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The Gulf at War, Part One Iran-Iraq War,1980-1988 Sources: Yergin nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/index.htm

Dec 18, 2015



  • Slide 1
  • The Gulf at War, Part One Iran-Iraq War,1980-1988 Sources: Yergin
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  • 2 outline Background of war Effects on oil market International reactions US position and initiatives Operation Earnest Will Gulf Cooperation Council
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  • 3 background Long-standing hostility between Iraq and Iran A host of rivalries: ethnic and religious; political and economic; ideological and personal Struggle for primacy in the Gulf Arbitrary way in which nations were created and borders were drawn in the defunct Ottoman Empire
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  • 4 background Shatt-al-Arab Delta created by confluence of Tigris and Euphrates, with several rivers from Iran Served as boundary for almost 200 km between Iran and Iraq Crucial to Iran as an important access to Gulf (Abadan oil refinery built on delta)-but Irans coastline is over 2000km Critical to Iraq as only access to Gulf (Iraqs coastline only about 40 km)
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  • 6 background-Shatt-al-Arab Sovereignty over S-a-A thus had great significance A considerable part of both countries oil infrastructure was concentrated around S-a-A For a long time Iraqi insisted that boundary was eastern (Iranian) side of the river 1975: Agreement between Shah and Iraq (Algiers Agreement, signed by Saddam Hussein on Iraqi side): boundary set in the mid point of the navigable channel
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  • 7 background: Iran-Iraq relations A quid pro quo for Algiers Agreement: Shah agrees to cut aid to Kurds About 20% total Iraqi population Battling the Bathists for autonomy Settled in oil-rich region A powerful offensive against Kurds is launched by Baghdad six hours after Algiers agreement 1978: at the Shahs request, Ayatollah Komeini is expelled from Iraq, where he had been living in exile for 14 years
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  • 8 background: Iran-Iraq relations Expulsion occurred before Saddam Husseins full acquisition of power, but Komeini held him responsible Komeinis enemies: First, the Shah, then the American Satan, then Saddam Hussein and his infidel Bath Party Saddam Hussein as Dwarf Pharaoh Komeini as danger for S. Husseins regime: about half of Iraqs population estimated to be Shia agitation among the Shias, fed from Iran, was growing
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  • 9 Effects of war on the oil market Outbreak of war shook oil market 2nd day of war Iraq began air assault against Abadan refinery (largest in the world) and other oil ports and facilities Iranian counterattacks choked off Iraqi oil exports through Gulf Iran also persuaded Syria to cut off Iraqi pipeline exports, leaving Iraq with limited pipeline through Turkey Iranian oil exports reduced; Iraqs almost ceased
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  • 10 oil market In the initial stage, Iran-Iraq war removed almost 4mbd (15% total OPEC output) from oil market Spot prices jumped again up to $42 Fear was again driving the market: was this the collapse of ME and its oil into chaos? would Iraq be eliminated from the world oil balance?
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  • 11 oil market, fears would Iran once again disappear as a supplier? Would the battle between Sunni and Shia and between Arab and Persian destabilize the entire Gulf? would Iran prevail and carry its fundamentalist, anti-Western revolution deeper and deeper into the heart of the Middle East?
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  • 12 International Reaction The international community responded with U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire and for all member states to refrain from actions contributing in any way to the conflict's continuation USSR cut off arms exports to Iran and to Iraq, its ally under a 1972 treaty (arms deliveries resumed in 1982) U.S. was officially neutral regarding the Iran-Iraq war, and claimed that it armed neither side
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  • 13 The Fighters Iran depended on U.S.-origin weapons and sought them from Israel, Europe, Asia, and South America Iraq started the war with a large Soviet-supplied arsenal, but needed additional weaponry as the conflict wore on Initially, Iraq advanced far into Iranian territory, but was driven back within months By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks
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  • 14 US support to Iraq US decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests and began supporting Iraq: Measures already underway to upgrade U.S.- Iraq relations were accelerated High-level officials exchanged visits Feb. 1982: DoS removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism. (It had been included several years earlier because of ties with several Palestinian nationalist groups, not Islamicists sharing the worldview of al- Qaeda)
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  • 15 US support Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. White House and DoS pressured the Ex-Imp Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions US restored formal relations with Iraq in Nov. 1984, but began, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country's official neutrality)
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  • 16 US support Support was in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan These were prepared pursuant to his March 1982 National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM 4-82) asking for a review of US policy toward the Middle East in view of recent regional diplomatic and world oil market developments
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  • 17 US support One of these directives from Reagan (July 1983) reviews U.S. regional interests in the Middle East and South Asia, and US objectives, including: peace between Israel and the Arabs resolution of other regional conflicts, and economic and military improvements, "to strengthen regional stability" Following promulgation of the directive, an interdepartmental review of the implications of shifting policy in favor of Iraq was conducted
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  • 18 Chemical Weapons (CW) In summer 1983 Iran reported Iraqi use of chemical weapons Diplomatically isolated, Iran received only a muted response Iran intensified its accusations asked for a UN Security Council investigation US had intelligence confirming Iran's accusations, and describing Iraq's "almost daily" use of CW Intelligence indicated that Iraq used CW against Iranian forces, and, according to a Nov 1983 memo, against "Kurdish insurgents" as well
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  • 19 CW Feb. 1984, Iraq's military, expecting a major Iranian attack, issued a warning that "the invaders should know that for every harmful insect there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it whatever the number and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide US informed the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs that "we anticipate making a public condemnation of Iraqi use of chemical weapons in the near future"
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  • 20 CW The US public condemnation was issued "While condemning Iraq's CW use... The United States finds the present Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations and the moral and religious basis which it claims" DoS briefed the press on decision to strengthen controls on the export of CW precursors to Iran and Iraq, in response to intelligence and media reports that precursors supplied to Iraq originated in Western countries
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  • 21 CW When asked whether the US conclusion that Iraq had used CW would have "any effect on US recent initiatives to expand commercial relationships with Iraq across a broad range, and also a willingness to open diplomatic relations," the department's spokesperson said "No. I'm not aware of any change in our position. We're interested in being involved in a closer dialogue with Iraq"
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  • 22 NSDD 114 Following further high-level policy review, Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 114, Nov. 1983 The directive reflects the administration's priorities it calls for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities and measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf it directs the Secs of State and Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take appropriate measures to respond to tensions in the area
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  • 23 NSDD 114 It is present US policy to undertake whatever measures may be necessary to keep the Strait of Hormuz open to international shipping. Accordingly, US military forces will attempt to deter and, if that fails, to defeat any hostile efforts to close the Strait to international shipping
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  • 24 NSDD 114 "Because of the real and psychological impact of a curtailment in the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf on the international economic system, we must assure our readiness to deal promptly with actions aimed at disrupting that traffic" It does not mention chemical weapons
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  • 25 Donald Rumsfelds Trips to Iraq Donald Rumsfeld had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations At this time head of a multinational pharmaceutical company Dispatched to the Middle East as a presidentia