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The Iran-Iraq War

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Tatianna Wiegand-Stuart

on 17 October 2012

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Transcript of The Iran-Iraq War

The Iran-Iraq War Why Iran? Iran lacked diplomatic sophistication, regional friends, and the oil revenues of the Shah.
Saddam knew that other Arab nations would likely support Iraq because of the threat they felt from Iran.
Iran's army seemed in tatters and its defenses around the disputed Shatt al-Arab minimal. Saddam wanted to control the oil rich Khuzestan province of SW Iran.
A successful invasion would make Iraq the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, also improving its relations with the US. Regional Rivalry vs. Saddam felt directly threatened by the Islamic Revolution.
Khomeini saw Saddam as a brutal Sunni tyrant oppressing his country's Shia majority.
Thus, for Saddam, the war's purpose was preemptive: to overthrow the Khomeini regime before that regime could overthrow him. The War Was On! Saddam launched a full-scale invasion of Iran on September 22, 1980.
By 1982, Iranian forces had regained the territory they had lost and pushed across the border into Iraq.
May 1984, Iran attacked Gulf shipping, escalating Tanker War.
In 1985, bombing of civilian centers in War of the Cities. July 1987, UN resolution 598 calls for ceasefire.
July 1988, US carrier shoots down Iranian civilian airliner, claiming it thought it was a fighter.
August 1988, Khomeini accepted a ceasefire, a decision he called "more deadly than taking poison." Cost Iran an estimated 1 million casualties, killed or wounded.
Iraq estimates the dead at 160,000-240,000.
Excluding weapons imports at current prices Iran spent between $74 billion - $91 billion, and Iraq between $94 - $112 billion to conduct the war. US Neutrality December 20, 1983 Rumsfeld asked Saddam:
To support construction for a billion-dollar oil pipeline from Iraq to the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
How the US could help him fight Iran.

Saddam asked for two things: helicopters and access to satellite intelligence.
Used helicopters to spray poison gas on Iran, violating international law.
When Iran protested, American officials rejected its charges despite knowing they were true. Biological Warfare Operation Staunch To prevent US allies from selling American military equipment to Iran by putting Iran on the list of terrorist nations.
The plan was adopted in 1984, and Iranian arms sources dried up quickly.
Tel Aviv agreed to comply, but didn't stop supplying arms to Iran. Iraq Can't Win In 1986, when Iran took over the Faw peninsula, the US attacked directly.
Re-flagged Kuwaiti ships
Sunk Iranian boats and oil platforms
Shot down an Iranian civilian plane, killing 290 onboard. Dual Containment Policy Washington wanted the release of Hezbollah hostages, Tel Aviv wanted closer links to Iran, and Tehran wanted arms.

It was started by Brzezinski, an continued afterward by Brent Scowcroft, was delicate balancing act to "contain" both Iran and Iraq.

US acted as a double agent, supplying Iran with Military Information and Arms through Israel. Chocolate Cake and a Bible On 1986, McFarlane left for Iran with the retired CIA analyst George Cave, National Security Council Staffer Howard Teicher and a communication officer.
Missiles, weaponry, Bible verse and cake
The Al-Shira Leak
Americans closed the dialogue for political reasons. Rally Around the Flag Solidified the new Iranian government and fostered nationalism in the country.
Prevented Iraqi Shias from rebelling on the side of Iran. Kuwait provided transit facilities once Iraq's ports had been made inoperable

Geopolitical importance of the region

Iraqi military strength

US backing during the Iran-Iraq War Why Iraq Couldn't Win US "neutrality"
Israeli involvement
Iran's unexpectedly high capacity to withstand heavy human and material losses War Basics Motivations The Algiers Accord Result of Iranian support of a Kurdish uprising in Iraq
Implemented recognition of the thalweg principle on the Shatt al-Arab
Iraqi benefit despite unrest From Left to Right: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Houari Boumediène and Saddam Hussein. Factions in Iraq Questions Aftermath Chemical weapons and poisonous gas
Prevent the West from fully backing Iraq Geopolitics The war started as a border dispute.
Shatt al-Arab River: major point of Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf
Khuzestan Province: oil rich province populated by Arab Shias 1. How significant was it that Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq at roughly the same time as the Iranian Revolution? Could Saddam have been trying to prove something by engaging in the war? 2. Both Saddam and Khomeini thought that they would find people sympathetic to their side in the other country, specifically Arabs in the Khuzestan province of Iran, and the Shia muslims in Iraq. Why didn't these factions rise up against their respective governments? Kurdish rebellion in the north leads to Algiers Accord

Shia marginalization and unrest in the south

Effect of the Iranian Revolution Sparks of the War 1. Saddam Hussein becomes President

2. Assassination attempt on Tariq Ali and the execution of Ayatollah Sadr

3. Attempted military coup in Iran, widely regarded as an Iraqi-inspired plot

4. Imperative of the Iranian Revolution to export its ideology Iraq Sets Eyes on Kuwait Plastic Flowers Never Die Culture of martyrs

Inseparability of the war and Khomeini

Desire to forget 3. What lessons did Iran draw from American support for Saddam during the war and the international community's general tolerance of Saddam's use of chemical weapons? 4. If the Iranian revolution had not occurred, would there have been an Iraq-Iran war?
Full transcript