Saddam Hussein invades Iran, 1980

In 1980, former dictator Saddam Hussein orders the invasion of Iran.

The revolution which took place there and brought ayatollah Khomeini to power in February 1979, did not leave him indifferent. Calling on the threat of Shia expansionism, perhaps betting on an Iranian army weakened by severe political purges, and the increasing isolation of the new government after the US embassy hostage crisis, he tried to make territorial gains in the oil rich Khuzestan province.

The 8 years war that followed saw the death of about 2 million people, including hundreds of thousands of civilians, the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against military and Kurdish civilians on both sides, the constant bombing of cities as well as the destruction of both countries’ economies.

After the 1988 ceasefire, Iraq was left heavily indebted to Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia which paid for the weaponry it bought from the Soviet Union, the USA, or France. Unable to repay, perhaps failing to understand the end of Cold War dynamics, and maybe misled by his meeting with Iraq’s US ambassador at the time, Saddam decides to invade Kuwait in 1990.

Consequently, Hussein’s former allies turned against him in what is known as the first Persian Gulf War. Ending in 1991, it placed Iraq under a heavy embargo, which included medicine. As a result, the following years witnessed the deaths of many – tens of thousands each year – Iraqi children from diseases and malnutrition. In the mid-1990’s, the US and the United Kingdom also conducted several no-fly zones enforcement operations.

By 2003, Iraq was bled dry. Bartering its oil for food, the US administration then argued the country was developing weapons of mass destruction. Invaded in the second Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was this time toppled and finally hanged in December 2006.

As of 2015, Iraq is fighting with foreign elements executing innocents and making a show of it.

War is a dangerous affair, and as such, one should not take it lightly. Facing problems, the use of force can be tempting. But, too often in history, it has proven to be effective only for a while, before fading away. Putting energy in hard-work, education and generosity, one can achieve a far more constructive destiny.