The Iraq-Iran War (Iran-Iraq War of First Persian Gulf War) started in September 1980 and ended in August 1988 with over a million dead in total. In Iran the conflict is also know as the Imposed War and the Holy Defense. Saddam wasn't all that bad, he greatly improved living conditions in his country and introduced various rights and liberties that made Iraq a rather open and modern society but this did not last. His rise to power was a strong declaration of his intention to dominate, Saddam was no wise man, he was a man in need for power. And as history shows us, such types of leaders are terrified of the prospect of losing their power.
First of all, Iranians are Shia while Arabs are mostly Sunni. In 1979, Saddam persuaded his former "friend" and president of Iraq, al-Bakr, to resign and name him his successor. Prior to this Saddam was his deputy and effectively modernized Iraq. In the same year of 1979, Khomeini started the Islamic Revolution in Iran that aimed to remove the Shah from power, to stop Western influence and promote Islamic values. Saddam was Sunni, not very religious and largely perceived as pro-American while Khomeini was Shia, a cleric and neither Pro-American nor Pro-Soviet. Iraq had/has around 60% Shia and Syria around 15%. In the war, Syria allied itself with Iran because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". On the other hand, in Iraq, Khomeini's calls for revolution were a constant danger for Saddam's vision of a "mighty Iraq".
And so, instead of building a mighty Iraq and a mighty Iran, the two countries became pawns in a game that brought almost eight years of suffering, we have the rest of the world to "thank" for arming their fears and hatred of each other. Now, hopefully, the region can see peace, progress and cooperation, of course, only if the Arab countries of today will not follow Saddam's footsteps.
|This picture was also used for propaganda purposes.|
[All pictures are of Iranian soldiers, don't know who is the owner of them]