Becoming Enemies: U.S.-Iran Relations and the Iran-Iraq War, 1979–1988

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When he launched his attack, the Soviets were busy playing games in Iran. They were not amused that the Iraqis upset their plans. In February , when Ayatollah Khomeini took power and threw the Americans out of Iran, the Soviets stood to gain more than they had ever believed possible. Israel, for example, had a very large stockpile of Soviet weaponry and ammunition captured during its various wars. At the suggestion of the United States, the Israelis would transfer the spare parts and weapons to third countries Similarly, Egypt manufactured weapons and spare parts from Soviet designs and provided these weapons and ammunition to the Iraqis and other countries.

On February 9, , Senator Riegle delivered a report -commonly known as the Riegle Report - in which it was stated that "pathogenic meaning 'disease producing' , toxigenic meaning 'poisonous' , and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U. Department of Commerce. Donald Riegle , Chairman of the Senate committee that authored the aforementioned Riegle Report , said:. The executive branch of our government approved different export licenses for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq.

I think that is a devastating record. The U. Centers for Disease Control sent Iraq 14 separate agents "with biological warfare significance," according to Riegle's investigators. More than 60 US Defense Intelligence Agency officers provided combat planning assistance, and the US also provided battlefield intelligence to Saddam Hussein's military. In , Iran introduced a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council, citing the Geneva Protocol of , condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons on the battlefield.

In response, the United States instructed its delegate at the UN to lobby friendly representatives in support of a motion to take "no decision" on the use of chemical munitions by Iraq.

Becoming Enemies: U.S.-Iran Relations and the Iran-Iraq War, | Wilson Center

If backing to obstruct the resolution could be won, then the U. USDEL should work to develop general Western position in support of a motion to take "no decision" on Iranian draft resolution on use of chemical weapons by Iraq. Representatives of the United States argued that the UN Human Rights Commission was an "inappropriate forum" for consideration of such abuses.

According to Joyce Battle, the Security Council eventually issued a "presidential statement" condemning the use of unconventional weapons "without naming Iraq as the offending party. Alan Friedman writes that Sarkis Soghanalian , one of the most notorious arms dealers during the Cold War , procured Eastern Bloc and French origin weaponry, and brokered vast deals with Iraq, with the tacit approval of the Central Intelligence Agency. The most prominent [arms merchant] was Sarkis Soghanalian, a Miami-based former CIA contractor who brokered tens of billions of dollars' worth of military hardware for Iraq during the s, reporting many of his transactions to officials in Washington.

In many respects he was the living embodiment of plausible deniability, serving as a key conduit for CIA and other U. In an interview with William Kistner, Soghanalian stated that he was "working closely with the U. In August , when FBI agents raided the Atlanta branch of BNL, branch manager Christopher Drogoul was charged with making unauthorized, clandestine, and illegal loans to Iraq — some of which, according to his indictment, were used to purchase arms and weapons technology.

According to the Financial Times , the companies involved in the scandal by shipping militarily useful technology to Iraq were Hewlett-Packard , Tektronix , and Matrix Churchill 's Ohio branch. And aiding in this Equipment for this plant appears to have been supplied by the Latrobe, Pennsylvania manufacturer, Kennametal, and by a large number of other American companies, with financing provided by the Atlanta branch of the BNL bank.

What Happened in the Iran-Iraq War? - History

Congress became involved with the scandal. Tom Lantos.

Iran-U.S. Relations

By contrast, Alcolac International, a Maryland company, transported thiodiglycol , a mustard gas precursor, to Iraq. Alcolac was successfully prosecuted for its violations of export control law. According to German daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung , which is reported to have reviewed an uncensored copy of Iraq's 11,page declaration to the U.

Twenty-four U. The United States government supported the construction of new oil pipeline that would run westward from Iraq across land to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba , permitting access from the Red Sea. The Bechtel Corporation was the prime contractor for this project.

Donald Rumsfeld discussed the advantages of the pipeline personally with Saddam Hussein in The Aqaba project never made it past the drawing board, however, because of its proximity to Israel , which planners insisted upon. So near to the border it would run, the Iraqi leadership feared the Israeli side could disable the pipeline at a later date, simply by "lobbing a few hand grenades" at it.

The Tanker War started when Iraq attacked Iranian tankers and the oil terminal at Kharg island in Iran struck back by attacking tankers carrying Iraqi oil from Kuwait and then any tanker of the Persian Gulf states supporting Iraq. Both nations attacked oil tankers and merchant ships, including those of neutral nations, in an effort to deprive the opponent of trade. Attacks on ships of noncombatant nations in the Persian Gulf sharply increased thereafter, and this phase of the war was dubbed the "Tanker War.

