The Iran-Iraq War

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Harvard University Press, Nov 3, 2015 - History - 640 pages

From 1980 to 1988, Iran and Iraq fought the longest conventional war of the twentieth century. The tragedies included the slaughter of child soldiers, the use of chemical weapons, the striking of civilian shipping in the Gulf, and the destruction of cities. The Iran-Iraq War offers an unflinching look at a conflict seared into the region's collective memory but little understood in the West. Pierre Razoux shows why this war remains central to understanding Middle Eastern geopolitics, from the deep-rooted distrust between Sunni and Shia Muslims, to Iran's obsession with nuclear power, to the continuing struggles in Iraq. He provides invaluable keys to decipher Iran's behavior and internal struggle today.

Razoux's account is based on unpublished military archives, oral histories, and interviews, as well as audio recordings seized by the U.S. Army detailing Saddam Hussein's debates with his generals. Tracing the war's shifting strategies and political dynamics--military operations, the jockeying of opposition forces within each regime, the impact on oil production so essential to both countries--Razoux also looks at the international picture. From the United States and Soviet Union to Israel, Europe, China, and the Arab powers, many nations meddled in this conflict, supporting one side or the other and sometimes switching allegiances.

The Iran-Iraq War answers questions that have puzzled historians. Why did Saddam embark on this expensive, ultimately fruitless conflict? Why did the war last eight years when it could have ended in months? Who, if anyone, was the true winner when so much was lost?


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Chapter 1 Escalation
Chapter 2 Saddams Qadisiyyah
Chapter 3 How Did It Come to This?
Chapter 4 Did the United States Push Saddam to Attack?
Chapter 5 France Sides with Iraq
Chapter 6 The Arabs Divided
Chapter 19 Money Has No Smell
Chapter 20 Total War
Chapter 21 The Year of the Pilot
Chapter 22 Oil and the War Machine
Chapter 23 The Slaughter of the Child Soldiers
Chapter 24 Deadlock
Chapter 25 The IranContra Affair
Chapter 26 AllOut Offensives

Chapter 7 Israel Banks on Iran and Turkey Benefits from the War
Chapter 8 The Valmy Effect
Chapter 9 Stalemate
Chapter 10 The Initiative Changes Sides
Chapter 11 The Mullahs Take Power
Chapter 12 First Victories
Chapter 13 New Mediation
Chapter 14 The Iranians Recapture Their Territory
Chapter 15 Blessed Ramadan Offensive
Chapter 16 Bloody Dawns
Chapter 17 Saddams Ace in the Hole
Chapter 18 The Lebanese Hostage Crisis
Chapter 27 Iran Changes Strategy
Chapter 28 The Gulf Set Ablaze
Chapter 29 The Halabja Massacre
Chapter 30 The Destruction of Iran Air Flight 655
Chapter 31 Endgame

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About the author (2015)

Pierre Razoux is Research Director at IRSEM (Institute for Strategic Research) in Paris.

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