Despite their public hostility, Israel and Iran cooperated militarily against Saddam Hussain’s Iraq during the 1980s Iraq-Iran war, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has claimed.
Straw, who served under Tony Blair during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, highlighted the complex relation between the two countries during an interview with Al-Araby TV. Straw is reported saying that Israel had provided information about military sites in western Iraq, while Iran provided Israel with information on Iraq’s Tammuz nuclear reactor, leading to its destruction in an Israeli strike.
During that period arms exports from Israel to Iran are said to have totalled around $2 billion. At the same time the US, Israel’s main western ally, backed the Iraqi dictator in the eight-year conflict which ended in 1988 following a UN-brokered truce. As many as one million people are thought to have died in the war.
Israel backed Tehran thinking that the revolutionary government of the Mullahs would act as a counterweight to Iraq. The secular Baathist leader posed a serious challenge to Israel’s military dominance in the region.
Perhaps Israel’s role in this regard will be best remembered for its part in the Iran-Contra affair. During the scandal, which began in 1984, Israel facilitated secret arms shipments from the US to Iran, even though the government of Ayatollah Khomeini was placed under an arms embargo. Proceeds from the arms sale were used to fund rebel groups in Nicaragua.
Following his departure from front line politics, Straw has given a number of revealing interviews about the Middle East. Two years ago, speaking at a MEMO conference, he hinted that he was sacked after urging for dialogue with Hamas.