Behind the current war between Iraq and Iran rests a history of conflict. These conflicts led to a full-scale series of mutual attacks known as The Iran- Iraq War. Iraq began the war with hopes to accomplish political issues over sovereignty, security, and territorial boundaries. Iran officials saw the war as a religious battle, not with any political boundaries involved. The war itself was directly caused by disputes over the Shatt al-Arab waterway and the Kurdish rebellion in Iraq. Both events led to the most recent crisis between these two countries and the political turmoil that still exists today. .
The Shatt al-Arab waterway serves as a boundary between the two nations. The waterway is configured of three rivers: the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Karun rivers. The three rivers meet together and flow into the Gulf. The dispute over this waterway initially began in 1969 when Iran declared the 1937 agreement void that granted the control of the waterway to Iraq. Iran accused Iraq of violating the provisions of the treaty for many years. "Iran's Foreign Ministry had alleged that Iraq had, for years, unilaterally collected river tolls on the waterway without giving Iran a share as provided under the treaty" (Mostyn, 108). The Jordanian and Turkish governments stepped in and tried to reconcile both sides, but the effort ultimately led to the gulf separating both sides. .
The persistent loyalty of both parties to their differing positions militated against any compromise. "Thus, instead of improving communication, each became more intransigent, locking themselves into unalterable positions that left no room for legal .
ambiguities to provide a possible strategic retreat if so desired" (Abdulghani, 122). It was obvious that each country was unwilling to come to an agreement that would satisfy each party. As a result of differing positions, the waterway led to another complicating factor between Iran and Iraq known as the Kurdish rebellion.