#37: The Iran-Iraq War and Its Enduring Impact on the Region

When you think of Iraq, more than likely your thoughts turn to the country’s troubles since 2003. However, the roots of those events trace back to one of the region’s most consequential wars of the 20th Century.

Thirty-nine years ago this week, Iraqi forces invaded Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province, starting the Iran-Iraq war. The conflict saw the region’s first use of weapons of mass destruction, an escalation of proxy warfare, a genocide against the Kurds, and the beginning of greater U.S. military involvement in the region. Fueled by arms sales and financing by the U.S., Gulf states, and over a dozen other nations with arms industries, the war dragged on for 8 years. Over a million souls perished. While no lines on the map changed in the end, the war has had an enduring legacy in shaping the region, contributing to events that led to the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraq War, and many of the region’s rivalries and proxy conflicts that persist today.

For this episode of IRAQ MATTERS, we talk with long-time Iraq watcher Joel Wing and EPIC’s very own Omar Al-Nidawi. Joel is author of the blog, Musings on Iraq, offering a treasure trove of data, analysis, and more than 100 interviews with historians, analysts, journalists, diplomats, and soldiers. Omar is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a regular contributor to the Middle East Institute, and EPIC’s Program Manager, overseeing our research and field work. Born in 1980, Omar’s childhood coincided with the Iran-Iraq war and its aftermath.

Join us as we explore a pivotal time in history that deserves far more attention, especially for policy-makers and aid agencies seeking to deescalate the conflicts that plague the region today.

Joel, Omar, and Erik’s recommendations for further reading on the Iran-Iraq War:

  • The Iran-Iraq War, Pierre Razoux, Belkmap Press of Harvard University Press, 2015
  • The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 1: The Battle for Khuzestan, September 1980-May 1982, E.R. Hooton, Tom Cooper and Farzin Nadimi, Helion & Company Limited, 2016
  • The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 2: Iran Strikes back, June 1982-December 1986, E.R. Hooton, Tom Cooper and Farzin Nadimi, Helion & Company Limited, 2017
  • The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 3: Iraq’s Triumph, E.R. Hooton, Tom Cooper and Farzin Nadimi, Helion & Company Limited, 2018
  • The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 4: The Forgotten Fronts, E.R. Hooton, Tom Cooper and Farzin Nadimi, Helion & Company, 2018
  • Immortal: A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces: Stephen R. Ward. Georgetown University Press, 2014
  • The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East, Jay Solomon. Random House, 2016
  • A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja, Joost R. Hiltermann. Cambridge University Press, 2007
  • The Gulf War: Its Origins, History and Consequences, John Bullock and Harvey Morris. William Heinemann Limited, 1991

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