The Saudi Invitation
The Middle East is a region of complex politics involving family ties between rulers, religious strife, socio-economic differences, and human personality. In spite of its often unstable nature, most of the world was shocked by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Iraq justified the move primarily on the grounds that Kuwait was once a part of Iraq and should be again. Of course, it was also a power play by Iraq, an effort to annex some of the worlds richest oil fields. (Between Iraq and Kuwait Saddam now controlled about 20 percent of the worlds oil reserves.)
Once the Republican Guard had secured all of the strategic points in the country, it moved to the Kuwait/Saudi border. Of course, the Saudis were alarmed. It was not in their interests to have a beefed up Iraq to their north; the new build up, containing one of the elite forces in the region, was ominous. Iraq was sending more and more troops streaming into Kuwait, by August 6 there were nearly eleven combat divisions. Intelligence analysts at the time understood that Iraq had enough troops in the area to roll over Saudi Arabia nearly as easily as they had done to Kuwait.
King Fahd of Saudi Arabia recognized his situation as dire and immediately requested aid from his most powerful friend and ally, the United States. President Bush promptly ordered the deployment of U.S. ground and air forces to Saudi territory. U.S. Navy ships were also deployed to the region. So began the operation to defend Saudi Arabia that would be called "Desert Shield".