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Saddam Hussein and Iran-Iraq War

Saddam Hussein and Iran-Iraq War


The Iraqis saw radical Iran’s Islamic scheme as hostile to their pan-Arabism. After being bitter over his eviction from Iraq in the year 1977 after 15 years in An Najaf, Khomeini swore to punish Shia victims of the Baathist cruelty. However, Baghdad was certain that most of its uppermost placed officers were executed as it observed the formerly unbreakable Imperial Iranian Army crumble. Iraqi intelligence officers in Khuzestan provoked uprisings over labor disagreements as a new revolution in the Kurdish province led to harsh problems in the Khomeini state. The Iran-Iraq war enduringly changed the course itinerary of the Iraqi history. It tensed Iraqi social and political life and caused harsh economic upsets.

The Iraq-Iran War of 1980-1988

As the Baathists organized their military operation, they had a reason to be secure. The Iranians were not only short of unified leadership, but, according to Iraqi intelligence, the Iranian armed forces also were short of spare parts for their American-made gear. In turn, Baghdad had abundant, well-set, and trained armies; hence, their morale was high (Strehle 76-101). The Iranian military, led by devoted mullahs with less military experience could be defeated as the Iraqis could gather 12 complete automated segments set with modern Soviet equipment against the Iran’s army and their Pasdaran troops. By the late 1970s, Saddam had acquired an army of 190 thousand men supported by 450 aircraft and 2,200 tanks following a military establishment.

Furthermore, the area around the Shatt al Arab had no key obstruction, especially for a military set with Soviet river-crossing gear. Iraqi commanders suitably assumed that crossing sites on Karun and Khardeh rivers was less secured against their automated armor segments. Additionally, Iraqi intelligence sources gave information that the Iranian army in Khuzestan that earlier included two segments split among Abadan, Ahvaz, and Dezful, now being comprised of only a small number of unprepared troop-sized formations. Tehran was further deprived since the location was managed by the Regional 1>st> Corps stationed in Bakhtaran as the functional control unit was commanded from the capital. Only a small number of company-sized tank entities were operative in the year following Shah’s defeated, while the remaining armored gear was badly preserved (Richie 82).

For Iraqi planners, the only doubt was the warfare capability of the Iranian air force set with some of the most stylish American-made aircrafts. The Iranian air military had shown its strength during local demonstrations and insurgency despite the execution of chief air military pilots and commanders. The air force was vigorous in the wake of the botched US trial to save American captives in 1980 (Potter and Sick 93). This demonstration of force had frightened Iraqi decision-makers to the point that they chose to launch a substantial anticipatory air strike on Iranian bases in a bid equal to the one that Israel utilized during the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

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Iraqi Offensives, 1980-82

The upsurge of the 1979 Islamic rebellion in Iran did not instantly damage the Iraqi-Iranian rapprochement that had reigned since the Algiers Agreement of 1975 despite the Iraqi state’s distress. As a symbol of Iraq’s aspiration to preserve excellent relations with the state of Tehran, president Bakr sent a private message to Khomeini, indicating his best desires for the pleasant Iranian people on the events of the development of the Islamic state. Moreover, by the end of 1979, Iraqi authorities forwarded a call to Bazargan Mehdi, the first president of the Islamic republic of Iran, for talks with the intention of encouraging better mutual relationships. In 1979, the uprising of the Islamic radicals spreading an expansionist foreign policy, as well as the collapse of the sensible state of Bazargan affected the Iraqi-Iranian relations (Chomsky 1).

Key occurrences that touched off a quick decline in relations took place in the spring of 1980. The Iranian-supported Ad Dawah tried to eliminate Iraqi foreign minister Aziz Tariq. Shortly following the botched grenade attack on Aziz, Ad Dawah was assumed to try to gun down another Iraqi leader by the name Jasim Latif who was the minister of information and culture. The Iraqis, in response, swiftly gathered supporters and members of Ad Dawah and expatriated to Iran many Shias of Iranian origin. In 1980, Saddam Hussein planned assassination of a recognized Ad Dawah leader Muhammad Ayatollah and his sister.

