The armed conflict between Baghdad and Tehran raged on between September 1980 to August 1988 and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, but intelligence files seized by US forces in the Iraqi capital show that Hussein was caught off guard by the Iranian attack, and was very much oblivious to the threat posed by the Islamic Republic.
The documents were seized in 2003 but were only recently declassified.
According to the New York Times, the documents state the Hussein's first reaction to the attacks was "This is Israel."
Minutes for a meeting in 1982 suggest Hussein believed Iraq would win the war with Iran and that “Once Iraq walks out victorious, there will not be any Israel… Technically, (Israel) is right in all of their attempts to harm Iraq.”
Hussein's notion that Israel and the West were conspiring to undermine his regime persisted well after end of the Iran-Iraq war ended: In 1990 he personally intervened to ensure the execution of Farzad Bazoft, an Iranian-born journalist working for the British Observer, after the latter – who was looking into an explosion at a military complex south of Baghdad – was arrested and charged with spying for Israel.
The documents also shed further light on the circumstances that led to the 1991 Gulf War, saying that a series of mixed messages led him to understand the Washington would not contest an invasion of Kuwait.
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