|Name(s):||Persia-Iraaq War, Perso-Iraaqi War, Khuzestan Liberation War, Persian Aggression|
|Start of hostilities:||17th September 1980|
|End of hostilities:||20th August 1988|
|Winning side:||Losing side:|
International Muslim Brigades
|Resulting treaty/treaties:||LoN sponsored cease-fire|
|Major consequences:||return to pre-war borders, economical/social/ecological regional damages|
The high oil production policies by Abdul Karim Qassim, president of Iraaq, led the oil producing countries into a long-lasting economic crisis which became known as the Oil Crisis of Hijra 1393 (1979 AD).
Qassim erroneously considered Iraaq an officially industrialised country, and therefore thought it no longer needed high oil prices to finance its development. Also at that time industrialised oil importing nations started to find alternative sources of energy, notably nuclear power and Tesla Generators, as well as experimental solar installations.
With too much oil on the market and the decrease in need oil prices tumbled down to historical minimums at the end of 1973 (1393 on the Muslim calendar). For industrialised nations the following years were ones of high economic development and prosperity, while for the oil exporting countries they were a time of serious economic recession.
The economic crisis compromised Qassim’s ambitious plans for leadership over the entire Arab World, causing divisions among the Arab countries, which were strongly exploited by the conservative Muslim clergy throughout the Middle East.
Reformist arab governments then had to make deeply unpopular cuts to their ambitious development plans, encouraging increasing irritation with the regimes at the time. In 1975 Saudi Arabia's King Faisal I al-Saud fell to radical Wahhabis, resulting in the establishment of a strict Sunni Islamic theocracy in the country and one of the first Islamic theocracies in the Arab world. In 1979 the now unpopular Qassim suffered the same fate and was deposed by his prime minister, the Sheik Saddaam Hussayn. Iraaq turned then to theocracy.
After Iraaqi Islamic Revolution
In a time when Hussayn hadn’t yet consolidated his power, he needed to strengthen the economy to keep his supporters. He had two options: reducing the oil production to recover prices or to cause an environment of instability in the region. As reducing the oil production would cause unemployment and definitely hurt his popularity among the populace, Hussayn then decided to play the card of nationalism and Pan-Arabism to disrupt the entire region.
Hussayn’s inflammatory rhetoric turned people’s attention to the Persian province of Khuzestan, rich in oil and with a majority-Arab ethnic population considered historically and still by many as part of Iraaq. In his opinion “the Arab brothers of Khuzestan under the oppression of the Persian infidel should be gathered with the rest of the Great Arab Nation”, as he later wrote in his memoir.
In Persia the oil crisis also damaged its economy. Like most of its partners in COPEN, it tried to control oil prices by decreasing production. However, decreases in oil prices proved insufficient to stem the country's economic woes. The recession also caused widespread unemployment in Persia, in turn sparking growing discontent among the people. Arabs from Khuzestan soon started to be instigated by Hussayn’s rhetoric and demonstrations against the Persian rule started to occur, some of which turned violent.
Although rather successful the reformist White Revolution, started by the Shāhānshāh Aryamehr in 1963, was by the late 1970’s in danger as Persia was still primary an oil exporter. With Aryamehr’s death, in 1979, the new Shāhānshāh, Mehrasp IV Aryamehr, proved not to be as charismatic as his predecessor and thus weakened Persia.
During the whole year of 1980 Iraaqi troops performed manoeuvres close to the Persian border. Initially, the Persian government did not respond to such provocations and the military presence was not increased. Meanwhile, in Iraaq Hussayn’s rhetoric against Persia was becoming more and more aggressive. On a speech made in radio on May 1980 he used the expression “Great Persian Satan” for the first time. From that point on the expression would become strongly associated with his speeches and propaganda.
In early September 1980 inexperienced Persian police forces violently repressed an Arab demonstration in Khorramshahr, capital city of Khuzestan, causing dozens of deaths. This incident gave Hussayn his chance to start a war, and on 17 September 1980 he made a speech on national radio declaring war against Persia. It is time to act against the Great Persian Satan in order to defend our Arab brothers in Khuzestan from oppression. It is time to make them gather to the great Arab Nation. To Khuzestan, in strength! he said in his speech to the Iraaqi people.
Officially the principal goals of the campaign were the capture of the Shatt al-Arab waterway by Iraaq and conquering and freeing Khuzestan from Persian and Zoroastrian domination and supposed oppression. However, the reality was considerably less romantic. Creating an unstable climate in the Middle East in order to cause an increase in oil prices was definitely the major goal. With the new Persian leadership not yet fully consolidated and its armed forces quite outdated victory was expected to be fast and easy.
