On This Day in History: September 22
The Iran-Iraq War
The 2003 American invasion of Iraq may have been an epic clusterfuck done under false pretenses by war-profiteering ass monkeys, but there are still plenty of people who are happy that Saddam is dead. Kuwait wasn’t the first nation he invaded in trying to establish Iraq as the dominant power in the region.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: September 22, 1980--
Revolutions rarely go smoothly, and Iran convulsed from the turmoil of the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, an American puppet. With Iran being internationally isolated and facing sanctions, Saddam Hussein, who had officially ruled Iraq for only a year, saw an opportunity to seize territory and be the biggest bad boy on the Arab block, surpassing Egypt for dominance as a regional superpower.
Saddam had been vice president of Iraq since 1968 and a general of the military since 1976. He was the military strongman and had been investing heavily in the Iraqi military since 1975 when Iraq lost a border dispute with Iran over the Shatt-al-Arab River, a strategically important waterway that provides access to the Persian Gulf. But in 1980, Iraq was now armed up the ass, and the Iranian military was in a shamble. Egged on by both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who were enemies of Iraq, but I guess wanted to see a fight anyway because they also didn’t like Iran, Saddam struck on September 22, 1980.
A full-scale invasion was launched, beginning with a surprise air strike against Iranian air forces on the ground, hoping to copy the success Israel had with such a move in 1967 against its enemies during the Six Day War. But it wasn’t much of a success, and a ground invasion began the next day. Iraq captured 15,000 square kilometers of Iranian territory, but then the advance stalled. Saddam held the belief that Iran would collapse in the face of his invasion, but the opposite happened.
The people of Iran rallied around their nation and fought back with religious fervor. Quite literally. Iran is 95% Shia Muslim, and Iraq was ruled primarily by Sunni Muslims, and those two don’t always get along so well. Bogged down, the conflict came to resemble World War I with trench warfare, barbed wire, machine-gun nests, and even the use of chemical weapons. As a bonus, Iran used lots of child soldiers too, because they were running out of adults.
Eight years of war and about a million dead later, the war came to an end. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who hated both Saddam and Iraq the way Republicans hate it when Black people vote, referred to the ceasefire agreement as “taking poison.” It was a bit slow acting though. Khomeini died a year later.
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