The Iran Iraq War
The 1988 Negotiation between Iraq and Iran
In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran as a result of border disputes and Iran’s demands that Saddam Hussein be overthrown. After Iran expelled the Iraqis from its territory it took much of Iraq’s territory and claimed to be ‘liberating’ Shia’s in Iraq, as well as the Kurds, who fought on Iran’s side during the war and wanted their own country (Hiro, 1991). The UN responded immediately and passed resolution 479 in September 1980, which called upon Iran and Iraq to end the war and settle their dispute by peaceful means (UN Chronicle). Neither country followed their advice because both countries wanted control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway (UN Chronicle). In 1987 the Security Council adopted resolution 598, which included a ceasefire, that all military actions be discontinued, all forces be withdrawn to internationally recognized boundaries, the dispatch of a team of UN observers to oversee the ceasefire, and a consideration to entrust an impartial group to inquire into responsibility for the conflict (UN Chronicle). Iraq accepted the resolution immediately, but Iran did not accept it until July 1988. (UN Chronicle).
In April 1998 both Iraq and Iran agreed to negotiate a peace settlement in Geneva (UN Chronicle). Both countries were weary of the long war, Iraq wanted to take back control of its territory that Iran had taken, and Iran was afraid that regional powers and the U.S. would increase support for Iraq (Hiro, 1991). Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and his Representative Jan Eliason met with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and other top officials of those countries a number of times in 1988. (UN Chronicle).
As a result of the negotiations both countries agreed to implement U.N. resolution 598, and to continue negotiating (UN Chronicle). Resolution 598 ended the war, but did not do very much else. Iran was more successful on the issue of territory because Iraq wanted control of the entire Shatt Al Arab, but it only got the western half. Iran was unsuccessful in its attempt to get the U.N. to establish blame for Iraq for the war, but was successful in being able to continue to search ships.
ITEMS OR ISSUES?
Things that are tangible, such as territory, or that can be done or not done, but can not possible be compromised on, such as whether negotiations over territory or an investigation into which country was responsible happens first, and whether or not the UN oversees the cleanup of the Shatt Al Arab, and whether Iran is allowed to continue inspecting ships headed for Iraq, are listed as items. Non-tangible things that can be compromised on, such as how much power Saddam Hussein would have and what kind of punishment he would have to endure, how Islamic Iraq’s government would be, how much international support Iraq could have, how much support Iran could give to the Kurds, how many prisoners of war would be exchanged, and how much Iraq would pay in reparations, are listed as issues.
Arab areas of Iran:
Iraq wanted these areas of Iran to be independent, and Iran wanted to have control over them. Iran had control of these areas in 1988, so this issue was not very important for Iraq at that time. On a scale of one to ten, Iran valued this item at a ten and Iraq at a two.
Shi’ite areas of Iraq:
Iran wanted to have control of this territory, and did have control of much of it in 1988, so this issue was very important for both sides. Iraq valued this item at a ten and Iran valued this item at a seven.
Shatt al-Arab waterway:
Iraq wanted control of the entire river, and Iran wanted the eastern half. Iraq valued this item at a 10 and Iran valued this item at a 9.
Iranian territory occupied by Iraq:
Immediately before the negotiation Iraq took some of Iran’s territory in order to have more bargaining power. Iraq valued this item at a one and Iran valued this item at a ten.
Negotiations over territory:
Iraq wanted negotiations over control of territory before the cease-fire because for much of the war it had been on the defensive and had lost a lot of its territory to Iran. It also wanted to establish control of the Shatt Al Arab. Iran wanted to establish blame for Iraq before negotiations over territory. Saddam Hussein believed that Iraq only wanted to use resolution 598 to establish blame on Iraq and would go forward with negotiations, so he wanted negotiations over territory and other issues to precede the cease-fire (Hiro, 1991). For this item Iraq was at a ten and Iran was at a ten.
UN oversees the cleanup of the Shatt Al Arab:
Iraq wanted the UN to oversee the cleanup of the Shatt Al Arab, which was filled with sunken ships and Iranian mines, and made it extremely difficult for Iraq to transport its oil (Hiro, 1991). For this item Iraq was at a ten and Iran was at an eight.
Inspection of ships:
Iraq wanted Iran to stop inspecting ships for weapons in the Shatt Al Arab and the Gulf that were headed for Iraq. Iran didn’t want to cease its searches of ships in the gulf, and argued that it had a right under international law to search ships it suspected of carrying weapons to its enemy during a time of war (Hiro, 1991). For this item Iraq was at a ten and Iran was at an nine.
Iran didn’t want to withdraw to the international border, while Iraq insisted that the countries do so. For this item Iraq was at a ten and Iran was at an eight.
