Iran-Iraq War - Foreign Support To Iraq and Iran

Foreign Support To Iraq and Iran

During the war, Iraq was regarded by the West (specifically the United States) and the Soviet Union as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran. The Soviet Union, Iraq's main arms supplier during the war, did not wish for the end of its alliance with Iraq, and was alarmed by Saddam's threats to find new arms suppliers in the West and China if the Kremlin did not provide him with the weapons he wanted. The Soviet Union hoped to use the threat of reducing arms supplies to Iraq as leverage for forming a Soviet-Iranian alliance.

The United States wished to both protect Iran from the Soviets and protect other Gulf states from the threat of "Iranian expansion". As a result, it openly supported the creation of a stable, anti-communist Iran via the downfall of the Khomeini regime. In 1982, Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, outlined U.S. policy towards Iran:

The focus of Iranian pressure at this moment is Iraq. There are few governments in the world less deserving of our support and less capable of using it. Had Iraq won the war, the fear in the Gulf and the threat to our interest would be scarcely less than it is today. Still, given the importance of the balance of power in the area, it is in our interests to promote a ceasefire in that conflict; through not a cost that will preclude an eventual rapprochement with Iran either if a more moderate regime replaces Khomenini's or if the present rulers wake up to geopolitical reality that the historic threat to Iran's independence has always come from the country with which it shares a border of 1,500 miles : the Soviet Union. A rapprochement with Iran, of course, must await at a minimum Iran's abandonment of hegemonic aspirations in the Gulf.

Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State during the war, testified to Congress in 1984 that the Reagan administration believed a victory for either Iran or Iraq was "neither militarily feasible nor strategically desirable."

Support to Iraq was given via technological aid, intelligence, the sale of dual-use and military equipment, satellite intelligence, and chemical weapons. While there was direct combat between Iran and the United States, it is not universally agreed that the fighting between the U.S. and Iran was specifically to benefit Iraq, or for separate issues between the U.S. and Iran. American official ambiguity towards which side to support was summed up by Henry Kissinger when he remarked, "It's a pity they both can't lose." The Americans and the British also either blocked or watered down UN resolutions that condemned Iraq for using chemical weapons against the Iranians and their own Kurdish citizens.

More than 30 countries provided support to Iraq, Iran, or both; most of the aid went to Iraq. Iran had a complex clandestine procurement network to obtain munitions and critical materials. Iraq had an even larger clandestine purchasing network, involving 10–12 allied countries, to maintain ambiguity over their arms purchases and to circumvent "official restrictions". Arab mercenaries and volunteers from Egypt and Jordan formed the Yarmouk Brigade and participated in the war alongside Iraqis.

Country Support to Iraq Support to Iran
Brazil Major supplier
Egypt Military exports
France Sale of high-tech military equipment and uranium
Israel US$500 million's worth of arms sales; arms shipments from the U.S. (part of the Iran–Contra affair); attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor; instructors and non-armaments
Italy Several billion dollars in funding; sale of land and sea mines as well as uranium Sale of land and sea mines
Jordan Acted as main supply line
Kuwait Financial support and conduit for arms sales
Portugal Sale of uranium Sale of ammunition and explosives
Qatar Initial support, though not openly
North Korea Sold domestically-produced arms; acted as an intermediate for covert sales by the Soviet Union, Soviet satellites, and China
People's Republic of China Some financial support Sale of military equipment, including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, rocket launchers, tanks, and artillery
Saudi Arabia $20 billion in funding
Singapore Provided chemical warfare precursors; acted as a transshipment point for weapons; was manufacturing site of foreign-designed weapons
Spain Sale of weapons, especially ammunition and explosives Sale of weapons, especially ammunition and explosives
Soviet Union Military equipment and advisors Covert military equipment sales
United Arab Emirates Financial aid
United Kingdom Weapons-related equipment
United States Several billion dollars worth of economic aid; the sale of dual-use technology and non-U.S. origin weaponry; military intelligence; Special Operations training; direct involvement in warfare Secret arms sales (Iran-Contra affair)]]
West Germany Sale of high-tech military equipment
Yugoslavia Weapons sales (more than $2 billion's worth) Weapons sales

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