Iran and Iraq Perspectives In Conflict
SUBJECT AREA History
IRAN AND IRAQ
PERSPECTIVES IN CONFLICT
Gregory S. Cruze
Lieutenant Commander, USN
USMC Command and Staff College
Click here to view image
1. The Historical Legacy 1
2. The Shah of Iran: Puppet of the Allies? 16
3. The Pan-Arab Solution 30
4. The Palestine Dilemma 38
5. Best Case Scenario 56
6. . . . But Fundamentally No Foundation for Negotiation 86
I once heard a network news executive responding to a
question concerning the lack of depth in television reporting.
He said that the subjects most often complained about are so
broad and complex as to defy in-depth reporting in the first
place, but that more realistically it was not the network's
intention to appeal to an audiences who was so naive as to think
that the global situation could be adequately reviewed in 2l
minutes each evening. That same type of realism warrants
consideration in the introduction to this paper. The reader must
keep in perspective the fact that I am not a learned scholar in
Mideast affairs, but rather a military officer who chose this
subject because I strongly feel it is something about which I,
and others, know entirely too little. Three months or so of
collatetal reading and writing does not pretend to fill such a
large knowledge gap. It only underscores the accuracy of the
The intention, therefore, is to take a walk-in-the-park
approach to looking at the history of Iran and Iraq and, to some
extent, the Mideast. After quickly reviewing the region's
ancient heritage, the focus is on three areas: the rise and fall
of Iran under the last shah; the rise of the now-ruling Baathist
party in Iraq; and the Palestinian situation. Then, following a
look at Khomeini and his ideology, a chronological review of the
1980's provides some quotations, historical reminders, and
intrigue-filled allegations. Finally, discussion of some of the
war's likely causes and a few broad lessons learned are presented
for consideration. A conscious effort has been made to provide
some insight into the perspectives of all concerned countries.
There are two additional introductory notes, the first being
about the modern oil situation. According to the U. S. State
Department, Persian/Arabian Gulf countries supply 25 per cent of
all oil moving in world trade today, and they possess 65 per cent
of the world's known petroleum reserves. Depending on the
source, 30-60 per cent of western Europe's oil imports come from
the gulf, as do 60-75 per cent of Japan's. While the comparable
figure for the U. S. is only 15-20 per cent, a March 1987
Department of Energy security study shows that total U. S.
imports could double by the mid - 1990's. As recent history has
established, a disruption of even 5 per cent will drastically
damage the free world economy. The Soviet bloc, on the other
hand, is a net exported of oil.
Lastly, I must point out that the spelling of names and
places as presented in this paper is not necessarily
authoritative, but rather what I've found most commonly used.
Finally, the terms Persian and Iranian are used virtually
interchangeably throughout, a practice I've also found common.
As best I can determine, the Reza Shah officially changed the
name of the country from Persia to Iran in 1934, but that to
some, both have always been accepted. Iran by word origin is the
same as Aryan, and Persians were just one of the ancient Indo-
European Aryan tribes that settled in the region.
Click here to view image
THE HISTORICAL LEGACY
The countries we now call Iran and Iraq share a legacy going
back several millennia. Great civilizations - Assyrian,
Babylonian, Sumerian - flourished in this land of the Tigris and
Euphrates. The Garden of Eden was here. Both people, the Arabs
(lraqis) and the Persians (Iranians), had vital roles in ancient
Mideast culture, and both fell to Alexander the Great while
escaping Roman rule. In the 7th century the entire region fell
to Arabian conquerors alive with the new fervor of Islam. It is
that period, the time of Muhammad, to which the origins of the
present hostilities can be traced.1
MUHAMMAD AND HIS FAITH
The term Islam, meaning submission to God, is derived from
the Muslim holy book, the Koran. The followers of Muhammad, the
founder of the Islam religion, are called Muslims. The story of
Islam begins in Arabia where nomads, or Bedouins, lived according
to a tribal pattern. At the head of each tribe was a sheik,
elected and advised by the heads of the related families
comprising the tribe. Aside from their flocks, the Bedouins
existence relied on booty from raids on caravans, settlements, or
other tribes. They worshiped a large number of gods and spirits,
many of whom were believed to inhabit trees, wells, and stones.
One of the few cities in Arabia was Mecca, located on the major
north-south caravan route. Mecca (now, with Riyadh, one of the
capitals of Saudi Arabia) was a famous religious sanctuary to
which many tribes made annual pilgrimages to worship at the
temple. Known as the Kaaba (cube), this square temple contained
a sacred black stone and the images of some 350 local deities and
Into this environment was born a man destined to transform
completely the religious, political, and social organization of
millions of people. Muhammad (570-632) was left an orphan early
in life, worked in the caravan trade, and married his employer
who was some fifteen years his senior. According to tradition,
Muhammad frequently went into the foothills near Mecca to
meditate until, after a series of visions and revelations which
began with a visit from the archangel Gabriel, he became certain
that he was a divinely appointed prophet of Allah. Allah, The
God - the same God worshiped by Jews and Christians - had chosen
him to perfect the religion earlier revealed to Abraham, Moses,
the Hebrew prophets, and Jesus.3
At first, perhaps understandably, Muhammad had little
success in attracting followers. Citizens ridiculed his
doctrine of resurrection, and were highly skeptical about for-
saking their gods for a "mad poet," or accepting the concept
that dying for one's faith assured entry into paradise. But by
630, large numbers of pilgrims had accepted the Prophet's
teaching, and Muhammad marched on Mecca with an army.
Victorious, and magnanimous toward his enemies, his first act was
to cast out of the Kaaba its multitude of idols; the temple
itself, however, together with the black stone, was preserved as
the supreme center of Islam. In the two remaining years of
Muhammad's life, tribe after tribe of Bedouins throughout Arabia
offered him their loyalty. Upon his death in 632, the Prophet
left behind a faith which had united Arabia and which would
astound the world with its rapid expansion throughout Asia,
Africa, and the Far East.
Muslims believe that the Koran contains the actual word of
God as revealed to Muhammad over a period of more that twenty
years. Because the Koran must never be used in translation for
worship, the spread of Islam created extensive linguistic unity.
Arabic supplanted many local languages, and that part of the
Muslim world which stretches from Morocco to Iraq is still
Arabic-speaking. Further, this seventh-century book remains the
last word on Muslim theology, law, and social institutions, and
is therefore still the most important textbook in Muslim
Within the Koran is the central tenet of Islam: monotheism;
there is only one God, Allah. This is proclaimed five time daily
from the minaret of the mosque as the faithful are called to
prayer: "God is most great. I testify that there is no God but
Allah. I testify that Muhammad is God's apostle. Come to
prayer, come to security. God is most great." Belief in one god
and in Muhammad as his Prophet is the first of five obligations,
known to the Muslims as the Pillars of Faith; the others are
prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and a pilgrimage to Mecca for those
who can "afford" it. The Koran also provides Muslims with a body
of ethical teachings; idolatry, infanticide, usury, gambling, the
drinking of alcohol, and the eating of pork are all prohibited.
Pervading Islam is the principle of religious equality. There
are leaders of worship in the mosques and there is the ulema, a
class of learned experts in the interpretation of the Koran, but
there is no priesthood or clergy - no intermediary between man
and God-only laymen.
In 637 AD, an Arab Moslem army defeated the Persians and
destroyed the existing Sassanian empire. Though the people of
what is now Iran and Iraq converted almost totally to Islam, the
Persians still viewed this defeat as "a great calamity" and
immediately sought to maintain their distinctive cultural
identity.5 At first, Islam was "modified" to create an
individual Iranian version "not wedded to Bedouin customs and
beliefs." 6 Later, in a comparable assertion of determination,
the Persians played a significant role in the 750 AD defeat of
the same Arab empire that had defeated them. In the 9th century,
Arab and Iranian people went through a period called Shuubiya, in
which they expressed their ill regard by calling each other names
such as "lizard eater and fire worshiper." 7 During this period,
Persians preached their superiority over Arabs and the equality
in Islam of Arab and non-Arab Muslims. Likewise, Arabs viewed
Persians as completely inferior. These historical factors,
though probably of no political importance until the twentieth
century, shaped the cultural perceptions which persist today
between Arabs and Persians, between Iraq and Iran. Even the
influence of Islam was not powerful enough to overcome their
respective cultural differences. 8
In 1492, the New World was "discovered." In 1501, with the
rise of the Safavid dynasty in Iran, Old World history was
altered: Shiism was proclaimed Iran's state religion.9 The
greatest Muslim schism is between Shiites and Sunni. In the
earliest days of Islam, Shiites broke off in a dispute over
rightful leadership over the Muslim community. While Sunnis
accepted the best qualified man from Muhammad's tribe as caliph,
Shiites insisted that the position be held only by one of
Muhammad's direct descendants. Shiites, ruled and dominated by
the Sunni, had historically been viewed as a sect with heretical
and extremist ideas.10 Adoption of Shiism by the Safavids
marked the true beginning of modern Persian nationalism by
establishing publicly a distinctive cultural and political
identity and even defining, to some extent, territorial
The Safavid kings viewed themselves as secular rulers and
left religious leadership to the theologians. The Shiite clerics
had land and money lavished upon them, gradually gained economic
independence from the monarchy, and acquired a steady growth of
influence in Persian politics. They have never been willing to
give up the powerful and unique influence they gained under the
THE ROOTS DEEPEN
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the Safavids
and Shiism emerged in Persia, the Ottoman Turks had spent 250
years building their empire. They viewed Iraq, which did not
come into existence as we know it until 1920, primarily as a
buffer region protecting their heartland from Persian
incursions.12 But the Ottomans considered the rise of Shiism a
political and ideological threat. Shiites had become more and
more prevalent in Asia Minor over thee years and the Ottomans
feared that a revolt could split their empire. Mistrust was so
great that 40,000 Shiites were massacred, and repressive measures
against Shiites were instituted throughout the empire.13
Nevertheless, the Safavid dynasty conquered Iraq in 1510.
They persecuted Sunni Muslims, destroyed Sunni shrines and built
new shrines to complement those existing that they already
considered particulary Shiite. Their war goals were simple: (l)
regional influence, (2) unrestricted access to Shiite shrines
and safe passage to Mecca, and (3) security of the trade route
from the Persian Gulf to Khanaqin (beginning with the Shatt-Al-
Arab River).14 The Ottomans eventually counterattacked, and for
over 100 years the fighting was virtually continuous until, in
1639, the Treaty of Zuhab finally established Ottoman dominance.
In so doing, however, it did little to prevent future conflict.
While it did formally incorporate Iraq into the Ottoman empire
and did contain a pledge from each not to interfere in the
other's domestic affairs, it also created "a border so vague as
to resemble a broad zone generally about a hundred miles wide
where neither exercised much jurisdiction."15 Even so, the
treaty lasted for two centuries and was the foundation of all
During that ensuing 200 years, Persian-Ottoman relations
were characterized by what might today be called low intensity
conflict. Because of the ill-defined borders, numerous nomadic
tribes were unsure of their allegiances. In the early 1820's,
another war resulted in little more than reaffirmation of the
Treaty of Zuhab; the'borders remained vague, and each side agreed
to the principle of non-interference. According to Article 1 of
this First Treaty of Erzurum:
"The Two High Powers do not admit each other's interference
in the internal affairs of their respective states. . ."
"From this period on... no interference is to take
The treaty also assured Shiite pilgrims safe passage in Iraq and
Interference, of course, did take place, and twenty years
later the Ottomans and Persians were again on the verge of war.
The Persians had supported a rebellion in Northern Iraq of a
nomadic Muslim people called the Kurds; the tribal Turks had
begun to ignore borders in their movements; and the Ottomans had
attacked the one Persian port on the Shatt-al-Arab River,
Khorramshahr. There were new players on the scene now, though.
Russian conquests just to the north in Caucasus and British
domination over India gave the two powers a direct interest in
Ottoman-Iranian affairs. Russia hoped to build a road from its
territories to Baghdad and needed a clearly defined boundary to
firm up negotiations; Britain wanted to settle disputes over the
Shatt-al-Arab before setting up a steamship line there.
With little choice but to accept offers of mediation from
England and Russia, the Ottomans and Iranians finally agreed to
the Second Treaty of Erzurum in 1847. It had three key points:
(1) Persia was granted sovereignty over the east bank of the
Shatt-al-Arab, and the Ottomans sovereignty over the west bank;
(2) Persia was granted freedom of navigation in the Shatt-al-
Arab; (3) Persia pledged not to interfere in northern Iraq (the
Kurds).17 It also authorized a commission to determine the
ground border. It did not, however, specifically discuss
control over the river itself, only the banks. The river was
under Ottoman control and the treaty assumed it would stay that
The issue festered. Individual tribes still lived on both
sides of the river and both the Ottomans and Persians would claim
authority over them, for the purpose of military conscription for
example. Khorramshahr, Iran's port on the Shatt-al-Arab, though
at its intersection with the Karun River, made use of anchorages
in the Shatt itself. The Ottomans insisted that this was their
territory since it was beyond the east bank, and Ottoman customs
agents thus had a free hand to meddle in Iranian affairs. In
the north, efforts to survey the boundary were marked with a
"spirit of chicane, dispute, and encroachment" which virtually
prevented the establishment of an acceptable border.19
In 1908, the British discovered oil in Iran. With these new
strains on Khorramshahr, Iran's conduit for all heavy machinery
coming in and all oil going out, Ottoman intervention in Iran's
escalating involvement in world trade became, probably for the
first time, completely intolerable to a third country. In 1911,
the Ottomans and Iranians met almost continuously in an effort
to solve the boundary problem, but failed. The Russians and
British again intervened, both recognizing that this issue had to
be resolved so that their attentions could be properly focused on
the growing menace in Germany. In 1913, representatives of the
four countries agreed to the Constantinople Protocol. It
specifically stated that the Shatt-al-Arab was the southern
border and that its islands (except for three) and waters, except
for the anchorages surrounding Khorramshahr, belonged to the
Ottomans For the first time, Iran had won rights in the Shatt
itself.20 But despite a great deal of hoopla over the
diplomatic success by all concerned, the conflict was far from
over. The Ottomans never ratified the Constantinople Protocol,
and in 1914 joined the German war effort.
THE NATION STATES
Just before the outbreak of the First World War, Arabs
within the Ottoman empire had reached the breaking point in their
relations with the Turks. In an Arab Congress in 1913, they
denounced discriminatory treatment and demanded home rule and
equality with Turkish citizens.21 With the growing strategic
importance of the Middle East, the British government followed
the rise of Arab discontent with great interest. After the war
started, extensive correspondence was carried out between the
British high commissioner in Cairo and Sharif Husein, guardian
of the Arab holy places. In the event of an Arab revolt, Britain
would recognize Arab independence except in Palestine and
"certain areas which might be claimed by France."22 Britain's
ambiguous alliance with the Arab nationalist movement was
sufficient to woo the Arabs into a policy of benevolent
neutrality, and to thwart a Turkish attempt to rouse the whole
Muslim Middle East by preaching a jihad, or holy war, against the
In 1916, the Arab revolt began. Husein proclaimed
independence from the Turks and captured Mecca for his cause. In
the fighting that followed, the Arab forces were commanded by
Husein's son, who was assisted by a now famous British officer,
Colonel T.E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia." Under his command,
the Arabs took a decisive part in the last battle against the
main Turkish forces in September 1918.
After the war, with Turkey defeated and the Ottoman empire
destroyed, the Arab leaders sought the independence they thought
Britain had promised and supported, but in vain. Syria and
Lebanon were mandated to France; Iraq and Palestine to Great
Britain. To the Arabs, the mandates were a poor substitute for
independence, a flimsy disguise for imperialism, and ignorant of
the intensity of Arab nationalism. In Iraq, Britain was quick to
take steps to satisfy that prevailing nationalism, avoiding the
intense conflict experienced by France in Syria and Lebanon.
