Iraq has a long history of conflicts with its neighboring countries but none more notably than Iran. Iraq and Iran have had boarder disputes dating back to 1501 during the rule of the Persian Empire. More presently a standing feud has been raging over a 127 mile patch of land known as the Shatt al Arab River, a key point of real-estate due to its important oil shipping ports and access to the Persian Gulf. A treaty was signed in 1937 to settle the border dispute. It seemed to quell many of the tensions between these two countries but peace, it seems, was not meant to last. By 1955 political struggles in both countries caused tensions that would ultimately lead to the Gulf War. What happened in the years to come would change the way the world sees these two countries forever.
The Rise of the Warring Political Parties
Between the years of 1953 and 1979, both countries saw their fair share of political unrest. The Iranian people successfully staged a coup in 1953 to overthrow, the western friendly, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. While successfully removed from power his deposed rule, with the help of the United States, was not to last and he was quickly restored to power as the leader of Iran. The Shah’s reign would last until January 16, 1979 when his health finally failed him and he left Iran for good seriously ill with cancer. Shah’s position as leader of Iran would be replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the anti-shah movement and the favorite of the people (Willett, 2004). Khomeini hated the western influence and often referred to the United States as “the Great Satan” (Willett, 2004, p.13). Iraq was not without its political unrest. In 1963 Abdul Karim Kassem, a nationalist republication which strongly opposed foreign influence, would take over control of the country until the Baath Socialist Party overthrew his rule in 1963. Within the Baath Party, however, there would be disputes and the current leader, Abd al-Salam Arif threw the remaining Baath Party out of control of the country leaving the rule to him. Around 1968 another Iraqi coup would transpire leaving Ahmad Hasan Bakr and the Baath Party firmly in control of Iraq (Willett, 2004).
Saddam Hussein was a favorite amongst the Baath Party and quickly ascended to positions of power. With his reputation for violence and brutality, Saddam oversaw the arrest and execution of anyone opposing the rule of the new government. In 1979, with Khomeini taking control of Iran, Saddam saw a potential threat from the Shiite population. His fears were that the Shiite’s would sympathize with Iran’s new leader and stage another coup. After witnessing large antigovernment demonstrations, Saddam Hussein gave Bakr a list of antigovernment supporters, most of which were military officers, he thought should be executed. Bakr refused the killing of military officers and, with the backing of the government; Bakr was placed under house arrest where he later resigned. It was at this time Saddam...