Iran Iraq War 1980-1988

The Middle East and the Arab world were thrown into fresh confusion in September 1980 when Iraqi troops invaded Iran.

Iraq motives

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq had several motive for launching the attack

  • He was afraid of militant Islam spreading across the border into Iraq and  Iran. Iran had become Islamic republic in 1979 under the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his fundamentalist Shiite Muslim supporter .They believe that the country should run according to the Islamic religion ,with a strict moral code enforce by several punishments. 
  • The population of Iraq was mainly Sunni Muslim, but there was a large Shia  minority. Saddam whose government was non- religious , was afraid that the Shia might rise up against him , and he had some  of their leaders executed early in 1980.The Iranians retaliated by launching raids across the frontier.
  • The Iraq claimed that the Iranians border province of khuzestan should rightfully belong to them this was an area people largely by Arab, and Saddam hope that they would rally to support Iraq (most Iranian were Persian  , not Arab).
  • There  was  a long  –standing dispute over the Shatt-el-Arab waterway. This was an important outlet for oil export of both countries. The Shatt-el-Arab had once been completely under Iraqi control, but five years earlier the Iranian government  had forced Iraq to share control of it with Iran.

The Iranians quickly organised themselves to deal with the invasion , which began with the Iraqi seizure of the dispute waterways.The Iranians quickly replied with the mass infantry attacks against heavily fortified Iraqi position .On paper Iraq seemed much the stronger , being well supplied with soviet tanks ,helicopter gunship and missile ,and some British and American weapons as well .As  the war dragged on, Iraq concentrated on strangling Iranian oil exports , which paid for their arms supply ; Iran meanwhile captured Iraqi territory ,and early in 1987 their troops were only ten miles from Basra ,Iraqi second most important city, which had to be executed .By this time the territorial dispute had become lost in the deeper racial and racial and religious conflict : Khomeini had sworn never to stop fighting until his Shia Muslim fundamentalist had destroyed the (godless )Saddam regime .

The war had important international repercussions:

  • The stability of the entire Arab  world was threatened- The more conservative states like Saudi Arabia ,Jordan and Kuwait gave cautious support to Iraq ; but Syria, Libya, Algeria ,South Yemen and the PLO were critical of Iraq for starting the war at a time when , they believed all Arab state should have been concentrating on the destruction of Israel .The Saudi and the other Gulf state ,suspicious of Khomeini fundamentalist brand of Islam ,wanted  to see Iran ability to dominate the Persian Gulf controlled .As early as November 1980an Arab summit conference in Amman (Jordan)  , to draw up new plans for dealing with Israel , failed to get off the ground because the anti-Iraq states ,led by Syria ,refused to attend.
  • The attacks on Iran oil export threatened the energy supplies of the west ,and at various times brought American ,British ,Russian and French warship into the region ,raising the international temperature .In 1987 the situation took a more dangerous  turn as oil tanker ,whatever their nationality ,were threatened by mines, which side was responsible for laying them was open to debate
  • The Success of Iran Shia fundamentalist troops ,especially the thread to Basra  ,alarmed the non- religious Arab government ,and many Arab were afraid of what might happen if Iraq was defeated.  Even President Assad of Syria , at first a strong supporter of Iran,    was  worried in case Iraq split up and because another Lebanon; this could well destabilize Syria itself .An Islamic conference was held in Kuwait  (January 1987) was attended by representatives of 44 Nations; but Iran leaders refused to attend ,and no agreement could be reached on how to bring the war o an end .
  • The  war entered a new and even more terrible phase towards the end of 1987 when both sides began to bombard each other capital cities .Tehran  (Iran) and Baghdad (Iraq) , causing thousands  of deaths.

The end of the War , 1988

  • Although neither side had achieved its aims , the cost of the war , both economically and in human lives . Both sides began to look for a way to end the fighting ,though for a time they continued to pour out  propaganda ; Saddam talked about total victory  and the Iranians demanded total surrender .The UN became involved ,did some straight talking to both sides and succeeded in arranging a ceasefire (August 1988) .This was monitored by UN troops ,and against all expectation, the truce lasted .Peace negotiation opened in October 1988 and terms were finally agreed in 1990

Impact of Iraq occupation on Kuwait

  • The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) immediately opposed the invasion and ordered Iraq to withdraw its troops. Iraq ignored the demand . Four days later. On August 6,  1990 , the UNSC enacted an international trade ban with Iraq . The Iraqi  government  remained unphased ,and by August 9,US forces began deploying to the Persian Gulf . Saddam Hussein responded bt increasing troops in Kuwait to 300,000.
  • The UNSC established a deadline for the troop withdrawal on November 29. The resolution approved using force against Iraqi if it did not remove troops by January 15, 1991.
  • On January 16,1991 , an international  coalition , led  primarily by US forces , began launching  fighter jets into Baghdad , Iraq .OVER the following six weeks , forces from 32 countries continued the air strikes against Iraq. The Iraq military was unable to defend itself .Hussein responded by launching some missiles into Israel and Saudi Arabia .The ground invasion began on February 24. In one day ,the allied forces defeated the majority of Iraqi force ,held approximately 10,000 Iraqi troops as prisoners ,and established a US air base within the country .Four days later ,Iraq removed its presence in Kuwait and then US-President George Bush declared a cease fire.
  • On March 15 the Emir of  Kuwait returned to the country after spending the entire occupation in exile. The UNSC passed a resolution on April 3 in order to bring aforml end to the conflict . The resolution removed some economics sanctions on the country but left the ban on oil sales, requiring Hussein to destroy the country weapons of mass destruction with UN observation .Hussein accepted the terms    of the resolution on three days later ,although he went on to violate its conditions in later years .
  • Many lives were lost during the Invasion of Kuwait and operation Desert Storm . In total 146 US troops 100 allied troops ,and approximately 25,000 Iraqi were killed .Those Kuwait who could not leave the country reportedly suffered violations at the hands of Iraqi officials
  • In December of 2002 , Saddam Hussein officially apologized for the Invasion of Kuwait . Some believe this presence offers protection to the country while others believe its an example of western imperialism.

Reference:-

  • Dev Arjun and Dev Indra Arjun; History of the world: From the late nineteenth to the early twenty- first century ;2009;Glorious Printer,Delhi.
  • Calvocoressi Peter; World politices 1945-2000;2006 Published by Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd.
  • Norman Lowe, Mastering Modern World History, published by Palgrave Macmillan.