History of Conflicts in the Middle East

The Iran-Iraq War

The war between Iraq and Iran was fought for about nine years. It began in 1979 and ended in 1988. During that long period, both nations suffered losses of human lives and destructions of property worth billions of dollars. Other nations also suffered economically; the region surrounding and including Iraq and Iran is a location with oil reserves that are more than the total reserves found in the world. This made the war to be the most strategically significant war at that time since many countries would be affected (Jewish Virtual Library, 2010, para1-5)

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After the revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini who was expelled in October 1978 after a period of exile in Iraq started motivating his former comrades to oust Saddam Hussein of Iraq due to the blatant disregard to Islam by his government. The plot to oust Saddam Hussein was part of Khomeini’s strategy to propagate Islamic insurrection throughout the Middle East. Saddam Hussein’s response was a thorough and ruthless onslaught of war on Shiites; he also sent relief to Arab separatists who were in Iran (Quigley, 1990, p79).

During the 1970s Saddam was determined to ascertain himself as the Arab world’s leader. He wanted Iraq to be the dominant state in the Middle East, the same status that Iran also fought for. The main challenge that stood in front of Iran was that the revolution had not come to an end yet. Khomeini, the Iranian leader had not stabled his power in the country. The military instability due to the fight with the religious radicals offered Saddam Hussein an opportunity to act. In 1979 Iraqi aircraft launched attacks on Iranian villages suspected to be supportive to the Kurdish rebels who were funded by Khameini. Iran responded by supporting rebel Shiites to continue their rebellion against Saddam Hussein and his regime and it became a game of both countries supporting rebels against each other.

In 1980 the Dawaa rebel group, with the support of Iran, had attempted to assassinate Tariq Aziz, the then Iraqi Foreign Minister. Saddam moved in fast and banned the group and deported many Iraqis who were Iranian-born. The cleric who headed the dissent against Saddam’s government was also executed. After that move, Khameini openly started calling for the ouster of Saddam Hussein and his regime. In 1980 both countries became officially disunited and their international relations also only were established with countries supporting them.

The long-standing war between Iraq and Iran finally drew in international interventions. Different international communities started aligning themselves with either of the two warring nations. Syria and the Gulf states supported Iran; Saudi Arabia and Kuwait donated billions of U.S dollars in loans and grants and from Jordan came the supplies of weapons; while Libya, North Korea, and China supplied Iran with weapons. To Iran, the side came in the unexpected Israel whose main objective was to secure the safety of Jews in Iran.

The war between the two countries had an impact of insecurity to neighboring weaker states and threatened the economies of the western and Asian states which depended on the oil from the warring region. The U.S, also concerned with the flow of oil, decided to support the Iranian side by selling them weapons in a bid to secure the release of American citizens who were held hostages by the terrorists in Lebanon (Boyle, 2004, para1-7). Different countries combined their forces to support either of the countries depending on the interest at stake and commonly shared enemy.

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In the middle of the war was Kuwait. Kuwait used the American and the Soviet Union’s naval support to protect its ships from the forces of Iran and escort them. The U.S could not cooperate with the Soviets but Kuwait could also not accept only the U.S to protect its ships. Later, Kuwait agreed to put the ships under the U.S registry for effective protection; the U.S government also violated its foreign policy of neutrality and supported Iraq against Iran. It supplied Iraq with loans and grants and also allowed sales of weapons to Saddam Hussein.

After eight years of fighting both sides had shambled economies and desperate citizens besides distorted diplomacy with other nations. The two countries got tired of war. Iran finally accepted a ceasefire under UN mediation and Saddam accepted to remove his troops from Iranian territory and share with Iran the control of Shatt al-Arab. Both countries also had an exchange of prisoners before restoring their diplomatic relations.

Palestine and Israel War

During the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 the Zionists started fighting for the land of Palestine. Late 19th century the Zionists claimed they were reclaiming their ancestral land. After they got into the land they started the Jewish community. The stay was not peaceful as the anti-Jews, mainly Palestinian Arabs, staged constant aggressive antagonism. The aggression prompted the Jewish to start defending themselves. The Jewish bought land and believed the same could not be resold or leased to Palestinians. The Arabs in Palestine became suspicious and objected to Jewish further migration and buying of land in Palestine. The Jews then demanded to have their state and autonomy. This was the beginning of a war between Israel and Palestine.

When Britain left and withdrew from Palestine, the Jews had strongly started agitating to establish their state of Israel. The Jews with their powerful military preparedness started capturing and occupying Palestinian states. In 1948, the state of Israel was established after the Jews carried out severe military actions against the Palestinian Arabs. Many Arabs ran away in terror. After the declaration of the establishment of Israel as a state, other Arab countries brought in their troops. The Arab troops came into Palestine to secure to the Arabs only the sections divided for them according to the partition plan. The Zionists championed coercive transfer of Arabs elsewhere outside the Jewish state to create room for the settlement of landless Jews. To ensure that the Arabs expelled from the Israeli state never went back, the government of Israel destroyed their villages completely.

In December 1948 the United Nations General Assembly Resolution number one ninety-four was approved to allow the Palestinians to go back and re-posses their houses and property. Israel objected to that resolution and has made it impossible. Israel’s denial to accept Palestinian’s right to go back to their homes is seen as the main cause for the long-standing Palestine-Israel conflict. In 1949 the Palestinians and Israelis signed an agreement to settle for peace; Israel agreed to the repatriation of Arab refugees and Jerusalem internalization; Israel accepted the agreement only to create a good image amongst the international community.

