Today in Middle Eastern history: the Iran-Iraq War begins (1980)

and that's the way it was

The Iran-Iraq War is one of the major defining Middle Eastern events of the last half-century. Taken in conjunction with the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which is unavoidable given that one event immediately precipitated the other, it is the basis upon which much of modern Iranian politics is set. Oh, and its outcome also led directly to the Gulf War and America’s 20+ year obsession with taking out Saddam Hussein. And on this date in 1980, the war began with a series of Iraqi airstrikes against Iranian airfields, in preparation for a large ground invasion that was coming the next day.

At its core, the war was about two things: waterway rights in the Shatt al-Arab basin and Saddam’s fears about the Islamic Revolution. The Shatt al-Arab is a river that runs from the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers out to the Persian Gulf, skirting the Iran-Iraq…

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