Though independence did not come until 1930, Iraq asserted her
national rights early and went about the business of building the
base of a modern economic life - roads, railways, oil pipelines-
all of which converged on one river, the Shatt-al-Arab.
Iran, too, began to flourish under the strong leadership of
Reza Shah Pahlavi and the "protection" of Great Britain. The oil
business had grown to such a degree that a separate oil terminal
was developed at Abadan, seven miles from Khorramshahr.
Nationalitistic and ambitious, the Reza Shah began to lure some
Arab tribes in the region into acquiring Persian nationality,
encouraging them to challenge their own new and disorganized
government. While there is some question as to whether it was
his influence, or simple fear of Iraqi military conscription that
prevailed, the Iraqis were nevertheless incensed. Relations
deteriorated, and remanifested themselves in the border dispute.
Iraq, having inherited the Ottoman legacy as it pertained
to treaties and agreements with Iran, sought to preserve the
status quo, particularly in controlling the Shatt. To the
Ottomans, this river had been a distant concern, but to the
Iraqis it was the national lifeline to the rest of the world.23
Iran, on the other hand, became increasingly dissatisfied with
previous agreements, viewing Iraq's control of this key river as
a major affront to its economic security. With still only one
viable port, Iran repudiated all previous agreements on the river
rights and refused to recognize Iraq's independence. Though
British mediation ultimately resulted in recognition of Iraq's
right to exist, border negotiations remained stalled. Iran
acquired a small navy and blatantly flouted Iraqi regulations;
Iraq patrolled with increasing intensity.24
In 1934, Iraq took the matter to the League of Nations. The
essence of the Iraqi claim was that Iran had flagrantly violated
the 1913 Constantinople Protocol. Baghdad pointed out that in
contrast to Iran, which had a 1200 mile coastline on the Persian
Arab Gulf containing numerous serviceable harbors, Iraq had only
one harbor, Basra, serviced by the Shatt-al-Arab. Further, they
said, the Ottomans had not considered Iraqi national interest in
ceding the entire surrounding area (Khuzistan), which is 80
percent Arab and had formerly been part of Iraq.25 Turning the
table, the Iranians responded that they had signed the treaty
under duress, and more importantly, that the Ottomans had never
ratified it! The Iranians referred to the most recent ratified
treaty - The Second Treaty of Erzurum (1847) - and contended that
it did not give control over the entire river to the Ottomans.
Citing precedent, they further stated that unless explicitly
asserted otherwise (which the 1847 treaty did not), river
boundaries normally run along the center of the channel. 26 Iraq
wanted control over the entire river; Iran wanted a border down
the middle. Those positions remain virtually unchanged into the
Soon after the League of Nations debates, a bloody coup
d'etat in Iraq brought to power a new government eager to make
peace with Iran. In 1937 a treaty was signed reaffirming the
previous 300 years of treaties, with one notable exception: for
five miles around Abadan - the growing facility that by this time
handled most of Iran's oil - the boundary in the Shatt-al-Arab
was at midchannel.
World War II again changed the complexion of things. The
Allies occupied Iran sending the Reza Shah into exile, and both
Iran and Iraq were used as staging areas for channelling arms,
food, and supplies to Russia. The strategic location of both
countries as a route for this aid led the British to expand the
rail and road systems, and even build a bridge over the Shatt to
facilitate matters. At one point an Iranian-Iraqi combined force
was formed to counter German penetration into southern Russia.
Meanwhile the oil issue was assuming more importance. Since
the British formed the Anglo-Persian oil company in 1908, Iran
had been viewed as simply the country where oil had been
discovered, whose government was little more than an ignorant
shareholder who had to be humored from time to time.27 The
British operated the oil fields, managed the Abadan refinery, and
controlled international marketing. The initial agreements
established Iran's share in the profits, which were extremely
small compared to today's, at about fifteen percent. 28
The Iranians were disenchanted. Their country had been
occupied, its new source of international revenue was not reaping
any real national rewards, and the issue of the border with Iraq
remained unacceptable. The modern stage was set.
Click here to view image
THE SHAH OF IRAN
PUPPET OF THE ALLIES?
In the first few thousand years, the distinctive differences
between Sunni and Shiite Muslims were established, Persia
successfully asserted her cultural identity, and Persian-Arab
ethnic animosity, to whatever extent it exists, became
entrenched. A border dispute raged, even through Iraq's
emergence from the Ottoman Empire as a new independent country;
and oil was discovered. In Iran the Reza Shah successfully
established himself as an outright dictatorial nationalist
convinced of the necessity to modernize his country, and was
then destroyed by events larger than himself and his country.1
The strategic location of Iran, as well as its oilfields, had
become of major importance to Britain and Russia, both of whom
were most antagonized with Reza Shah's pro-German sympathies at
the outset of World War II. In 1941, a British ship took the
Reza Shah into exile where he died three years later. His son,
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi became the Shah of Iran in 1944, at
THE FORMATIVE YEARS
The story of the shah is one of a highly complex character.
Born a commoner with a twin sister seven years before the
coronation of his father, he was a small and sickly child. This,
coupled with the imposing nature of his father, apparently
created a youth determined to test himself to the limit - a
characteristic he continued to exhibit in his later love for
flying.2 He claims to have had visions which established his
rule as one with a divine mission, offering as evidence his
narrow escapes from at least one plane crash and five
assassination attempts. He was the first Iranian ruler with a
western Education (Switzerland), an experience he said opened his
eyes to a wider world.3 His admiration for and fascination
with western society, culture, and technology did not, however,
erase an undeniable attachment to the values and traditions of
Iran. He regularly asserted that a regenerated Iran would soon
take its place among the world's industrial powers in the Great
Civilization, as he called it. What he did not assert is that
democracy would have any place in this regenerated Iran, and he
almost apologized for that:
"Believe me, when three-fourths of a nation does not know
how to read or write, you can provide for reforms only by
the strictest authoritarianism - otherwise you get
Under the shah, the country's schools, monuments, and national
celebrations consistently commemorated 2500 years of monarchy,
perpetuating the notion that the people of a nation play a
purely passive role in decision making, and only participate once
a governmental decision has been made.
At age 27, the shah experienced his first real national
problem in what came to be called the Azerbaijan Crisis. At the
end of the war, British and Russian troops pledged to withdraw
from Iran by March 1946, but as the months passed the Russians
stayed. Incorporating part of northern Iran, they set up two
anti-monarchist, communist republics - Azerbaijan and the Kurdish
Republic - and rebuffed Iranian military attempts to deal with
the crisis. Fresh from the wartime alliance, the British - and
now a new player, the Americans - did not confront Stalin,
perhaps because they were genuinely waiting to get the full
measure of Moscow's intentions. Though the matter was taken to
the new United Nations Security Council, it was ultimately
settled, virtually inexplicably, through direct negotiation by
the Iranian prime minister, a suspected communist sympathizer. 5
The Soviets withdrew, and before the end of 1946 that portion of
the two republics inside Iran collapsed.
Was this the Soviets' first move in the Cold War? Did
Stalin simply see this as an opportunity to establish one
sympathetic government on his long, unfriendly southern border?
Was it an initial step in an attempt to acquire rights to a warm
water port? Regardless, it failed, and reinforced in the shah a
mistrust of the Soviet Union that had been nurtured by his
father. December 12 became Azerbaijan Day and each year a
military parade commemorates it.6 It would appear that the
shah's first real crisis had landed him firmly in the anti-Soviet
In the early 1950's, the shah was again tested. It was a
time of deteriorating relations with Iraq primarily over the
familiar border issues, and of rising Arab cultural
consciousness. Arab tribes in Khuzistan, the section of
southwest Iran (and southeast Iraq) bordering on the Shatt-al-
Arab river, had appealed to the Iraqis for citizenship and the
Iragis called for a separate Arab state there. Though resolved
amicably, this issue heightened Iranian suspicion of the Iraqis,
and in 1950 all Iraqi subjects living in Iran were expelled.7
To complicate matters, the extent of the shah's power was in
definite question within his own government and along his own
people. The Iranian parliament, which viewed their country's
government as a constitutional, not authoritarian monarchy,
directly challenged the shah's authority in 1951 by making
Mohammad Mossadegh prime minister. 8 Mossadegh, the country's
most seasoned politician and 43 years older than the shah, had
previously been denied governmental roles because of his blatant
contempt for the Pahlavi dynasty. But capitalizing on a rising
tide of Iranian nationalism, he appealed to a popular trend-
hatred of foreign intervention and dominance - and made
nationalization of Iranian oilfields a precondition to his
accepting office. Within a few months, however, it became clear
to western observers that though he had won the people by
embracing a popular concept, he was ill-equipped to attain his
nationalistic goals. Perhaps obsessed with undermining the
shah's authority, Mossadegh had not even considered the
complexities of running the oilfields. Without British
expertise, they ceased to function - a situation which quickly
became intolerable to the British and Americans.9
While there may have been differing perceptions as to what
should be done in the region, particularly with regard to British
dominance and the philosophical wrongness of countering a move
toward nationalization, both the U.S. and Britain agreed that the
threat of communist exploitation, still somewhat new but
increasingly emotional, was the prevalent consideration; and that
threat demanded action.10 The U.S. withheld aid and denied
loans at a time when oil revenue in Iran had ceased. The
British, though at one point having paratroopers on standby in
Cyprus, ultimately decided that the overthrow of Mossadegh
through subversive means was preferable to direct military
On August 16, 1953, the shah made a half-hearted attempt to
overthrow Mossadegh, failed, and was promptly forced to leave the
country. The next day the statues of the shah in Teheran were
torn down. But extraordinarily, only two days later, with a
combination of support from loyal Iranian troops, paid mobs
recruited in the bazaar, and outside support in the form of the
young CIA, the shah's followers reestablished control.12 The
Iranian people had become disenchanted with the failed
nationalization effort and the flight of the shah added further
confusion and doubt. It was on this national mood that
subversive efforts, primarily orchestrated by the CIA,
capitalized.13 Mossadegh was overthrown and the shah returned
from exile to a tremendous and probably staged hero's welcome.
Interestingly, he chose to disregard the U.S. and British role
and portrayed Mossadegh's overthrow as a spontaneous expression
of pro-shah loyalty.14 Further, he blamed the entire situation
on the communists:
"Communism seeks to exploit not only the political,
economic and social weakness of the emerging lands, but also
their military vulnerability. If a country fails to secure
its defenses, the communists play with it as a cat does a
mouse. During the Azerbaijan crisis, and again in
Mossadegh's time, we Persians found ourselves in the unhappy
role of the mouse. We resolved never again to be so
Most historians agree that it is from this point on that the
shah became obsessed with Iran's security and destiny. What is
in question is who controlled the special relationship between
the shah and the United States that grew out of the Mossadegh
incident. A prevalent view of U.S.-Iranian relations during the
shah's reign is one of Iran as a dutiful pro-western ally.
Indeed, his fall is often blamed on the perception that the U.S.
controlled his actions and dictated policy from Washington - that
he was a tool of imperialism. But if the shah is to be taken at
his word, even part of the time, and if his relationship with the
U.S. is viewed within the context of his obsession with Iran's
security and global destiny, there is some question as to who was
in control of whom.
THE GREAT CIVILIZATION
At an early stage, the shah realized that the United States
did not give much credence to his assertions that Iran was
especially strategically important to preventing the spread of
communism and fostering harmony in the Mideast. In immediate
post-war U.S. assistance programs, for example, Iran was lumped
in with the Philippines and Korea to share a total of $27
million; Turkey and Greece, by comparison, were to receive more
that $211 million.16 To establish the importance of Iran to the
United States, the shah personally took every opportunity to
stress the instability of Iran in relation to external threat.
He courted Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy with flowery letters
which encouraged them to understand Iran's key position in the
region, stressing that regional conflicts were not a thing of the
past, and that it was Iran who, with the proper forces, could
deter aggression. He reminded them of Iran's role as "oil
supplier to the West and key to Asia and Africa in the near
The shah's assessment of the U.S. perception of Iran was
correct. Though dependency on Mideast oil was rising , it had
not become a major issue; and while Iran was considered important
in the sense that they were anti-communist, other global issues
were more pressing in Washington's view. As a result, and to the
shah's satisfaction, it was initially easier for the American
government to acquiesce than to remain continuously in detailed
negotiation over numerous Iranian proposals. Until 1958, the
shah successfully pressed his defense buildup through weak
complaints from U. S. analysts that his "appetite for soldiers
and military hardware was unrealistically unlimited."19 Three
years earlier, through U. S. promotion of the philosophy of
collective regional security agreements as a bulwark against
communism, the Baghdad Pact had united Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan,
Iran, and the United Kingdom. Though the U. S. promoted the
pact, Washington maintained a less binding associate membership
and thenceforth, Iran claimed that the United States had lured
her into abandoning her traditional neutrality with promises of
increased military assistance that was not forthcoming
By l958, when a group of "radical" army officers overthrew
the government in Iraq, it had became clear that while regional
security under the protective umbrella of Britain and the United
States was desirable, there was primacy to ulterior motives. As
was reported by the U. S. Ambassador to Iran in 1959:
"The Baghdad Pact has meant nothing to
the people and government of Iran other than
the strong hope of massive aid and/or territorial
guarantees from the U.S. in return for Iranian
adherence to the Pact."20
When the Iraqi government toppled and American offered herself as
regional protector, the shah balked, expressing his belief in
the necessity for a firmer U. S. commitment. In his view, that
commitment should include the necessary assistance to add five
new divisions to the twelve he already had, a significant
delivery of F-l00 aircraft even though the Iranian Air Force had
trouble maintaining their F-84's, and the availability of a
relatively large number of NIKE and HONEST JOHN missiles.21 The
U. S. did not agree, and the shah turned to the Soviets.
In what Secretary of State Dulles called blackmail, the shah
(at age 39) for the first time demonstrated an element of
international fearlessness in his blatant manipulation of the
international fearlessness in his blatant manipulation of the
superpowers. It was an era of bloc-building, of deepening Cold
War, and the shah knew very well that the United States could not
diplomatically tolerate the loss of Iran as an ally. He knew
that even "going neutral" would have an equally devastating
effect.22 While he courted the Russians only long enough to
achieve the desired American reaction, he did prevail. His
actions - which give credence to the notion that a nation has no
permanent friends, only permanent interests - left no further
doubt as to his obsession with building Iran into a modern force
in the Great Civilization. A subsequent Central Intelligence
Agency report identified the principal U. S. problem with Iran as
being "how to give the shah sufficient support to preserve his
pro-western policy without encouraging excessive demands for
aid," and went on to warn that if the shah were "convinced that
the U. S. was withdrawing or significantly reducing its support
for him, the chances of his working out an agreement with the
USSR would be much greater."23
That CIA assessment prevailed over the years, as did the
shah's use of coercive diplomacy, particularly the threat of
collaboration with the Soviets, as a lever to force the U. S.
hand. In some areas of mutual economic interest, relationships
with the Soviets were indeed established, and in a statement to
Parliament in the late 1960's, the shah made it clear that he
took orders from no one. He stated that his continuing efforts
to build up Iranian defenses were purely associated with Iran's
best interest (presumably as opposed to being polluted with
external intervention), and that if military equipment did not
come from the U. S., he would seek it from the Soviets.24
By the time President Nixon was elected in 1968, the shah
had become a symbol in the Mideast of a permanency and power that
was not only rare among developing states, but increasingly rare
among all U.S. allies. This position was enhanced by the British
announcement that same year of their intent to terminate their
military presence in the Gulf. The shah immediately promoted
Iran as the new power to fill the vacuum. On November 30, 1971,
just one day before completion of the British pullout, the shah
sent forces to occupy three islands in the Strait of Hormuz. Abu
Masa, and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, belonged to the United
Arab Emirates until this decision by the shah that control of
these islands was essential for him to accomplish his new role as
policeman in the Gulf. The Arab states protested, but took no
action. By 1972, perhaps at least partly because of the Vietnam
situation, the U. S. had "ceased any attempts to influence the
shah's plans and ambitions for a `Great Iranian Civilization'
founded on a physically secure state underwritten by large
amounts of sophisticated military hardware."25 President Nixon
and Henry Kissinger accepted a National Security Council Study
which concluded that Iran, together with Saudi Arabia in a more
minor military role, should be fully supported in its desire to
fill the vacuum left by the British.26 This "twin pillars"
policy, as it came to be called, was a regional balance of power
concept designed to prevent Soviet intervention in the area
without need for U. S. involvement. As far as weapon purchases
were concerned, Iran was virtually given carte blanche.
