February 26, 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait
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On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied the State of Kuwait. The international community forcefully rejected this violation of Kuwait’s territorial integrity and the associated threats. Within a day, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to demand an Iraqi withdrawal. With the United States in the lead, 35 nations including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf sheikhdoms, Syria and Egypt ultimately forced Iraq’s retreat, liberating Kuwait on February 26, 1991. The destructive capacity of the Iraqi occupation forces shocked international observers. The fleeing Iraqi forces set ablaze more than 600 oil wells -- inflicting catastrophic environmental damage.
Members of the GW community played a pivotal role in this geostrategic drama. General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a GW alumnus. Current faculty member and GW alumnus Edward "Skip" Gnehm had just been named US Ambassador-designate to Kuwait when the Iraqis invaded. In the fall of 1990 Professor Gnehm found himself in Taif, Saudi Arabia, working alongside the exiled Kuwaiti government. On March 1, 1991, when Ambassador Gnehm entered Kuwait, his mission had taken on new purpose. He was not just the primary representative of the United States, but the person on the ground responsible for working with the Kuwaiti government to help rebuild the nation.