The Six-Day War

The six-day war which erupted in 1967 between Egypt and Israel and Syria and Jordan was meant to drive Israel from occupying the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Sinai Peninsula. The Arab nations have vowed never to diplomatically recognize Israel as a State. According to them, Israel is a state which has no right to exist. During that period Israel managed to destroy the Egyptian Air Force by utilizing only about three hours and also about four air forces belonging to Arabs in just thirty-six hours. The war was considered to be amongst the most dramatic that has ever been. During the period of the six-day war, the Suez Canal was closed; Israel promised never to let go Jerusalem and the territories it captured until identifiable progress existed in the relationships between Arabs and Israelis. After the Suez Canal bar Israeli ships the U.S, Britain, and Israel launched attacks in Egypt (Broyle, 2004, p1-6)

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Israel has been involved in expansionist activities to enlarge its territories into Palestine. In the process, it captured the West Bank and the Gaza strip an action that the Palestinians seek revenge against. The international communities came with Egypt and Syria demanding that Israel returns back the land they grabbed in 1967 to Palestinians or face war. In 1973 war broke out against Israel again. Later, Israel and the U.S launched huge air operations which prompted oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia to proscribe oil supply to the world market. That was what the U.S feared most and was forced to restrain Israel from launching more attacks.

The war that began in 1967 has soured diplomatic relations between Egypt and Syria on one side and the United States on the other. After it ended the relations were restored. Even so, the border and settlement conflicts continue to go on between Palestinians and Israelites. Israel still settles Jews in the controversial land while the Palestinians object.

The 2006 Lebanon and the Gaza war

The Lebanon war was staged by the Hezbollah terrorists who crossed into Israel from Lebanon. They attacked a collection of Israeli troops who patrolled the border killing eight and kidnapping two of the troops. Israel’s response was a series of airstrikes that targeted Hezbollah bases within Lebanon. Hezbollah retaliated by launching a rocket attack which mainly targeted the Israeli civilians. The strikes launched by Israel targeted Hezbollah centers including but not limited to their operational offices.

Over 0.8 million people were displaced in Lebanon, around 157 Israelis died and about 0.4 were killed. The damages that Israel experienced amounted to approximately $1.6 billion. The war was ceased by the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution number 1701. The resolution also required that Hezbollah release the two Israeli soldiers they kidnapped. The bodies of the two were released but their fate could not be established from Hezbollah who declined any information (Noam and Carol, 2007, p3-11).

The Gaza war was shaped by the conflicts that have been going on between Israel and Palestine. When Hamas came into power it championed the total destruction of Israel and expand Palestine to absorb it. Hamas built a stable parliamentary force and some forces finally reached about ten thousand in Gaza. It managed to put Gaza under its control after series of rocket attacks and driving Israeli troops back into the country. The war caused lots of infrastructural damages to both Israel and Hamas besides the loss of lives of innocent civilians. The international community condemned Israel’s harsh reaction to the Gaza war citing the sufferings and deaths caused to innocent civilians. It is believed that Israel over-reacted Hamas’ attacks. The Israeli government had promised not to give the United Nations inquiry team any form of cooperation in its bid to determine the extent of a humanitarian situation created by its soldiers during the war (Rubin, 2007, p67).

Yom Kippur War

The Egyptian president wanted to sign with Israel an agreement in 1971, but that was based on a condition that Israel returned to Palestinians all the territories it illegally occupied. The Egyptian government wanted the U.S to force Israel to recognize the meaning of Resolutions 242. The Egyptian government also issued diplomatic threats to both African and European states so that they could give it support. It also placed pressure on the Soviet Union to appeal to the U.S for support and also provide weapons to Suez Canal. The Soviet Union refused and as a result, the Egyptian president drove about twenty thousand Soviet advisers out of Egypt. The war began in 1973 with the Egyptian and Syrian troops. The U.S wanted to work toward a cease-fire but the Soviet Union rejected the move. The rejection prompted the United States to start airlifting to support Israel (Herzog, 2006, p50)

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The Soviet Union did not have an interest in the peace-making initiative, that was, also the case with the then Secretary-General to the United Nations. However, the war was stopped by the Security Council after the adoption of Resolution 338.

Works Cited

Boyle, Francis. “US Foreign Policy Toward the Iran/Iraq War.” Counter Punch. 2002. Web.

Broyles, Matthew. The Six-Day War. The Rosen Publishing Group. 2004. ISBN 0823945499, 9780823945498.

Herzog, Chaim. The Inside Story of the Yom Kippur War: The War of Atonement. Greenhill Books, 2006. ISBN 1853675695, 9781853675690.

Jewish Virtual Library. “The Iran- Iraq War.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2010. Web.

Noam and Carol, Chomsky. Inside Lebanon. Aakar Books. 2007. ISBN 8189833286, 9788189833282.

Quigley, John. Arab-Israeli conflict: Palestine and Israel. Duke University Press, 1990. ISBN 0822310236, 9780822310235.

Rubin, Uzi. Rocket campaign against Israel during the 2006 Lebanon war. Begin-Sadat Center for strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University. 2007.

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