History Theme 9: Post-Cold War International Relations 1991 - 2004


The Gulf War 1990 - 1991

  • In 1990, Suddam Hussein accused neighbouring Kuwait of stealing oil from Iraq and he demanded an immediate repayment of $2 billion. He blamed Kuwait's overproduction of oil for the depressed international price - the solution was to reduce production and increase oil prices and for Iraq's war debts to Kuwait to be suspended. Kuwait ignored the demands and in August 1990, Iraq launched an attack on Kuwait. Within hours the resistance in Kuwait was over and Hussein controlled Kuwait's oil production
  • The immediate international response was to impose economic sanctions on Iraq through the UN and to demand that Iraq leave Kuwait - it looked as if after the Cold War, the UN was starting to emerge as an efficient international peacekeeper, however, the real driving force behind the response was the USA
  • The USA intervened because Iraq was threatening the oil production of Saudi Arabia, America's ally and their main supplier of oil 
  • Operation Desert Sheild was set up - 250,000 troops were sent to Saudi Arabia and a deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait was set for January 1991. If this was not met, Operation Desert Storm would take action. UN Resolution 678 also authorised the use of force against Iraq if the deadline was not met
  • An international coalition was set up by America to implement the Operation - America managed to get Egypt on board (which would encourage other states of the Middle East to join) by writing of a $6 billion war debt - highlights America's economic power 
  • In 1991, the coalition engaged in Operation Desert Storm and invaded Iraq, who eventually surrendered
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Collapse of Yugoslavia - Slovenian Independence


  • The Nationalist leaders of Slovenia demanded independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991, which led to a confrontation wuth the Yugoslav Army 
  • Slovenia hoped that this conflict would lead to European intervention and international recognition of Slovenia's independence 
  • A European Committee (EC) ceasefire was agreed in July 1991 - the EC believed that the conflic was a way to prove itself to the world as an international force 
  • All sides agreed to the Brioni Accords which ended the fighting and included a three month moratorium (suspension) on independence for Slovenia - a way of buying time for the Yugoslav leaders to find a lasting solution
  • When the suspension ended, Slovenia simply restated its declaration of independence                                                                                                                                                             
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Collapse of Yugoslavia - Croatian Independence


  • Fighting broke out in Croatia between the Croats and the Serbs but by the end of 1991 the fighting had reached a stalemate
  • The EC moved to establish a cease-fire and announced a Peace Conference on Yugoslavia, the aim of which was to establish a settlement for the whole country 
  • The EC issued an ultimatum on the Yugoslav and Serb army requiring them to observe the cease-fire. A failure to do so would result in 'international action'. 
  • The chief EC negotiator was Lord Carrington and his UN counterpart was Cyrus Vance. The EC tried to arrange a reconstructed constitution for Yugoslavia based on an alliance of all states and proposed a special status for national minorities in areas where they were in the majorityThe problem was that the Serb militias had already established their control over the Serb majority in Croatia. Eventually the EC recognised Croatia's and Slovenia's independence, although Britain and France were highly sceptical about this
  • The UN assumed the role of peacekeeper in late 1991 by creating the United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs) and sending in 14,000 UN troops. However, these actions were undermined by America's offer to integrate the four UNPAs into Croatia (which it hoped would help to settle the crisis escalating in Bosnia)
  • This gave Croatia the confidence to take over the UNPAs without compromising with the Serbs
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Collapse of Yugoslavia - Bosnian Crisis 1

  • The Republic was run by a coalition of three national groups                                                                                         

1. (Muslim) Party of Democratic Action (SDA)
2. Serb Democratic Party (SDS)

3. Croat Democratic Union (HDZ)                                                                                                                                   

  • The SDA wanted a unified and centralised Bosnia, independent from the other Yugoslav states
  • The SDS wanted a divided Bosnia and the creation of a Serb state
  • The HDZ wanted a Bosnian Croat state to be created
  • A referendum was called on the issue of independence - 99.8% of voters voted for independence, but the Serbs declared it invalid and warned an outbreak of a war in Bosnia. Eventually the Serbs withdrew from Bosnia and fighting erupted.
  • The conflict can be defined by three different phases:                                                                              

