Was Saddam Hussain ever a US ally during his presidency?
- why didn't Iraq had any major US-made weapon?
- what caused the alliance to decline?
Politics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people interested in governments, policies, and political processes. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Yes, they were, for a few years, right up until they invaded Kuwait and the US counter-invaded Iraq.
Why they were our allies, at any particular time, and why they did or did not get assistance from the USA is all linked to the US relationship with their constant rival, through the years, Iran.
In 1953, for reasons that aren't especially relevant to the question, the USA overthrew the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq and installed their own puppet regime with the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was already the monarch, but with less power under the previously parliamentary government, as a full-fledged ruling dictator.
Since the USA essentially put him in place and propped him up, he was considered to be a USA ally and enjoyed extensive financial, military and logistical largess as the USA's main proxy in the strategically vital, oil-rich region.
The USSR, later in the 1950s, was not comfortable with the USA having such a firm proxy in the region, so they heavily invested in Iraq and Syria as counter-balances to Iran. This is when those nations started building their militaries with Soviet equipment.
Fast forward to 1979, the Shah's regime is teetering, and Saddam Hussein is in power in Iraq. The Shah's power collapses, he flees the country and the Ayatollah Khomeini rises to power.
Iran still has their military armed with US equipment, Iraq still has theirs armed with Soviet equipment, but Iran is now at odds with the USA, and is in an adversarial relationship. They are no longer supported by the USA.
Saddam decides it would be a good and convenient time to grab some oil fields.
Saddam becomes our ally by the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" trope, but he's already armed with Soviet equipment, and we're not interested in completely re-arming him from scratch with US equipment, so we supply him with technology for chemical weapons programs and battlefield intel. Saddam holds those big advantages, but Iran basically throws enough bodies at him to stalemate that war.
So - that's the reason why most of their equipment was Soviet, and not the USA. I'd consider chemical weapons to be "major," but since, by international law, no one is supposed to have those programs (even the superpowers), you're not going to find the same kind of "Made in the USA" labeling that you would for a jeep, rifle, jet or tank. Supplying the technology also allows one to produce the product, themselves, at their own plants, as opposed to a jet or tank which is manufactured by the USA and then sold.
Our "friendly" relationship with Saddam was always one of convenience, and because he was against Iran, more than any kind of genuine mutual interests, cultural bonds or genuine friendship.
The decline came with the First Gulf War. Saddam, by this time, had built his military, on paper (#s of troops, #s of tanks, quality of tanks), into top-notch military power, and certainly the strongest in the region. Kuwait had a lot of oil, and not much of a military. He decided to claim there were disputed territories that just happened to be rich oilfields. He also claimed that Kuwait was basically drilling horizontally (slant drilling) into Iraq oilfields at the border and engaged in vigorous saber-rattling about the dispute.
When Iraq asked their kind-of friends, the USA, about our stance on the disputes, the USA responded that it was none of our business, and we had no interest in interfering with their dispute (instead of "we don't take a stance, but you better work it out peacefully"). Saddam seemed to take this as a wink-wink approval and indication that we wouldn't interfere. In a redux of his invasion of Iran to try and grab oil fields, he did the same with the much weaker Kuwait.
Everyone in the region, especially the Saudis, freaked at the idea and reality of the strongest military in the area being able to just invade and grab oil and wealth, so the USA responded with the First Gulf War.