27 August 2013, 21:57

US involvement in the Iran-Iraq war: 'Information is not so new' - expert

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Declassified US military reports offer proof that the US knew that Iraq used mustard gas against Iran and the Kurds in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), and that the US even helped Saddam Hussein to plan them. Although the US authorities were well aware of the fact and even had convincing proof that Saddam Hussein had given an order to use chemical weapons against Iran and the Iraqi population, the US took no measures to stop him while the Iranian–Iraqi conflict was in progress. The Voice of Russia discussed this newly revealed information with Paolo Raffone –  editor-in-chief of Strat-EU magazine on intelligence and geopolitics. He is also a founder of the CIPI foundation, a Brussels-based non-profit organization.

Mr. Raffone, the recently declassified documents describe the American involvement in the Iran-Iraq war. How significant was Washington's involvement? And did Washington’s involvement determine the outcome of that particular war?

First of all, we have to say that this information is not so new, because all the experts in strategic studies knew that the involvement of the Western coalition led by the US in Iraq was heavy at the time of the war against Iran. The specific file referring to certain types of armaments, especially chemical armaments, which were delivered to Saddam Hussein not only from the US, but, probably, also from other European allies of the US– this is something that was known between the lines. So, the involvement of the Western countries altogether at that time was quite evident.

So, on the one hand, we have the US condoning chemical attacks carried out by Saddam Hussein. And on the other hand, we have now Washington ready to stage a military intervention into Syria over the alleged chemical weapons attack by Bashar Assad’s forces. Why do you think the US stance on chemical weapons changed so dramatically?

We have to acknowledge the fact that at the time of Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, there was a completely different geopolitical. There was a Cold War and the situation was totally different from today. The use of chemical weapons as such is condemned by the international community now for a long time. It was in the early 1920’es that it was decided that these weapons had to be banned. Of course, during the Cold War the situation was that certain justifications were found for the wrongdoing, even by the Western countries.

As of today, this is something that we have to address in hopefully a more cooperative way worldwide. So, the use of chemical weapons by whatever side should be banned. And it is not tolerable. The way it should be approached, I hope it would be in a slighter way and not in a sort of punitive intervention against one side of the conflict.

Absolutely! Quite a lot of pundits are saying that this is nothing more than chasing a political interest in that particular region. Where are the limits to stopping that? Where are the limits to pursuing a political interest?

I’m not so sure that by having such a kind of intervention this would help or support the political interests of some of the Western allies. It would be much more wiser to very quickly create a multilateral mechanism specific for that region in a way that these kinds of things can be handled. Let’s think back to the Helsinki process. The same thing should be launched for the ME.

But the interventions by one group of states with or without the UN’s approval, which I doubt it would give, it wouldn’t solve the problem. It would simply exacerbate the situation. So, this is a very serious and intolerable issue, and it should be dealt as a problem of the international community as such, not of one side only.

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