The current phase of the war between Iran and Iraq has prompted a level of US military intervention in the Gulf region that is new and unprecedented in both qualitative and quantitative terms, and holds the risk of a more direct combat role on Iraq’s behalf. Since early 1983, the stalemate in the war appeared to be working in Iran’s favor. Its greater weight in terms of population and economic resources gave it the edge in a strategy of attrition. Beginning in the fall of 1983, Iraq threatened to counter by attacking Iran’s oil exporting capacity. This campaign finally began in March and April 1984, with missile attacks against oil tankers near Iran’s Kharg island loading facility.