If the Cold War placed severe limits on both the number and the nature of UN operations, the end of that war seemed to open endless possibilities for intervention. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, and one by one the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe fell like the proverbial row of dominoes. Finally, during the summer of 1991, the Soviet Union itself broke apart, freeing most of its satellites and many of its component republics. The thaw broke the logjam in the Security Council, but the immediate beneficiary of the change was not peacekeeping. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, the council approved a collective security operation unseen since the Korean War forty years earlier. Although Operation Desert Storm was UN-sanctioned but not UN-led, it would certainly have met with a Soviet veto perhaps as little as a year earlier. Now the Russian Federation, heir to the Soviet Union's council seat and veto, posed no objection, and the last red giant, China, refused to play the role of spoiler.
Where enforcement went, peacekeeping followed. The end of the Gulf War produced a civil crisis in Iraq itself as the defeated dictator reasserted control of the Shi'ia population of the south and the Kurds of the north. The latter posed a particularly thorny problem for the international community. Kurdistan overlaps northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran. Hussein's repression of a rebellion by the Iraqi Kurds thus threatened to disrupt the entire region as 1.5 million refugees poured over the borders of Iraq and Turkey.
To avert a humanitarian nightmare, the United States and its Gulf War allies mounted Operation "Provide Comfort." They declared a safe haven in northern Iraq protected by a no-fly zone and 8,000 combat troops. 1 Massive humanitarian aid shipments sustained the refugees until they could be safely repatriated, and the infrastructure of their homeland rebuilt. The relief effort immediately drew in the