BOOM; TIGHTEN YOUR BELTS
"We are only pricing the minimum it (oil) could be
priced in comparison with other sources of energy .
Well, some people are going to say this is going to create
chaos in the industrialized world; that it is going to be a
heavy burden on the poor countries. . . That is true;
but as to the industrialized world, they will have to
tighten their belts, and they will have to work harder
or eventually (their ability to help the poor) will be
diminished, and this role taken up - in my opinion by
the new wealth of the oil countries.
Eventually all those children of well-to-do families
who have plenty to eat at every meal, who have their
own cars. . . will have to rethink these privileges
of the advanced world."27
It was at a press conference on December 23, 1973, when,
with the confidence of a man who knew that his country's income
and access to weapons had become inconceivably immense, the Shah
of Iran announced a staggering new increase in the price of oil.
In Kuwait two months earlier, with Arab-Israeli fighting at a
height, OPEC had already announced a 70 per cent increase. This
early exercising of the "oil weapon" included production cut
backs as a means to put pressure on the west, and embargoes on
exports to the United States and the Netherlands for their
particularly distasteful pro-Israeli stance. The result was a
desperate international scramble to purchase oil at any price. 28
In Iran, just before the shah's December announcement, oil was
selling at frantic fuctions for over $17 per barrel. This was
over three times higher than the increased price which OPEC had
set at Kuwait two months earlier. So when the shah announced the
price at $11.65 per barrel, it almost looked as though OPEC were
doing the world a favor.29
With oil revenues which had increased from $5 billion to $19
billion in just a few years, Iran was the second largest OPEC
producer after Saudi Arabia. But unlike the Saudi King, the
shah did not participate in the oil embargo or production. cut
backs. While the Saudis appeared to be holding the world ransom,
the shah attempted to emerge as a more responsible international
thinker. He asserted his belief that oil was simply not a proper
political weapon, and further emphasized that Iran, with a
population greater than all the other oil producers combined and
an oil-dominated economy, could not sacrifice her national
interests nor weaken her role as the most viable regional bastion
against communism.30 But to all Arabs, the shah's actions
reflected his support for Israel; to some, they reflected his
pro-imperialist stance. Notwithstanding his assertions, it was
well-known that he did not harbor Arab ill-will toward Israel,
and in fact, considered Israel another key anti-communist
Resulting, Arab uneasiness was compounded when, after several
years of skirmishes and diplomatic efforts with Iraq concerning
the Shatt-al-Arab River had failed, the shah finally simply
stated that he no longer considered previous treaties valid, and
that the new border was the center of the channel. To support the
strength of his claim, he provided massive support to the Kurds
who were again rebelling in northeast Iraq. In retaliation, the
Iraqis expelled some 70000 Iranians, primarily Shiites; but
weakened by the Israeli conflict, suffering from internal
disorder, and not supported against Iran's power and authority by
other Arab states, Iraq was forced to capitulate.32 In 1975, the
Algiers Agreement accommodated the shah's border claim. In
return, the shah ceased support for the Kurdish rebellion which
The shah's vision of Iran as a great power in a Great
Civilization appeared achievable. His country's income was
immense and he had become the dominant gulf power. He was
courted by the world's leaders, and international businessmen
were reduced to sleeping in hotel lobbies in hopes of just a
short audience. He gave lavish parties at his embassy in
Washington, where he courted American leaders and media. By
1978, however, the world realized that the shah had overspent-
an almost unimaginable $12 billion in arms expenditures to the
U.S.33 His internal modernization programs, which included low-
level free education, a relatively futuristic superhighway and
communication system, and an over-ambitious concept of land
reform, had failed. Even the shah eventually realized and
accepted that his program for Iranian growth was based on the
fundamental inability to impose the values and lifestyle of an
alien, modern, industrialized world upon a traditional culture.
His obsession with defense, in the form of an entirely out-of-
proportion military strength, deprived his people of their true
needs, and therefore ultimately, himself of their support.
During his tenure, the shah systematically eliminated all
internal sources of even remotely viable opposition, a course of
action not uncommon it' "third world" governments. One fiery
Shiite theologian, however, an ayatollah (a special title
accorded only to the most respected few), had consistently
opposed the shah's reforms as heretically against Islam. In
1963, when the shah had this theologian arrested during the
holiest time of the Shiite year, there were three days of major
riots in Iran which, militarily suppressed, resulted in perhaps
over 1000 killed or seriously wounded.34 But even from exile,
the Ayatollah Khomeini retained a large following, primarily
among the urban poor who were suspicious of the shah's
modernization plans and bitter because they saw no real benefit
from the country's oil wealth.
THE PAN-ARAB SOLUTION
Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia, plagued by violent political
upheaval and internal instability for centuries, is a country
with a society fragmented to a degree probably incomprehensible
to the average westerner.1 With oil such a prevalent modern
issue, it is easy to forget that unlike other "gulf" states,
Iraq's governmental and domestic focus has historically been,
even into the 1950's, on the agricultural richness of the Fertile
Crescent area. While the port of Basra was unquestionably
important as a major trading center, the southeast region did
not, until modern times, have dominant impact on Iraq's overall
The Ottomans left behind a stagnant economy, deep-seated
Sunni-Shiite cleavages, and more importantly, no unifying
political institutions or viable central administration. The
Hashemite monarchy, installed after World War I, faced British
control, Kurdish rebellion, and rising Arab nationalism in their
attempts to lead a country with sectarian, ethnic, tribal, and
religious difficulties. They had no long-standing political ties
as a nation, and faced growing internal impatience with the
slowness of reform.
THE BAATHIST RISE
Founded in 1940 by Syrian intellectual Michel Aflaq, the
Baath party emerged from World War II as the first political
party to fully espouse pan-Arabism. Young, educated idealists
seeking a new order advocated the view that "regional boundaries
were artificial and would disappear with the awakening of Arab
consciousness."2 Theoretically, their nationalism concept was of
an Arab Nation open to all Arabs regardless of religion, sect, or
ethnic origin. It goals - unity, freedom, and socialism-
reflected a belief that global power struggles had imposed an
imperialist order in which weaker nations had been exploited and
divided. As reflected in the Baath Constitution of 1947, only
unified resurgence could break that pattern:
"The Party is revolutionary, believing that its
principal aims - resurrecting Arab nationalism
and building socialism - cannot be realized except
by revolution and struggle. And that reliance on
slow evolution and contentment with partial reform
threaten these aims with failure and extinction.
Therefore the Party resolves upon (1) the struggle
against foreign imperialism for the complete and
absolute liberation of the (Arab) homeland; (2) the
struggle to bring together all Arabs in a single state;
(3) thee overthrow of the existing corrupt order by
a revolution that shall embrace all aspects of life-
intellectual economic, social, and political."3
Drafted in 1947, the constitution contains no specific mention of
the Palestinian cause. At that time, the entire Arab world was
divided and under foreign domination of one kind or the other, so
the issue of liberation was pervasive.
Baathist views began to reach Iraq in the late 1940's,
particularly among students and intellectuals. By the mid-50's,
the party's influence was well-enough entrenched that a regional
branch was founded. That branch quickly established Iraq as the
leader among Arabs in portraying the Israel/Palestine situation
as the ultimate symbol of both Arab disunity and the aims of
imperialism. In 1958, the general dissatisfaction of the people
with the way the country was being ruled resulted in a bloody
coup. The Hashemite dynasty, considered extremely pro-west, was
crushed; the Palestine question was embraced as crucial to the
Arab struggle; and on the surface, it appeared that the
Baathists had succeeded in advancing their concept of
In the ensuing ten years, however, continued internal
instability, violent power struggles, and economic mayhem were
rampant. Rivalries between the Kurdish party, the communist
party, and the Baathists resulted in at least ten coups d'etat or
attempts, and even led to a double coup in 1963. Border disputes
continued, and oil became an obviously prominent factor in the
future of Iraq as a nation. Finally, the devastating 1967
defeat at the hands of the Israelis convinced the Baathists of
the absolute necessity to implement the goals they heretofore had
failed to achieve. On July 17, 1968, they took power in a
bloodless coup and have remained there ever since.
In the words of now President Saddam Hussein, the Baathists
were determined to make Iraq a "model state" and a leader of the
Arab world.5 In foreign policy, they were concerned primarily
with ending foreign control over Arab homeland, particularly in
Palestine, but also in Iran's southwestern Khuzistan province
which is inhabited mainly by Arabs and which the Iraqis refer to
as Arabistan. They advocated non-alignment in the Cold War,
stressing (not unlike the shah in theory) that international
negotiations would be conducted with whomever necessary to
further the interests of the Arab state. Internally, the new
leaders established four main objectives: (1) consolidation of
authority; (2) economic independence through oil
nationalization; (3) broadening the popular base; and (4)
resolving the Kurdish problem.6 In a country where governmental
power is often obtained and retained through violent struggle and
brutality, and the state (people) is a tool for the
implementation of party (government) objectives, even the first
of these goals is burdensome. To complicate matters were border
disputes with Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Israel situation, oil
disagreements with Syria, and the unwelcome dominance of the
On a higher plane, the Baathist ideology, which advocated
altering the prevailing configuration of power and making radical
social and economic changes, did not particularly appeal to
Iraq's more conservative neighbors. They listened skeptically as
the Baathists attempted to convince them that the fragmentation
of the Arab world, the humiliation of the Arab defeats at the
hands of the Israelis, and the championing by the west of Iran's
overlord role in the Gulf, were deliberate attempts by western
imperialism, zionism, and their regional allies to divide the
Arabs and to continue to exploit their oil wealth.7 In 1970,
apparently feeling isolated and encircled by non-supportive
regimes, Iraq's government turned to the Soviets, who welcomed
them with open arms, and executed a fifteen year treaty of
friendship.8 This move, coupled with an ill-conceived Iraqi
attempts to annex Kuwait, served only to heighten Gulf state
suspicions as to the regime's aspirations and intentions.
In 1974, however, Iraq's diplomatic situation began to
improve. The Saudis had become increasingly concerned about
Iran's role in the Gulf, and were also interested in reducing
Iraq's growing reliance on the Soviet Union. The two countries
resolved their border disputes and reopened diplomatic relations
in 1975. In 1978 they moved even closer together, mostly because
of their common opposition to the Camp David accords. Iraq had
taken the lead in, achieving a somewhat historic unified Arab
position in favor of the Palestinian cause, a resolution which
quickly led to the ouster of Egypt from the League of Arab
Nations. Relations were even improved with Kuwait.9
While Iraqi relations with other Arab states showed
potential for improvement, the situation with Iran was quite
different. There can be no question that the shah viewed with
extreme disdain this socialist and Arab nationalist regime,
backed by the communists, which vehemently advocated preservation
of "Gulf Arabism" and adamantly opposed Iran's role in the gulf.
Comparably, Iraq continued to view Iran as a third party to the
coalition between imperialism and zionism which was bent on
fragmenting the "Arab homeland." As examples, the Iraqis pointed
to the shah's border claims and cited the Kurdish rebellion as
fully backed by Iran, Israel, and the U.S.10 That rebellion
brought Iran and Iraq to the brink of war in 1975 when
hostilities escalated to the point that the shelling of oil
fields, a reaction neither country desired, was the next likely
step. The seriousness of the situation, unquestionably
compounded by growing regional concern over the shah's dominance
and power, led to the Algiers Agreement after mediation efforts
by Jordan's King Hussein, Egypt's President Sadat, and Algeria's
President Boumadienne. It could be said, as noted earlier, that
both sides netted gains: for Iraq, Iranian support of the Kurds
would cease; for Iran, after hundreds of years of dispute, the
boundary line (border) in the Shatt-al-Arab river would be the
middle of the channel, as the shah had demanded. Notably, both
sides avoided any disruption of oil production and established a
unified front within OPEC calling for higher prices.
Following the Algiers Agreement, Iraq followed a
diplomatically friendly, if cautious course toward Iran. In 1976
Saddam Hussein declared that "Iranian-Iraqi rapprochement has
permitted discussions for establishing a collective Gulf security
agreement," but that the spirit of the accord is such that Iran
"must respect the national sovereignty of all Arab countries."
Even immediately after the ouster of the shah, Iraqi leaders
continued to express hope for cooperation with Iran. They
welcomed Khomeini's anti-US sentiments, and the declaration that
Iran would no longer play the role of Gulf policeman, as
positive steps "toward the establishment of cordial relations
with the Arab Gulf states."12 Saddam Hussein said:
". . . we are keen on cooperation with Iran in a way
that will ensure the interests and security of the
people in the area . . . Any system which does not side
with our enemy, respects our independence and whose oil
policy is consistent with the interest of our two people
will certainly command our respect and appreciation." 13
Better relations were, perhaps, prematurely doomed in the
spring of 1978 when Iraq expelled Ayatollah Khomeini after he
began to escalate his activities against the regime of the shah.
Wanting to avoid reopening the conflict with Iran at a time when
it was by no means certain that the shah's regime was about to
collapse, Iraq responded to Iranian requests and asked Khomeini
to cease his activities or leave the country. Denouncing the
Iraqi position as against the Islamic revolution, Khomeini
departed vowing that all opponents to Islam would be punished.14
Relations deteriorated rapidly until in March 1980, Iran
unilaterally downgraded its diplomatic ties to the charge
d'affaires level, withdrew its ambassador, and demanded that Iraq
do the same. The tension increased in April following the
attempted assassination of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
and, three days later, the bombing of a funeral procession being
held to bury students who had died in an earlier attack. Iraq
blamed Iran, and in September, attacked.
Click here to view image
THE PALESTINE DILEMMA
"Iraq's main campaign is against the Zionist enemy
(Israel), and not against Iran."
- Saddam Hussien 1980 Press Conference, about one week after the
The dispute between Arabs and Israelis is "cultural and historic
and will continue for many years.
- Saddam Hussein, 1982 Press Conference2
"Iraq cannot attempt to persuade the PLO to recognize (United
Nations) resolutions 242 and 338, since Iraq itself does not
- Ta Yassin Ramdan, Iraqi Deputy Premier, Christmas 1985 3
Even now, as the Palestinian issue boils, Iraqi newspapers
still echo the cause, offering the people hope that with an end
to the war with Iran, Iraq could return its attention to its
historical struggle with Zionism.4 There is little question that
the Palestinian cause is a symbol of everything the very
foundations or Baathist ideology oppose. The government of Iraq
has responded in foreign policy to other nations according to
their position on this issue and is, in a sense, duty bound to
lead the Arab world to right the injustices done to the
Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims by, in their view, an
imperialist-backed Zionist movement. Indeed, for most Arab
states, identification with the Palestinian cause has played a
significant role in boosting the regime's prestige and enhancing
its regional legitimacy.5 Even in the broadest of terms, the
forcible insertion of a Zionist state into their heartland may be
no more acceptable to Arabs than having Cuba where South Carolina
is would be to Americans.