In September of the same year, border clashes exploded in the central area close to Qasr-e Shirin with a substitute of weaponry fire by both sides (Chomsky 33). Within a month, Saddam legitimately abrogated the 1975 accord between Iraq and Iran and proclaimed that the Shatt al Arab was returning to the Iraqi dominion. Iran was against this action and fighting rose as both sides exchanged violent raids deep into each other’s region, launching what was to be a prolonged and tremendous costly war. Baghdad initially organized a swift conquest over Tehran. Saddam anticipated incursion of the Arab-speaking, oil-rich field of Khuzistan to lead to an Arab revolution against Khomeini’s fundamentalist Islamic rule. This revolution did not become visible, but the Arab minority stayed trustworthy to Tehran.

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Creation of Iraqi MiG21s and MiG-23s in September 1980 raided Iran’s air bases at Doshen-Tappen and Mehrabad, as well as Abadan, Hamadan, Bakhtaran, Dezful, and Urmia. Their intention was to wipe out the Iranian military on the ground, which was a lesson learned from the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. They managed to demolish fuel, ammunition depots, and runways; however, much of Iran’s aircraft inventory was left uninterrupted. The Iranian security was caught unaware, but the Iraqi incursions failed since the Iranian jets were safeguarded in particularly reinforced hangars and since the bombs were made to demolish runways, it did not completely debilitate Iran’s very huge airfields. The Iranian F-4 Phantoms took off from the same bases within hours and managed to raid strategically vital targets near key Iraqi cities and came back with few losses. At the same time, six Iraqi army sections raid Iran on three fronts in a winning surprise attack and flocked as wide as 8 kilometers inland and took over one thousand square kilometers of the territory of Iran (Byrne 669-671).

As a diversionary shift on the northern border, an Iraqi automated mountain infantry section took over the border barracks at Qasr-e Shirin, a border town in Bakhtaran, and engaged the territory 30 kilometers eastwards to bottom of Zagros Mountains. This location was deliberately vital since the major Baghdad-Tehran road crossed it. Iraqi military took over Mehran to the west of Zagros Mountains and further towards east and to the mountain base. Mehran inhabited an essential location on the main north-south road near the border on the side of Iran (Chomsky 1).

The major force of the raid was in the south where 5 armored and automated sections raided Khuzestan on 2 axes, the first crossing over the Shatt al Arab close to Basra that contributed to the blockade and ultimate occupation of Khorramshahr and the second heading to Susangerd that had Ahvaz, the key military base in Khuzestan, as its main goal. Iraqi reinforced units and without doubts crossed the Shatt al Arab channel and into the Iranian region of Khuzestan. Other towns, including Dehloran, were under attack and were quickly taken over to avert reinforcement from Tehran and Bakhtaran. By the middle of October 1980, a full military section moved through Khuzestan towards Abadan and Khorramshahr and near deliberate oil areas. Other section of the military headed to Ahvaz, the regional capital, and the air base location. The troops made a swift and critical move about 80 kilometers in the initial few days helped by heavy weaponry fire (Mackey 200). In the fight for Khuzestan and Dezful where the main air base is based, the Iranian military commander demanded air support in a bid to avoid being overpowered. Therefore, President Sadr Bani called for liberation of several pilots from jail and a few of them were assumed to still support shah. With the improved utilization of the Iranian military, the Iraqi advance was rather shortened.

The last key Iraqi defensive achievement took place in November 1980. In the same month, the Iraqi military reached Abadan, but was repelled by a Pasdaran unit. They could not defeat rigid resistance despite surrounding Abadan on 3 sides and spreading over a section of the city as portions of the city under the Iranian territory were resupplied by a boat during the night. Iraqi took over Khorramshahr, following a severe house-house fight. The worth of this success was high for both sides, about six thousand victims for Iraq and even much more for Iran. Iraq’s blitz-like attacks against dispirited and scattered Iranian military led several viewers to believe that Baghdad would succeed in the war within a couple of weeks. Iraqi troops indeed confined the Shatt al Arab and grabbed a 48-kilometer wide strip of Iranian region (Byrne 669-671).