Lloyd's of London , a British insurance market, estimated that the Tanker War damaged commercial vessels and killed about civilian mariners. The largest of attacks were directed by Iran against Kuwaiti vessels, and on November 1, , Kuwait formally petitioned foreign powers to protect its shipping. The Soviet Union agreed to charter tankers starting in , and the United States Navy offered to provide protection for tankers flying the U.

get link The operation took place roughly at the same time as Operation Earnest Will , the largely Navy effort to escort the tankers through the Persian Gulf. Under international law, an attack on such ships would be treated as an attack on the U. This support would protect ships headed to Iraqi ports, effectively guaranteeing Iraq's revenue stream for the duration of the war. Special Operations Forces also assisted in this effort. They were all black and bristling with antennas and had a huge round sight module about two feet in diameter stuck on a mast above the rotor blades.

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The impression you got, just looking at one of these things on the ground, was of a giant insect staring at you before you die", a Special Forces officer is quoted as saying. Roberts was badly damaged by an Iranian mine. Two Iranian ships were destroyed, killing 55 sailors in the process, and an American helicopter was shot down, killing the two pilots. A number of researchers and former military personnel contend that the United States carried out Black operations against Iranian military targets during the war. Roger Charles, who worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, says the Navy used specially equipped Mark III patrol boats during the night, with the intent of luring Iranian gunboats away from territorial waters, where they could be fired upon and destroyed.

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Information collected from Operation Eager Glacier , a top-secret intelligence-gathering program, was also used to bomb manufacturing plants inside Iran by the CIA. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses. Home FAQ Contact. For other uses, see Iraqgate disambiguation.

In subsequent years, the shah ruled through repression and violence and employed his internal security organization, SAVAK, which received aid from the CIA, to jail, torture, or kill those who opposed his rule. He enriched and empowered a small, Westernized elite, which became increasingly alienated from the rest of Iranian society. As the vast majority of Iranians grew more anti-shah, therefore, they also grew more anti-American.

It also led to the event that continues to shape U. The Academy-Award-winning film Argo is the most recent revisiting of these events in American culture. Like the nationalization of the oil industry and the coup against Mosaddeq, the takeover of the embassy is celebrated annually in Iran, and is used as an occasion to reinforce the image of the United States as a foreign oppressor. Like the embassy takeover, the Iran-Iraq War is viewed in Iran as part of its struggle against the United States.

Unlike the hostage crisis, however, the Iran-Iraq War does not arouse strong emotions among Americans, if it is remembered at all.

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Relations between the neighbors—who have a long history of animosity—had steadily worsened since the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Over the past thirty-three years, both during and after the war, Iranian leaders and publications have consistently emphasized that U. And they have disseminated a historical narrative of the war as a foreign-backed and existential assault on Iran.

The way Iran refers to the conflict—as the Imposed War or Sacred Defense—demonstrates its significance. According to this narrative, the Iraqi invasion was directly tied to U. During the war, emphasizing American involvement served to rally support for the war effort by heightening the stakes of the conflict. Our nation has become fully united knowing that the leaders of evil and blasphemy and the adherents of the Great Satan will be completely destroyed.

Today, Iranian leaders describe the war in the same manner. While the perception of the United States urging Saddam to invade Iran does not reflect the historical record, Iranian contentions regarding U. After the invasion, the United States actively aided the Iraqi war effort. Along with other countries, it provided Iraq with extensive diplomatic, economic, and military support. They also argue that the development of their weapons programs—and their desire to protect themselves from outside domination—developed from the unfavorable position in which they found themselves during the Iran-Iraq War.

In addition to helping Iraq maintain its military superiority, in the United States moved its naval forces into the Persian Gulf to support Iraq and protect oil tanker traffic.

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The move led to direct confrontations between Iranian and American forces, which lent credence to the belief that the United States was leading the charge to defeat the Islamic Republic and that Iraq was merely its pawn. Iranian statements after the U. Iranians continue to suffer from the effects of chemical weapons used against them during the war, which, along with the bodies that continue to be unearthed and the mines that still explode along the border, are powerful reminders of the horrors of the conflict. Iranian leaders assert that U. In response, the United States again increased its support for Iraq, which allowed Iraqi forces to retake the territories Iranian forces had occupied.

This assertion reflects an effort to transform the conflict from an unfortunate consequence of the Islamic Revolution into a blessing that ensured its success. It also reflects the idea that the United States failed to curb the power of the Islamic Republic in the war. A clear example of that was the [Iraqi] imposed war.