On the other hand, to use an otherwise-applied President
Reaganism, it also appears clear that many Arab states have begun
to realize that realistically, they must live in the world as it
is rather than as they wish it were. Key Arab regimes have
provided money, arms, and diplomatic championing to support the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, now recognized by most
Arab states and the United Nations, but not the U.S., as the
legitimate representative of the Palestinian people); but,
particularly in recent years, there has been a sizable gap
between cash-backed rhetoric and real action. In 1982, the Arabs
were surprisingly passive in the face of Israel's campaign into
Lebanon to crush the PLO. In 1988, there is still inadequate
unified Arab resolve to threaten Israel's military might. It may
be that Egypt through the 1979 Camp David accords, and even
informally and secretly Syria and Jordan (the front-line states),
all of whom have lost territory to Israel at some time or another
in the past 30 years, have paved the way for broader Arab
acceptance of the realization that enhancement of internal
stability and national economic development, are more important
and more realistic undertakings than an elusive quest for pan-
Arab unity or the liberation of "historic" Palestine. Militarily
too weak on their own, embroiled in intergovernmental rivalries,
facing vast domestic problems, and naturally unwilling to give up
their own government to an untested pan-Arab concept, many Arab
states may understandably be bound not totally by the Palestinian
cause, but by the dilemma of how to reconcile their ideological
commitments with the more sober realities of the world as it is.
For Iraq, this presents an especially difficult problem, because
to accept Israel is to profoundly alter the ruling party's
historic concept of Arab existence.
So what is the role of ideology and what is at the core of
this apparent Arab support on one hand and ambivalence on the
other? How would it affect Iraq's government, and the war with
Iran, if the "embodiment of the Baathist cause" were rejected?
Is there an acceptable, long-term solution short of the
dissolution of Israel, or Iraq? What really determines the Arab-
Israeli conflict, and is it a problem than can be viably "solved"
or simply something the world must find a way with which to live.
These are a few of the questions that truly learned Mideast
scholars and highly experienced officials in international
relations ponder and debate, as yet without resolution. However
an historical review can provide some perspective.
THE RETURN OF THE JEWS
On November 29, 1947, in the wake of unconscionable Nazi
persecution, the newly formed United Nations voted to end British
control of Palestine and create for the Jews the state of Israel
in the land of their ancient forefathers. The Jews agreed; the
Arabs did not.
Before that, the last Jewish state was Judaea. Overthrown
by the Roman emperor Titus in 70 A.D., the Jews of Judaea
repeatedly rebelled against their Roman overlords until 135 A.D.,
when Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the remaining Jews
were either killed or expelled from their homeland. For almost
2000 years, during which the Jews were scattered throughout the
world (which they call the "Diaspora," or Dispersion), the hope
of an eventual return to the homeland of their ancestors was kept
alive from generation to generation. During that time, the land
of Palestine was under the successive rule of Romans, Byzantines,
Arabs, Crusaders, Turks, and British. However, for the most
recent thirteen centuries, the overwhelming majority of the
population was Arab and Muslim.
Though a few pious Jews always lived in Palestine for
religious reasons, it was not until the 1880's, largely in
reaction to growing European anti-Semitism, that Jews from all
over the world began to "return." In 1897, the Zionist Party was
formed by Dr. Theodore Herzl with the aim of "establishing for
the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in
Palestine."6 By 1914, the Jewish population in Palestine had
risen from 25000 to 80000, and shortly thereafter, the British
government issued the Balfour Declaration in sympathy with
Jewish-Zionist nationalistic aspirations. It promised support
for the "establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the
Jewish people . . . it being clearly understood that nothing
shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights
of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."7 The Arabs
objected then, but the Arab-Israeli situation did not truly begin
to manifest itself until the late 1930's when Nazi persecution
resulted in mass immigration. By the end of the war, the Jewish
population in Palestine had reached 600,000, abou-t half the
total, and civil strife between Arabs and Jews was common.8
Severely weakened by the war and unable to maintain order,
Britain pulled out, and turned the situation over to the U.N.
The U.N. solution was to partition Palestine into a Jewish
and Arab national state, with Jerusalem and Bethlehem under
international administration. Within a few days after the
announcement of this plan, violent Jewish-Arab clashes erupted in
Jerusalem and other parts of the country. On May l4, l948,
Israel was declared independent; on May 15th, it was invaded by
the armies of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Though
greatly outnumbered and poorly armed, and hindered by the newness
of their state, the Israelis prevailed, occupying about half the
land the U.N. had planned for the new Arab state. The other half
was divided between Jordan and Egypt. Israel occupied the
western half of Jerusalem and declared it her capital; Jordan
controlled the eastern half which included the main religious
sites important to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
In the aftermath, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian
Arabs fled their homes in the areas newly occupied by the
Israelis. Despite the U.N. tailored armistice, the Arabs
continued to consider themselves in a state of war with Israel
and refused to recognize its existence as a nation. The
Palestinian refugees were the most visible and most immediate
cause of bitterness.
Click here to view image
THE SINAI CAMPAIGN
Egypt, led by pro-Soviet President Nasser, was the first to
take up the cause.* In the early 1950's, economic sanctions
were imposed by denying Israel use of the Suez Canal and
restricting its ability to use the Gulf of Aqaba. Beginning in
1955, frequent raids were conducted by Egyptian trained saboteurs
(fedayeen) who entered Israel from the Gaza Strip and through
Jordan.10 Israel retaliated in kind. In the summer of 1956,
Nasser seized the Suez from its British and French owners11; on
October 29th, in a move allegedly designed to destroy fedayeen
bases, Israel invaded the Sinai peninsula. Two days later, after
Nasser ignored an ultimatum to open the canal to foreign
shipping, France and Britain joined the attack. Within ten days,
the Gaza Strip and almost the entire Sinai peninsula were under
Israeli control. The U.N. again intervened, voting for the
establishment of a United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to
"secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities,"12 Although
the intervention was successful in the sense that Israel
* On May 25, 1950, the U.S., British, and French governments
issued a joint declaration on the maintenance of peace and
stability in the Arab states and Israel, opposing the development
of an arms race in the Middle East and stating their "inalterable
opposition" to the use of force.
eventually withdrew to pre-war boundaries and the Suez Canal was
reopened, hostilities between the Arabs and Israelis were far
During the ensuing ten years, Israel was involved in armed
clashes with Egypt on the Gaza Strip, Jordan on the West Bank
(Jordanian territory west of the Jordan river including Jordan's
half of Jerusalem), and Syria in the Golan Heights. All insisted
that a state of war with Israel continued to exist. The
Palestinian refugee problem festered.
THE SIX DAY WAR
The third Arab-Israeli war broke out on June 5, 1967.
During the preceding two years, Arab terrorists apparently based
in Syria had conducted an increasing number of raids from both
Syria and Lebanon. AL FATAH (Conquest) was believed to be the
organization responsible. Its leader was said to be Yasser
Arafat, its composition primarily Palestinian, and it was alleged
to be armed with Soviet and Czech weapons provided by Syria and
Egypt. It was further alleged to be financially supported by
In late 1966, an intensification in Arab terrorist
activities gave rise to a U.N. resolution calling for Syria to
prevent further incidents, a measure which was promptly vetoed in
the U.N. Security Council by the Soviet Union. When Israel
conducted subsequent reprisal raids into Jordan (which were
condemned by the U.N.), there were violent riots as citizens
demanded protection. With Syria, tensions escalated to the point
that on April 7, 1967, the Israeli Air Force shot down six Syrian
Migs, and extensive fire on the ground from tanks and artillery
was exchanged. By mid-May, five Arab countries - Egypt, Syria,
Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait - had announced mobilization of their
forces to deal with Israeli aggression. Muslim religious leaders
were ordered to preach a jihad (holy war) to regain Palestine for
the Arabs. The U.N. peacekeeping force, in place since 1957, was
withdrawn at Egypt's request, despite U.N. Secretary General
U Thant's "serious misgivings" about the negative effects on
regional stability.14 The positions that force had filled were
occupied by the PLO, now some 8000 activists strong, which had
been integrated into the Egyptian army.15
On May 23, 1967, Egypt. again blockaded Israel's Red Sea
access by denying her use of the Suez and by closing the straits
of Tiran (at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba) with mines, land-
based artillery batteries, armored boats, and aircraft.
Negotiations were attempted; the rhetoric heated. On June 2nd,
the PLO called for the jihad to begin "for the liberation of
Palestine and the cleansing of the infidels."16 In Israel on
June 3rd, General Moshe Dayan, Israel's new Defense Minister,
said at a press conference that while Israel welcomed all the
help she could get on the diplomatic front, she would fight her
own battles and "did not want British or American boys to get
killed." Asked whether Israel had lost the military initiative
in the Mideast crisis, General Dayan said: "If you mean to say
we stand no chance in battle, then I cannot agree with you."17
On June 4th, Libya joined the cause and the waiting was
over. At 7:30 a.m. on June 5, 1967, and nonstop throughout the
day, the Israeli Air Force struck repeatedly at Egyptians
Jordanian, and Syrian airfields, even penetrating as far east as
western Iraq.18 Within hours, Israel had destroyed the vast
majority of Arab air forces on the ground, gaining immediate air
superiority throughout the region. By the end of the first day,
Isreal claimed the destruction of over 400 Arab aircraft. In
addition to the four countries attacked, Libya, Algeria, Kuwait,
Sudan, and Yemen all declared war on Israel the next day.
Violent anti-American and anti-British demonstrations broke out
throughout the Mideast, particularly in Tunisia, Libya, and
Syria, and a conference of Arab oil-producing nations decided to
cut off oil supplies to any state committing aggression against
any Arab country or giving aid to Israel. The Americans and
British declared neutrality and stated their intentions to work
for peace. The Soviets condemned Israel, reserving the right to
take any action deemed approptiate.
But Israel was equally successful in carefully planned
ground maneuvers, and the magnitude of its victory over the Arabs
quickly became clear. The media in Egypt and Jordan reflected
desperate embarrassment with broadcast reports that Israel had
been able to accomplish its heindus acts only because of direct
military intervention from U. S. and British carrier-based
aviation. This allegation was immediately and unequivocally
denied in London and Washington, Harold Wilson describing it as
"a malicious and mischievous invention," and U. S. Secretary of
State Dean Rusk as "a malicious charge known to be false."19
By June 10th, Israeli troops occupied the Gaza Strip, the
entire Sinai peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights on
the border with Syria. The Arabs were decisively defeated - in
In the eyes of the Baathists in Iraq, the `67 war was
irrefutable proof of their assertion that the imperialist
strategy was to broaden the split in the Arab world. A Baathist
"The complete merger of Israel and the imperialist forces,
particularly the United States, makes Israel a power greater
than its actual presence. . . Thus, Israel is not a state
that can be dealt with through traditional warfare. Above
this, it is Imperialism in its essence. The negation of
imperialism is revolution."20
This was not new, nor was the nature of the threat. The Baathist
view was one of a protracted guerilla struggle, the brunt of
which would be borne by a popular front of Palestinian
organizations; the role of Arab governments would be "unqualified
support," with actual action dependent on future Israeli
Despite the strong rhetoric and radical slogans, however,
Iraq simply did not achieve enough internal stability to truly
assert herself on the Palestinian issue. Beginning with the
embarrassment of Jordanian repression of the Palestinians in
l970,* and continuing until the shah fell, thee Iraqis had to
live with a destabilizing sense of isolation and impotence.
There were some accomplishments though. The Arab Liberation
Front (ALF) was created as an arm of the Baathist Party in
Palestine that was to ensure the merger of the Arab and
Palestinian revolutions.22 In essence a military organization,
its task was to recruit and organize support from all Arab
countries, particularly those surrounding the "Zionist entity,"
for the military struggle in Palestine. In the early 1970's,
there were 50000 ALF soldiers on the Jordanian and Syrian fronts
with israel.23 In June 1972, Iraq proposed a commitment with
Syria and Egypt on a policy of continued confrotation with
Israel. Five months later, Iraq became the first Arab state to
link the "oil weapon" directly with attitude toward the
* There are at least two versions to this Jordnian repression
issue. One says that Jordan's King Hussein has always held a
grudge against the Palestinians, particularly the PLO who
murdered his grandfather. When disruptive factions of the PLO
began to assert power and authority in Jordan, King Hussein had
them expelled, or executed. Another says that PLO leader Yasser
Arafat was in Jordan at the time of this "repression" and he was
a participant in planning the factions elimination, which he did
not claim as legitimately PLO. Further, Since Jordan is 50 per
cent Palestinian, it is argued that King Hussein would not take
repressive measures which would risk widespread disapproval The
expelled faction came to be called Black September, still
considered by many to be PLO.
THE '73 WAR (YOM KIPPUR) AND CONTINUING
It would seem that the `67 war and third defeat, even though
devastatingly embarrassing to strong Arab pride, might have
shifted the Palestinian question from one of Israel's existence
to one of Israel's boundaries; but this was not the case. The
fighting never really stopped, and in fact, the Baathists
proclaimed that the war itself had been a conspiracy by western
imperialists to gain affirmation of Israel's existence.24 The
Baath official party newspaper, Al Thawrah, discussed that
conspiracy and predicted that because the imperialists had not
succeeded at gaining that affirmation, they would no doubt
engineer another war emphasizing boundaries. The idea was that
the issue could be further removed from the original, essential
question of Israel's right to exist at all within the heart of,
and at the expense of, the Arabs.
In October 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked and the
Arab-Israeli war was back in full swing. Iraq mobilized all its
forces and sent them to Syria, and virtually every other Arab
nation participated against Israel with either troops or oil
embargoes. But again, Israeli forces were clearly superior,
driving back massive attacks on both the Syrian and Egyptian
fronts. On the latter, Israel advanced all the way to Cairo,
and the taking of the city was prevented only by an early cease-
fire with Egypt. U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger executed his
now famous "shuttle diplomacy," but the fighting with Syria
lasted about six months.
Many Israelis criticized their government's handling of the
1973 war and as a result, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned and
was replaced by Yitzhak Rabin. In 1975, a new agreement was made
with Egypt under which Israeli troops would withdraw from part of
the western Sinai occupied in `73. In 1977, Menacbem Begin
succeeded Rabin and in `78, he met with Egyptian President Anwar
Sadat and US President Carter in discussions which led to the
Camp David Accords. Under that agreement there would be a peace
treaty, Israel would completely withdraw from the Sinai, and
there would be a five year period of self-government for the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank after which a final decision would be
made on their status. The treaty was signed, and the Israelis
completed withdrawal from the Sinai in 1982, but no arrangement
for self-government in the Gaza Strip or West Bank has been
Iraq responded to the Camp David accords by organizing in
November 1978 a summit conference for all Arab governments except
Egypt. In unprecedented Arab unanimity, the following was agreed
upon: (1) rejection of the Camp David accords; (2) a common
stand on the interpretation of UN resolution 242;* (3) reaffirm-
ation of the PLO as sole representative of the Palestinian
people; and (4) economic and military support for the front-line
Arab states.25 Al Thawrah said:
We know that the peaceful "efforts" that are made by US
imperialism seek to "subdue Arab thought" just as they
subdued the Arab regimes. We know that these efforts seek
"to persuade Arab thought" to turn the "historic struggle"
between the ideology of Arab liberation and that of Zionist
colonialism into a "geographic struggle" over a few
kilometers here and a few kilometers there.26
In 1988, Palestinian camps are still filled, now with second
and third generation refugees, and the occupied territories - in
the eyes of many - remain just that. Despite at least ten years
of apparent Arab ambivalence most recently characterized by the
return of Egypt into the Arab fold, the Palestinians are again
rising up, and getting the world's attention and sympathy. Most
Arab states, particularly the front line of Egypt, Syria and
Jordan, have found themselves in the uncomfortable position of
supporting the principles of Palestinian self-determination per
se, but having to take the necessary self-preservation measures
to deny Palestinians too much freedom to maneuver at home or in
the region as a whole. Perhaps victims of their own years of
rhetoric and inaction on the refugee issue, historically unstable
Arab regimes don't seem to want to live with or fight for them,
but can't survive politically without championing their cause.
