Saddam’s Early Years (1979-80)

This timeline covers the start of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq up to the start of the Iran-Iraq War.

 

Musings On Iraq review Saddam His Rise and Fall

Musings On Iraq Review Culture, History & Ideology in the Formation of Ba’thist Iraq, 1968-89

Musings On Iraq Review Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party, Inside an Authoritarian Regime

Musings On Iraq review Compulsion In Religion, Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies In Iraq

Musings On Iraq review the Ba’thifiation f Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s Totalitarianism

Musings On Iraq review Imagining The Nation, Nationalism, Sectarianism and Socio-Political Conflict in Iraq

 

1979

Jul 11 Pres Bakr resigned from the Revolutionary Command Council citing health Saddam

took over chairmanship of council

 

Jul 12 Saddam elected new president and head of Regional Command Council of the Baath

Party Izzat al-Dhuri elected new vice president

Jul 12 Revolutionary Command Council Secretary General Mashadi objected saying Bakr

should have been persuaded to stay in office Saddam would have him arrested

 

Jul 15 Saddam had Revolutionary Command Council Secretary General Mashadi arrested

and tortured Mashadi named Saddam opponents within Baath Party Those members later accused of a Syrian backed coup

 

Jul 16 Saddam’s election to presidency made public

Jul 16 Nouri al-Maliki fled Iraq after his membership in Dawa Party was discovered by govt

 

Jul 17 Public celebrations held for Saddam’s election to presidency

Jul 17 Saddam called for Iraqi-Iranian friendship after Iranian Revolution

 

Jul 18 Saddam told Revolutionary Command Council Muhyi Hussin Mashadi and four

current and former ministers were involved in Syrian backed coup Were put on trial and sentenced to death Was meant to remove opponents to Saddam within Baath leadership

 

Jul 22 Televised session of Baath meeting Former Revolutionary Command Council

secretary general Mashadi claimed there was a Syrian backed coup with goal of uniting two countries after Iraqi leadership removed Names of 66 plotters read aloud as they were taken from the meeting Party members began praising Saddam Accused coup plotters included 5 of 21 from Revolutionary Command Council Former Oil Min Hadithi who helped nationalize Iraq Petroleum Company Another of the accused Adnan Hussein al-Hamdani deputy prime minister and head of president’s office who had been close aide to Saddam Court made up of 7 members of Revolutionary Command Council created to try coup plotters 

 

Aug 1 22 coup plotters sentenced to death 33 others given prison time

 

Aug 8 5 members of Revolutionary Command Council expelled and coup plotters

            executed by Baath party leaders Saddam led session

Aug 8 Saddam appeared on TV to explain coup plot

Aug 8 Assad protested and demanded to see evidence Syria behind coup plot Sent Foreign

Minister and chief of staff to Baghdad Rebuffed by Saddam Ended unity talks Helped lead Syria to align with Iran when Iran-Iraq War started Saddam had opposed unity fearing that it would sideline him and give more power to Bakr

 

Sep 24 Iraq warned Iran to not to interfere in Bahrain after Ayatollah Khomeini’s son

            called on Shiites to rise up against their Sunni rulers

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Oct 30 Saddam brought up control of Shatt al-Arab with Iran

 

Oct 31 Saddam demanded end of Algiers Treaty Iran give up two border towns and give

autonomy to Iran’s Kurds and Arabs

(Musings On Iraq review Iran-Iraq War Volume 1: The Battle for Khuzestan, September 1980-May 1982)

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Nov 18 Naji Suwaidi became PM of Iraq

 

Dec 16 Iraq and France signed deal to buy 8 new Mirage fighters on top of 34 ordered in

1977

(Musings On Iraq review Iraqi Mirages, The Dassault Mirage Family In Service With The Iraqi Air Force, 1981-1988)

 

Dec 29 U.S. placed Iraq on list of State Sponsors of Terrorism for backing Palestinian

            terrorist Abu Nidal and others

 

1980

Feb 8 Saddam proposed pan-Arab charter of non-aligned Arab states to oppose

            superpowers in region and to unite against Iran

 

Feb 23 Start of major military operation against Kurds

(Musings On Iraq review of The Kurds, A Modern History)

(Musings On Iraq review Kurds of Iraq, Tragedy and Hope)

 

Mar 8 Iran withdrew its ambassador from Iraq Prelude to Iran-Iraq War

 

Mar 10 Iraq declared Iran’s ambassador persona non-grata as dispute built up leading

            to Iran-Iraq War

 

Mar 15 Ayatollah Khomeini called on Iraqis to rise up against Saddam

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Mar 21 Ayatollah Khomeini’s son Ahmad said that Iran had to use all means necessary to

            spread its revolution to other countries

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Mar 30 Baath made membership in Dawa punishable by death

