Though Jabir did not serve as Kuwaiti foreign minister, he played an active role in setting foreign policy after independence. Kuwait's oil wealth and its geographical position have made it vulnerable to external threats. In 1962, Iraq claimed the total territory of Kuwait as its province just when Kuwait became independent. In the 1980s, Iran threatened to retaliate when Kuwait supported Iraq in the Gulf War.
Kuwait has also used its wealth to reduce foreign threats. For example, it has acquired the goodwill of Arab and Third World countries by its generous financial aid. As a member of the Arab League, Kuwait has supported Arab causes both diplomatically and financially. It has been a strong supporter of Palestinian nationalism and one of the main financial contributors to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). This move, of course, has also had the effect of placating the large Palestinian community in Kuwait. As an oil exporter, Kuwait has been active in OPEC and the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) from the beginning.
In July 1990, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein criticized Kuwait for disregarding the petroleum production quotas that had been stipulated by OPEC, which led to a decline in world oil prices. He further accused Kuwait of having stolen Iraqi petroleum reserves by drilling oil wells in disputed territory. His demands for the return of land claimed by Iraq and financial compensation were denied. In response, some 100,000 Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. Saddam announced the formal annexation of Kuwait, despite condemnation from the United Nations (UN) Security Council. After diplomatic efforts failed to resolve this crisis, a U.S.-led multinational force launched a military campaign to liberate Kuwait on 17 January 1991. Within days after the deployment of ground forces the Iraqi government agreed to a cease-fire.
Since the 1991 liberation, Kuwait has actively pursued defense cooperation agreements with its allies. In March 1997, Kuwait announced the creation of a National Security Council to promote national security and ensure territorial integrity. In 1999, Kuwait took tentative steps to improve relations with Jordan and Yemen, which had been strained since 1991 when the two countries appeared to side with Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait. Iraq issued threats against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for their friendly relations with the West.
U.S.-Kuwaiti relations since the Iraqi invasion of 1991 have been strong. The United States continues to provide significant military and defense technical assistance to Kuwait from both foreign military sales (FMS) and commercial sources. These strong ties made Kuwait an important partner in the U.S.-led War on Terror as the Kuwaiti government provided assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas.
On 8 November 2002, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1441, calling on Iraq to immediately disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction, allow for the return of UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) weapons inspectors, and to abide by all previous UN resolutions regarding the country since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Weapons inspectors returned to Iraq, but by March 2003, the United States and its allies were unconvinced of Iraq's intentions to disarm. Preparations for war were made, and by the beginning of March, close to 300,000 U.S. and British troops were in the Persian Gulf region, with nearly 140,000 in Kuwait. War began on 19 March, and the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled by coalition forces in April. Kuwait served as the main launching ground for the war, and was the target of a limited number of Iraqi missiles, none of which resulted in fatalities.
Kuwait is a member of the UN and some of its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The government also participates in the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), the Arab League, the Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), the International Labor Organization (ILO), OAPEC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), OPEC, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).