Implications of the Iraq-Iran War

An Iranian jeep.

On U.S. Army maps the area of Iraq and Iran on either side of the Shatt al Arab River is shown in white, indicating uninhabited marsh and swamp. A warning indicates that "border demarcations are subject to international dispute." It was here, at the tip of the Gulf, variously called Persian or Arabian, that a British expeditionary force first landed in 1914 to drive the Turks from Mesopotamia, and to establish ultimately the independent state of Iraq as it is known today. The expedition's political adviser, Sir Percy Cox, warned his superiors that "the position of our ships in the [river], from an international point of view, is undoubtedly a weak one."

Cox's warning echoes ironically through more than 60 years of disputes between Iraq and Iran, together with Turkey, the European powers, the United States and the United Nations, all of which have been involved in the contention. For in

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