Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 28, 1984, Page 3


Iran-Iraq: New Dangers

As this issue went to press, the war between Iran and Iraq, now 44 months old, had taken a new and increasingly dangerous road. Iran, for the first time in the war, began attacking commercial shipping in Gulf waters, and Iraq stepped up its own attacks on ships bound to and from Iran. On the next two pages are a profile of the two combatants and an assessment of the fallout from the fighting.





The Vital Statistics

Population:42 million

Religion: Predominantly Shiite Muslim; minority Sunni Muslim and others.

Language: Mainly Persian

Government: Authoritarian; theocratic.

Casualties: Est. 300,000 killed; 750,000 wounded; 15,000 captured.

14 million

More than 50% Shiite Muslim; most of remainder Sunni Muslim.

Mainly Arabic

Authoritarian; secular. Est.

100-150,000 killed; 400,000 wounded; 60-70,000 captured.


Economic Impact

Hurt, but still surviving relatively well. Incurred some damage to oil refining capacity, but export terminals on Gulf still operating and were exporting 1.6 million barrels per day until a recent, possibly temporary, drop. Income has been diverted from development to pay for war and keep economy going but foreign exchange reserves are $68 billion, and there is no international debt. Basic foods like meat, rice and sugar are rationed but available, and there is a wide range of consumer goods in shops.

Hurt, but still surviving relatively well. Exporting less oil (about 800,000 barrels per day) than it could if its terminal on Gulf had not been destroyed and one of its pipelines to Mediterranean had not been closed down. Exchange reserves dropped from $35 billion to $23 billion, but Arab neighbors have given more than $30 billion, and two of them, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are donating 400,000 barrels of oil daily for Iraq to sell. Result: some development plans have continued, despite war, and shops are still wellstocked.

Who Supports Whom

Receives arms from China, Syria, Libya, and North Korea, and has received them from both South Korea and Israel in the past. Many of the arms paid for in hard currency are Soviet-made, although Soviet Union, officially "neutral," ha"tilted" strongly towards Iraq.


Receives large quantities of arms from France and the Soviet Union, financial help from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the U.A.E., and logistical support from Jordan, Egypt and others. U. S. remains officially "neutral," but has made it clear it does not want Iran to win the war.


Military Capabilities

Superior manpower, but its equipment, mainly from U.S., is aging and suffers from shortage of spare parts. Airforce has only 60 to 65 usable combat aircraft: about 25 F4 fighter bombers, 30 F5 fighters, and 5 to 10 F14 fighter bombers. Has Hawk anti-aircraft missiles.

Superior armament, but much less manpower available than Iran. Armored force based on Soviet T62 and T72 tanks. Has at least 370 serviceable combat planes, including Soviet MIG 23s and SU22s, as well as French Superetendard aircraft equipped with Exocet missiles. Has Soviet ScudB and Frog surface-to-surface missiles.

Current War Goals

Iran voted against U.N. Resolution 540, of October 31, 1983, which called for a ceasefire leading to negotiations. Its leaders say it will not stop fighting until Iraq's President Saddam Hussein resigns or is overthrown. Iran has been seeking to reach this objective by overrunning and holding strategic areas of Iraqi territory, but numerous attempts have failed so far.

Aside from defending its own soil against Iranian ground attacks, its major military objective is to close down Iranian oil export terminals in order to deprive Iran of the revenues it needs to continue the war. Iraq's eventual goal is to attain a cease-fire leading to negotiations. On October 31, 1983, it voted for U.N. Resolution 540, which urged both combatants to pursue such measures.