1979 Saddam Hussein comes to power
On July 16, 79, President Hassan al-Bakr resigned and was replaced by Vice President Saddam Hussein. He wanted to place Iraq in a leadership position within the Arab world. He condemned Camp David’s peace treaties between Egypt, Israel and the United States, but at the same time his relations with the other Arab countries deteriorated. According to COUNTRYAAH, a direction within Baath had already taken power in Syria as early as 1970, but disagreements between the two fraternal parties led to rivalries and even conflicts over the boundary between the two countries.
Hoping to further strengthen its political and economic position, Iraq in September 1980 attacked Iran. It had hoped for a swift victory over the Iranian army, which had largely disbanded after the Iranian revolution in February 79. But the war lasted eight years. On June 17, 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed the civilian nuclear reactor in Tamuz, which was built with French assistance. Israel’s pretext was that Iraq wanted to use the nuclear weapons reactor.
During the war against Iran, Saudi and Kuwaiti benefited from the Iraqi slowdown of Iranian fundamentalism. They therefore provided significant loans to Iraq, used both in the war and for infrastructure projects. A new oil pipeline was built through Turkey to the Mediterranean to replace Syria’s pipeline in solidarity with Iran, and the road network to Jordan was also improved.
After 17 years of interruption, diplomatic relations with the United States were resumed in 1984. The United States declared itself neutral in the war, but the reveal of the “Iran-Contra” scandal showed that the superpower had played double games and sold weapons to the Iranians. At the ceasefire in 1988, Iraq retained 2,600 km 2 of Iran’s territory, standing with a strong and fortified army.
This time too, the Kurds were the losers in the conflict between the two countries. Iran had armed the Iraqi Kurds in their rebellion against Saddam, who in turn had supplied arms to the Iranian Kurds, in their fight against the Tehran clergy. When the war ended in 88, both countries took a terrible revenge on the Kurds. Best known is the Iraqi poison gas attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja, where about five thousand civilians were killed. The poison gas for the attack was supplied by the United States, which secretly provided Iraq with weapons for the war against the US arch enemy, Iran. (See Kurdistan).
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Iraq is Baghdad with a population of 6 million (estimate 2011). Other major cities include Mosul, Erbil (also Arbil, Irbil), Basra, Sulaymaniyya, Najaf.
Continued conflicts over the trade blockade
Baghdad’s international isolation was further strengthened in 1996, as Jordan improved its relations with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and at the same time distanced itself from Iraq. Both countries opposed the lifting of the blockades. Among other things. because the Saudi oil had replaced the Iraqi in the international oil markets. Nevertheless, the UN Security Council voted in favor of a partial repeal. Iraq was allowed to sell crude oil to a limited extent. The proceeds would be used to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi people.
In April 1997, a UN report revealed that the number of deaths due to starvation or lack of medication as a result of the blockade exceeded 1 million, of which 570,000 were children. At the same time, UNICEF confirmed that “25% of children under the age of 5 suffered from severe malnutrition”.
In October, the Iraq-UN crisis was tapered again. The Security Council threatened new sanctions if weapons inspectors were not given unimpeded access to all installations to ensure that Iraq did not have chemical and biological weapons manufacturing facilities. Iraq rejected the presence of U.S. weapons inspectors, making the Clinton administration’s stance even steeper. Still, the Security Council ultimately failed to take up arms against Iraq. In March 98, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan signed agreements with Iraqis allowing renewed weapons inspection and reducing tensions.
In December 98, US President Bill Clinton was facing a state trial, and as a diversionary maneuver he received support from Britain’s Tony Blair to launch a missile attack on several Iraqi cities. As of December 16, “Operation Desert Fox” cost hundreds of civilian and military Iraqi lives. France, Russia and China, all members of the UN Security Council, criticized the British-American offensive, and in particular the role of Richard Butler. He was head of UNSCOM, the UN mission to monitor Iraq’s chemical and nuclear disarmament. Even the UN Secretary-General expressed his reservations about the style of the Australian diplomat. The hard line recommended by Butler on his own to Iraq was more important from a propagandist point of view than as a means to weaken the country’s war potential or morality.