(Musings On Iraq Interview with Lowy Institution’s Shanahan on history of the Dawa Party)

(Musings On Iraq review The Shi’ite Movement in Iraq)

 

Apr 1 Mustansiriya Univ in Baghdad bombed by Islamic Action Organization in attempt

on life of Deputy PM Tariq Aziz Iraq blamed Iran

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Apr 2 Saddam said those killed in attack on Mustansiriya Univ Baghdad bombing would

            not be forgotten

 

Apr 4 Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr arrested in Najaf by Saddam

(Musings On Iraq review Muqtada, Muqtada Al-Sadr, The Shia Revival, And The Struggle For Iraq)

 

Apr 5 Saddam gave speech saying conflict with Iran was about Arabs vs Persians and

            denounced Ayatollah Khomeini

Apr 5 Bomb hit funeral procession in Baghdad of Mustansiriya bombing victims Done

            by Islamic Action Organization Iran again blamed

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Apr 6 Iraqi commandos fired rockets at Iranian oil field

 

Apr 7 Iran withdrew all its diplomatic personnel from Iraq

Apr 7 Iran put its military on full alert after accusing Iraq of repeated attacks upon

            its border area

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Apr 8 Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr and sister Bint al-Huda executed by Saddam

(Musings On Iraq review Muqtada, Muqtada Al-Sadr, The Shia Revival, And The Struggle For Iraq)

Apr 8 DIA said 50% chance Iraq would invade Iran Said Iraq thought Iranian military

            weak and could easily be defeated

Apr 8 Ayatollah Khomeini broadcast speech calling on Iraq’s people to topple their govt

 

Apr 9 Saddam deported 9,700 Shiites claiming they were Iranians Later deported another

16,000

 

Apr 15 Iraqi opposition group attempted to assassinate Information Minister Latif

al-Jassim

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Apr 18 Khomeini said Baath at war with Islam and called on Iraqi army and people to

            overthrow Saddam

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Apr 22 Khomeini revealed that Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr had been executed and called for

            overthrow of Saddam

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

(Musings On Iraq review Muqtada, Muqtada Al-Sadr, The Shia Revival, And The Struggle For Iraq)

 

Apr 27 Radio Tehran aired fake story that Saddam had been assassinated

 

Apr 30 By end of April around 20 Iraqi officials had been killed in bombings by

            Shiite opposition parties

Apr 30 Arab Iranians seized Iranian embassy in London demanding sovereignty for

            Khuzistan province Were trained and armed by Iraq

 

May 24 Iraq backed failed coup vs Khomeini in Iran

 

Jun 14 Mossad assassinated Egyptian nuclear scientist Yahya El Mashad in Paris who

            Worked on Iraq’s nuclear program

 

Jun 20 Iraq held first parliamentary elections since end of monarchy in 1958 Baath won

            187 seats Independents 63

 

Jun 30 Newly elected parliament took office Naim Haddad of Revolutionary Command

            Council elected speaker

 

Jul 9 Former Shah generals launched failed coup vs Khomeini Iraq blamed but wasn’t

            involved

 

Jul 16 Saddam told chiefs of staff that he was going to invade Iran Saddam thought Iran

weak but didn’t think Iraq could fight a total war and reach Tehran Decided on limited war based upon seizing Shatt al-Arab waterway Saddam thought war would allow Iraq to assert its influence over Iran and deter Khomeini from exporting his revolution

(Musings On Iraq review Iran-Iraq War Volume 1: The Battle for Khuzestan, September 1980-May 1982)

(Musings On Iraq review Iran-Iraq War Volume 4: The Forgotten Fronts)

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Jul 17 Iraqi govt took out ad in NY Times praising Saddam’s rule and comparing him to

            Abbasid caliphate

 

Jul 18 CIA memo said that border clashes pointed to possible war between Iran and Iraq

(Musings On Iraq review Iran-Iraq War Volume 4: The Forgotten Fronts)

 

Aug 5 Saddam went to Saudi Arabia to discuss Iranian threat to region before invasion

 

Aug 16 Saddam told chiefs of staff that he was going to invade Iran Saddam thought

Iran weak but didn’t think Iraq could fight a total war and reach Tehran Decided on limited war based upon seizing Shatt al-Arab waterway Saddam thought war would allow Iraq to assert its influence over Iran and deter Khomeini from exporting his revolution

 

Aug 26 After Saddam visited Khanaqin Diyala Iraqi army started shelling Iranian border

            Was looking for excuse to justify invasion

(Musings On Iraq review Iran-Iraq War Volume 4: The Forgotten Fronts)

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Sep 2 Iraq-Iran border clash at Qasr-e-Shirin, Iran

