Glimpses of Epic of 8-Year Holy Defense (44)
The events in the aftermath of liberation of Khorramshahr were discussed in the previous episode. The unmatched success of the great Bayt ul-Moqaddas operation and liberation of Khorramshahr was the biggest turning point in the 8-year holy defense. At that juncture, the easiest analysis was that the Islamic Republic would seek the end of the war and a lasting peace.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has never invaded or even thought of invading any country and during the eight-year period of the US-imposed war, it always sought to push back the aggression and remove the shadow of war and destruction from the country. No sound intellect accepts that a country be a threat to the neighbors in which a great revolution has just taken place and trying to stabilize circumstances after the collapse of 2500- years of monarchic rule. But the enemies of the Islamic Revolution – led by the Great Satan (the US) - through Iranophobia, tried to depict the Islamic Republic as a threat to its neighbors and the Arab states of the region. After Bayt ul-Moqaddas operation and liberation of Khorramshahr the draft resolution 514 was approved at the UN Security Council at the behest of the US through its minion, Jordan. The resolution spoke of the threat to global peace and security by continuation of the Iraq-Iran war. The wordings of the resolution were such that they indirectly portrayed Iran as the aggressor and initiator of the war with no intention to end it. The resolution did not say anything about Saddam's invasion of Iran and the compensation of billions of dollar damage that Iraq has inflicted on Iran. Iran sought a lasting peace in the region, while the UNSC resolution 514 did not have a serious look at real peace and its requirements. Paragraph 6 of the resolution gave no mention of the aggressor, the punishment of the aggressor, and the payment of compensation, and it just spoke of a ceasefire that would further complicate the course of peace.
The Islamic Republic of Iran chose to continue to defend in order to achieve a lasting peace and punish the aggressor. The enemies of the Islamic Revolution rushed to aid Saddam with all their power. The first stage of the war ended with the failure of enemies against the will of God and the persistence of the Iranian nation. While the war could have ended, the decision of the great powers to continue supporting Iraq and crushing the revolutionary will in Iran started the second stage of the war on the Iraqi soil. With the liberation of Khorramshahr, the nature, motives and form of the war changed. Earlier, the Iraqi regime had a relatively good morale and sought a major achievement of the imposition of war on Iran. This achievement could make a change in the content of the Algerian 1975 treaty. But after the Islamic Republic's victories and Iran's success in expelling the invading army from major Iranian lands, the goals and aspirations of the Iraqi regime changed.
In this situation, scared by Iran's continued attacks, the Iraqi army took on a defensive array on the ground and put on the agenda to target Iran's economic and naval centers in case of attacks by Iranian combatants so that it could prevent more military victories of Iran. Thus, the Ba'athist army, after receiving crushing defeats during the second year of the war, tried to reform its defense make-up and expand its military capability. The regime of Saddam concentrated all the facilities of Iraqi ministries for the war and set up a specific mission for each ministry and government organization. For example, the ministry of agriculture took over the responsibility of construction of canals in the fronts in the form of rivers and artificial barriers for the Iraqi army. The regime also signed contracts with some foreign companies for carrying out engineering operations and construction of defense fortifications in the back lines of the fronts.
While Iraqi forces were re-organizing their units and arranging new defense lines on the southern fronts for the next Iranian likely operation, Iraqi commanders, with the help of American and Soviet advisers, expanded their intelligence activities on all fronts and strengthened their espionage capacity. Most of the spying activities of the Iraqi army focused on monitoring the conditions of Iranian forces in eastern Basra because of the possibility of operations in this area to occupy the city of Basra or a strip of palm trees on the eastern banks of Arvand River and the eastern part of Basra, known as the Tenuma. The Iraqi army, benefiting from the uneven land features as well as erection of new defense lines, restored and improved its defensive status on sensitive fronts. Therefore, the Iraqi army tried to create enough defense lines so that it could hold back the Iranian forces quickly and force them to scatter in different directions. Thus, the possibility of successive counter-attacks for the precautionary forces and special units was easily provided.
The Ba'athist army, in order to create a new defensive position, built a new type of embankment in the form of a triangle on Basra border lines, with the help of engineering machines and increased its military capability by planting landmines. The Iraqi army took the maximum advantage of artificial barriers to delay the advancement of Iranian forces with the aim of limiting the scale of penetrations, and buying time to take action.
After the crushing defeat in Khorramshahr with heavy casualties, Iraq realized that it should quickly increase the quality and quantity of its army. Therefore, by forming the Jaish al-Sha'bi brigades and deploying them on the frontlines, Saddam tried to provide both defense needs. Moreover, with the withdrawal of the main and trained forces from the frontlines, he kept them safe to have enough free units to tackle critical conditions and use them to launch swift counter-attacks after any likely assaults by Iranian Muslim combatants. On the Iranian front, in view of the joy and high morale gained in the victory and success in Bayt ul-Moqaddas operation, the combatants and commanders hoped for further victories in chasing the Ba'athist aggressor. Meanwhile, estimates of the command headquarters indicated the low spirit of Ba'athist forces, as well as deep concern among the commanders of the Iraqi army. In the course of the war, advancement towards the city of Basra was one of the aspirations of the Iranian forces. The conquest of Basra would translate into cutting the Iraqi access to the sea and a major step in forcing the invading Saddam to end aggression. Due to its distance, Baghdad was not the priority of the Islamic Iran to conquer. On the other hand, lack of combative power and Iran's reliance on infantry forces made it impossible to plan on this goal. Therefore, reaching eastern Basra was chosen as the target due to its nearness and strategic situation.
38 days after Bayt ul-Moqaddas operation, another operation dubbed as Ramadan was launched in eastern Basra. However, the operation did not achieve the predicted goals and Iranian troops returned to their positions after suffering damage. In this operation, the Iranian forces faced different arrangements of Iraqi defensive lines. They were so intricate and surprising that the Iranian infantry units had to confront constant fire and artillery and armored units of Iraq. All this was not merely the outcome of the Iraqi military's strategy and thought. It was in fact the outcome of the Soviet-American intelligence and military assistance. They had arranged Iraq's defensive positions and maintained them against Iran's military advancement. The failure of the Ramadan Operation made the regional and international supporters of Iraq more aggressive in preventing the fulfillment of Iran's demands. We will talk more about Ramadan Operation in the next program.