On the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Saddam Hussein convinced the Western powers, particularly those of the UNSC, that Iraq was a bulwark against Islamic extremism in the Middle East. His precipitate, if limited invasion exposed him to an Iranian counter-offensive, but this reinforced Western fears that Iran was the greater threat to the international order in this strategically sensitive region of the world. Both belligerents were to a large extent reliant on external sources of arms and munitions, especially aircraft, but Iraq was the favoured recipient for aid. The prospect of revolutionary Iran acting as a magnet for radical Islamist groups, and supporting those groups in the export of terror, meant that, surprisingly, both the USA and USSR supported Baghdad. France had important financial reasons to back Iraq, while Egypt, Brazil, Spain and Britain saw commercial opportunities in the region. However, Iran was not without its own backers. Libya, Syria and North Korea sided with Iran because, in part, they believed they too lay outside of the international system. Other countries sold arms, including China, Taiwan, Argentina, South Africa, Pakistan and Switzerland, with the most surprising contributions from Israel.
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