In 1991, on this day Iraqi Dictator Saddam Husseini caught Coalition Forces by complete surprise when his Special Forces launched a wave of mobile Scud Missiles at the North African bases of the Anglo-French Project Hermes space program.
A teaser by Ed & Chris OakleyDue to complex long-standing interests in the Middle East, and a history of independent thinking, the French Government had steadfastly refused to provide Ground Forces to support the US-led alliance. And yet after much persuasion, George Bush had finally convinced François Mitterand to participate in the Coalition of the Willing. Because of the advanced capabilities of her Space Platforms, France was able to assist the Allies with satellite surveillance of Scud missile deployments deep in the Iraqi desert.
Unfortunately for the West, those satellites had been launched from bases in the former French colony of Algeria. And when Iraq struck back with an anti-imperialist blow that resonated on the "Arab Street", he created a dangerous rupture at the heart of the Christian-Islamic alliance against Saddam's rule. More of a propaganda blow rather than a potent military strike, the operation would create huge problems at a key moment when Operation Desert Storm was "running on rails".
You can read read all parts of Chris Oakley's timeline at Aux Etoiles! at Changing the Times Magazine.