The Iran-Iraq War

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On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting a war that continues to devastate both countries. Over one million casualties have been reported. The interest shown in this conventional war had been low due to superpower noninvolvement and restrictions on foreign press agents in the war zone. Yet, because of oil resources, Southwest Asia has been determined to be of vital interest to the United States. The stability of the entire region is jeopardized by this war.

This paper began as an analysis of this lengthy war during the period 1983 to 1984. However, such an approach seemed to lack a comprehensive understanding of the causes of the conflict and the reasons the war has lasted as long as it has. To properly understand the Iran-Iraq war, it is necessary to examine the many facets that have contributed to the calamity from the beginning. Chapter 1 is a historical perspective of Iran and Iraq, examining the religious and ethnic aspects of the two warring nations. The political and military development of both nations is also considered, along with their relations prior to the war.

The war itself is covered in Chapter 2. A detailed analysis of battles is purposely avoided, since the reader can find such analyses in other sources. But the progression of the three phases of the war is examined to demonstrate how the strategy of stalemate has evolved.

An analysis of the conflict is covered in Chapter 3. The strategies of both countries, and their leaders, is considered, along with the tactics involved, weaponry used, and the problems created for the entire region. These problems include superpower involvement and, specifically, the problems encountered by the United States interests in the war and its outcome.

Finally, the last chapter examines possible outcomes, U.S. policy in the war, and considersations for the U.S. military. The question of 'what next?' in this seemingly endless war is also asked and a speculative answer is provided.

No primary sources were used for this paper due to the paucity of information available from such sources. However, several papers, articles and books have been written on the war and contain excellent viewpoints, though somewhat biased towards the West. These sources provided valuable information for an understanding of what has taken place. This paper is written as a comprehensive study of the entire Iran-Iraq war that will enable the reader to basically understand a conflict that is very involved and complicated. If this understanding is achieved, and questions concerning U.S. involvement are raised, then the intent of the author has been achieved.

Though this war is still ongoing, with major events taking place during March 1985, this paper is limited to events that have occurred through the first part of February 1985. It would appear that yet another phase in the fighting is beginning, but due to time limitations, these events will not be addressed.

Chapter 1
The current conflict between Iran and Iraq can be considered another phase in a regional struggle that has been going on for hundreds of years. To properly understand this struggle, it is necessary to investigate the religious and ethnic differences that have contributed to the unique stresses afflicting the two countries, as well as how the current governments came into power. Coupled with the rise of the leaders involved, a review of the military growth of each country is necessary to understand all that has happened during the war.

Islam has been the dominant religion in the area, though Judaism and Christianity have some roots in the region. Islam was the last of the three to be established when Mohammed emerged in 610...
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