Through that same period, in which the war between Iran and
Iraq has evolved into a stalemate of "acceptable" attrition,
both Israel and the United States have demonstrated that they
* (UN resolutions 242 and 338, passed in 1967 and 1973
respectively called for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied
territories and Arab recognition of the right of all nations in
the regions including Israel, to live in peace and security;)
share with Iran a common strategic-military interest in
containin Iraq, and the forces of Arab "radicalism" in general.
Both undeniably supplied arms to the Khomeini regime, further
fueling Iraq's continued rhetoric against the Zionist-Imperialist
enemy. Nevertheless, current efforts to resolve the Palestinian
dilemma focus on concessions by all concerned, apparently
proceeding with the concept that reality - the current existence
of a well-established, powerful country and a large group of
displaced people demanding the right to determine the course of
their own future based on their own beliefs and culture - must
prevail; neither will go away. As negotiations proceed, it
appears most essential to remember that for many Arab regimes,
who for forty years have publicly articulated their pro-
Palestinian position and linked the Palestinian cause to their
own political credibility, it will be extremely difficult even to
compromise. In some cases, such as Iraq, it is by no means
certain that an existing Arab regime will risk taking steps to
redefine the Arab stand on an issue that is inextricably linked
to the regime's internal acceptance, legitimacy, prestige in the
Arab world, and most basic ideology. Wouldn't it be sadly ironic
if the Iraqi government found it necessary to escalate the now
unwanted war with Iran in an attempt to divert internal and
international attention from the Palestine issue - to which an
Arab-supported compromise solution, one which accepted Israel's
right to exist, would slap the Baathist ideology right in the
Click here to view image
BEST CASE SCENARIO . . .
It's no new experience for the nations surrounding the
Persian Gulf to find their region an arena for conflicts between
the world's powers. The war between Iran and Iraq, however,
marked the first time that the great powers really had to come to
terms with their dependence on the resources, and decisions of
these nations which had heretofore been little more than pawns on
the strategic chessboard. Since the early days of the Cold War
when Eisenhower called the Mideast "the most strategically
important area in the world," the United States has attempted to
apply a rather simple policy - common defense of the free world
against communism - to a very complex regional situation.1 It
involved the U.S. in the local conflicts of the Middle East and
in the internal politics of individual states. It seemed to
achieve some success when the Baghdad Pact, later called the
Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), effectively contained the
Soviet Union's southern flank with countries who appeared
outwardly pro-west. It evolved into Nixon's twin pillars policy.
From the Soviet perspective, the picture could be quite
different. The Gulf region is close to them but far from the
U.S., but it was the U.S. who was engaged in imperialist bloc-
building, sending arms and setting up military bases to threaten
the Soviet Union. Their reaction could be understandably to want
to deny to the U.S. the use of the area for military purposes.
To do so, they worked to undermine governments which cooperated
with the Americans and sought favor with those who opposed them.2
In the chessboard view, it would seem in retrospect that
American diplomacy, though always backed by the totality of
power, has been dominant. No country in the region became a
Soviet satellite in the East European sense; the combatants
remain two; oil shipments from the Persian Gulf have not been
impeded; reduced oil production in Iran and Iraq has not had a
negative impact on world energy supplies; and the superpowers
have, for the most part, kept aloof. Since the announcement in
1968 of British withdrawal from the area, probably no scenario
for a gulf war has contemplated such inconsequence.3 An American
must hope that this is because United States policy has stressed
the responsibility of local states and refrained from actually
moving in, or even really threatening to. One must also wonder,
however, particularly in the aftermath of the October `73 war and
the assertion of the "oil weapon," if the entire non-Arab world
still fails to recognize the legitimacy, or perceived legitimacy
of some of the strongest forces of Arab nationalism - liberation,
independence, unity, recovery of Palestine. Could it be that
these peoples of the Gulf states really have no desire for long-
term ties with any superpower; that, depending on the
circumstances either would suffice as a temporary partner to
provide the goods, skills, technology, and arms which would
complete the process of emancipation from all outside influence?
Could it be that the oil weapon was powerful enough that the
superpowers could be effectively played against each other? With
the collapse of the shah and the rise to power of Ayatollah
Rouhallah Khomeini in Iran, the answers to these questions
became, at least, more debatable.
Khomeini set forth his policies in a series of lectures
delivered while exiled to Iraq in the '60's and `70's. For him,
the only salvation for Muslims throughout the world from the
corrupt and immoral society to which they had been subjected was
to "create a victorious and triumphant Islamic political
revolution" which would "destroy the heads of treason, the idols,
the human images, and the false gods which disseminate injustice
on earth."4 To do this he called on the religious `ulema' "to
put an end to this injustice and to seek to bring happiness to
millions of peoples through destroying and eliminating the unjust
governments and through establishing a sincere and active Moslem
government."5 His theories, if implemented, would give the ulema
exclusive authority, entrusting them with "governing and running
the affairs of people."6 Implicit in his position was an intense
opposition to artificially created territorial states, and his
quest for a universal pan-Islamic state under his spiritual and
political leadership. He and his followers believe that the
division and fragmentation of Muslims into independent political
entities is the work of "imperialists and self-seeking rulers."7
Apparently convinced of his role as messiah, he said in a speech
on February 11, 1980:
"We will export our revolution to the four corners of the
world because our revolution is Islamic, and the struggle
will continue until the cry of `there is no God but Allah
and Muhummed is his Messenger' prevails throughout the
Khomeini's conception of religion as the driving force
behind Iran's domestic and foreign policy is diametrically
opposed to Iraq's view of it as the Arabs' great cultural
heritage, a part of but subordinate to Arab nationalism. In
other words, the Iraqi Baathists believe in separation of church
and state. According to Saddam Hussein:
"We do not believe in dealing with life through religion
because it would not serve the Arab nation. It would only
serve to divide the nation into different religions and
numerous sects and schools of thought.
Nevertheless, the Iraqi's were initially hesitant to confront the
new Iranian regime. Perhaps uneasy with the particularly Iranian
and Shiite nature of the movement (Iran's population is 90 per
cent Shiite, and in Iraq to a lesser degree the majority is also
Shiite), and perhaps seeing an opportunity to exploit their
recent successes at achieving regional influence, the Baathists
at first hailed the revolution. Hussein noted that Iran's
severance of relations with Israel and Egypt, her abandonment of
the shah's role as the Gulf's policeman, and her willingness to
join the non-aligned movement, attested to the new regime's
The new Iranian revolutionary government did not respond
favorably. The Iraqi government was described as "fascists and
racists" who were "fighting Islam."11 Quickly, Saddam Hussein
reversed his stand, calling the Iranian "ruling clique" phony and
expansionist, and describing Khomeini's religion as "a fake mask
covering Persian racism and the deep-rooted hatred of the
Arabs."12 A period of fierce repression followed in Iraq. Those
with pro-Khomeini views were either imprisoned, executed, or
expelled. The Baathist Party was totally purged, primarily of
Shiite followers. The Iranians protested and threatened
violence, while concurrently executing thousands of pro-shah
Iranians to consolidate their own power. The border dispute
On November 4, 1979, amidst the turmoil of the Khomeini
takeover and in the wake of Camp David, the United States embassy
in Teheran was seized, its occupants held hostage for return of
the shah. In December, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Whether
they were trying to rescue a pro-Soviet regime weakening against
militant Islam, or taking advantage of the obviously weakened U.
S. position in the region, the world had to accept the fact that
one of Russia's border countries, adjacent to Iran, had been
absorbed. The move forced the Carter administration to declare
that the United States would resist with all appropriate means,
including military force, any Soviet move representing an assault
on American vital interests (presumably in the direction of the
oil fields or the Indian Ocean).
Tensions escalated. Iraq blamed Iran for failing to realize
that a more realistic approach to strategic diplomacy was in the
region's best interest, and warned Khomeini to cease his efforts
to subvert the Iraqi government. Iran blamed Iraq for fighting
the undeniable truths of Islam, and accused the Baathists of
having failed to support the Palestinians, a cause that should be
pursued not as an Arab-Israeli conflict, but as a struggle
between Muslims and Zionists led by Iran.13 The Soviets
meanwhile courted Iran with her vocal anti-U. S. sentiment, while
providing arms to Iraq despite the decreasing pro-Soviet stance
of Saddam Hussein. Worried about the hostage crisis, fearing oil
disruption and regional instability, and not wanting to push Iran
closer to Moscow, the US maintained neutrality.
Early in September 1980, Ayatollah Khoumeini sent his
personal greeting, in the form of a leaflet, to Muslims from all
over the world making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca:
"The Muslims of the world should recognize these sowers of
discord and thwart their plots. Simultaneously with the
attack by the superpowers on Islamic countries such as
Afghanistan and the cruel and brutal massacre of Afghan
Muslims who do not want foreigners to interfere in their
affairs, or the United States which has its hand in every
kind of corruption; and simultaneously with the general
attack by Israel on the Muslims of beloved Palestine and
Lebanon; and at the same time when Israel is busy with its
treacherous plan to transfer its capital to Jerusalem; and
when Muslims feel the need for unity more than ever, Sadat,
this traitor servant of the United States and friend and
brother of Begin and the former shah, and Saddam Hussein,
that lackey of America, are busy sowing discord among the
Muslims and agree to any crime ordered by their criminal
master the United States by its repeated attacks on Iran..
. Muslim nations should know that Iran is a country which
is formally at war with the United States, and our youths,
our brave army, our revolutionary guard are defending Iran
against the United States. The clashes in the west of our
country are clashes engineered by the United States and
atheist, subservient forces face us there every day."14
On September 22, 1980, Iraq announced that her planes had
hit ten Iranian airfields and that her troops had penetrated into
Iranian territory on three major fronts. A full scale war had
been launched. Its purpose, according to Saddam Hussein, was to
blunt the edge of Khomeini's fundamentalist, backward movement
and to thwart his attempt to export his Islamic revolution to
Iraq and the Arab Gulf states.
Through at least five years of buildup and eight years of
war, a great deal has occurred, or been alleged to have occurred,
in the world. These are the years, among other things, of the
Iran-Contra affair. Perhaps a good way to regain a perspective
on this most recent period is through a somewhat cursory
chronological review of some pertinent events, quotations, add
- The Algiers Accord ends Iran's support for the Kurdish
rebellion in NE Iraq, adjusts the land frontier, and fixes
the southern section of the border as the center of the
Click here to view image
- Iraq leads Arab countries in unified denunciation of the
Camp David accords.
- Saddam Hussein says: "The Soviets are our best friends.
The USSR always sides with the Arabs. But we should not
fall in love with the Soviet Union if it renounces us."16
- Shah of Iran is overthrown (16 Jan)
- Khomeini returns (1 Feb)
- PLO leader Yasser Arafat is first to visit Khomeini (FEB)
- Iran servers ties with Israel, and announces support for the
- Skirmishes and political tension between Iran and Iraq
revive the border dispute.
- Sandanista National Liberation Frdnt overthrows Somoza in
Nicaragua (19 Jul)
- U. S. embassy in Teheran and 53 hostages taken (4 Nov).
- President Carter declares national emergency, freezes all
U.S. held Iranian assets, and blocks delivery of military
equipment to Iran.
- USSR invades Afghanistan
- BANI-SADR elected President of Iran. He says: "Our
revolution will not win if it is not exported. We are going
to create a new world order in which deprived people will
not always be deprived and oppressors will not always be
oppressors." WP 2/5/80* It is only through the overthrow of
existing regimes "that the Arab world would change." CSM
- Saddam Hussein told an Arab conference in Baghdad that the
U.S. had made "monthly or at least yearly attempts" during
the preceding five years to restore relations with Iraq, but
that Iraq would "continue to view the U.S. as an enemy" as
long as Israel occupies Arab territory. AL-THAWRAH 3/23/80
- US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski said on the
"McNeil-Lehrer Report" two weeks later:
"It's been our position for quite some time the we neither
deplore nor fear the Arabic renaissance. . . We see no
fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United
States and Iraq. . . We do not wish to continue the
anomalous state of US-Iraq relations.
- Tariq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy Premier, is wounded in an
assassination attempt which Iraq blames on Iran; Iran steps
up propaganda urging Shiite rebellion; border skirmishes
* (If source is not written out, one of following abbreviations
will be used: WP = Washington Post; NYT = New York Times; MH =
Miami Herald; LAT = Los Angeles Times; WSJ = Wall Street Journal;
BS = Baltimore Sun; CSM = Christian Science Monitor; SIC = Senate
Intelligence Committee Report dated 1/29/87; TCR = Tower
Commission Report dated 2/26/87; NBC = National Broadcasting
Company News. See footnote 15.)
- Failed hostage rescue attempt; 8 dead (APR)
- Iraq abrogates the Algiers Agreement and invades Iran on
three fronts, including full-scale invasion in the
- Robert McFarlane, National Security Council (NSC) staffer,
arranges covert negotiations with Iranians for release of
hostages. Reagan campaign aides involved. MH 4/12/87
- Iraqi advances end after six weeks; Iran destroys Iraq's
Gulf oil export facilities and closes Basra.
- President Carter announces hostage release the day before
President Reagan's inauguration.
- Israel begins shipping American made weapons to Iran (FEB)
- President Reagan authorizes CIA to organize Contras in
Nicaragua MH 1/18/87
- Iranian counteroffensive begins (MAY)
- Israel attacks Iraqi nuclear facility (JUNE). Iraq accuses
Iran of complicity. Israel justifies attack by claiming
that Iraq would produce nuclear weapons, not electrical
power. (Since Iraq's relationship with France over the
years is not a subject of this report, it must suffice to
say that in addition to the necessary backing to build the
nuclear facility, France provided $7 billion in arms aid
between 1981 and 1988, one-third of the west's total.)
- Marine Lieutenant Colonel (then Major) Oliver North joins
the NSC (AUG)
- At the third Islamic Summit, Crown Prince Fahd of Saudia
Arabia, reading a statement from King Khalid (who created
Saudia Arabia in 1932 after defeating Sharif Husein in
Mecca,) urged all Muslim countries to resist military
alliances with the superpowers.17 His brother Prince Saud
later strongly criticized Oman for participating in the
Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force exercise Operations
Bright Star II.18
- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - formed between Saudia
Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab
Emirates - establishes new Gulf state unity. GCC supports
introduction into region of U. S. AWACS, and acknowledges
that U.S. has relations with some 24 Mideast countries, but
notes that among those, none. has done more than Israel to:
1. Cause regional instability.
2. Seize territory.
3. Remain diplomatically isolated, regionally and globally.
4. Guarantee bankruptcy should foreign aid be withdrawn.
5. Flout the U.S. Arms Export Control Act19
- GCC denounces Soviets, not unlike Iran had.
- Coup attempt in Bahrain, blamed on Iran, is foiled.
