Dr. Mohannad Youssuf
New Iraq Center Advisor
Translated by Shaimaa Shadad
In December, 1983, Donald Rumsfeld, who was the White House Envoy to the Middle East then and the US Defense Minister and Saddam’s executioner thereafter, had visited Baghdad and delivered Saddam a message from US President Reagan emphasizing that Iraqi’s defeat in the Iraqi-Iranian War was against US interests.
The Iranian-Iraqi war had served the US interests in the Middle East as it limited the danger of the exporting of the Iranian Islamic fundamental Revolution and consequently the danger of spreading the fundamental Islamic ruling role model. On the other hand, such war resulted in the bankruptcy of Iraq, the most powerful country in the region in this period, which made the matter of deploying the US forces to this region possible.
Since the outbreak of the war on September 4th, 1980, the United States never wished a definite victory over Iran, simply because it couldn’t decide a suitable alternative to the Iranian Islamic regime after the incident of the American hostage-taking in the US Embassy in Tehran that was after the revolution of 1979. The US also believed that the demolish and the defeat of the Iranian regime might have triggered the insurgency of minorities and the Iranian factions, which may have resulted in an internal Iranian civil war that may have led to Iran division, a matter the US has been fearing to date.
Such belief can be seen real as Iran is still too fragile to be a united country under the international new system that is leading the world nowadays. Thus, the favor of keeping Iran the current status principally traces back to Washington, away from all different media analysis, and to the hostages policy that could link the general US interests with the Iranian ones through connecting them.
For instance, the hostages crisis in Tehran made Washington in October 1980, one month after war and after the Iraqi first victory in its direct attack, contact the Iranian government expressing its intention to support it and to lift all sanctions in addition to provide it with weapons on condition of releasing the hostages. All of this was due to the American worries about the Iranian division and the religious regime collapse. This happened after Carter’s failure in the US elections and Reagan victory, as Washington considered the adaptation to the Khomeini republic was matching its strategy.
Such strategies were changed after 1982, when the hostages had been released and when Iran could push the Iraqi forces away from its borders. Such matter involved a menace to the Gulf countries stability which made the U.S doing its utmost preventing the victory of any warring party.
During this period, the US returned to its past strategy, as Washington escalated its tone with Iran and put it on the list of countries exporting terrorism. Moreover, the US called on the whole world to stop providing Iran with weapons. After that, Washington forcibly started to secure the navigation in the Arabian Gulf and to keep the Strait of Hormuz open, threatening to use weapons if necessary and pledging to defend friends in case they’re exposed to danger.
Despite the US ban over selling weapons to Iran, after the hostages incident, Washington supported the military supplies transactions with Iran in addition to provision of military spares, ammunition, and missiles through a third country. During this time, the scandals of Iran-Contra and South Korea were discovered. Meantime, the scandal of Israel has been discovered as well and was of privileged status due to the existence of its military accoutrements in Iran and because of the long standing ties between the Iranian and Israeli officers that weren’t broken off since the revolution.
Before that and before the sunset of June 7th, 1981, Israel launched a raid on the Iraqi Tamuz nuclear reactor that was of French origin. Hence, Paris, specifically Jack Shirak became the principal western immunizer for Iraq as France provided Iraq with modern military equipment. Actually, it was the first time for France to sell weapons such as missiles, planes, rafts and bombing chasers to a country in state of war, which reinforced the Iraqi air defence significantly.
France insisted to regain the power balance to the Arabian Gulf through supporting Iraq, although we knew that it hosted Khomeini for years, while wishing to end that war. However, its aid to Iraq resulted in the prolongation of war and widened the battlefield. Its political and military support to Iraq made Paris one of the biggest economic investor and beneficiary from this war, as the French exports to Baghdad recorded standard rates during the years of war and reached to ten billion francs a year. In addition, Iraq was consuming 50% of French exports of military equipment, which helped in financing the weapons industry, a sector in which more than one million French persons are working in.
By the end of 1982, after the Iranian forces advanced movements in the war, the Soviet Union delivered weapons to Iraq and decided to increase the Iraqi capability of defense but without hitting a victory. In November 1983, before Rumsfeld visit to Baghdad, the Iraqi Defense Minister, Tareq Aziz visited Moscow and a cooperation agreement in economic, technical and scientific fields between Iraq and Soviet Union had been signed. The Soviet then agreed to build nuclear reactor in Iraq to replace Tumoz reactor.
The Iraqi-Iranian war is the root and base of the current war in our region between Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iran. It is also the core of the escalation of the ruling fundamental religious ideology as a type of controlled wars, which means that the major powers are always capable of putting an end to any limited war in the third world country, simply through monitoring the armament in case they want.
The Iraqi-Iranian war could have been controlled shortly, but the world left the war getting inflamed and confined its efforts to limit the war borders. All super powers had agreed not to hold any party responsible for the war outbreak, thus, it continued. Meanwhile, the political drivers played a pivotal role in the decision of the western countries to defend this party or that one. Besides, the economic considerations helped in flourishing the weapons market and to fill the trade deficit of the western world that has been always suffering stagnation.