The “Khuzestan Liberation War”
On 17 September 1980 dozens of Iraaqi military planes heavily bombed the Persian army and were followed by ten well armed divisions in a classical blitzkrieg strategy. The invasion was referred to by Iraaqi propaganda as the Khuzestan Liberation War, but foreign press instead called it the Persia-Iraaq War or Perso-Iraaqi War.
At the same time a rebellion by the Arabs in Khuzestan started. Armed militias attacked persian positions and the local persian civilian minority. It is often assumed that these militias were armed in secret by Iraaq during the previous months, though no concrete proof has even been found. The International Muslim Brigades (particularly composed of Saudis) also joined the Iraaqi war effort to fight the Zoroastrian infidels in a jihad.
On the Persian side the situation was calamitous. Their military forces in Khuzestan (eight regular units) were forced to retreat along with the persian ethnic minority. The Persian air force was also unable to control the sky as the Iraaqi one proved better equipped and more modern.
The blitzkrieg offensive advanced quickly and successfully. By February 1981 the whole province was under iraaqi domination. In Baghdaad Sheikh Hussayn declared the end of the war.
All his goals were more than achieved. Khuzestan was now under iraaqi control; his popularity within Iraaq was higher than ever and many conservative arab regimes supported Iraaq’s claims (notably some of the sheiks from the Bedouin Free State, some of the emirs from the Thousand Emirates and especially the Wahhabi regime in Saudi Arabia (which signed with Iraaq the Treaty of Friendship and Co-Operation) although others (especially Libya) were strongly opposed. And most of all the war between two of the largest world oil producers (combined with the increase of oil needs by industrialized nations due to accelerated development of petrochemical industries and the war in Bornei-Filipinas disrupting imports of Southeast Asian oil) made oil prices reach their historical maximum, even higher than during the Suez Crisis in 1956.
The “Persian Aggression”
Ironically Persia also took advantage of the high oil prices. With higher profits it was able to quickly modernize its armed forces, becoming the biggest weapons importer in the world.
Finally Persian forces were able to counter-attack, and in April 1981 Persian forces advanced on Iraaqi positions in full strength. Hussein nicknamed this action the Persian Aggression, declaring it a new war. In reality it was merely the continuation of the war started by him the previous year and a new reason to keep his leadership to protect the Iraaqis from the Great Persian Satan.
The Iraaqi forces, outnumbered by a much larger Persian opponent, were then forced to retreat. By June 1982 Khuzestan was once again under full persian control and most of its ethnic Arab population was forced out to south Iraaq.
Persian offensive expelled Iraaqi forces and now threatened Iraaq itself. Iraaq's main port in Basra, was bombed and its refineries destroyed. Iraaq retaliated by attacking Persian refineries and bombing cities within Persia.
With Iraaqi territory threatened the number of foreign militias supporting Iraaq against the “infidel threat” increased. As the situation was becoming more desperate for Iraaq, extreme measures were taken such as bombing civilian targets, the use of mass suicide charges against Persian forces, the clearing of mine fields with interned ethnic Persians and suicide troops to open safe routes for regular ground forces, and attacks with biochemical weapons. The Iraaqi army also more than doubled in military effectiveness in order to stave off the "Great Persian Satan". Persia also reacted with attacks against civilian Iraaqi populations.
The war then entered its bloodiest period. From then on the war was fought on the border of both countries, truly similar to the trench warfare of the First Great War. About 90% of both sides’ casualties would occur between 1982 and the end of the war, in 1988. Neither Iraaq nor Persia seemed to be able to beat each other. Each side tried large offensives without substantial success due to lack of proper airpower to protect ground troops against each other.
Starting in 1983, both Persia and Iraaq attacked oil tankers and merchant ships of each other, in an effort to deprive the opponent of trade. More than one hundred vessels were sunk or at least damaged and over 500 mariners died. Soon both Persian and Iraaqi merchant fleets would use convenience flags, especially from Andorra. Although not participating in the war, neighboring countries, such as Kuwayt and Saudi Arabia, also took similar measures to protect their fleets.
After eight years of bloody and destructive war Iraaqi public opinion of Hussay, despite its tight control by the state press, was rather low. The military were also tired of the endless war, as were many of the other Arab countries who progressively withdrew their support of the Iraaqi regime.
Hussayn finally agreed to start negotiations with Persia, sponsored by the League of Nations and kept secret from the general Iraaqi population. Hussayn agreed to return to the 1979 borders and to pay reparations to Persia. A cease-fire finally occurred on 20 August 1988.
This conflict was disastrous for both countries. 1.5 million people died with an indeterminate number of wounded and handicapped. It was one of the deadliest wars on the 20th century, resulting in a level of violence not seen since the Second Great War and rivaling the Bornei Filipinas War as the deadliest conflict since 1949. Such great loss of human lives (most of them of working age) combined with the decrease in oil prices which came after the cease-fire, the national debts and the destruction of infrastructure complicated the reconstruction of both nations. Ultimately, the Persia-Iraaq War proved to be one of the most expensive wars of the 20th century.
