IBNA- Persian translation of 'Ominous Alliance', based on the book 'Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984' (2003), edited by Joyce Battle on hidden facets of Iran-Iraq war has been published.
The book shows that the interests of both superpowers of that time the U.S. and the USSR was entangled with Iran-Iraq war (Sacred Defense in Iran) as none of them sided with Iran but supported the Iraqi regime. 'Ominous Alliance' has been translated into Persian by Majid Karimi and published by Iran's Center for Documents and Researches of Sacred Defense Press.
The Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) was one of a series of crises during an era of upheaval in the Middle East: revolution in Iran, occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by militant students, the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan, and internecine fighting among Syrians, Israelis, and Palestinians in Lebanon.
The war followed months of rising tension between the Iranian Islamic republic and secular nationalist Iraq. In mid-September 1980 Iraq attacked, in the mistaken belief that Iranian political disarray would guarantee a quick victory.
The U.S. was officially neutral regarding the Iran-Iraq war, and claimed that it armed neither side. Iran depended on U.S.-origin weapons, however, and sought them from various regions. Iraq started the war with a large Soviet-supplied arsenal, but needed additional weaponry as the conflict wore on.
Most of the information in this briefing book, in its broad outlines, has been available for years. Some of it was recorded in contemporaneous news reports; a few investigative reporters uncovered much more - especially after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. A particular debt is owed to the late representative Henry Gonzales (1916-2000), Democrat of Texas, whose staff extensively investigated U.S. policy toward Iraq during the 1980s and who would not be deterred from making information available to the public.
The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country's official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan. These were prepared pursuant to his March 1982 National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM 4-82) asking for a review of U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
One of these directives from Reagan, National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 99, signed on July 12, 1983, is available only in a highly redacted version [Document 21]. It reviews U.S. regional interests in the Middle East and South Asia, and U.S. objectives, including peace between Israel and the Arabs, resolution of other regional conflicts, and economic and military improvements, "to strengthen regional stability." It deals with threats to the U.S., strategic planning, cooperation with other countries, including the Arab states, and plans for action. An interdepartmental review of the implications of shifting policy in favor of Iraq was conducted following promulgation of the directive.
Although official U.S. policy still barred the export of U.S. military equipment to Iraq, some was evidently provided on a "don't ask - don't tell" basis. In April 1984, the Baghdad interests section asked to be kept apprised of Bell Helicopter Textron's negotiations to sell helicopters to Iraq, which were not to be "in any way configured for military use".
The purchaser was the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In December 1982, Bell Textron's Italian subsidiary had informed the U.S. embassy in Rome that it turned down a request from Iraq to militarize recently purchased Hughes helicopters. An allied government, South Korea, informed the State Department that it had received a similar request in June 1983 (when a congressional aide asked in March 1983 whether heavy trucks recently sold to Iraq were intended for military purposes, a State Department official replied "we presumed that this was Iraq's intention, and had not asked.") [Document 44].
Almost all of the primary documents included in this briefing book were obtained by the National Security Archive through the Freedom of Information Act and were published in 1995.