Iraqi Challenges and U.S. Military Responses: March 1991 through October 2002 [November 20, 2002] [open pdf - 452KB]
"Iraq has not fully complied with terms of the cease-fire agreements that followed the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in early 1991. Several Iraqi violations of cease-fire provisions have resulted in brief military confrontations between Iraq and the United States, supported in some cases by other allied forces. Iraqi violations prompting a U.S. military response have fallen into four general categories: obstruction of U.N. weapons inspection teams, involvement in international terrorist acts, failure to abide by air exclusion zones imposed by the allies over parts of Iraq, and troop movements that could threaten Kuwait or internal targets of repression by the Iraqi Government. Limited confrontations took place between 1991 and 1994, as Iraq periodically violated cease-fire agreements. In October 1994, Iraq briefly moved elite troops south toward Kuwait, but withdrew them after the United States began deploying more forces to the Gulf region. In August 1996, Iraq moved three divisions into the allied-protected Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, allegedly at the invitation of one of the two rival Iraqi Kurdish factions. The United States responded with air and seabased missile strikes directed against military targets in southern Iraq. Although Iraqi forces quickly withdrew from the Kurdish enclave, several news reports indicate that the Iraqi incursion disrupted a U.S. covert action aimed at toppling the Iraqi regime. Increasing Iraqi obstruction of U.N. weapons inspections, despite several pledges by Iraqi officials to cooperate, led to the withdrawal of U.N. inspectors in December 1998. There followed four days of air and missile strikes against Iraq by U.S. and British air force and naval units. A series of follow-on military clashes have occurred since 1998, as Iraqi air defense units have tried to target allied aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. After a brief lull following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, military clashes between allied and Iraqi units intensified in 2002, amid widespread discussion that the United States might undertake a major military campaign to unseat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or programs to develop them. On October 11, 2002, President Bush signed H.J.Res. 114 (P.L. 107-243), which authorizes the President to use the U.S. armed forces to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, and enforce all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. This report, which will not be updated, is designed as a source of ready reference for congressional offices interested in instances of use of force by the United States against Iraq from the end of the 1990-1991 Gulf war until October 11, 2002."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31641