Persian Gulf War, also called Gulf War,
Persian Gulf War: U.S. Marines entering Kuwait [Credit: © Christopher Morris—Black Star/PNI](1990-91), international conflict that was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, ordered the invasion and occupation of Kuwait with the apparent aim of acquiring that nation's large oil reserves, canceling a large debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and expanding Iraqi power in the region. On August 3 the United Nations Security Council called for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, and on August 6 the council imposed a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq. (The Iraqi government responded by formally annexing Kuwait on August 8.) Iraq's invasion and the potential threat it then posed to Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and exporter, prompted the United States and its western European NATO allies to rush troops to Saudi Arabia to deter a possible attack. Egypt and several other Arab nations joined the anti-Iraq coalition and contributed forces to the military buildup, known as Operation Desert Shield. Iraq meanwhile built up its occupying army in Kuwait to about 300,000 troops.