The regime responded by killing thousands. Many Shia tried to escape to Iran
and Saudi Arabia.
13. Some of the Shia hostile to the regime sought refuge in the marshland of
southern Iraq. In order to subjugate the area, Saddam embarked on a large scale
programme to drain the marshes to allow Iraqi ground forces to eliminate all
opposition there. The rural population of the area fled or were forced to move to
southern cities or across the border into Iran.
Saddam Hussein's Wars
14. As well as ensuring his absolute control inside Iraq, Saddam has tried to make
Iraq the dominant power of the region. In pursuit of these objectives he has led
Iraq into two wars of aggression against neighbours, the Iran Iraq war and the
invasion of Kuwait.
15. With the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979, relations between Iran and Iraq
deteriorated sharply. In September 1980 Saddam renounced a border treaty he
had agreed with Iran in 1975 ceding half of the Shatt al Arab waterway to Iran.
Shortly thereafter, Saddam launched a large scale invasion of Iran. He believed
that he could take advantage of the state of weakness, isolation and
disorganisation he perceived in post revolutionary Iran. He aimed to seize
territory, including that ceded to Iran a few years earlier, and to assert Iraq's
position as a leader of the Arab world. Saddam expected it to be a short, sharp
campaign. But the conflict lasted for eight years. Iraq fired over 500 ballistic
missiles at Iranian targets, including major cities.
Opposition to Saddam during the Iran Iraq war
During the war Saddam's security apparatus ensured that any internal dissent
or opposition was quickly eliminated. In 1982 he quickly purged a group
within Iraq's ruling clique which had suggested that the war might be brought
to an end more quickly if Saddam stood down.
16. It is estimated that the Iran Iraq war cost the two sides a million casualties. Iraq
used chemical weapons extensively from 1984. Some twenty thousand Iranians
were killed by mustard gas and the nerve agents tabun and sarin, all of which
Iraq still possesses. The UN Security Council considered the report prepared by
a team of three specialists appointed by the UN Secretary General in March
1986, following which the President made a statement condemning Iraqi use of
chemical weapons. This marked the first time a country had been named for
violating the 1925 Geneva Convention banning the use of chemical weapons.
17. The cost of the war ran into hundreds of billions of dollars for both sides. Iraq
gained nothing. After the war ended, Saddam resumed his previous pursuit of
primacy in the Gulf. His policies involved spending huge sums of money on new