After the overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi by the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran was in upheaval and diplomatically isolated. The Ayatollah preached pan-Arabic Shiite Revolution, which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as a Sunni ruler of a country with a Shiite majority, viewed as a provocation. In September 1980, he launched an opportunistic invasion of Iran. The subsequent eight-year conflict evoked World War I, in its trench warfare, indiscriminate use of chemical weapons (primarily by Iraq), human wave offensives (primarily by Iran), massive casualties, and above all, its monumental futility. After initial Iraqi territorial gains, Iran’s numerical advantage (and indifference to human casualties) steadily told. By mid-1982, Iraqi gains had been reversed, and they would spend the rest of the war on the defensive, but Iran lacked the military nous and technology to secure a decisive advantage. A United Nations brokered peace accord eventually put the long-suffering populations out of their misery.
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