Treatment of Prisoners of War in the Iran-Iraq Conflict

published in MER125

Excerpts from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) press release, May 11, 1983:

Geneva — Since the outbreak of the conflict between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq the highest authorities of both those states have several times confirmed their intention to honor their international obligations deriving from the Geneva conventions. Despite these assurances and its repeated representations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has had a delegation in both countries since the start of hostilities, more than thirty months ago, has encountered all kinds of obstacles in the exercise of its mandate under the Geneva conventions.

West German Ties with Iran and Iraq

by Konrad Ege
published in MER125

In July 1984, West German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher visited Tehran, the highest-level Western official to do so in the five years since the Iranian revolution. Genscher reported that his hosts expressed strong interest in refurbishing Iran’s ties with Europe and Japan. Germany’s own trade links with the Islamic Republic are already considerable. In 1983, West German exports to Iran reached an all time high of 7.72 billion deutsch marks (DM 1.90 = $1). The pre-revolutionary high had been at DM 6.77 billion in 1978, only to drop to DM 2.35 billion in 1979, the year the Shah was deposed.

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US Ready to Intervene in Gulf War

by Joe Stork , Martha Wenger
published in MER125

The current phase of the war between Iran and Iraq has prompted a level of US military intervention in the Gulf region that is new and unprecedented in both qualitative and quantitative terms, and holds the risk of a more direct combat role on Iraq’s behalf. Since early 1983, the stalemate in the war appeared to be working in Iran’s favor. Its greater weight in terms of population and economic resources gave it the edge in a strategy of attrition. Beginning in the fall of 1983, Iraq threatened to counter by attacking Iran’s oil exporting capacity. This campaign finally began in March and April 1984, with missile attacks against oil tankers near Iran’s Kharg island loading facility.

The Gulf War and the Islamic Republic

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER125

Iran’s war with Iraq has taken a devastating toll. There have been several hundred thousand Iranian casualties, including an estimated 180,000 deaths. Property damage amounts to billions of dollars. The conflict has uprooted at least 1.5 million civilians from the war zones and diverted the society’s resources from socio-economic development into military expenditures.

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Not Quite Armageddon

Impact of the War on Iraq

by Marion Farouk-Sluglett , Peter Sluglett , Joe Stork
published in MER125

Ostensibly, the war between Iraq and Iran is about boundaries, about freeing the Shatt al-‘Arab from Persian occupation, about restoring the two Tumb islands and Abu Musa in the Gulf to the Arab nation, and -- admittedly always a more distant prospect -- liberating Khuzistan (“Arabistan”) from the alien yoke. In fact, Iraq’s decision to start the war in September 1980 was a gamble which, over the last three and a half years, has tragically and horribly misfired.

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Checkmate in the Gulf War

by Ghassan Salameh
published in MER125

The war between Iraq and Iran has let loose a flood of commentary and upset many predictions since it began nearly four years ago. Those who expected another oil crisis were relieved to find an oil glut. Those who anticipated a quick Iraqi victory are now facing the possibility of new Iranian offensives into Iraqi territory. Those who feared an immediate globalization of the conflict have had to revise their prognostications.

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Chronicle of the Gulf War

published in MER125

The war between Iran and Iraq is approaching its fourth anniversary. In its duration, large numbers of casualties and physical damage, this war already ranks as one of the most serious armed conflicts since World War II. Several Iranian cities and numerous towns have been destroyed, and the city of Basra, Iraq’s second largest, has been under serious threat for a year or more. Both countries have extensive industrial and oil exporting facilities in the war zone which have been heavily damaged in the fighting. Economic losses in both countries are calculated in many tens of billions of dollars. Iran claimed in May 1983 that it had suffered $90 billion in economic damages.

The Kurds Between Iran and Iraq

by Martin Van Bruinessen
published in MER141

The news from Kurdistan is sad and grim. On both sides of the Iran-Iraq border, the central governments have been carrying out violent campaigns to bring the Kurdish districts under control and to wipe out the peshmergas (guerrilla fighters) of the various Kurdish organizations. This entails direct military clashes as well as reprisals against the civilian population. Numerous villages have been destroyed, either by their own government’s forces or in bombings by the neighboring country’s air force or artillery. Summary executions are commonplace.

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Iraq's Seventh Year

Saddam's Quart d'Heure?

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER151

According to the Iranian media, the seventh year of the war was again to be the “decisive year.” For Iraq it was a year of more “achievements and victories” under the leadership of the “militant leader.” On March 21,1987, the Persian New Year, Saddam Hussein brought thousands of demonstrators to the streets of Baghdad to celebrate the end of the “decisive year” without an Iraqi defeat. Perhaps he was not aware that in Tehran they date the war years from September to September. Then again, to celebrate not being defeated yet as a victory is typical of the demagogy in which the Iraqi leadership indulges.

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Soviet Perceptions of Iraq

by Roderic Pitty
published in MER151

From the Soviet point of view, Iraq under the Baath Party has been a troubling enigma, in terms of its place in the Third World generally and its political position in Middle East diplomacy. In the first respect, Iraq during the 1970s did not manage to consolidate itself as one of the USSR’s dependable allies, which official Soviet parlance refers to as “states of socialist orientation.” Most Soviet scholars sooner or later reached the conclusion that Iraq has really been on the capitalist path of development, although neither Moscow nor Baghdad could state this openly.

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