Cover image for The Gulf tanker war : Iran and Iraq's maritime swordplay
The Gulf tanker war : Iran and Iraq's maritime swordplay
El-Shazly, Nadia El-Sayed, 1936-
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xxi, 403 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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DS318.85 .E4 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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In this book, El-Shazly has produced a definitive chronicle of a much neglected, but significant, aspect of the eight year-long Iran-Iraq war, the so-called Tanker War. The book explains the reason for the Tanker War, analyzes Iraqi and Iranian motives and strategies, and surveys the regional and international responses that this phase of the war generated. Drawing on a wealth of primary data, interviews with naval experts and other relevant actors, as well as a mass military and international security-related literature, the author weaves an impressive framework for understanding the Tanker War and also for drawing the lessons which must be learned from this episode if such a method of warfare is not to be repeated.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Michael A. Palmer's On Course to Desert Storm (1992) has now been supplanted. El-Shazly has analyzed the complex activity in the Persian Gulf from 1984 to 1988, when nearly 500 ships were disabled, to show that such a situation was both Clausewitzian and Mahanian. The reality was that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had miscalculated his strength vis-a-vis that of the newly established Iranian state. After four years of WW I-style war and attempts to cut off Tehran's export of oil, no end was in sight and Hussein's power as well as the Iranian economy were being drained. Many nations had a stake in both the area's oil and in international diplomacy in the late Cold War. El-Shazly has the language skills with which to analyze the tanker war. She argues that Saddam Hussein desperately needed to bring the unwinnable war to a halt. He correctly saw that the way to do that was to get more European powers involved in the Gulf, and for that reason the USS Stark was attacked. The allied response was to create a convoy for the tankers. This very convoluted story is well told; it should be read by practitioners as well as academics. All levels. R. Higham Kansas State University

Table of Contents

List of Tablesp. x
List of Mapsp. xi
List of Chartsp. xii
Preface and Acknowledgementsp. xiii
List of Acronymsp. xvii
Introduction: The War Iraq Started and Could Not Endp. 1
1 The Tanker War: An Empirical Surveyp. 18
2 The Main Protagonist: Saddam Hussein's Iraq Facing Khomeini's Iranp. 45
2.1 Iraq's Geopolitical Profilep. 45
2.2 Iraq's Political Parties and the Opposition-in-Exilep. 59
2.3 Saddam's Assessment of Khomeini's Iranp. 73
3 The Enduring Contest of Willsp. 82
3.1 Were there Options other than War?p. 82
3.2 The Iraqis Plunge into Deep Watersp. 87
3.3 Tour d'Horizonp. 88
3.4 Iraq's Strategyp. 93
3.5 A Review of Iraq's Groundwork for Warp. 95
3.6 In Pain with no Gain: 1981 to 1984p. 104
4 Power-Play in the Gulfp. 114
4.1 The Choked Aortap. 114
4.2 Hormuz: The Chokepointp. 119
4.3 Iraq's Geopolitical and Geostrategic Predicamentp. 123
4.3.1 The geopolitical issuep. 124
4.3.2 The geostrategic questionp. 133
4.4 Competition for Privilege and Powerp. 137
4.5 Alien Flags over the Gulf Watersp. 144
4.6 The Gulf - Boon or Doom?p. 153
5 The Actors, The Plot, The Propsp. 162
5.1 The Quest for Native Fleetsp. 162
5.2 Navies of the Castp. 170
5.3 Early Fires over the Gulf Watersp. 183
5.4 Iraq's Tanker War Strategyp. 190
5.5 Baghdad's Rationalep. 194
5.6 Saddam's Panaceap. 196
6 The Ledger: A Chronological Survey of the Conflictp. 201
6.1 1984 - The Curtain Rises on the Tanker Warp. 201
6.1.1 January 1984p. 201
6.1.2 February 1984p. 202
6.1.3 March 1984p. 204
6.1.4 April-May 1984p. 207
6.1.5 June-July 1984p. 211
6.1.6 August-October 1984p. 212
6.1.7 November-December 1984p. 213
6.2 1985 - On Stage and Backstage Tug-of-Warp. 215
6.2.1 January-February 1985p. 215
6.2.2 March 1985p. 216
6.2.3 April-June 1985p. 218
6.2.4 July-August 1985p. 218
6.2.5 September 1985p. 219
6.2.6 October-December 1985p. 220
6.3 1986 - Warfare Over Stardom in the Gulfp. 222
6.3.1 January 1986p. 222
6.3.2 February 1986p. 223
6.3.3 March 1986p. 224
6.3.4 April-May 1986p. 225
6.3.5 June-July 1986p. 227
6.3.6 August 1986p. 228
6.3.7 September 1986p. 230
6.3.8 October-November 1986p. 231
6.3.9 December 1986p. 232
6.4 1987 - The Inflamed Gulf Watersp. 234
6.4.1 January 1987p. 234
6.4.2 February-March 1987p. 236
6.4.3 April-May 1987p. 238
6.4.4 June-July 1987p. 241
6.4.5 August 1987p. 243
6.4.6 September-October 1987p. 246
6.4.7 November-December 1987p. 249
6.5 1988 - Iran Sails into a Sea of Troublesp. 252
6.5.1 January-March 1988p. 252
6.5.2 April-August 1988p. 255
7 Iran's Silent Force and the US Navy Take Centre Stagep. 260
7.1 Kitman Va Makrp. 260
7.2 The Issue of Protecting Kuwaiti Tankersp. 271
7.3 What was the Stark Reality?p. 282
7.4 Operation Earnest Willp. 292
Conclusion: The War Iraq could not Win and Iran could not Losep. 305
Appendicesp. 343
Bibliographyp. 363
Indexp. 375