War against Iraq
The Coalition forces began military operations against targets in Iraq on January 17, 1991. Altogether more than 2,780 US fixed-wing aircraft were involved in the 43-day air campaign. More than 120,000 sorties were flown and a total 88,500 tons of explosives delivered. Air Force General Merrill McPeak reported that only 6,520 tons of the total were high precision guided weapons. Later in the campaign it was admitted that perhaps 15% of these did not perform as expected.
Residential areas of cities and small villages were and are still being bombed. Basic infrastructure and industrial capacity were systematically bombed and destroyed. Without sufficient drinkable water, food, energy, medical supplies and health facilities, communication systems and other important infrastructure the survival of millions of people was put into question.
The UN Security Council's Resolution 661 of August 6, 1990 called for a stop to all transactions and trade with Iraq. The United States and Britain announced their right to resort to the use of force to prevent trade between Iraq and third-party countries and imposed a maritime and aerial blockade against the country. Assets of Iraqi companies, citizens and organizations were frozen or confiscated in favor of the UN.
As an immediate consequence of the bombing, even Baghdad was without power supply for months. Water treatment facilities were not working nor much of the technical equipment in the hospitals. Supplies in cold storage facilities rotted and people were forced to burn tires for cooking. The destruction of dams, irrigation facilities and power supply combined with widespread ecological damage caused substantial losses of food production. Industrial production likewise decreased given the destruction of production facilities and lines of communication. The bombing increased the country's dependency on imports, while at the same time the trade blockade was set up to prevent imports from coming in. Hyperinflation was the unavoidable consequence. The incomes of Iraq's people dropped to nothing compared to world standards. Black markets and corruption spread under these circumstances.
The destruction of oil production facilities and the trade blockade prevented Iraq from from selling oil, which is the main source of export income. The UN tried as early as August 15, 1991 (UNSCR 705, UNSCR 706 and UNSCR 712) to gain access to the Iraqi oil. Utilizing the political and military blockade against Iraq, the UN strategy was to impoverish the Iraqi people to force the government into an agreement to allow access to Iraqi oil. The amounts and prices would be set by the UN, the generated income go into an escrow account controlled by the UNSC and the trade blockade against Iraq remain in place. For some years Iraq rejected the plans pointing to violation of Iraqi sovereignty. But in May 1996 Iraq accepted the so called "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU), which was based on UNSCR 986 ("Oil for Food"), under the condition that after UNSCOM was brought to an end, the sanctions would be lifted. But the UN showed no intention to ever end UNSCOM or the sanctions. When Iraq ended cooperation with UNSCOM in December 1998 the United States and Britain heavily bombed the country and continues to do so on a daily basis.
As of November 2000 Iraq has sold oil under UNSCR 986 in the amount of $38,358 billion. But only $9,127 billion of goods and services reached Iraq. However, the sum of compensation payments taken from that account totals to more than $10 billion. Iraq isn't even heard in the commission which rewards compensation claims. Meanwhile, the funds in the UN escrow account amount to more than $11 billion. Iraq questions what kind of advantage it has from selling oil to further pile up funds in the escrow account.