- Prince Fahd of Saudia Arabia stated that despite what was
told to U.S. Congress, the AWACS "will deprive Israel of the
element of surprise whenever it wants to attack any Arab
- Israeli shipments of non-U.S arms to Iran begin to take
place, and Israeli "middlemen" arrange "private deals
involving U. S. arms." SIC p.2
- CIA recruits Adolfo Calero, a Coca-Cola bottling plant
manager from Managua, to head Contras (i.e. Nicaraguan
Democratic Front) MH 1/18/87
- Israel invades Lebanon (JUN). US military presence in region
- According to Israeli sources, Saddam Hussein says: "When
Iraq emerges victorious from our war with Iran, then Israel
will cease to exist."21
- Iraq withdraws from nearly all Iranian territory. STATE
- Iraq announces readiness for cease fire.
- Shultz succeeds Haig as Secretary of State
- In a classic example of speaking to please the audience, as
opposed to telling the truth, Saddam Hussein says to a
visiting U.S. Congressman: "A secure state is necessary for
both Israel and the Palestinians."22
- Sometime in July, U.S. becomes aware of evidence that Iran
was supporting terrorist groups, including groups engaged in
hostage-taking. TCR pB2
- Iran begins war of attrition.
- U.S. embassy in Beirut bombed; 17 dead.
- U.S. administration launches Operation Staunch (an effort to
limit the flow of arms to Iran from third countries) after
NSC concludes it would not be in U.S. interests for Iraq to
lose the war. WP 12/10/86
- CIA directs mining of Nicaraguan harbors. TCR p.C2
- General Secord retires from the Air Force, Robert McFarlane
is appointed National Security Advisor, and RADM Poindexter
is named McFarlane's deputy.
- U.S. ships provide Naval Gun Fire Support in Lebanon.
- U.S. Marine Compound in Beirut bombed; 241 dead.
-- U.S. knew Iran ordered and financed the bombing. MH
-- U.S. saw complicity (Iranian) in this and other
terrorist attacks. TCR
- U.S. invades Grenada (OCT) -
- UN Security Council Resolution 540 calls for ceasefire; Iraq
accepts; Iran rejects. Tanker war begins.
- Egyptian President Mubarek escorts Jordan's King Hussein to
Washington to urge President Reagan to negotiate with the
- Iran invades north of Basra, falling back under
counterattack. Iraq uses chemical weapons, and increases
attacks on shipping at Kharg Island. Iran responds by
attacking ships. STATE DEPARTMENT
- NSC memo recommends U.S. reevaluate its attitude toward
Iran. It notes that Iran should be viewed as a "menace" to
U.S. interests and suggests a renewal of covert operations
against it. The memo indicated knowledge of exiled Iranians
interested in "installing" a pro-western government in Iran,
with foreign help. TCR p.B2
- Saudia Arabia asked by CIA to fund contras; they decline.
CIA turns to Israel. Nevertheless, Robert MacFarlane says,
the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. provided at least $1
million per month from "personal funds" for two years TCR
- Ghorbanifar, an exiled Iranian businessman, begins a series
of meetings aimed at bringing the U.S. into an arms
relationship with Iran. SIC p.3
- U.S. government analysis (OCT) concludes Khomeini's death
was a precondition to changes in Iran and improved relations
with the U.S. It also includes the possibility of resuming
arms sales to Iran depending on Teheran's "willingness to
restore formal relations." The study conveys "an impression
of American powerlessness to affect changes in Iran" which
would continue indefinitely. TCR p.B2
- Amidst growing terrorism, a Kuwaiti jetliner is hijacked and
forced to Teheran. After 5 days, Iranian security men storm
the plane. Four hijackers are captured; two Americans are
killed. Iran rejects U.S. extradition request.
- CIA reports to Admiral Poindexter that Mujaheddin E. Khalg,
under Soviet influence, is group likely to succeed Khomeini
in Iran. Reassessment of U. S. policy is directed. SIC
- In Beirut, Lebanese Shiite militiamen lay siege to
Palestinian settlements, essentially barricading the
Palestinians inside to prevent them from rebuilding their
guerilla forces in Beirut. (The siege did not end until Jan
`88 when the Lebanese backed off as a show of solidarity
with the Palestinians rising up in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. Syrian soldiers manned observation posts NYT
Note: While not a subject of this paper, the rise of
"terrorism" over the years played an unquestionable
role in the conduct of foreign policy, of strategic
diplomacy, of politico-military affairs. This gross
example of man's inhumanity to man demands detailed
study, but in the broadest sense, it is essential to
remember three things:
(1) It is extremely difficult to negotiate with a
government which, from the outset, denies
complicity and therefore refuses to discuss the
(2) When involvement in a terrorist act is denied and
that denial is not believed, the accuser must see
it as underlining the perpetrator's desire to
refute peaceful settlement, indicating that
violence is the only thing to which he will
(3) To maintain a level of rationality, any response
to terrorism must ask the question: Will it
achieve more than revenge?
- Khomeini reportedly directs a sting operation aimed at U.S.,
Israel, and Soviet Union in order to get weapons and
equipment for Iran. It centered around the leak of false
reports of his impending death. U. S. News and World Report
- Iraq repulses an attack north of Basra after the Iranians
briefly seize the strategic Baghbad - Basra road. State
- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega visits Moscow.
- Truck bomb outside mosque in Beirut kills 80, wounds 250.
Pro-Khomeini Hesbollah (Army of God) is blamed, but denies
responsibility. (The PLO operates in six separate groups,
according to an Israeli opinion, the most radical being the
- A draft National Security Decision Directive (NSDD)
". . . that the U.S. encourage Western allies and friends to
help Iran meet its import requirement so as to reduce the
attractiveness of Soviet assistance and trade offers, while
demonstrating the value of correct relations with the West.
This includes a provision of selected military equipment as
determined on a case-by-case basis." SIC pl; TCR pp B8-9.
- TWA 847 is hijacked in Beirut and a U. S. Navy diver is
killed. Israeli officials ask Ghorbanifar to use his
influence in Iran to obtain the release of the hostages.
After two weeks, hostages are released because of secret
intervention by Rasfanjani, Speaker of the Iranian
parliament. TCR p B3.
- David Kimcke, director general of the Israeli Foreign
inistry, tells Robert MacFarlane that Israel has
established a dialogue with Iran. SIC p.4. Kimcke seeks
the position of the U.S. government "toward engaging in a
political discourse with Iran," which would ultimately need
arms to show seriousness of intentions. Iran, Kimcke said,
understood it needed to show "bonafides" and could do so by
releasing hostages in Lebanon. TCR pBl4.
- Iran acquires silkworm missiles from China
- Iran courts U.S. representatives repeatedly, making them
believe that hostages would be released as weapons were
delivered. Some were, but others were taken. Between 30
Aug 85 and 7 Nov 86, Iran received 2008 TOW's and parts for
Hawk missiles. Israel provided, U.S. resupplied Israel.
Some of the money that Iran paid for the weapons was
diverted, in possible violation of U.S. law, to the
Nicaraguan Contras. TCR; SLC.
- MacFarlane resigns amid cabinet-level turmoil as to whether
arms should be sold to Iran, and whether or not there was
such a thing as a moderate factor in Iran.
- Israeli government employee alleges Israel is producing
nuclear weapons. He is later convicted at trial, held
behind closed doors of security violations.
- 1985 U.S. policy on Iran-Iraq war, according to the
Department of State:
"The US has followed a policy of neutrality since the
beginning of the war. We seek an end to the war that will
preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both
Iran and Iraq. We welcome constructive international
diplomatic efforts for a negotiated conclusion. The US
remains committed to freedom of access to the gulf, a matter
of vital importance to the international community. The US
does not permit US arms and munitions to be shipped to
either belligerent and has discouraged all free-world arms
shipments to Iran because, unlike Iraq, Iran is adamantly
opposed to negotiations or a mediated end to the conflict.
The US has repeatedly condemned Iraq's use of chemical
The US broke relations with Iran in April l980, following
the November 1979 seizure of the American hostages and US
Embassy in Tehran. On November 26, 1984, Iraq resumed
formal diplomatic relations with the US, which Iraq had
broken during the June 1967. Arab-Israeli war. This
improvement in bilateral relations does not reflect any
change in US neutrality regarding the war."
- Iran seizes the abandoned Iraqi port city of Faw.
Khomeini has made it clear that he will not honor U.N.
resolutions, and will not stop the war until the Iraqi
regime under Saddam Hussein is toppled. State Department
- Iran tells U.S. officials that it is "terrified of new
Soviet threat" and wants improved relations with U.S. WP
- U.S. bombs Libya (14 Apr), in part in response to
terrorist bombing of a West German disco which injured and
killed U.S. servicemen. U.S. linked this to Libya.
- Iraq begins air campaign against economic targets,
cutting sharply into Iran's oil export level. Iran responds
by broadening the scope of her attacks on Persian Gulf
shipping, using naval vessels for the first time, and
singling out ships associated with Kuwait.
- Iranian Parliament confirms Beirut newspaper article
which reported that U.S. had supplied arms to Iran.
- Israeli Foreign Minister Peres says arms sale to Iran was
- Kuwait asked Soviet Union and U.S. for help against
Iranian attacks. Both responded affirmatively. Eleventh
hour negotiations result in Soviet role being limited to
three tankers and their escorts. US would reflag eleven
Kuwati vessels, and protect them.
- Iranian naval vessel detains and searches a Soviet
- Iranian gunboats attack Soviet merchantship.
- USS STARK is hit by French Exocet missile accidently
fired from Iraqi aircraft.
- "Operation Earnest Will," reflagged tanker protection
begins. Concept includes two AWACS, with fighter protection
of southern one shared by Saudis and U.S. carrier-based
aircraft. At height in fall, 37 U.S. ships are in the Gulf.
- Supertanker BRIDGETON hit by mine.
- Violence erupts in Mecca, reportedly Iranian inspired.
Approximately 400 are killed. Saudis go to their equivalent
of DEFCON 2, and launch strip-alert fighters
- Arab consensus condemns Iran and supports UN called - for
- INF Treaty is signed
- Saudia Arabia and UAE indicate willingness to open
channels to Iran. Syria, however, approaches Iran,
suggesting a dialogue be opened with the Arab states on the
Persian Gulf that support Iraq Saddam Hussein calls this
Click here to view images
attempt at "a separate peace" treacherous. WP 2/3/88
- Iraqi pipeline affair is alleged with echoes of the Iran-
contra affair. Attorney General Edwin Meese, his long-time
friend E. Blob Wallach (a San Francisco lawyer), and Israeli
businessmen close to Peres were reportedly in cahoots for
over two years in setting up a $1 billion pipeline to the
Mediterranean Sea (precluding necessity for Iraq to use the
Gulf) which the Israelis would promise not be sabotage,
perhaps in return for US payments to Peres' party. `WP
- Soviets indicate readiness to pull out of Afghanistan.
Pakistan presses to ensure no communist government left
behind, becoming increasingly concerned about India's ties
with the Soviets.
- Increasing number of incidents occur involving Iraqi
aircraft and U.S. forces.
- U.S. cuts back presence in Gulf to 24 ships, sending home
battleship, AEGIS cruiser, and major amphibious ship.
- Syria quietly takes credit for forestalling an Iranian
winter offensive. Soviets encourage improved Syrian-PLO
relations. NYT 1/21/88
- Palestinian uprisings in occupied territories require
increasing level of violence used by Israeli troops to
control. Over 100 Arabs killed in three months. U.N.
denounces Israeli tactics. Anti-Israeli sentiments escalate
- Ali Safavi, spokesman for Peoples Mujaheddin of Iran,
headquartered in Baghdad, says following in CNN interview on
-- factional infighting in Iran has intensified.
-- the war is a stalemate
-- Khomeini will fall
-- Khomeini did not lead the revolution, the
Mujaheddin did, but the shah had most of them
killed, so Khomeini just filled the power vacancy.
-- Mujaheddin is not Marxist
-- Since the revolution began, Khoumeini has had
70,000 of his opponents killed, and has taken
140,000 political prisoners.
-- The people of Iran want peace and a form of
-- Anti-U.S. sentiment is to some degree existent
because of different historical perceptions, but
the riots and special events are staged.
- U.S. Palestinian peace proposal presented throughout
Mideast by Secretary of State Shultz elicits mixed
reactions. It is apparently based on President Reagan's
1982 concept of "property for peace," a foundation on which
Israel has not recently been willing to negotiate. (The
issue of land for peace, however, appears almost a "given"
and the real question to Israel may be how much land and
where. For example, Israel is unlikely to accept an
historically hostile force located such that they occupy the
territory adjacent to a 9 mile wide strip of land
connecting northern and southern Israel). It also reduces
the five year plan set forth in the Camp David accords to
- U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Higgins, in command of
U.N. force in Beirut, is taken hostage. Hesbollah is
blamed. Two days later, Israeli security forces located
LCoI Higgins in Beirut, at a location at which rescue was
feasible. In so informing President Reagan, Israel also
offered to assist in the rescue The offer was denied. 26
- Cities war begins, with Iraq conducting initial missile
attack on Teheran, Iran responding in kind at Baghdad, and
the escalation spreading to other cities.
- Israeli Prime Minister Shamir visits Washington.
Resolution on Palestinian peace initiative is not achieved.
- LCoI North, Admiral Poindexter, and General Secord are
indicted for their roles in the Iran-Contra affair.
- 82nd airborne sent to Honduras in show of force after
Sandanistas cross Honduran border.
- Saudis purchase medium-range (1000-1300 miles), nuclear-
capable surface-to-surface missiles from China, offering
assurance that they only have the conventional variant, and
they would only be used defensively.
- Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze declines to repeat
his earlier promise of Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- Israel accused of planning to strike new Saudi missile
sites as an unacceptable threat. Saudis vow to
counterattack, if necessary, with all remaining missiles.
- Iraq conducts massive chemical attack, perhaps killing
thousands of civilians. Iran's Rasfanjani applauds US
denunciation of the attack, even though Iran has also been
accused of using chemical weapons.
- Soviets reconfirm plans to withdraw from Afghanistan.
- Kuwaiti airliner is hijacked. Perpetrators demand
release from Kuwaiti prisons of their "brothers," pro-
Iranian terrorists who were convicted of participating in
the 1983 attacks on U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait.
Kuwait refuses to negotiate. During the 15 day ordeal, two
Kuwaiti passengers are murdered before negotiations in
Algeria result in release of remaining hostages. The
- Khalil al-Wazir, military commander of the PLO (and
subordinate overall only to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat) is
murdered in his home in Tunisia, reportedly by the MOSSAD,
Israel's intelligence agency.
- USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) is severely damaged by a
mine in the Persian Gulf, apparently emplaced by Iran.
- In a "measured response," U.S. warships destroy two
Iranian oil platforms. Subsequent naval engagements
throughout the day result in the destruction or disablement
of six Iranian vessels.
- Iraq recaptures Fao peninsula, gateway to the Shatt-al-
Arab river and the Iraqi port at Basra, which was captured
by Iranian forced in 1986.
- U.S. forces indicate possibility of revised rules of
engagement in the Persian Gulf which would allow U.S.
warships to protect vessels of any nation. . .
Click here to view image
. . . And the conflict between Iran and Iraq continues.
Experts in all fields have drawn various "lessons learned" from
this complex political, ideological, and military environment,
and continue to formulate opinions on what really constitutes war
in the modern era. In the purely military, and primarily naval,
realm, the most recent engagement in which almost half of Iran's
at sea capability was destroyed in nine hours has underscored one
most noteworthy, if not gratifying point: high technology weapons
and systems do fulfill expectations. While minor by World War II
standards, the April 18, 1988 confrontation between U.S. and
Iranian forces is the most significant naval engagement since the
Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in 1944. It demonstrated
that the accuracy and destructive power of today's weapons do
justify their expense and complexity.
