Sammendrag: The years prior to the Iraqi invasion of Iran was a period marked by high levels of activity for the Shi i and Kurdish opposition groups in Iraq. However, the role of the Iraqi opposition is seldom explicitly discussed in the literature analysing the causes of the war. This thesis focuses on the relationship between domestic opposition in Iraq and the country s expansionistic foreign policies. The cases chosen for the study are the processes leading to the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
In the case of the Iran-Iraq war, the activities of the opposition seem to have had an influence on the Iraqi regime s decision to invade. The Kurdish and Shi i groups established, to varying degrees, relations with Iran through which they gained striking power and leverage. No single event or group stand out as a decisive factor, but held together the activities of the opposition constituted a threat to the Iraqi regime, and contributed to changing the power balance in the region.
In the case of the invasion of Kuwait it is difficult to conclude decisively because of methodological issues. Yet, there are indications that the opposition did play a role also in this case, although it can only be said to be an indirect one. Iraq emerged from the war with Iran in a state of economic crisis. At the same time the enormous army was to be demobilised. This was a dangerous period in a country where power was secured through the use of patronage networks. The combination of a regime relying on nurtured patronage networks to stay in power, an economic crisis and the latent threat of the opposition may have given an impetus to invade Kuwait.
The analysis of the two cases therefore seems to indicate that the Iraqi opposition has played an independent role in the game between the states in the regions, and that a revision of the existing literature might be warranted.