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Persian Gulf War Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson talks about the Persian Gulf War, which took place in the Middle East in 1990 and 1991. Find out what caused the war, how the world reacted, and how the war was won in this lesson.

How It All Began

If you were the president of the United States and a leader of one country invaded another, what would you do? On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein, a dictator and the leader of Iraq, invaded Kuwait, a small country with lots of valuable oil.

The United States, under President George H.W. Bush, worried about Hussein and stability in the Middle East. Of particular concern was protecting Saudi Arabia, another oil-rich country near Iraq and a huge supplier of oil to the United States.

President Bush
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President Bush worked with the international community and the United Nations (UN), an international peacekeeping organization made up of 193 countries. He put together a coalition, a group of countries to fight Iraq. The Persian Gulf War was short and successfully removed Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

Gulf War Operations

The Gulf War was fought from August 2, 1990, to February 28, 1991. It was divided into three different operations, each comprised of different military actions.

Operation Desert Shield

On August 3, 1990, the day after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council ordered him to get out. Instead, Iraq officially made Kuwait part of its country.

Operation Desert Shield began on August 7, 1990, when the United States and countries from Europe and the Middle East sent soldiers to Saudi Arabia. The purpose of this operation was not only to protect Saudi Arabia but also to begin preparing for a possible war. At the same time, Iraq was adding troops in Kuwait.

Coalition soldier
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On November 29, 1990, the UN Security Council gave Iraq a deadline of January 15, 1991, to leave Kuwait. Otherwise, the UN would allow countries to use any force necessary to remove Iraq from Kuwait. The United States Congress also voted that President Bush could go to war.

President Bush worked very hard to build a coalition, and by January 15, 1991, there were 700,000 soldiers from around 30 countries (most were from the United States). But Saddam Hussein still would not leave Kuwait.

Operation Desert Storm

Since Hussein ignored the deadline, the coalition started Operation Desert Storm on January 16, 1991, by dropping bombs from the air. General Norman Schwarzkopf of the U.S. army was in charge. They blew up roads, government buildings, and other targets that made it hard for the Iraqi army to move around, communicate, and fight.

Tank in Operation Desert Storm
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During this time, Saddam Hussein shot Scud missiles at cities in Saudi Arabia and Israel and Iraqi soldiers set fire to many Kuwaiti oil wells. The United States gave Israel Patriot missiles to block the Scuds and they continued their air offensive.

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