Investigation into which country was responsible:
Iran wanted the U.N. to investigate to see which country was responsible for starting the war, because it was likely to put most of the blame on Iraq for invading Iran, and that would have legitimized Iran’s occupation of much of Iraq’s territory. Iran also wanted Iraq to pay $100 billion in war reparations, and that would only happen if the UN found that Iraq was the aggressor. If it was found that Iraq had been the aggressor Iran would postpone its other demands. Iraq was opposed to the investigation because it believed that Iran just wanted to use it as a reason to continue its occupation of Iraqi territory (Hiro, 1991). For this item Iraq was at a nine and Iran was at a ten.
Saddam Hussein’s Power and Punishments:
Iran demanded that Saddam Hussein be overthrown and punished as a war criminal, and Iraq was definitely opposed to that. Iran was at a 10 on this issue, but only had 10% of the power on this issue, whereas Iraq was at a 1, and had 90% of the power, and the status quo position was a 1. The 10% of power Iran had was to continue the war until this happened. Iraq’s salience on this issue was a 10 and Iran’s was a 2.
Islamization of Iraq’s Government:
Iran wanted Iraq to have an Islamic regime like that in Iran. Iraq had already implemented some policies to move towards more religiosity in the government by 1988. For this issue the status quo position was four, Iraq was at a four and Iran was at a ten. Iraq had 90% of the power over this issue and Iran had 10%. The 10% of power Iran had was to continue the war until this happened. Iraq’s salience on this issue was a 5 and Iran’s was a 3.
International support for Iraq:
By 1988 many countries, especially the U.S., were increasing their military support for Iraq. Iraq needed them to do that in order to expel Iran and force it to consent to a cease-fire. Iran did consent to the cease-fire because Iraq had a military advantage because it was receiving foreign support. The U.S., U.S.S.R., and regional powers were increasing their support for Iraq and were taking more direct military action against Iran, and would increasingly do so if Iran did not agree to a cease-fire. Iran would not have agreed to anything if those countries hadn’t been supporting Iraq, because the new Islamic regime was using the war to establish its control over the country (Hiro, 1991). For this issue the status quo position was a ten, Iraq was at a ten, and Iran was at a one. Neither country had any more than 10% of the power over this issue, because it was up to foreign powers whether they would continue to support Iraq or not. Iraq’s salience on this issue was a 10 and Iran’s was a 10.
Iran’s Support For The Kurds:
Iran wanted this area to be independent from Iraq, and was helping the kurds achieve independence. Iraq wanted to have control over this region. Much of the area was independent in 1988. For this issue the status quo position was a 7, Iran was at a 10, and Iraq was at a 1. Iran had 60% of the power over this issue and Iraq had 40%. Iraq’s salience on this issue was a ten and Iran’s was a 4.
Prisoners of war:
Iraq wanted to exchange the one hundred thousand prisoners of war held by the two countries because eighty thousand to ninety thousand were held by Iran. Iran was not opposed to exchanging prisoners of war. For this issue Iraq wanted a 10 and Iran wanted a 5, and the status quo position was a 1. Iraq had 20% of the power over this issue and Iran had 80%, because Iran had so many more prisoners than Iraq. Iraq’s salience on this issue was a 4 and Iran’s was a 1.
Iran wanted Iraq to pay $100 billion in war reparations. Iraq was totally against paying reparations. For this issue Iraq wanted a 1 and Iran wanted a 10, and the status quo position was a 1. Iran had 10% of the power over this issue and Iraq had 90%. Iraq’s salience on this issue was a ten and Iran’s was a six.
If Iran and Iraq did not come to an agreement the foreign powers that were supporting Iraq would likely escalate their support for Iraq. For that reason Iran had more to lose by not accepting an agreement than Iraq did. Both countries wanted the war to end, so they were both likely to accept an agreement. Iran had been winning the war prior to 1988, so it had more to offer, but was not willing to offer everything. Iran would likely give more to Iraq that it received in the agreement, because it was afraid that international support for Iraq would increase.
Predictions v. Actual Outcome
According to the model the predicted outcome for territory is Iraq would get the part of its country back that had a majority Shi’ite population, and much of which Iran had taken in the later part of the War. Iran would be able to keep the part of its country that had a majority Arab population, and had been taken by Iraq in the beginning of the war. Iran would also get the Eastern half of the Shatt Al-Arab Waterway, and it would get back its territory that Iraq took immediately preceding the peace agreement. This outcome was the actual outcome. The model predicted the outcome well because the territory that the countries wanted most was what they had previous to the war. The U.N. also wanted them to withdraw to their pre-war boundaries, and they did because the U.N. negotiated their peace agreement and because that was easier than trying to divide up and exchange territory, and create a new boundary.
