The Politics of Conflicts: Iran, Iraq and The West (1980-2016) Western Impacts and Solutions

Document Type : Original Article


1 Executive Director, Centre for Governance and Development (CeFGaD), Gambia

2 Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

3 Retired Professor of History at Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia


In spite of ancient and serious disagreements, Iran and Iraq did not go to war until 1980. Why? What changed the equation? Three-plus decades later, Iran is still a main actor in Iraq’s internal affairs. What motivates this involvement? Our main objective is to explore the politics of the Iraq–Iran conflict and attending influence of Western powers from 1980 onwards. In this study, we analyse the history and causal factors in light of Western foreign policies, and seek grounds for bilateral rapprochement and note cooperation between Western powers, proposing that if the West can cooperate to achieve respective national interests, so can Iran and Iraq. Coherent policy landscaping characterizes national and international levels on looking at theoretical global governance, but academia has yet to pay attention to extant actors and institutions required to govern energy concerns. A classical realist approach reveals that Western Powers pursued and continue to pursue respective interests at all costs. How their several interventions have affected the Iran–Iraq conflict has thus far remained undisclosed.


  1. Abdulghani, J.M (2012). Iraq and Iran (RLE Iran A): Taylor & Francis.
  2. Agency, DOCI (1981). Soviet Goals and Expectations in the Global Power Arena: National Intelligence Estimate Memorandum to Holders. Washington: Central Intelligence Agency Retrieved from ingroom/docs/DOC_0000268220.pdf.
  3. Agency, USACAD (1984). World Military Expenditure, Arms Transfer and Other Statistics, 1972–1982. Washington: US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  4. Agency, USACAD (1994). World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1991–92. Washington: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  5. Amin, S.H. (1982). The Iran-Iraq War: Legal implications. Marine Policy July.
  6. Ashton, N; Gibson, B. (2013). The Iran-Iraq War: New International Perspectives. Routledge.
  7. Bichler, J.N.A.S (2002). The Global Political Economy of Israel. London; Pluto Press.
  8. Brynen, R.; Korany, B.; Noble, P. (1995). Political liberalization and Democratization in the Arab world (Vol. 1): Lynne Rienner Publishers, inc.
  9. Carmoy, G.D (1974). Energy and Development policies in Iran: A Western View. Energy Policy (Dec): 293–306.
  10. Chubin, Sh; Tripp, Ch. (1996). Iran-Saudi Arabia Relations and Regional Order. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. Commons, G; Inquiry I., GBC.; Chilcot, J.S; Council, GBP (2016). Report of the Iraq Inquiry: Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors: Stationery Office.
  12. Congressional Quarterly, i. (1987). The Iran-Contra puzzle: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
  13. Ebrahimi, M. (2016). The British Role in Iranian Domestic Politics (1951-1953) (Vol. 5): Springer.
  14. Ebrahimi, M; Gholami, A; Yusoff, K. (2017). Politics of Oil and Natural Gas vis-à-vis the Foreign Policy of Iran. Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 11(3): 65-79.
  15. Ekovich, S. (2004). Iran and New Threats in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. Elsevier Limited on behalf of Foreign Policy Research Institute. Winter.
  16. Fayazmanesh, S. (2008). The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment: Taylor & Francis.
  17. Gassama, S.K.; Ebrahimi, M.; Yusoff, K. (2020). "The Oil Hegemonic System and Game Theory: regional vs. Trans-Regional Powers in the Middle East." Contemporary Review of the Middle East, 7(3), 358-376, 2020, the Middle East Institute, New Delhi, SAGE Journals.
  18. Gause III, F.G (1995). “Regional Influences on Experiments in Political Liberalization", in Hamilton, LH & Inouye, DK (1995). Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair: DIANE Publishing Company.
  19. Gibson, N.A.B (2013). The Iran–Iraq War: New International Perspectives Abingdon: Routledge.
  20. Hamilton, L. H.; Inouye, D. K. (1995). Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair: DIANE Publishing Company.
  21. House, T.W (1995). American Leadership and Engagement: Reducing the Nuclear Threat. Washington: The White House. Retrieved from
  22. Ibrahim, S.E (1995). “Liberalization and Democratisation in the Arab World: An Overview.” In Rex Brynen (Ed): Political Liberalization & Democratisation in the Arab World Vol. I: Theoretical Perspectives London: Lynne Reinner Publishers Inc.
  23. Intelligence, D.O.C (1980). Soviet Interests Policies and Prospects with Respect to Iran and Iraq War. CIA. Retrieved from
  24. Intelligence, D.O.C (1984). Soviet Policy toward the United States in 1984: Special National Intelligence Estimate. CIA Retrieved from https://www.
  25. Khadduri, M (1988). The Gulf War: The Origins and Implications of the Iraq-Iran Conflict: Oxford University Press, USA.
  26. King, R.P.H (1987). U.N. and the Iran–Iraq War: Diane Publishing Company.
  27. Kissinger, H (2011). White House Years: The First Volume of His Classic Memoirs: Simon & Schuster UK.
  28. Luft, G (2009). Dependence on Middle East energy and its impact on global security. In Energy and Environmental Challenges to Security (197–210): Springer.
  29. Malici, A; Walker, S.G (2016). Role Theory and Role Conflict in U.S.-Iran Relations: Enemies of Our Own Making: Taylor & Francis.
  30. Murphy, S.D (1996). Statement of Defense of the United States for the Case: “The Islamic Republic of Iran, Claimant, Versus United States of America, Respondent,” before Iran-United States Claims Tribunal at The Hague, The Netherlands. US Department of State Washington: The Office of International Claims and Investment Disputes. Retrieved from documents/organization/65779.pdf.
  31. Offiler, B. (2015). US Foreign Policy and the Modernization of Iran: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and the Shah: UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  32. Quandt, T.M.W. (1984). “Oil and the Outcome of the Iran–Iraq War”. Middle East Research and Information Project. Cambridge Energy Research Associates, p. 25.
  33. Reagan, R. (1983). National Security Decision Directive 114: United States Policy toward the Iran–Iraq War. The White House. Retrieved from
  34. Reagan, R. (1984). National Security Decision Directive 139: Measures to improve U.S. Posture and Readiness to Respond to Developments in the Iran–Iraq War. The White House. Retrieved from id/6879737.
  35. Savacool, A.; Florini, B. K. (2009). “Who governs energy? The Challenges facing global energy governance”. Energy Policy, 37, 5239-5245.
  36. Sidey, F.F.H (2006). The Presidents of the United States of America. The White House Historical Association.
  37. Snitch, T. (1984). East European Involvement in the World's Arms Market. Washington: US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  38. Stewart, S (1998). Conflict Resolution. Winchester: Waterside Press.
  39. Tarock, A. (1998). The Superpowers' Involvement in the Iran–Iraq War: Nova Science Publishers.
  40. Wenger, J.S.M. (1984). “US Ready to Intervene in Gulf War”. Middle East Research and Information Project 125, 14: Sep–Oct.