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Iran may have barred a swift Iraqi conquest by a speedy enlistment of volunteers and the use of trusted Pasdaran military to the front. Besides mobilizing Iranian pilots, the new radical regime also called upon experts of the old imperial army although several skilled officers, most of those who had been trained in the US, had been eliminated. Moreover, the Basij and Pasdaran employed at least a hundred thousand volunteers. About two hundred thousand soldiers were deployed to the front towards the end of 1980 (Chomsky 33). They were ideologically loyal troops that fought heroically even though they lacked armored support. Iran was determined to reduce Iraq’s financial resources by diminishing its oil revenues. It also raided the northern pipeline during the start of the war and made Syria shut down the Iraqi pipeline that went through its land.

Iran’s confrontation at the beginning of the Iraqi raid was surprisingly robust, but it was neither well prepared nor victorious on all fronts in the same way. Iraq, without doubt, moved in the central and northern sections and trampled the Pasdaran’s scattered confrontation there. However, Iraqi troops faced tireless confrontation in Khuzestan. President Saddam believed that almost 3 million Arabs of Khuzestan would unite with the Iraqis in opposition to Tehran. Instead, many associated with Iran’s usual and unusual military forces and fought in the encounters at Abadan, Khorramshahr, and Dezful. Almost immediately after seizing the town of Khorramshahr, the Iraqi troops lost their scheme and started to dig in alongside the line of progress >(Potter and Sick 93).

Tehran abandoned a resolution tender and seized the line alongside the greater military Iraqi force. It also declined to admit defeat and gradually started a sequence of counteroffensives in early 1981. Both ordinary and voluntary military forces were ready to fight the first, seeing a chance to recover reputation that had since been lost following their relationship with the shah’s rule. Iran’s key retaliation failed due to military and political reasons >(Richie 82).> President Sadr Bani was involved in a power fight with major religious leaders and was ready to >achieve political sustenance among the military forces by express participation in military undertakings.

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Due to having inadequate military skill, he commenced an untimely raid by three usual armored troops without the help of the Pasdaran units. He also refused to recognize that the ground close to Susangerd damaged by the previous rainy season would make it complicated for resupply. The Iranian military was enclosed on the three sides, following his strategic decision making. In an extended exchange of fire, several Iranian armored vehicles were damaged and had to be left behind since they required repairs or got stuck in the mud. However, luckily for Iran, the Iraqi military did not make a follow-up with another raid.

Iran blocked Iraqi forces on the Karun River and with less military stock uncovered its human wave attacks that employed several of Basij volunteers. After Sadr Bani was expelled as the commander in chief and president, Iran attained its initial success when, following Khomeini’s scheme, the army and Pasdaran covered up their enmity and collaborated to force Baghdad to lift its extended blockade of Abadan towards the end of the year 1981. Iranian army also overwhelmed Iraq in the Qasr-e Shirin location in late 1981 and early 1982. The Iraqi forces were hindered by their refusal to maintain high victim rate, hence declining to start a fresh offensive >(Strehle 76-101).


In conclusion, during the war Iranian rulers often overstated their abilities in the missile field. Although their Scud Bs could strike Baghdad, these weapons did not contain destructive power or exactness to do great damage. Furthermore, Iran was not in a position to equate Iraq’s amount of missiles. From 1982 to 1988, Iraq fired 361 Scud Bs at Iran while in early 1988 it fired approximately 160 al-Hussein’s at Tehran. In comparison, Iran fired 117 Scud Bs during the entire war, including 60 that were fired at Baghdad. As the war went on, Iran experienced insufficient spare parts for spoiled airplanes and lost a huge number of planes in the battle. As a result, towards the end of the year 1987, Iran was incapable of staging a successful defense in opposition to the resupplied Iraqi air force, not even staging aerial counteroffensives.