(Musings On Iraq review Iran-Iraq War Volume 4: The Forgotten Fronts)

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Sep 4 Iran shelled Khanaqin and Mandali in Diyala and bombed two other towns

            Saddam accused Iran of starting hostilities

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 4 Saddam ordered army to seize disputed areas with Iran Would take 201 sq miles of

territory including small islands in Shatt al-Arab Iraqis would lose 100 soldiers while Iran 50

 

Sep 6 Iran shelled more borders towns in Iraq from Zain al-Qas

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 6 Iraq threatened to seize Zain al-Qas area if Iran didn’t cede it in a week

 

Sep 7 Saddam claimed full sovereignty over Shatt al-Arab waterway

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 7 Iraq officially protested to Iran about shelling border towns Seized Zain

            Al-Qas in retaliation

Sep 7 5 Iraqi helicopters crossed over into Iran and 1 got shot down

 

Sep 8 Iraq demanded Iran surrender border towns that Iraq claimed

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 8 2 Iraqi MiGs shot down an Iranian fighter that was shooting at Iraqi tanks along

            the border

 

Sep 9 Iranian F-5 Tiger II jet shot down by an Iraqi MiG-21

 

Sep 10 Iraq seized Saif Saad, Iran disputed town Iraq claimed Next two weeks were

            15 border incidents between two countries mostly in Basra

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 10 Iranian F-14 Tomcat shot down an Iraqi Su-22

 

Sep 11 Iraq sent protest letter to Iran saying border incidents violated international law

and if they continued situation could escalate quickly Iraq said it would defend itself

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Sep 12 Iraq seized Qasr e-Shirin in Iran next to Diyala province and claimed it took 30

miles of disputed territory along Iranian border Bombed Kermanshah Iran southeast of Qasr e-Shirin to try to take out militia in that area

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Sep 13 In 2 days Iraq seized 5 border posts from Iran Tehran didn’t retaliate making

            Saddam believe reports that Iran was weak after revolution true

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Sep 14 Iran’s Chief of Staff of military said it no longer abided by 1975 Algiers

            Agreement with Iraq over Shatt al-Arab border

Sep 14 Iran’s Pres Bani Sadr and PM Rajai flying in helicopter along Iran-Iraq border

was fired upon by an Iraqi MiG Iraq didn't know who was in the helicopter

 

Sep 15 Iran accused Iraq of attempting to shoot down helicopter with Iranian Pres Bani

            Sadr and Premier Rajai on it

Sep 15 Iranian F-14 Tomcat shot down an Iraqi MiG

 

Sep 16 Revolutionary Command Council met to discuss border skirmishes with Iran

Saddam said Iran vulnerable and this was the time Iraq could seize control of Shatt al-Arab and disputed territories between the two Saddam said that Iran would not fight Iraq because it was afraid Saddam told advisers that he would order invasion of Iran in coming days

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 16 Ali Hassan al-Majid head of Mukhabarat only one of Saddam’s advisers to voice

            concerns about going to war with Iran

 

Sep 17 Saddam called emergency session of parliament and announced 1975 Algiers

Treaty on border and Shatt al-Arab with Iran was voided Blamed Iran’s constant violations of Iraqi sovereignty for failure of 1975 treaty Said Shatt al-Arab needed to be Arab as it had been throughout history

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

Sep 17 Saddam gave TV speech Said Iran violated 1975 Algiers Treaty was backing

Kurds Refused to return Iraqi territory Saddam then abrogated the 1949 Treaty of Good Relations and 1975 Algiers Treaty Also claimed sovereignty over Shatt al-Arab waterway

Sep 17 Heavy fighting broke out between Iraqi and Iranian forces in Shatt al-Arab

 

Sep 18 Iran’s Foreign Minister rejected Iraq’s claim to Shatt al-Arab

Sep 18 Saddam sent Tariq Aziz to Arab countries to argue Iraq’s case to back it against

            Iran

Sep 18 Iraqi artillery hit Iranian city of Abadan

Sep 18 2 Iranian F-5 Tiger IIs fired upon Iraqi troops along the Iran-Iraq border and were

            shot down by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire

Sep 18 Iraq’s generals made final battle plans for invasion of Iran and set 9/22/80 as

            invasion date

 

Sep 19 Iran began heavy shelling of Shatt al-Arab and attacked ships in waterway

(Musings On Iraq review The Longest War, The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict)

 

Sep 20 Iran called up its military reserves

Sep 20 Iraq’s Def Min Khairallah went to Iran-Iraq border to give commanders orders for

            Iran invasion

 

Sep 21 Iraq letter to UN outlined steps it took to try to work out outstanding issues with

            new revolutionary govt in Iran

 

 

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