The Gulf Standoff in a Wasteland

Khomeini's troops hold an edge in a bitter, bloody struggle

The war between Iran and Iraq has dragged on for 5 1/2 years, claimed an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 lives, and caused badly frayed nerves in the region. Two months ago, thousands of Iranian troops stormed across the Shatt al Arab, the long-disputed waterway that lies between the two countries, and established a toehold in Iraq's Fao Peninsula, a desolate strip of land that juts into the Persian Gulf. Despite superior firepower, Iraqi forces have been unable to dislodge the Iranians. The Fao beachhead was established just as falling oil prices threatened to starve both Iran's and Iraq's military and civilian...

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