted a crossing of a ‘line in the sand’ that the United States would not stand for. For the foreseeable future, it was a declaration that had few teeth to back it up. For an initial response, CENTCOM could call up 5-10 Air Force fighter squadrons from airbases in the United States and Europe for arrival within a week’s time with hundreds more to come in the subsequent weeks which could be tasked with air defense and harassment strikes against the enemy columns. The 5 ships of the Middle East Force were spread across the Gulf in a radar picket line against potential intrusions by the Iraqi Air Force against Qatar and the UAE. They would be receiving naval assistance in the form of 2 carrier battle groups en route from the Indian Ocean, due to arrive on the scene within 6 days. Finally, rapid response elements of the 82nd Airborne Division were called up for deployment to defensive positions in the coastal port city of Dhahran within the next few days, with the rest of the division and the 101st Airborne to arrive shortly thereafter. The ground forces would be followed within 2 weeks by Marine brigades and special forces, and by the end of the first month the first of the ‘heavy’ brigades would arrive bringing Apache attack helicopters and Abrams battle tanks with them. It would be up to CENTCOM to assign these units alongside the Saudi and surviving Kuwaiti armed forces to do everything possible to delay the enemy advance until further help arrived. Until then, the job of defense fell to the Saudi and Kuwaiti armies to keep an estimated 780,000 Iraqi and Yemeni troops busy until the Americans began arriving.

Throughout the day of March 3, units of the Iraqi and Yemeni armies continued their push into Saudi Arabia. The Iraqis were still meeting only token resistance as Saudi units continued to retreat down the coast along Highway 95, mingling with fleeing Kuwaiti units and hoping to patch together a more coherent defensive line further south. Iraqi Republican Guard units swept into As Saffaniyah by late afternoon and by nightfall had reached the junction of Highway 75 near the town of Nairyah. Just south of As Saffaniyah, helicopters with commandos and military engineers captured Tanajib Airport and began converting it as a forward base for Iraqi combat aircraft. At the end of the second day of the invasion, Iraqi forces had advanced 60 miles into Saudi territory along the Gulf coast, and there were reports of additional troops massing to the north of Hafar al Batin.

In the far south of the country, Yemeni forces were enjoying a similar level of success with their advance, though not advancing quite as quickly. Their eastern column had secured the crossroads town of Dhahran Al Janub and split into two smaller columns, one headed east towards Najran while the other continued north towards Sarat Abidah along Highway 15. The mountainous terrain of the southeast Arabian Peninsula couldn’t have been more different from the vast sandy plains of the north and the possibility for open maneuver that the Iraqis were enjoying. Yemeni troops were crowded into bottlenecks along the narrow highways, with a frustrating halt and waiting period every time a vehicle broke down. Only the near absence of Saudi defenses prevented a disaster for the Yemenis pushing slowly but surely through the winding highways. To the southeast, the western Yemeni column had none of the hills and its chokepoints to worry about as they advanced northward. During the night they had taken the border town of Al Mubarakah and pushed back the few Saudi border guard forces, and had advanced through Samtah and were in control of Ahad Al-Masariyah by the evening of March 3. Overhead, Mig-17s and Su-20s of the Yemeni Air Force patrolled the skies unopposed throughout the day, strafing targets further ahead in Jazan and Abu Arish. What few Saudi forces in the area were falling back in disarray and the campaign appeared to be unfolding smoothly.

This was not the sum total of the Yemeni contributions to the war effort, as offshore in the Red Sea the few ships of the Yemeni Navy were also hard at work. During the night of March 3/4, patrol boats watched over minelayers as they swept to and fro across the black waters tossing one bulky device after another into the waves. As the sun rose on the fourth day of the war, Yemen made a declaration that the Bab el Mendab Strait was mined and closed to further shipping traffic, and that any violators of this closure would be subject to attack. The consequences of this announcement were immediate and worldwide.
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Interesting. So Saddam decided on an immediate double or quits. This is likely to end badly for him I suspect as while he might take much of the eastern oilfields holding them is likely to be more difficult.

The Yemani blocking of the straits is likely to upset a lot of people. It would be another factor that might encourage Egyptian intervention as they and Syria are forces that the Saudis and US might turn to as allies with forces in the area.

What are the other Gulf states doing? While there is doubt about how reliable their forces might be they are well equipped and do have some potentially useful bases. It probably depends on what Saddam has said about his intentions and how much the Gulf rulers trust [or not] his words.;)



Good stuff but the Iraqi/Yemeni forces still can't stand against the NATO forces they fought, the tech gap and training gap is simply too vast.
Interesting. Could we see the Hedjaz (and parts of eastern Saudi Arabia on the coast) become a bastion for Saudi forces while allied Western forces arrive? I have a hard time seeing UK, France, et. al. saying no here when they didn't OTL, so I assume they'll show up.

Just one problem: the lack of whitespace between paragraphs (or indentation at their beginning, whichever you happen to like better) makes it somewhat difficult to read, as MerryPrankster said.
Groovy, I've been waiting for a good TL about a more intense Gulf War. Tried making topics about such in the past only to get irrelevant replies about crap I already knew. The inclusion of Yemen was unexpected and serves to make this even cooler, man. :cool:
Read it now. I do like the concept of Iraq acquiring some allies to dismember the Gulf monarchies (well, at least two of them).

The OTL war happened when I was a little kid, but I do remember references to the cutting off of hands, which I suspect might've been arguments by anti-war people that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were backward and oppressive monarchies that the U.S. should not defend.