Coincidentally, Samuel B Roberts, the frigate which hit an
apparently Iranian mine triggering the sequence of events leading
to the recent fight, was also the name of a destroyer escort
which was sunk in the Leyte Gulf. Samuel Roberts himself was an
early Pacific theater hero. Ships in those days were built to
fight a different kind of naval warfare. They were heavily
armored and most equipment was either hydraulically or manually
operated. Consequently, those ships could sustain heavy damage
from enemy gunfire without being put out of action. Today's
ships, on the other hand, are designed primarily as platforms for
the delivery of long range missiles, or for anti-submarine
warfare, and as a result are crammed with state of the art
electronics. These systems, and the people that operate them,
are protected by thin alloy hulls, a situation which has often
been criticized, particularly in the wake of the sinking of HMS
Sheffield in the Falklands and the death of 37 sailors when USS
Stark hit a mine in the Persian Gulf. Although such criticisms
are unquestionably valid in some senses, they also lead to the
necessary recognition of two additional concepts: (1) the object
of modern naval warfare is not solely to sink ships, but rather
to make a combatant ship noncombatant; destruction of electronic
systems, known as "mission kill" effectively accomplishes this
goal without the perhaps unnecessary loss of life (and
expenditure of munitions) more likely in an actual sinking. (2)
Getting off the first shot is the best tactic. Modern ships do,
of course, have defensive systems to protect them, for example,
from an incoming missile. Survivability, however, is
significantly enhanced by destroying the source of the weapon as
opposed to relying on those defensive systems to perform
perfectly in the final few seconds before impact.
The difficulty, from the American perspective, arises in an
almost inbred fear of unnecessarily creating an international
incident. While firing first provides an edge, he who does so
must be absolutely sure that his actions are warranted, and must
remember the crucial nature of making that first free shot count,
because after it's done, look out!
. . . BUT FUNDAMENTALLY NO FOUNDATION FOR NEGOTIATION
In his State of the Union address on January 25, 1988,
President Reagan did not mention the Persian Gulf, Iran, Iraq, or
even Israel. Perhaps the President and his staff felt that any
mention of these would go too far toward conjuring up visions of
the "Iran-Contra Affair," and generate negative reactions to an
otherwise positive, upbeat address. Perhaps the President
purposefully discussed Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Canada, and Mexico
as the more critical areas of foreign policy upon which Americans
should focus. Perhaps, of simple necessity, he just avoided a
highly controversial range of Mideast issues which have
virtually eluded all diplomatic effort. Regardless, the fact
remains that the lifeblood of western and far-east society and
civilization originates in this region which has been racked by
war for eight years and conflict for forty. This is the only
area in the world where United States naval warships are involved
in operations which demand that they regularly steam at "general
quarters," the highest state of readiness, in anticipation of
attack. It therefore appears essential that we, the people, and
our government as our voice, vigorously seek open-minded
appreciation for the roots of conflict between Iran and Iraq, and
acquire an understanding of what the mandatory quest for Mideast
If one thing is obvious about Iraq's original 1980 decision
to attack, it is timing. The fall in that part of the world is
perfect for infantry maneuver, and in late 1980 both superpowers
had apparently focused their attention elsewhere - the Soviets on
Afghanistan (and Poland), and the United States on the hostage
crisis and presidential elections. In Iran, Khomeini's new
regime was perceived as faltering: oil revenues were low and
inflation was high; there was open rebellion; and, amidst
countless executions of pro-shah officers, the military forces
that had been built up over the years had collapsed. 1 Khomeini
had even found it necessary to create a separate, more
trustworthy army, the Revolutionary Guard. And further, Iraq had
recently made noteworthy progress in establishing itself as a
leader among Arab states, not only against Israel, but also as an
emergent power in the wake of the shah's decline as Gulf
But why did Iraq attack? What were, and are Saddam
Hussein's goal's. Did he knowingly risk oil fields,
international disapproval, and domestic unrest, and, if so, why?
Early in the war, opinions in the United States stressed Iraq's
desire to acquire additional oil, export of the Iranian
revolution, Soviet expansionism, and Iraqi aspirations to rule
the Arab world. Official pronouncements by the warring
countries, however, put the heaviest weight on ancient religious
and political differences, a centuries-old border dispute, and
"U.S.-Zionist manipulation." 2 Indeed, there are many
differences between Iran and Iraq to cause a general hostility
between them. The Iraqi leaders are Sunnis Arabs, and pan-
Arabists, While the Khomeini followers are Shiites, non-Arabs,
and pan-Islamists. But today's regimes also share much. Both
are republics which came to power through utter repudiation of
monarchs; both are non-aligned but have expre ssed distinctly
anti-U.S./imperialist sentiments; both are in some form pro-
Palestinian; and both have their own concept of how the Arab, or
Muslim world should be ruled - concepts which are pursued through
use of the people as a tool, a means of achieving governmental
objectives. In attempting to understand why the two countries
are fighting, and therefore what might determine prospects for
peace, consideration must be given not only to the hostility that
culminated in war, but also to their comparable perceptions of
what determines an acceptable environment in which to live
Since Iranians impugned Arabized culture fourteen centuries
ago, cultural antagonism has existed between Iran and Iraq. To
an Iranian, being a Muslim has never meant losing one's identity
and becoming an Arab. With the establishment of Shiism as the
Iranian national religion in the sixteenth century, the cultural
rivalry and national polarization between the Persians and Arabs
was sharpened. The existence of Shiite shrines and a Shiite
majority in Iraq have historically furthered Iran's interests,
and bitterness. In general, the thought, culture, and language
of the two peoples evolved along different paths, both with proud
tradition. These factors in Iranian and Iraqi thinking and
history - their heritage - cannot be changed; a solution to them
cannot be found. While they undoubtedly exacerbated relations
between the two countries - such notions do appeal to patriotic
tendencies - it just does not seem possible that they alone
caused Baghdad to attack in September 1980.
In a modern sense, the Sunni-Shiite antagonism, coupled with
the particularly Shiite nature of the Khomeini revolution, could
lead to the conclusion that Iraq attacked in a preemptory manner
to prevent Khomeini from gaining enough power to influence Iraq's
primarily Shiite population. In fact, other Arab countries
expressed concern in this regard, reflecting a vast Khomeini
influence and a definite respect for the subversive potential of
fundamentalist, Khomeini-backed Shiite groups. Nevertheless,
fear of a widespread Shiite rebellion does not appear to account
for Iraq's decision to go to war with Iran. Even if the Iraqi
government initially felt that it could topple Khomeini before
the Shiites could respond, it would not have launched its primary
attack from the most heavily Shiite region in Iraq, the south,
and would net have indiscriminately killed Shiite civilians in
Iran. These are not the actions of a government fearful of the
enemy's influence over its population. Comparably, if Iran
provoked the war, any expectation Khomeini might have had of a
spontaneous uprising of Shiites did not materialize in Iraq; nor
did an Arabistic uprising in southern Iran where the population
is heavily Arab. 3 Again, even the power of Islam was not great
enough to overcome the nationalistic drive to fight for one's
The possibility of outright and subversive Soviet
expansionism, ever-so-dominant in U.S. and most western foreign
policy, cannot be ruled out in this conflict. The Soviets did
provide Iraq with the majority of its weapons, did invade
Afghanistan at a time of significantly decreased U.S. influence
in the region, and did court Iran's new regime. As the war
dragged on, however, it became increasingly apparent that they
had no more success than the United States in establishing a
truly influential position with either of the warring countries.
A December 1986 State Department current policy report offers the
following assessments of U.S. and Soviet policy in the region for
"...to establish and broaden its relations and influence
with the Gulf states..." and "counter U.S. regional rela-
tionships.. .who are positioning themselves to emerge as the
major extraregional power in the post-Persian Gulf war
"... protect our interests (by) ensuring that (the Persian
Gulf) does not come under the domination of a power hostile
to the United States, our Western allies, or to our friends
in the region. We do not want the Soviet Union either to
control directly or increase significantly its presence or
influence over the region.
The intractable Shatt-al-Arab boundary question has been a
source of conflict for centuries, whether on its own, or en-
tangled with other contentious issues. To Iraq, the geographical
reality is that this river is her one viable outlet to the sea
and therefore vital to her national security, both politically
and economically. The problem is that Iraq has viewed her
unrestricted and exclusive sovereignty over it as essential and
historically right. When Iraq granted Iran half of the river in
1975 in return for an end to the mighty shah's support for the
economically and politically crippling Kurdish civil war, it may
have appeared to be a small price to pay. But the leaders of
Iraq, and its people, must have felt profoundly humiliated. At a
time when the Baathists were attempting to encourage internal
accord and a strong Arab-nationalist ideology, albeit with
ruthless tactics, this was devastating: they were slapped by
superior military might and superpower influence. When Iran's
military forces began to decline a few year later, Iraq renounced
the 1975 treaty, and a few days before all-out attack, abrogated
it, claiming the Shatt as "totally Arab and totally Iraqi." 5
The Shatt is unique in the Middle East. With virtually
every other modern boundary drawn by twentieth century colonial
administrators, no other border has a record so long and emotion-
al. It has become a source of national pride, as well as vital
interest.6 While clearly not the only, or even the major
viable solution can and must be found before a lasting peace can
be achieved. There are northern boundary disputes, but it is
the Shatt that is crucial. Even recent efforts to divert oil
through pipelines across the desert to the Mediterranean do not
reduce substantially the essential nature of addressing this
source of ancient hostility.
They existed before the war, played an almost unquestionable
role in its beginning, continue today, and perhaps should be
absolutely no surprise. Iraq's Baath party is "unique among
third world states in that it has a foreign policy based on
clearly articulated ideological foundations."7 Though long-
treated as incomprehensible by most westerners, the fact is that
it is perceived United States imperialism - an apparent policy of
extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by
the establishment of economic and political control over other
nations - which the Baathists believe is in direct confrontation
with their ideals. To them, this threat is embodied in and
symbolized by Israel. "What we mean by an imperialist country,"
noted the political report of the Eighth Regional Conference of
the party, "is the United States in particular and those countr-
ies in cooperation with U.S. polices of aggression." 8 The same
report further stated that the Iraqi's "opposition to the
imperialist countries does not prevent us from dealing with them
in matters which are in our national interest."9 Similar
policies toward the Soviets are recorded.
As the champion of Arab nationalism, the Baathists have
suffered and struggled not only through the humiliating Israeli
defeats, but also through continuous internal unrest and even
civil war. Domestic economic programs have floundered, and
relations with neighboring countries, though improved after
initial deterioration, indicate half-hearted support. Efforts to
consolidate and retain power remain brutal, with execution and
assassination perfectly regular means of eliminating internal
adversaries. Reportedly, Saddam Hussein is so paranoid in this
regard that he transfers his military officers too frequently for
coalitions to form, and so ruthless that he even strangled an
opponent with his bare hands.10
The Baathists may even have initially viewed the Iranian
revolution as yet another imperialist attempt to destablize Iraq
and bring about the downfall of the regime.11 Regardless, in
the wake of the unified Arab rejection of the Camp David accords
and the weakening of Iran, Iraq had an opportunity to assert
itself as a dominant gulf power which was almost too good to be
true. By eliminating the threat to regional governments, Iraq
could emerge as a positive contributor to Gulf security and
stability. A heightened view of the regime abroad would also
engender increased credibility and stability at home. By seizing
the Shatt-al-Arab in the process, the Baathists could appeal to a
patriotic issue, and guarantee the country's ability to capital-
ize on the oil profits so necessary to improve the domestic
situation. In all the regime would emerge as powerful, ready to
proceed in its quest for Arab unity.
As the war progressed to a protracted stalemate, most Arab
states began to provide Iraq some assistance. It has become
widely, but quietly accepted that, despite any ill-conceived
initial Iraqi aspirations, the Khomeini revolution threatens the
regional status quo to such an extent that victory by Iran is in
no one's best interest.12 In this sense, Iraq has long since
succeeded in establishing itself as a viable defender of Arab
causes, while improving relations with the U.S., and with many
neighbors previously considered hostile. On the other hand, Arab
states have neither united in any plan to offensively eliminate
Iran's government, nor actually supported with armies Iraq's
defense. Rather, while applauding Iraq's agreement to a cease
fire, they have remained content to let Iraq fight Saddam
Hussein's war, taking whatever steps deemed necessary to protect
their own interests. Recent newspaper reports indicate that
both the Syrians and the Saudis have approached Iran to offer
help in negotiating the peace. Perhaps the majority of the
Arabs are cautious because, while they want regional peace, they
have not forgotten the platform on which the Baathists rose to
power. Neither can we.
THE REAL FUTURE
Whatever Khomeini's initial intent, he now rejects all
peaceful overtures and insists upon the elimination of Saddam
Hussein from power as a precondition to negotiation. His views
of politics as a struggle between the forces of good and evil, of
life as one of either true faith or atheism, and of the future as
necessarily a period of reversion, are all highly complicating
matters by no means conducive to political compromise, or even
cease-fire. So the war goes on, and people die, and the rest of
the world provides the weapons and follows the reports in daily
media. Some even say that the continuation of hostilities, at
least while the current regimes are in power, is preferable to a
negotiated peace which could offer either the opportunity to
refocus his radical tendencies, on israel for example. Shouldn't
we, at minimum, concentrate on achieving a stronghold of Arab
support for Israel's right to exist before worrying about Iran
and Iraq? A solution to the Palestinian problem might take some
impetus out of the war anyway. And as long as the oil keeps
flowing, why not let them destroy each other since, as Henry
Kissinger said, "the best news would be if they both lost?"13
Unfeeling though Dr. Kissinger's quip may seem in terms of
the incalculable devastation and death wrought on both countries
by the war, it may be just that perception that Iran and Iraq
will continue to face in the foreseeable future. There simply
appears to be fundamentally no foundation for negotiation, no
envisioned concept of peace which would be politically,
economically, and ideologically acceptable to all concerned.
One distinct advantage to writing about this in-progress
war, particularly as an amateur, is the opportunity to decide
that it would be somewhat presumptuous to offer conclusions, or
proposed solutions to problems which have eluded the best of
minds. The war between Iran and Iraq does, however, reenforce a
couple of broad historical lessons. The first is realistically
no more than a reminder of the futility of attempting to resolve
political problems by sheer military force. With the Arab-
israeli situation, the American experience in Vietnam, and now
the Soviet failure in Afghanistan as backdrops, the Iranian-Iraqi
war again vividly demonstrates that military conflicts are no
longer viable mechanisms for settling political disputes.
Neither power can defeat the other decisively and impose its own
terms indefinitely. Even if one country were to achieve a
punitive peace on the other, that peace would be fragile and, at
best, temporary. It would just be a matter of time before the
vanquished state would rise up to rid itself of unwanted
domination, and redress its perceived grievances.
Finally, another historical reminder. It was perhaps Lord
Palmerston, a former British Foreign Secretary, who first pointed
out that nations have no permanent friends, only permanent
interests. The history of the Mideast is filled with tes-
timonials to this notion. Today, despite highly touted ideologi-
cal differences, Israel sells arms to Iran while allegedly
supporting an Iraqi pipeline venture (conceivably, all with U. S.
support); both warring countries purchase arms from China, the
Soviet Union, and France, among others; and the superpowers take
whatever steps necessary to protect their interests at all
levels. Notably, notwithstanding the current U. S. policy toward
Iran and American abhorrence of Ayatollah-backed terrorism, it is
secret that a Soviet attack into Iran would most likely result in
an immediate change in the alliance structure. We would defend
Iran. This is the type of strategic dilemma which shapes the
affairs of the entire region.
