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HomeContentsThemes > Kuwait


Information requests
125.01   Improving content on countries
Gulf War (1990-1991)
125.02   Gulf War (1990-1991): Introduction
125.03   Gulf War (1990-1991): The Highway of Death (26-27 February 1991)
125.04   Gulf War (1990-1991): Sabotaging the oil wells of Kuwait (1991)
125.05   Thoughts on the Gulf War (1990-1991)
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated.
Information requests 
125.01   Asia >  Improving content on countries 
We are seeking to extend the information and examples we can share on this country.
  • Earliest photographs
  • Key photographers and their studios
  • Major documentary photographic series
  • Significant historical events
  • Books, magazines and journals - including their covers
  • Photographic societies and associations - including outings and meetings
These points are indicative of topics that could be included on this page and if you have expertise you would like to share now is the time to get in touch.
If you are able to assist in any way it is appreciated.
Gulf War (1990-1991) 
125.02   Asia >  Gulf War (1990-1991): Introduction 
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On 2 August 1990 Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. A coalition headed by the US prepared to remove Iraq from Kuwait after diplomacy and threats failed - because of a general feeling that the invasion was not justified, oil supplies from the region were threatened and the increasing risk that if unchecked the Iraqi army would move into Saudi Arabia it was possibly to gain support from 34 countries willing to supply troops to force the Iraqi army back.
The ground campaign to drive the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, initially designated DESERT SWORD and subsequently DESERT SABRE, began on 24 February 1991. On one sector of the line in ninety hours of continuous movement and combat, VII Corps (under Lt. Gen. Frederick M. Franks, Jr.) which included 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 1st Cavalry Division (Armored), the 1st and 3d Armored Divisions, the British 1st Armored Division, the 2d Armored Cavalry, and the 11th Aviation Brigade fought against the best units of the Iraqi military. Franks' troops destroyed more than a dozen Iraqi divisions, an estimated 1,300 tanks, 1,200 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, 285 artillery pieces, and 100 air defense systems, and captured nearly 22,000 men. At the same time, the best Iraqi divisions destroyed only 7 MlA1 Abrams tanks, 15 Bradleys, 2 armored personnel carriers, and 1 Apache helicopter. And while killing unknown thousands of enemy troops, VII Corps lost 22 soldiers killed in action. But where are the war photographs? The control of foreign media access to war zones was restricted and so no pool reporters had eyewitness accounts of the clashes between allied troops - reporters were allowed access to sites largely after the bodies had been buried. Information came largely from military briefings, and visits by journalists were controlled by the military and attempted to cover up any embarrassing information.
General Wesley K. Clark, U.S. Army, Retired, now a military analyst, believes that as a result of the "Vietnam mentality" the military made an error by restricting press coverage during the Gulf War. "We had a 1st Armored Division tank battle that was just incredible, perhaps the biggest armored battle ever, but not a single image was reported or documented for history by the press." (Walter Isaacson. "News from the Frontline", Wall Street Journal, 9 January 2003, Opinion sec.)
This meant that the victories on the coalition side were not well reported and with limited photographic material events such as the Ameriyah [Amiriyah] shelter in Baghdad and the Highway of Death became prominent and opponents of the war could use them for propaganda
125.03   Asia >  Gulf War (1990-1991): The Highway of Death (26-27 February 1991) 
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During the Gulf War (1990-1991) on 26th and 27th February 1991 the road from Mutlaa in Kuwait to Basra in Iraq was filled with retreating Iraqi forces and refugees following the decimating land campaign of the coalition. The four abreast fleeing vehicles were trapped and then annilated by bombing and continued strafing. Thousands of vehicles were destroyed and an untold number of people killed, soldiers and civilians. The television footage and the photographic stills led General Powell to recommend to President George Bush that the war be ended immediately. Powell feared a world outrage at what might seem to be the wanton killing of retreating soldiers.
The horrifying photograph taken by Kenneth Jarecke of an incinerated soldier still at the cab of a truck on Highway 8 (the so-called "Highway of Death") remains one of the iconic images of the Gulf War (1990-1991). Originally rejected as being too graphic it was published in non-US publications before appearing in American Photographer and in January 1992 it was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence. 
125.04   Asia >  Gulf War (1990-1991): Sabotaging the oil wells of Kuwait (1991) 
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On 22 January 1991 the Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein started to blow 732 oil wells of Kuwait with 611 catching fire and on the 25th they continued this policy of environmental warfare by releasing vast quantities of crude oil into the Persian Gulf. The fires caused vast plumes of toxic black smoke that at ground level turned day into night.
A consortium of contractors was put together to extinguish the fires and Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado recorded the event. What distinguishes the work of Salgado is his ability to show the heroic in everyday people dealing with environmental, economic or social adversity. 
125.05   Asia >  Thoughts on the Gulf War (1990-1991) 
The aftermath of the Gulf War (1991) was covered by numerous photojournalists:
  • In his book A Different Nuclear War: Children of the Gulf War the Japanese ani-nuclear photojournalist Takashi Morizumi chronicled the effect of deleted uranium weapons on the children living near the battle zones of the First Gulf War. ( - the rise in the numbers of childhood cancers and physical deformities in southern Iraq is considerable.
  • Gulf War syndrome has been linked to a number of issues including the use of vaccines, pollution from the oil fires and the use of depleted uranium in weapons systems.


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Vaczek, L & Buckland, G, 1981, Travelers In Ancient Lands: A Portrait Of The Middle East, 1839-1919, (Boston: New York Graphic Society) [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Sophie Ristelhueber 
Ristelhueber, Sophie, 1992, Fait: Kuwait 1991, (Paris: Editions Hazan) [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 
HomeGeographical regionsAsia > Kuwait 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
Gulf War (1990-1991) 
Key dates 
Gulf War (1990-1991) 

HomeVisual indexes > Kuwait

We need to build up Visual Indexes for:  
So if you have, or know about, series that you feel would be appropriate let me know right away, thanks
Alan -

Refreshed: 25 August 2014, 16:22
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