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The Longest War Of The Twentieth Century: The Iran Iraq War

1438 words - 6 pages

Lasting for eight years, the Iran-Iraq War is widely considered to be the longest

lasting war of the 20th Century. Also the bloodiest, it was initiated by Iraq, with little

consideration for the intended outcome. The First Persian Gulf War had been

smoldering for centuries over a bed of coals fueled by differing religious beliefs,

and economical and political views, with encouragement from Third Party countries.

Finally sparked by an intended land grab, neither side appeared to have considered the

financial nor human cost racked up during hostilities. Nor did either side appear to

foresee the continuing cost that would go on for years after Official hostilities had


Prior to the beginning of the conflict, Iran and Iraq had both been colonies of

European nations. After the Second World War, both nations became sovereign and

began rebuilding themselves. Unfortunately, both nations ended up being ruled by

leaders who were deemed tyrannical and so went through many years of in-fighting and

attempted coups. Some of these leaders were protested against because of reported

corruption and mistreatment of their respective populaces but, underlying this was also

the sectarian separation between the Sunni and Shi-Ite sects of Islam.

After the final coop that stabilized Iraq, the Baath Socialist Party became the

ruling party. This group was almost exclusively Sunni even though the majority of the

populace were Shi-ite. Internal strife between the majority and the minority led to many

uprising attempts and the subsequent government reprisals. In October of 1978,

Saddam Hussein, at the insistence of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, expeled

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomein; who had been an exile in Iraq for 13 years.

Iran-Iraq War: Ignoring the outcome 4

In February of 1979, after the ouster of the Shah of Iran, Khomein returned to run

the new Shi-ite government. Shortly afterwards, he called for the overthrow of the

Baathist Regime of Iraq. In response, Saddam expeled 40,000 Shi-ites (Langtree),

widening the gap between sects. Also after taking control of Iran, the new Iranian

government began to exile, imprison and execute many of the Government leaders who

had not already left. This included almost the entire Military Officer’s Corps and much of

the Non-Commissioned Officers. Having the effect of leaving Iran disorganized from the

overthrow of the ruling government, it also left them with very little in the way of

leadership and experts to defend the country. This fact did not go unnoticed by their


Seeing the Shi-ite uprisings and the possible threat in Iran, other countries of the

Middle-East and West lent aid to Iraq in hopes of keeping the new threat occupied.

Threatened by the neighboring coop, encouraged by offers of support from wealthy

neighbors, and enticed by the oil-rich lands just across the border and the possibility of

a larger port for...

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