Tonight in Iraq, Saddam walks amidst ruin. His war machine is crushed. His ability to threaten mass destruction is itself destroye

- George H W Bush


On January 12th 1991, US Congress voted for war in Iraq. The United States Congress voted to authorise the use of military force against Iraq to end its occupation of neighbouring Kuwait.

The vote sealed the United Nations’ 15 January deadline for the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, to order his troops out of Kuwait, or face military action.

The United States had backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s long war with Iran, but by the time the war ended in 1988 Iraq was deeply in debt—not least to neighboring Kuwait.

That and other disputes involving oil revenues led to Iraq’s invasion in August 1990. The White House rejected Hussein’s peace overtures, stating flatly that negotiations could not begin until Iraq withdrew from Kuwait.

The first Gulf War led to further confrontations — and its reverberations are still felt today.

Most obviously, it helped set the stage for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It also became a cause celebre for Osama bin Laden and one of the factors that led to al-Qaida’s attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. “Bin Laden has repeatedly referred to the U.S. going into Saudi Arabia as a key reason for Sept. 11,” says  a historian of U.S. policy toward Iraq.