The Ba'ath Party, which was secular in nature, harshly repressed the protests. Another policy change was Iraq's foreign policy towards Iran, a Shia Muslim country. Deteriorating relations eventually led to the Iran–Iraq War, which started in 1980 when Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran. Following the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Iraqis believed the Iranians to be weak, and thus an easy target for their military. This notion proved to be incorrect, and the war lasted for eight years. Iraq's economy deteriorated during the war, and the country became dependent on foreign donations to fund their war effort. The war ended in a stalemate when a ceasefire was reached in 1988, which resulted in a status quo ante bellum.
When the war ended, Iraq found itself in the midst of an economic depression, owed millions of dollars to foreign countries, and was unable to repay its creditors.