The Iran-Iraq war started in the 1980s and continued till 1988 making it the longest conventional war after the second Sino-Japanese War(1). It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran(1). The Iran-Iraq War was multifaceted and included religious schisms, border disputes, and political differences. The war broke hostilities ranging from conflicts between the religious pacts of Sunni-verses-Shia and Arab-verses-Persians, to a personal animosity between Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iraqis launched the war to consolidate the rising power in the Arab world and replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf State. Iraq claimed the right over the Shatt el Arab and territories inhabited by Arabs. Iraq hoped to take advantage of Iran's revolutionary chaos and attacked without formal warning, they made only limited progress into Iran and were quickly repelled; Iran regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982. For the next six years, Iran was on the offensive(2). The war finally came to an end on August 20,1988 with the Resolution 598, a U.N. Brokered ceasefire accepted from both the sides. The last prisoners of war were exchanged in 2003.
Iran and Iraq are neighbors to each other sharing a river passing through both the countries. The one major factor which contributed to the hostility between both the countries was the dispute over thee full control of the Arvand Roud(called in Iran) or Shatt al-Arab( called in Iraq) waterway. This conflict dates back to the Ottoman-Persian wars. Historically this waterway and Khuzestan Provience were all under the Iran’s prior holdings, lost to the Turkey Shah 2
centuries earlier(3). This waterway is considered an important channel for both states oil exports and so to settle the disputes ,in 1937a treaty was signed between both the countries. This gave Iraq control of most of the waterway and required Iran to pay tolls whenever its ships used it(4)]. In April 1969, Iran annulled the 1937 treaty and ceased paying tolls to Iraq(4).This marked the beginning of a period of acute tension between Iraqi-Iranian territories which lasted till Algiers Accords of 1975(4). In 1971, Iraq broke diplomatic relations with Iran and expropriated the properties of thousands of civilians believed to be of Iranian origin and expelled them from the country.
In the 1975 Algiers Agreement, Iraq made territorial concessions in exchange of normalized relations. Iraqis viewed the agreement as humiliating. The relationship between the governments briefly improved in 1978 but Saddam merely considered this agreement as a truce and waited for an opportunity to contest it. Saddam got the opportunity to start a war when iran ad been weekend by revolution and sanctions and was internationally isolated after the Islamic revolution in Iran. Saddam by now had heavily invested in weaponry and now had a huge army. Many Gulf States and Iranian exiles encouraged Saddam to go on a war with Iran.
Iran and Iraq both have mountainous borders among themselves making the ground invasion almost impossible and so the air strikes were used. By the September of 1980, the shelling across the borders increased. By 10 september, Saddam declared that liberated all disputed territories within Iran. Iraq finally went for a full invasion of Iraq on September 22 1980. They launched a surprise air strike on the Iranian airfields with the objective to destroy the Iranian air force(4). They succeeded in destroying runways and fuel and ammunition depots, but much of Iran's aircraft inventory was left intact. Simultaneously to the air strike,, the Iraqi army launched ground invasion along a front in three simultaneous attacks. Initially they drove as far Shah 3
as eight kilometers inland and occupied 1000 square kilometers of Iranian territory. In the central front the Iraqi forces captured Mehran. The main thrust of attack was in the south, where...
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