1974–75 Shatt al-Arab clashes

The 1974–75 Shatt al-Arab clashes refer to Iranian-Iraqi standoff in the Persian Gulf region of Shatt al-Arab waterway during the mid-1970s. The clashes produced nearly 1,000 killed. It was the most significant dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway in modern times, prior to the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s.


Iran repudiated the demarcation line established in the Anglo-Ottoman Convention of Constantinople of November 1913. Iran asked the border to run along the thalweg, the deepest point of the navigable channel. Iraqi Kingdom, encouraged by Britain, took Iran to the League of Nations in 1934, but their disagreement was not resolved. Finally in 1937 Iran and Iraq signed their first boundary treaty. The treaty established the waterway border on the eastern bank of the river except for a four-mile anchorage zone near Abadan, which was allotted to Iran and where the border ran along the thalweg. Iran sent a delegation to Iraqi Republic soon after the Ba'ath coup in 1969 and, when Iraq refused to proceed with negotiations over a new treaty, the treaty of 1937 was withdrawn by Iran. The Iranian abrogation of the 1937 treaty marked the beginning of a period of acute Iraqi-Iranian tension that was to last until the Algiers Accords of 1975.[1]


From March 1974 to March 1975, Iran and Iraq fought border skirmishes over Iran's support of Iraqi Kurds.[2][3] In 1975, the Iraqis launched an offensive into Iran using tanks, though the Iranians defeated them.[4] Several other attacks took place; however, Iran had the world's fifth most powerful military at the time and easily defeated the Iraqis with its air force. Some 1,000 people died on the course of the 1974-75 clashes in the Shatt al-Arab region.[5]

As a result, Iraq decided against continuing the war, choosing instead to make concessions to Tehran to end the Kurdish rebellion.[2][3] In the 1975 Algiers Agreement, Iraq made territorial concessions—including the Shatt al-Arab waterway—in exchange for normalised relations.[2] In return for Iraq recognising that the frontier on the waterway ran along the entire thalweg, Iran ended its support of Iraq's Kurdish guerrillas.[2]


In March 1975, Iraq signed the Algiers Accord in which it recognized a series of straight lines closely approximating the thalweg (deepest channel) of the waterway, as the official border, in exchange for which Iran ended its support of the Iraqi Kurds.[6]

Five years later, on 17 September 1980, Iraq suddenly abrogated the Algiers Protocol following the Iranian revolution. Saddam Hussein claimed that the Islamic Republic of Iran refused to abide by the stipulations of the Algiers Protocol and, therefore, Iraq considered the Protocol null and void. Five days later, the Iraqi army crossed the border.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karsh, Efraim The Iran-Iraq War 1980–1988, London: Osprey, 2002 page 8
  2. ^ a b c d Karsh, Efraim (25 April 2002). The Iran–Iraq War: 1980–1988. Osprey Publishing. pp. 1–8, 12–16, 19–82. ISBN 978-1-84176-371-2.
  3. ^ a b Ranard, Donald A. (ed.). "History". Iraqis and Their Culture. Archived from the original on 10 January 2011.
  4. ^ Farrokh, Kaveh. Iran at War: 1500–1988. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78096-221-4.
  5. ^ "CSP - Major Episodes of Political Violence, 1946-2013". Systemicpeace.org. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  6. ^ Abadan Archived 2009-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, Sajed, Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference iranicaonline was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Coordinates: 30°24′26″N 48°09′06″E / 30.40722°N 48.15167°E / 30.40722; 48.15167