With all this in mind, and an eye towards a real future, it
is perhaps the perspective from which American interests are
viewed abroad which should concern us. History has taught the
world about colonialism, about submersion. To many, the
theoretical American concept of a global alliance based on free
trade, comprised of free nations who are mutually cooperative and
allied in defense of their individual freedom, simply may not
seem realistic. Perhaps the real challenge is to find a way to
convince people that, despite the historical perspective
surrounding nations which negotiate from a position of absolute
military power, and despite any perceptions our previous actions
may have caused, the American goal is truly to seek an environ-
ment in which all can live and let live, in peace and free.
I feel obligated to point out that after completing the
reading associated with a project of this nature, one naturally
begins to accept certain thoughts, concepts, and opinions of
other more learned scholars. This is a research paper, and while
every effort has been made to use a footnote in each appropriate
case, some phrases and ideas, often repeated by various authors,
may be included without footnote, despite not being original
thought. Further, in all cases where a "private conversation,"
or "personal source" is noted, I gave my word that individuals,
or organizations would not be named. They are all highly
1. "Christian Science Monitor", April 15, 1980.
2. T. Walter Wallbank, Western Perspectives: A Concise History
of Civilization (Glenview, IL Scott, Foresman and Company, 1973)
3. Alfred Guillaume, Islam (Penguin Books, 1950) pp. 150-151.
5. Reuben Levy, The Legacy of Persia, ed. A. J. Arberry (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1963) p. 60.
7. Daniel Pipes, "A Border Adrift: Origins of the Conflict,"
from The Iran-Iraq War: New Weapons, Old Conflicts, ed. S.
Tahir-Kheli and Shaheen Ayubi (New York, Praeger Special Studies,
1983) p. 5.
8. Rouhollah K. Ramazani, The Persian Gulf: Iran's Role
(Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1973) p. 34.
9. J. M. Abulghan, Iran and Iraq: The Years of Crisis, (Bal-
timore MD, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984) p. 2.
10. Alessandro Bausani, The Persians: From the Earliest Days to
the Twentieth Century (London: Elek Books, 1971) p. 139.
11. Majid Khadduri, "Political Trends in the Arab World: The Role
of Ideas and Ideals in Politics" (Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1970) p. 26.
12. Abdulghan; Iran and Iraq: The Years of Crisis, p. 4.
14. Stephen H. Longrigg and Frank Stoakes, Iraq (New York,
Praeger, 1958) p. 21.
15. Pipes, "A Border Adrift" p. 16.
16. Abdulghani, Iran and Iraq, p. 32.
17. The full text of the treaty is published in Khalid al-Izzi,
The Shatt-al-Arab River Disputes in Terms of Law (Baghdad: Al-
Hurriyah Printing House, 1972) pp. 123-125.
18. Marshall Shulman, "Toward a Western Philosophy of Coexis-
tence," Foreign Affairs, vol. III, no. 1, 1973.
19. C. J. Edmonds, Kurds, Turks, and Arabs (London, Oxford
University Press, 1957) p. 132.
20. Pipes, "A Border Adrift" p. 18.
21. Wallbank, Western Perspectives, p. 492.
23. M. S. El Azhary, The Iran-Iraq War (New York, St. Martin's
Press, 1984) p. 115
24. Ibid, p. 118.
25. Abdulghani, Iran and Iraq, p. 40.
26. Robert Graham, Iran: The Illusion of Power (London, Crook
Helm Ltd, 1978) p. 59
27. Ibid, p. 34
1. Graham, Iran: The Illusion of Power p. 130
2. Ibid p. 57.
3. At the time of the shah's birth, various sources indicate
that only 10 per cent of Iran's population was literate, primari-
ly because of the lack of schools. His father's domestic
programs made some positive progress' in this area.
4. Marvin Zonis, The Political Elite of Iran. (Princeton NJ, The
Princeton University Press, 1977) p. 182
5. Graham, Iran: The Illusion of Power, p. 63.
7. Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, Mission for my Country (London,
Hutchinson Press, 1974) p. 97
8. Ibid p. 116.
9. Ibid p. 97
10. Gerard de Villiers, L'Irresistible Ascension de Mohammed
Reza, Shah of Iran (Paris, Plan, 1975) p. 221-230
12. Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA man responsible, has never dis-
guised the agency's role. He is quoted in various sources, and
has been interviewed on numerous television documentaries.
13. de Villiers, Shah of Iran, p. 235.
14. Ibid p. 249.
15. Pahlavi, Mission, p. 296.
16. C. D. Carr, "The United States-Iranian Relationship 1948-
1978: A Study in Reverse Influence", from The Security of the
Persian Gulf, ed. Hossein Amirsadeghi (New York, St. Martin's
Press 1981) p. 58.
18. Ibid p. 64.
19. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1949, Vol. VI (GPO
Washington, DC 1978) p. 471.
20. "New York Times," June 8, 1957. (NBC News Library)
21. Foreign Relations p. 488
22. Amirsadeghi, The Persian Gulf, p 66.
23. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 34-61, CIA, 1961, John
Fitzgerald Kennedy Library.
24. Amirsadeghi, The Persian Gulf, p. 72
25. Ibid. p. 74.
26. Tad Szulc, The Illusion of Peace (New York, Viking Press,
1978) p. 167.
27. Graham, The Illusion of Power, p. 15.
28. Ibid. p. 16
30. "Kayhan International," Dec 25, 1973, NBC News library
32. Ibid Aug 4, 1974.
33. Amirsadeghi, The Persian Gulf, p. 73
34. Margaret Laing, The Shah (London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1977)
1. J. C. Campbell, The Gulf Region in the Global Setting (New
York, St. Martin's Press, 1980) p. 1.
2. The Constitution of the Baath Party, 1947, from Tarig Ismael,
The Arab Left (Syracuse University Press, 1976) p. 128.
3. Ibid, Appendix l.
4. Majid Khadduri, Independent Iraq (Oxford University Press,
1951) p. 12.
5. Ismael, The Arab Left, p. 64
6. Ibid p. 37
7. "AI-Thawrah," 1 March 1979; NBC News library.
9. "Christian Science Monitor," 13 September 1980.
10. Amirsadeghi, The Persian Gulf, p. 209.
11. "New York Times" 11 January 1975.
13. "Baghdad Observer," 27 February 1979; NBC. News library.
14. Amirsadeghi, The Persian Gulf, p. 210.
1. "Washington Post," 30 September 1986.
2. Ibid, 19 November 1982.
3. Israeli Governmental Background Paper "The Military of Iraq:
A Threat to Israel," March 1986; provided by a private source.
4. A private conversation; highly credible but non-attributable.
5. Michael Hudson, Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy
(New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 1977) p. 3.
6. Keesing Research Report, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, (New
York, Charles Scribner and Sons, 1968) p. 8.
7. Tahir-Kheli, The Iran-Iraq War, p. 68.
8. Keesing Report, p. 11.
9. Ibid, p. 6.
10. Ibid p. 8.
11. Early in the Suez Crisis, Egypt sunk a ship in the canal,
closing it for a year. This gave rise to the era of super-
12. The Keesing Report p. 7.
13. Peter Young, The Israeli Campaign (London, Kimber Press,
1967) p. 121.
14. The Keesing Report, p. 19.
15. Ibid, p. 20.
16. Tim Hewat, WarFile (London, Panther Books, 1968) p. 101
17. Ibid p. 114.
18. Barry Rubin, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict
(Syracuse NY, Syracuse University Press, 1981) p. 175
19. Ibid p. 177.
20. Munif-al Razzaz, The Liberation of Palestine (Beirut, Arab
Organization for Publication and Studies, 1971) p. 27
21. Tahir-Kheli, The Iran-Iraq War, p. 112
22. Michel Aflag, The Starting Point (Beirut, Arab Organization
for Publication and Studies, 1971) p. 118.
23. Ibid p. 127.
24. The collected editorials of "AI-Thawra" (Baghdad 1973) p. 10.
25. Ibid p. 15.
1. Tahir-Kheli, The Iran-Iraq War, p. 66.
2. "Iran and U. S. Policy" U. S. State Department Report # 899,
3. Tahir-Kheli, The Iran-Iraq War, p. 79.
4. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Islamic Government (no
publisher/date listed) p. 19.
5. Ibid p. 15.
6. Ibid p. 37.
8. "Washington Post," 13 April 1980.
9. Fuad Matar, Saddam Hussein: The Mar, The Cause and the
Future (London, Third World Center for Research and Publishing,
1981) p. 278
10. Ibid p. 280.
11. Abdulghani, Iran and Iraq: The Years of Crisis, p. 181
13. Imam Khomeini, Islam and Revolution (Mizan Press, Barkley,
1981) p. 95
14. "A Message to the Hajj Pilgrims," a private source.
15. NBC Nightly News, Washington, DC bureau, retains "briefing
books" on various subjects, e.g. The Iran-Constra Affair. This
chronology is compiled in large part from those sources, thanks
to the tireless work of a friend, Ms. Mary Wolf.
17. Charles G. MacDonald, "U.S. Policy and Gulf Security," from
Gulf Security into the 1980's, eds, R. G. Darius, J. W. Amus III,
and R. H. Magnus (Stanford CA, Hoover Institution Press 1984) p.
19. Ralph H. Magnus "Afghanistan and Gulf Security: A Continuing
Relationship," from Ibid p. 27
21. Israeli Governmental Background paper "The Military of Iraq:
A Threat to Israel," March 1986, a private source.
22. GIST, U. S. State Department "quick reference."
23. Philip Stoddard "Egypt and the Iran-Iraq War," from Gulf
Security and the Iran-Iraq War (The National Defense University
Press, ed. T. Naff, 1985) p. 28.
24. A private conservation.
25. Israeli Governmental Background Paper, Mar 1986.
26. A private conversation.
1. "New York Times," 8 Dec 1980.
2. Tahir-Kheli, The Iran-Iraq War, p. 68.
3. Abdulghani, Iran and Iraq, p. 236
4. U. S. State Department Current Policy #899, Dec 86, "Iran and
U.S. Policy" (both quotations).
5. "New York Times" 29 Nov 1980.
7. Tahir-Kheli, The Iran-Iraq War, p. 109.
8. Ibid p. 51.
10. A private conservation.
11. U. S. State Department.
13. U. S. News and World Report, 5 Oct 1987.
Persian Gulf Region - U. S. State Department
The Expansion of Islam - Wallbank, Western Perspectives
Southwest Asia - U. S. State Department
Israeli Territory - World Book Encyclopedia
Gulf of Aqaba - U. S. State Department
Gulf of Facilities - U. S. State Department
Troop Positions - Tahir-Kheli, Iran-Iraq War
Computer Graphics - COMSEVENTHFLT Unclassified
Gulf naval engagement - Time Magazine
Abdulghani, J. M., Iran and Iraq: The Years of Crisis, Baltimore
MD, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.
This is a study which primarily deals with the
period after 1968 when the Baathists came to power
in Iraq. While written from the Iraqi perspective,
it maintains a good measure of objectivity and thus
provides critical insight. Easy to read, organized
chronologically, and packed with details, Mr.
Abdulghani's report was a key source in my research.
Azhary, M. S. El, The Iran-Iraq War, New York NY, St Martin's
A short and complicated book, this economic and
political analysis is comprised of a series of
articles presented at a symposium at the University
of Basra in 1982. The primary areas covered are the
Shatt-al-Arab boundary dispute and the economics of
the oil situation.
Graham, Robert, Iran: The Illusion of Power, London, Crook Helm
The author was a correspondent in Teheran for two
years just before completing this study. His
research concentrates on the economic situation
in Iran after the oil boom in the early seventies.
Mr. Graham provides good insight into the way
Iranians perceived the shah, and in large part
cities the shah as the villain in Iran's downfall.
Keesing Research Report, The Arab-Israeli : Conflict, New York
NY, Scribner, 1968.
This Keesing report is a short but detailed
study of the 1967 war which is preceded by a
brief historical review of the Arab-Israeli
conflict. It is a superior, day-by-day account
through May and June of events in the world, and
on the battlefield.
Keddie, N. R., Iran: Religion, Politics and Society, London,
Cass Ltd., 1980.
Mr. Keddie's compilation of articles on Iran
which dates back to 1962 is only for the most
serious researcher. Highly complex and often
tedious, most articles presume vast knowledge
of Iran's society.
Naff, T., (ed), Gulf Security and the Iran-Iraq War, National
Defense University Press and Middle East Research Institute,
This is a highly informative, not-too-detailed
look at how the war has effected not only Persian
Gulf states, but also Egypt and Pakistan. It also
examines the war's impact on Soviet and U.S. strategy
and makes noteworthy projections, some of which
have already proved correct.
Pahlavi, Mohammed Reza Shah, Mission For My Country, London,
Hutchinson Press, 1974.
The shah's autobiography is a must for anyone
studying Iran. In reading it, it is important
to remember what had occurred, and was occurring
in Iran at the time of its writing. The shah's
perceptions of himself, and even of world history,
are most interesting.
Shulmah, Marshall, "Toward a Western Philosophy of Coexistence,"
Foreign Affairs, vol III, no. 1, 1973.
Tahir-Kheli, Ayubi, The Iran-Iraq War: New Weapons, Old Con-
flicts, New York NY, Praeger, 1983.
This is one of the Foreign Policy Research
Institute series. With extensive use of maps
and charts, it is a rare study in the sense
that it covers virtually all major aspects and
implications of the Iranian - Iraqi war. It
has been a key source document.
Aflaq, Michel, The Starting Point, Beirut, Arab Organization for
Publications and Studies, 1971.
Amirsadeghi, Hossein, (ed) The Security of the Persian Gulf, New
York NY, St Martin's Press, 1981.
Bousani, Alessandro, The Persians: From the Earliest Days to the
Twentieth Century, London, Elek Books, 1971.
Campbell, J. C., The Gulf Region in the Global Setting, New York
NY, St. Martin's Press, 1980.
Darius, R. G., (ed), Gulf Security Into the 1980's Stanford CA,
Hoover Institution Press, 1984.
de Villiers, Gerard, L'Irresistible Ascension de Mohammed Reza,
Shah of Iran, Paris, Plan, 1975
Edmonds, C. J., Kurds, Turks, and Arabs, London, Oxford Univerity
Guillaume, Alfred, Islam, Penguin Books, 1950.
Hewat, T., War File, London, Panther, 1968.
Hudson, Michael, Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy, New
Haven CT, Yale University Press, 1977.
Ismael, Tarig, The Arab Left, Syracuse NY, Syracuse University
Khadduri, Majid, Political Trends in the Arab World: The Role
of Ideas and Ideals in Politics, Baltimore MD, Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1970.
Laing, Margaret, The Shah, London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1977.
Levy, Reuben, The Legacy of Persia, Oxford, Clarendon Press,
Matar, Fuad, Saddam Hussein: The Man, The Cause and the Future,
London, Third World Center for Research and Publishing, 1981.
Miller, Aaron D., The Arab States and the Palestinian Question,
Washington, D.C. Praeger, 1986.
Ramazani, Rouhallah, The Persian Gulf: Iran's Role, Charlottes-
ville VA, University Press, 1973.
Razzaz, Munif, The Liberation of Palestine, Beirut, Arab Or-
ganization for Publication and Studies, 1971.
Rubin, Barry, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict,
Syracuse NY, Syracuse University Press, 1981.
Stoakes, Frank, Ira , New York NY, Praeger, 1958.
Szulc, Tad, The Illusion of Peace, New York NY, Viking Press,
Wallbank, T. Walter, Western Perspectives: A Concise History of
Civilization, Glenview IL, Scott Foresman and Company, 1973.
Young, Peter, The Israeli Campaign, London, Kimber Press, 1967.
Zonis, Marvin, The Political Elite of Iran, Princeton NJ,
Princeton University Press, 1977.
Senate Intelligence Committee Report
The Tower Commission Report
U. S. News and World Report
"Christian Science Monitor"
"Los Angeles Times"
"New York Times"
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list