The outcome that the model predicts is that either the U.N. would oversee the clean up of the Shatt Al Arab, or the two countries would withdraw to their international borders. Either way, Iran would be able to continue its inspections of Iraqi ships, the U.N. would investigate which country was responsible for starting the war, and there would be negotiations over territory. In reality there were not negotiations over territory, the U.N. did not clean up the Shatt, Iran did continue to inspect Iraqi ships, the countries did withdraw to their international borders, and the U.N. did not investigate into which country was responsible for starting the war. Nothing changed except that the countries withdrew to their borders because the peace process was disrupted by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. When Iraq invaded Kuwait the security passed resolutions condemning the invasion, and many countries went to war against Iraq to repel the invasion. The U.N. was not interested at that time in doing anything to help Iraq, and Iraq would not have cooperated in any kind of investigation. Iran and Iraq withdrew to their international borders because they wanted to end the war, and the territory they cared for most was within their pre-war borders. The model did not predict the actual outcome because it didn’t take into account anything that happened after the 1988 negotiations.
Saddam Hussein’s Power and Punishments:
The model predicted that the Saddam Hussein regime would remain in place in Iraq because the issue was more important to Iraq than to Iran, because it affected Iraq more, and Saddam in particular and he controlled what Iraq negotiated. Iraq also had a lot more power over this issue. The actual outcome was that Saddam remained the dictator of Iraq.
Islamization of Iraq’s Government:
The model predicted that Saddam Hussein would continue to control Iraq’s government, and would have the power to decide how Islamic or secular it would be. It stayed pretty much as Islamic as it was in 1988 because nothing happened that would have given Saddam any reason to make it more Islamic or more secular. Iraq cared about this issue more than Iran did and had more power over this issue, so there wasn’t very much Iran could have done to change the outcome.
International support for Iraq:
The model predicted that not very much would change on this issue because neither country really had any power over it. The only way it would change is if foreign powers decided to change the amount of support they were giving to Iraq. They did stop supporting Iraq when Iran withdrew to the internationally recognized boundary, and then they put sanctions on Iraq when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The model doesn’t predict that foreign countries would entirely stop supporting Iraq, and it certainly doesn’t predict that they would put sanctions on Iraq. What it does predict is that neither country really had any power over this issue, except that the foreign powers would decide how much support they would give to Iraq based on the actions the two countries took, and that’s exactly what happened. The model doesn’t really deal with that because it is actually a multi-player issue, and the model only shows Iraq’s and Iran’s position on it.
Iran’s Support For The Kurds:
The model predicted that Kurdish independence would increase, and Iran would continue to support the Kurds, because Iran had more power over whether it would be able to do that. In reality Kurdish independence did increase following the Gulf War, but not because Iran was supporting the Kurds. When Iran withdrew to the internationally recognized border it lost a lot of its power in the Kurdish region. After the Gulf War the U.S. supported the Kurds, and Iran was not interested in cooperating with the U.S., and it didn’t have to because having the support of the U.S. allowed the Kurds to be mostly autonomous. Iran is a also a Persian Shi’ite country, and Shi’ites are not particularly fond of Kurds, so it didn’t really have an incentive to support the Kurds other than to deny power over the region to Iraq. The model predicted that Iran would not be more resolute on this issue than Iraq, and it wasn’t.
Prisoners of war:
The model predicted that the countries would exchange prisoners of war because both countries wanted to, although Iran wanted to less than Iraq did, but Iran did not care about the issue as much as Iraq did. The actual outcome was that they did exchange prisoners of war. In fact that’s the first thing they did after they agreed to end the war, because it was the only thing they could really agree on.
The model predicts that Iraq would not pay reparations to Iran because Iran really didn’t have any power over this issue, unless they could have had something to give to Iraq in exchange, but they really didn’t because they wanted to end the war, and threatening to continue the war was the one thing they had before the foreign powers started supporting Iraq. The actual outcome was that Iraq did not pay any reparations to Iran.
The models worked best when there wasn’t any change in the circumstances, and an outside power didn’t have a lot of influence over the issue that was modeled. In order to predict the outcome of a situation models must accurately model the situation as it will exist at the time that the issue is decided. When the situation changes, as it did when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the model has to change. Many of the models didn’t predict the outcome of the negotiation because the situation changed and they don’t reflect that change. When models accurately portray the situation they can predict the outcome of the negotiation because they simplify the circumstances under which it is taking place, define all the possible outcomes, and show the probability that each possible outcome has of actually being decided upon. Models define what is being negotiated over, what the possible outcomes are, and give a value to each outcome for each actor. The outcome that gives the most utility to both actors is the one that is most likely to be agreed to. All of the outcomes that the models in this paper predicted gave the most utility to Iran and Iraq at the time of the 1988 negotiations. When the circumstances changed (when Iraq invaded Kuwait) the utility that they gave to each actor changed, so those models would have changed.
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