THE IRAN-IRAQ WARHistorical Simulation of the United Nations By Polyvios and Lara for the KCL MUN Chairing Program 2012
Historical Origins of the Conflicts Early 20th C-1988 37 conflicts in the Middle East Iraq-Iran War 1980-88 ORIGINS? 1.Religious Differences Iraq leader Saddam Houssein Sunni Muslim Majority of Iraqi people --> Shias Whereas.. Iran Shias Muslims 2. Shatt al Arab waterway dispute Important channel for the oil exports of both countries 1937 – Iraq acquired control ; Iran had to pay tolls 1969 – Iran abrogated the treaty leading to acute tension 3.Khuzestan oil-rich province Large Arab speaking population
Key Political ActorsIraq - Saddam Hussein•1979 - forced the Iraqi president to resign•He executed opponents within the Ba’ath Party•Aim: make Iraq Middle East’s leading state•Ba’ath party under Saddam – influenced by socialism rather than Islamic law•Saddam was a Sunni – minority in Iraq --- > wasn’t confident of the backing of the Shias•Neighbouring Iran – world’s most preeminent Shia – Muslim StateIran - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini• 1979 – Iranian Revolution --- > change in power•Former leader Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (pro-Western monarch) : strong policy of modernization secularization: religion loses its authority in social life and governance•Iranian Revolution – Islamists took control: reversed the diplomatic relations that Shah had established -- > anti-Western ideology
Causes for Conflict• Territorial Claims – Khuzestan Iranian province, population has close ties to Iraq, Iraq claimed historical right for control of the region – Small islands in the Persian Gulf Iraq claimed a number of small islands in the Persian Gulf – Khuzestan Shatt Al-Arab River• Political Chaos in Iran – Many different factions vying for power before Khomeini established himself as the new political leader – Iraq saw Iran’s domestic instability as an opportunity to attack• Deaths of Tariq Aziz and Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr – Attempted assassination of Iraqi foreign minister Aziz by Iranian backed group Ad Dawah – Arrest and execution of popular Iraqi Shia cleric Al-Sadr
The War Itself The War Itself1980 – the tensions between the two countries were already highSeptember Iraq declares Shatt Al-Arab river theirs22.09 Iraq invades Iran• Khardeh and Karun were only lightly guarded, Iraqi forces quickly pushed back Iranian forces and gained substantial territory• Iranian Air Force armed with highly sophisticated American-made airfractsJan. 1981 Massive counter-offensive by Iran, dented the armour or Iraqi military• Despite stalemate, neither was willing to concede or negotiate, Iran especially unwilling as Iraq was still occupying Iranian territory
The War Itself / ctd. The War Itself / ctd.1982 Iranian Suicide Missions – ‘Human Wave Attacks’• Iran harnessed her population’s religious fanaticisms• Iran’s clerical rulers preached that the ‘true believers’ who died defending Iran would be rewarded as martyrs• Iraqi troops’ military proficiency was overwhelmed by Iran’s pure numbersBy January 1982• Siege of Abadan had been lifted• Iran defeated Iraq in the Qasr-e Shirin area• Iraq was unwilling to sustain high casualty rates and therefore refused to initiate further offenses
The War Itself – Iraqi Retreats The War Itself - Iraqi RetreatsMarch 1982: Operation Undeniable Victory• Launched by Iran, forcing Iraq to retreat – within weeks large proportions of Iraqi divisions were destroyed• Marked a turning point in the warMay 1982: Iraqis had retreated to internationally recognised lines• Iran did not regard this the end of the war and continued their offensiveJune 1982: Iraq showed willingness for negotiations, Iran refusedEnd 1982 to 1984• Iraq launched a new phase of ground war, both sides absorbed heavy losses and casualties• Iraq denied Iran substantial gains in Iraq• Iraq sought to involve the superpowers to end the conflict
The War Itself – War of Attrition1984• Neither side made decisive military breakthrough – Stalemate continued• Iraq was facing more problems as it was less populous and the Iranian government enjoyed more legitimisationUse of Chemical Weapons• 40,000 Iranian and 9,000 Iraqi fatalities• Chemical Weapons were used over 40 times by Iraq1985: War of the Cities, objective was to terrorise the citizenry• Iraq launched multiple air strikes on Tehran, Iran bombed Baghdad1988• Major missile attack on Tehran, many fled the city• Highly inaccurate missiles that inflicted considerable collateral damage
Casualties Casualties Iran Iraq500,000 to 1m dead 300,000 soldiers, militia and civilians killed or woundedIranian government’s official figure at188,015 fatalities in soldiers, militiasand civilians
War and military tactics1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 198822 Semptember 1980 Iran on the offensiveIraq invades IranBy June 1982 Iranregained lost territory
Air InterdictionIraq invaded Iran, launching a simultaneousinvasion by air and land into Iranian territoryon 22 September 1980 aiming to destroyIranian air force base + capture KhorramsharIran responded with attacks to Iraqi capitalBaghdadBoth sides – 7000 deaths 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
Human wave attacks Operation Jerusalem Way (Iran) Human sea attack-overrun the defenders by k angaging in melee combat-shock the enemy to fall back Iraq - 2500 killed Iran - 60001980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 Encouragement of heroism and martyrdom Iran on the offensive to capture Basra – used human wave attacks – martyrs would go to Heaven
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 Chemical weapons Iran was trying to capture Basra Iraq counter attacked using mustard gas and nerve gas in violation of international law 20 000 Iranian soldiers killed ; 80 000 affected
Operation Dawn 5 (Iran) Split Iraqi troops in Basra Operation Dawn 6 Cut Baghdad-Basra from each other by clocking the highway that connected them1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
20th August 1988 UN Security Council Resolution 598 Ceasefire1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
International Community ReactionInternational Community Reactions Iran IraqSaudi Arabia United States• Financial aid, up to US$1bn per month • No secret support • Financial and military aid, chemicals, military training, • Iraq as the ‘guarantor’ of US interests in the regionSoviet Union European Countries: United Kingdom,• Supply of financial aid, weapons, France, Kuwait, Italy, West Germany, missiles Egypt, Jordan, SingaporeNorth Korea Persian Gulf States: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait• Support in exchange for oil and the United Arab Emirates• By 1982, Iran’s major military supplierSyria, Libya, China Others: Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Singapore
Relevant UN Action Relevant UN ActionsUNSC Resolution 582, February 24, 1986• Condemned the escalation of the conflict (territorial incursions, bombing of civilian areas, violation of int’l law, use of chemical weapons)• Called upon cease fire and withdrawal of military forces to int’l recognised borders• Both parties refused to implement itUNSC Resolution 589, July 20, 1987• Demands that Iran and Iraq observe a ceasefire as a first step towards a negotiated settlement• Request that an observer-team be sent to the region• Requested that POW be released and repatriated• Question of the responsibility for the conflict
Questions to Consider Questions to Consider• Peace: How can long lasting peace be achieved in the region?• Justice: How can the respective countries be brought to justice for their various unethical war practices? Should the UN take action regarding the use of chemical weapons?• Prevention: In context to this war, how can further conflicts in the Middle East, be prevented?• Cultural differences: Is there a way to ensure communal tensions between the Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims in the respective countries so as to not lead to further conflict?• Protection of oil: Due to their global importance, how can the oil resources of these countries be protected from mutual attack as well as from usurpation from foreign countries with vested interests?• Question of water: Can a suitable water sharing agreement be reached regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway so that it does not become a catalyst for conflict once more?
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