1. The war between the Muslim-Croat coalition and the Serb forces (1992-3)
2. The Muslim-Croat war and the Muslim-Muslim war (1993-4)
3. Joint NATO, Muslim and Croat offensives against the Serbs (1995)

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Collapse of Yugoslavia - Bosnian Crisis 2


  • The EC was not willing to support the newly recognised government of Bosnia with military aid and neither was the USA
  • The main source of international aid for the Muslim government was from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey
  • The UN tried to impose economic sanctions on Yugoslavia after the bombing of civilians in Sarajevoin 1992, but this had little effect
  • The UN's role was initially to establish protection areas in order to deliver humanitarian relief  an in 1993, the UN made the Bosnian town of Srebrenica a UNPA in response to the artillery attacks from the Bosnian Serbs, which served to protect the Muslim population there
  • In 1992, the UN and EC presented the Vance-Owen Peace Plan which called for Yugoslavia to be divided into 10 provinces each with a high level of independence, however, it failed to recognised the Serb demand for a united Serb state and the plan was rejected by the Serbs and the Bosniacs
  • The USA then proposed a plan for the creation of a Muslim-Croat Federation in Bosnia, which would have 51% of the republic and the other would be given to the Bosnian Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs orginally refused to accept it but they were made to agree by force - NATO launched Operation Deliberate Force and began air strikes over Serb positions
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Collapse of Yugoslavia - Bosnian Crisis 3


  • The USA felt that UN and EC intervention would not succeed in bringing an end to the conflict given their failures as far
  • In 1995, a meeting was held at a US Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. A constitution was drawn up for Bosnia which defined the structure of legislature and the scale of representation from the Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats 
  • To make the agreement work, a supervision force was set up; the Implementation Force (IFOR) which was controlled by NATO
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Collapse of Yugoslavia - Kosovo War

  • Outbreaks of violence began in 1996 as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) attacked the Serbs and within a few months, the KLA had become a mass guerrilla force leading an armed uprising against the Serbs. By 1998, thousands of Kosovo Albanians had turned into refugees
  • In 1998, the UN called for a cease-fire and NATO established an 'activation order' for air strikes against Serbia and Montenegro
  • In 1999, a massacre of 45 Kosovo Albanians resulted in air strikes from NATO - its aim was to protect civilians and minimise Yugoslavia's military power in Kosovo
  • NATO also dropped anti-Milosevic (the leader of Serbia) propaganda to remove him from power
  • In June 1999, a peace agreement was established - all military forces were to withdraw from Kosovo and NATO would support Kosovo civilians in managing independence within the republic of Yugoslavia 
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Terror Attacks in the USA (9/11)

  • On the 11th of September 2001, Islamic terrorists hijacked two airliners and flew them into the Twin Towers, killing over 3,000 people. Another airliner crashed into the Pentagon 
  • This created a shift in US foreign policy which formed the Bush Doctrine and led to the War on Terror in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2002) 
  • The Bush Doctrine stated that the USA could and would take preemptive military action on its own on any country deemed part of the Axis of Evil (countries associated with terrorism) if America thought it was likley that that country would attack America at some point in the future
  • This effectively undermiend collective security within the UN and highlighted the weakness of the UN against America; the USA was the 'leading' power of the UN and without its support, the UN was essentially powerless
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War on Terror 2001 and 2003


  • In 2001, America and Britain attacked Afghanistan as they believed that the Taliban regime there was hiding the terrorist group al-Qaeda, which the USA believed had been the group to carry out the attack on the Twin Towers
  • There was no UN mandate for the invasion, although one was given afterwards, giving UN permission to invade Afghanistan                                                                                                                                                                              

IRAQ 2003

  • In 2003, America and Britain invaded Iraq and captured Suddam Hussein 
  • The USA believed that any attack was legitimate if it felt that it was under threat - the USA believed that Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, although there was never any evidence to suggest that this was true
  • The USA never received a UN mandate for the invasion of Iraq, implying that the invasion was against UN law 
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