...The Lion of Babylon, 1980-1988, from Pen and Sword
Title: Iran-Iraq War
Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Another book in the Cold War series from Pen and Sword and another interesting one. I think it is fair to say that while many of us can think of the Gulf War in 1991 and the later second round, these tend to overshadow the slightly earlier Iran-Iraq war that took place between 1980 and 1988. The recent addition to the Cold War series is written by Anthony Tucker-Jones who has the personal experience of being a Defence Analyst at the time to tackle the subject so well.
The book gives us the background to the conflict, a time when the revolution in Iran stoked the rivalry with Saddam Hussein in their neighbours Iraq. Both sides were rich thanks to oil revenues and had purchased considerable quantities of modern weaponry from a variety of foreign suppliers. For countries such as the US and the Soviet Union, as well as France and China, and in some aspects the UK, they were both valuable customers to arms suppliers who had made a lot of money out of them. Following the background setting, we get the various aspects of the war in the following chapters. There were very large number of tanks in the armies of both sides, quite small naval forces and air forces with some very capable weapon systems. There were also large numbers of infantry in the armies of both sides, and casualties over the 8 year conflict were severe, one of the contributing factors to finally get both sides to agree to a ceasefire. Most of these aspects are also covered thanks to the inclusion of plenty of archive photos which illustrate the events described in the text, and all with helpful captioning.
It also details the extensive use of chemical weapons, which though technically banned were used, and delivered by tactical missiles such as the Scud that was to become well known in the later Gulf War when Saddam launched them against Israel and other targets. In the Gulf itself, both sides targeted ships in the Gulf and this went from cargo vessels bringing supplies in to the oil tankers and their loading facilities which provided the money that fed the war machines but dragged in the attention of Western powers when it impacted on oil supplies. The economics were a key element to the rivalry between the two nations, as was religion. The cost in both monetary and human terms influenced the final ceasefire agreement. In a closing chapter on the Aftermath, it also highlights how after the conflict was over, internal rivalries on both sides resulted internal opposition to the governments in power being silenced by executions. There are then a number of Appendices with information such as the Chain of Command and the Orders of Battle of both sides. Appendix 5 lists the Iraqi aircraft imports between 1977-88 while 6 lists their air-to-air missile imports while 7 gives their air-defence missile imports. In appendix 8 it shows the US arms shipments to Iran during 1985-86.
Another good addition to this Cold War series and in a very readable format thanks to author Anthony Tucker-Jones.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.