Both Iran and Iraq went to considerable lengths to sustain the war effort. First, they had to establish their ability to fight, in terms of national revenue and in the willingness of the populace to endure the conflict. This necessitated measures to protect the economy, to sustain the people’s motivation to fight, and the suppression of opposition groups. Saddam was particularly concerned about public morale and the threat of Kurdish or Shia subversion. He tried to use the economy as a prop to the war effort, and for months hoped to shield the Iraqis from the full blast of a costly war. He also assumed that Iran faced similar problems and so he sought to terrorise or demoralise the Iranian public to such an extent they would turn on their government. The result was the ‘war of the cities’, an air and missile offensive against major Iranian urban areas. However, the Kurdish insurgency continued to develop through the war and threatened to overrun the strategic oil facilities of the north. As a result, Saddam had to intensify his efforts on the home front. The Iranians did, indeed, face several internal crises caused by the crippling economic effects of the war, but, despite severe losses, Iranian morale remained intact. Nevertheless, both sides were forced to introduce more draconian measures in 1986 and 1987. This chapter traces these developments in order to give a more rounded perspective on the history of the war behind the front lines.
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