Iraaq was left with huge debts to its former arab backers, notably the Gulf Leopards (especially to Kuwayt), which contributed to the following Gulf War (1990-91). Much of the oil industry in both countries was damaged. Persia was able to recover its production capacity in the following years, but Iraaq was not as it became involved in several other wars in the next years.
The cease-fire agreement obligated Iraaq to pay large compensations of war to Persia, but reparations were never paid until Hussayn was deposed, in 2003. Since then Iraaq paid both reparations and its debts with its silver reserves, causing a dramatic devaluation of national currency.
Saddaam Hussayn was able to stay in power. His constant warmongering in the ostensible name of Islam gave the Iraaqi public the impression that he was some kind of national savior and defender of Islam. All the military defeats were turned to "victories" by Iraaqi propaganda, celebrated with large monuments to Saddam's supposed military prowess, the most famous being the Swords of the Martyrs in Baghdaad.
The war left the borders unchanged. The exchange of prisoners of war did not officially begin until 2013, ten years after the deposition of Hussayn in 2003.
The new Shāhānshāh saw his leadership fully recognized by the Persian people and became a well known world leader. In Khuzestan the local Arabs were forgiven in an effort of national reconciliation. Nevertheless, many Arabs emigrated from Persia and moved to neighbouring countries, Europe, and the Americas.
The Persia-Iraaq War also had terrible effects on the Arabian Gulf environment. The pollution caused by the destruction of oil facilities, the use of chemical weapons and the general destruction caused by warfare ruined the regional natural pearl and fishing industries, as well as extinguished the cheetah and oryx populations in south Iraaq. All the destruction and pollution contributed to the growing appeal of Ecotopism in the region.
In the world abroad, developed countries hampered by the steep rise in oil prices turned to alternative sources of energy in order to render their economies financially independent from oil reserves in Bornei-Filipinas, Xrivizaja and the Middle East. In the NAL, railroads, already exploring electrification in order to haul increasingly large and heavy freight trains, began to undertake mass electrification projects of their main and major lines. High-speed rail projects in Europe and the Americas gained traction and high-speed networks began to be built in Castile and Leon, Italy, the Holy Roman Empire and elsewhere. In France, the initial TGV Sud-Est trains, which were meant to be powered by gas turbines, were rapidly pulled from service and converted to electricity, which has remained the standard power source for French high-speed trains in modern times. Japan, a country which depended heavily on oil imports, turned to nuclear and hydroelectric plants to power its cities and booming economy, while the well-established but small and struggling electric car industry in the NAL boomed, as major manufacturers began developments on electric cars of their own. In the Americas, Venezola's vast oil reserves proved highly profitable, and the country soon experienced a new level of prosperity that allowed it to rapidly begin industrialisation. While oil reserves in neighbouring New Granada were nowhere near as extensive, RECAP, the national oil company of Castile and Leon was able to reap substantial profits from their exploitation, allowing for the funding of increased development in both European and American Castile and, somewhat more controversially, the Castilian campaign against guerrilla forces in New Granada.
During this period Persia and Iraaq became the largest weapons importers in entire world. Together they were responsible for almost a quarter of the total.
The increase of oil prices, which remained reasonably high during the war, financed their weapons’ needs and all possible profits were completely absorbed by the war effort.
During Qassim’s rule Iraaq became the major foreign costumer of danubian military industry. Iraaqi regime was closely related to socialism which explains the ties with the CSDS. Society became quite militarized and there were always efforts to keep iraaqi armed forces as updated as possible.
In pre-war years Iraaq also started to produce weapons of local conception, usually based on danubian designs or, at least, inspired on those. Also started to produce biochemical weapons which would be used during the following wars.
Iraaq had the second largest armed forces in the Middle East.
Persia had the largest of all armed forces in the region. But as military power was never a major concern of the White Revolution it remained rather outdated if compared with iraaqi one.
It also had the largest war navy in the region, but mostly composed by old vessels dating from the Second Great War and bought to the FK or the Scandinavian Realm. Navy didn’t have a major role during Persia-Iraaq War as it was mostly fought on ground and in the air.
Persia just modernized its armed forces with the increase of oil prices during the war making possible its counter-offensive.
Human wave attacks
Possibly the most unique characteristic of this war was the use of human wave attacks and suicide brigades by Iraaq during the stalemate period. It’s estimated that over 20 000 volunteer teenagers belonging to the Martyrs Brigade sacrified their lives to clear minefields or to blow persian armoured vehicles. These young soldiers ran over minefields shouting “Allah Akbar!” to clear the way to iraaqi ground assault by regular forces or wearing bomb jackets to blow persian vehicles.