Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Global Studies


Stephen Sheehi

Committee Members

Oludamini Ogunnaike

Andrea Wright


Much has been written on the provision of arms and technologies from countries such as France, West and East Germany, the USSR, USA, UK, and others to Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran. This literature, however, tends to gloss over the material impact that aid had on the development of Iraq’s military industrial complex as well as the combined material impact on the war of those arms and, more importantly, Iraq’s ability to develop its industrial base. As a result, this literature obfuscates the agency Iraq had in exploiting these foreign states’ callous desire for arms sales to develop an independent and self-sufficient native arms industry. In this paper, Western academic sources, Iraqi, and Iranian perspectives on the war and military industry are examined to argue that Iraq was successful in building its military-industrial complex by Iraq’s own standards and to a level Iraq required to force an eventual capitulation in the war. The Iraqi development will be tracked in relation to the pivotal battles surrounding the al-Fao peninsula in 1986-88 as well as a frame narrative constructed surrounding a Soviet-made T-55 main battle tank and its life as one of billions of items of aid provided to Iraq during the time period examined. The al-Fao battles and the T-55 are both emblematic of Iraq’s specific needs and political, economic, and military context and so a close examination of both is helpful in understanding the broader picture.

On-Campus Access Only