Overland by car from Kuwait to London
 
Day 1 - via Basra to Ahvaz
 
 
Bridge at the Kuwait-Iraq border
 

At the time we were travelling this bridge formed the border between Kuwait and Iraq. The nearest habitation was probably Safwan in Iraq, and the bridge is not far from Umm Qasr.

In 1991 this road became famous as the "Road of Death" on which the retreating Iraqi forces, prisoners, and civilian refugees were wiped out by US bombing during Operation Desert Storm. It also became the main supply route for allied forces in their push up from Kuwait to Baghdad during the Second Gulf War (Operation Iraqi Freedom).

In the early 1960s the British had repulsed an attack on Kuwait by Iraq, but by the latter part of the decade the greater threat to Kuwait was seen as coming from Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. There were few formalities at the Kuwait-Iraq border, which was where most fresh produce entered Kuwait, but between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia lay a forbidding demilitarized zone.

Neither Iraq and Saudi Arabia recognised Kuwait and laid claim to its territory. There is something to be said for Iraq's claim being legitimate.

Modern Iraq is descended from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Sumaria, and Babylonia. In recent times it was occupied by the Ottoman Empire and then the British. But when the British left they left a legacy which catered to their own interests rather than that of the local inhabitants.

The Ottoman Empire was divided into districts. The French seized the districts of Beirut and Damscus and created the colonies of Lebanon and Syria, and the British seized the districts of Musul, Baghdad, and Basrah, and combined them into the colony of Iraq. But they took away the oil-rich lands from the district of Basra and created a new client state, Kuwait.

Iraq was left with only a mile of coast on the Arabian Gulf. As a result when Iraq finally became independant and began to emerge as one of the major states in the region, it found itself without the possibility of having a port on the Gulf.

This can be seen from a map of the area. In forming Kuwait, a large bite has been taken from Iraq to the north, and a smaller bite from Saudi Arabia to the south.


 
 
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