When British troops were dispatched to Saudi Arabia, in 1990, to take part in the liberation of Kuwait, there can be no doubt that, as with the Falklands, few Britons had more than a vague idea where Kuwait was. It had been a British-protected state until 1961, and threatened by Iraq since the British withdrawal in that year. The reason for Iraqi and Western interest in this small Arab kingdom was its oil. In 1990, it was thought to possess 13 per cent of the proved world resources of oil. The UN first agreed economic sanctions against Iraq and then set a deadline for withdrawal. Mrs Thatcher was prominent in advocating a tough line. Soon an American-led military coalition was put together with troops from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and some other Arab states, joining American, British, French and Italian units. With 45,000 British service personnel in the Gulf, Britain’s force was second only to that of the United States. As the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, did not respond to the entreaties of personalities such as the UN Secretary General, President Waldheim of Austria, Edward Heath and others who made the trip to Baghdad, Iraq and Kuwait were subjected to massive aerial bombardment. Once the coalition troops moved forward, the Iraqis were effectively demoralised and fell back. Hussein then saved his own position by quickly agreeing to UN demands, and the coalition forces were halted.
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