(A few years back I read a Counterpunch article that suggested Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was welcomed by the majority of the people because they oppressed by the country's backward feudal monarchy.)

If the alliance is smart, they should publicize all the human rights violations they can find--the oppression of women and foreign workers, for example--and make the claim they're trying to bring modernity to oppressed, backwards peoples. If they can plug the country's opposition into the occupation government, so much the better.

(I remember reading an article somewhere claiming U.S. policymakers feared Saddam pulling out of Kuwait and leaving the Kuwaiti opposition in power, which would give the U.S. a choice between leaving obvious Iraqi puppets in place or grinding down the Kuwaiti people to restore their feudal monarchy on worldwide TV.)

Saddam OTL might be too control-freaky and thuggish to do that, but the Yemenis might be willing to do that in the territories they control or advise Saddam to do it.

Also, here's something:'Asir_Province–Yemeni_War

The Asir is irredenta to the Yemenis. If they play their cards right, maybe they can get out of the war with this at least even if the Saudis are restored/kept in place? Especially if Saudi domestic oppression gets publicized and/or they betray Saddam at just the right time.
Sorry for the delay everyone; was out of town on a day trip and wanted to make a more detailed response than was easily possible through just my smartphone.
Okay, first off: thank you all so much for the kind words and subscriptions thus far, I'll consider myself on the right track if the biggest complaint thus far is dealing with big blocks of text. I've gone back and separated the paragraphs to make reading easier, hope that helps things somewhat.
To answer your individual questions and comments thus far:

At this point both Hussein and Saleh are banking on a quick strike to achieve their objectives before the West can effectively respond. Yemen especially is under no illusions that it can keep the straits blocked indefinitely; they're hoping to present the world with a fait accompli and negotiate from a position of strength once the initial chaos starts to die down. As for the other Gulf states, aside from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and their obvious problems most of the players involved are panicking and asking for support. They'll be a debate over whether they should stick with Arab forces only or ask the West to step in, though as things start to unravel there will be increasing pressure to go with the latter choice, despite its risks of riling up their citizens. At the moment, Iran is still hurting from the recent war and despite making a few complaints and condemnations of the invasion will sit it out unless a golden opportunity presents itself. Syria, though also Ba'athist, has had a lot of friction with Iraq over the years and will be firmly in the pro-Saudi/Kuwait camp, with Lebanon following its lead. Egypt and Oman are furious but feeling realtively secure while Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE are worried that they're next in line to get hit. The PLO is firmly in Saddam's camp; they're eating up the anti-Israel rhetoric and see Iraq as the most vocal opponent of the Jewish state. currently on the fence. It's advising caution and peace, but King Hussein wouldn't be opposed to a situation that would put his family in control of Mecca and Medina. He'll bide his time and test the winds before proceeding.

There's no question that even combined Iraq and Yemen are going to be totally outclassed by what NATO can bring to the field; I have no desire to write an Iraq-wank where Iraqi T-72s are wiping out Abrams without a sweat. For now it's a matter of timing and getting what they want before the West can arrive in force. At this point in history the world still fears Iraq's power on paper; Saddam is hoping to give the world no choice but to accept the situation in his favor.

Paul V McNutt:
True, ITTL given the expanded theater of operations it'll end up being referred to as the Arabian War; I called it the Gulf War in the title for an easier reader reference point.

truth is life:
Quite, western Saudi Arabia is going to need to be heavily reinforced before the West can think about offensive operations. Of course, planners will have to consider how close Western troops can be stationed to the Holy Cities. There's going to be some juggling to try and keep everyone happy. And yes, given the situation Britain will be pushing for immediate action just as it was OTL, and France will be less prone to waffling given the events unfolding. More on this in coming installments.

9 Fanged Hummingbird:
Yeah, I really wanted something besides the standard scenario of Iraq goes south, runs out of gas, gets destroyed, /thread. Figured a few wild cards might make things more interesting.

Very nice, thanks for the links! As far as exposing human rights violations, it's going to have propaganda going both ways. OTL a Kuwaiti lobbying group testified before the Senate of atrocities that Iraqi troops were committing in occupied Kuwait, like going into hospitals and yanking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators to let them die on the floor. Ended up being pure bunk, but people bought it just like they bought propaganda about the barbarian Hun forces in WWI. It'll be a war of hearts and minds, with only a few grains of truth in the center of it all.

Again, thank you all for reading and commenting. I'm quite open to ideas, suggestions and links. With all the info I'm looking up here I'll doubtless overlook something.
The incubator thing might've been BS, but there was looting, raping, and crapping on floors. I mean, seriously.

I do like the idea of getting the Jordanians on board by offering to give them the Hejaz back. Will Saddam try to throw a bone to the oppressed Shiites in the Eastern Province or will he worry about his own oppressed Shiites too much?

Annexing Kuwait directly, setting up a puppet eastern state, leaving the Saudis some Nejd rump to avoid looking too bloodthirsty, and bringing back the Hashemites...if Saddam plays his cards right and fast, he could present a fait accompli that doesn't step on too many toes and might be too troublesome for the West to destroy.

Why am I hoping Saddam can pull this off?
What's the Soviet position, will they go along with the West or veto any UN action?

King Hussein wouldn't be opposed to a situation that would put his family in control of Mecca and Medina.
Will any of Saudi Arabia's various tribal leaders be thinking the same thing? 'Get rid of the Sauds and I can be in control'.