Glimpses of Epic of 8-Year Holy Defense (56)
The theme of this episode will focus on Iraq’s efforts to spread the war to cities and the Persian Gulf and the need for changing Iran’s strategy to launch successful operations.
In the previous program we said that after a series of small-scale operations on Iran’s western borders, Saddam tried to expand the domain of the war to compensate for his defeats in battlefields. The bombardment and missile attacks of the cities, expanding the war to the Persian Gulf and targeting Iran's oil tankers and terminals were the new strategies of the Ba'athist regime to pressure the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iraqi dictator, with this strategy tried to weaken the solidarity and national unity in Iran and deal a blow to the main source of Iran's revenues, namely oil exports. Bringing the war to the Persian Gulf and Saddam's attempt to bring his western and eastern supporters to the scene created concerns in the international arena.
Thus, the UN Security Council approved resolution 540. Contrary to the previous resolutions, this resolution for the first time called for the realistic consideration of the causes of war. So, according to the report of the UN Secretary General’s special envoy on Iraqi attacks on cities and residential areas of Iran, the intentional destruction of the cities of Hoveizeh and Khorramshahr, and the attack on civilian targets and human rights violations were implicitly denounced without mentioning the name of Iraq. Yet, the resolution had not determined a mechanism to stop and punish the aggressor, and was lacking legal conditions, and did not take responsibility for the invading country.
Resolution 540, instead of using the term "war between the two countries", spoke of the "situation between Iran and Iraq." In fact, the supporters of Saddam in the two eastern and western blocs with veto power in the Security Council were looking for an exit way for Saddam. Because Saddam's invasion of the Islamic Republic of Iran did not go according to their estimates, it was Saddam whose position was at stake not the Islamic Republic.
The commanders of the Islamic Republic of Iran army and IRGC consulted with the officials on how to react to the UNSC resolution 540. Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, then President and Chairman of the Supreme Defense Council, on November 3rd, 1983, while rejecting this resolution, emphasized the need for serious reform in the Security Council's approach toward the issue of Iraq's invasion of Iran.
Since the resolution secured the viewpoints of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran strongly rejected it. After Iran's insistence on rejecting the unjust resolution, Iraq understood that it would not be able to save face and erase its atrocities in invading Islamic Iran even if its partners-in-crime would heap up their support behind him. That's why the cruel regime started the wide use of chemical weapons in the war and gassed both warfronts and border towns and cities. As the Iraqi regime had convenient access to various weapons, even internationally banned ones, and the Arab sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf provided financial assistance to Saddam; the Islamic Republic of Iran was severely under pressure to provide the simplest and lightest ammunitions.
Iraq continued bombarding the Iranian cities while receiving the most advanced weapons, and hundreds of civilians, especially women and children were wounded and martyred. Saddam's audacity, abetted by its backers in the west and the east, urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to these attacks. Hence, the targeting of military and industrial points inside Iraq and its supporters in the Persian Gulf was placed on the agenda.
Imam Khomeini (God's mercy upon him), addressing the people in charge of ceremonies of the third anniversary of the imposed war said: "God forbid that we hold another anniversary for war to have another Week of War. We are caught by the wolves’ claws who think of keeping Saddam and helping him. But such a person who has so much betrayed his country, Iran and Islam cannot be kept. So, we must reflect and disseminate what is happening in Iran in order to first determine the crimes, and secondly, those who committed these crimes; and more importantly the powers that have empowered these people and strengthened them to hit us and provide them with military means such as tanks, aircraft and rockets. And now they must be introduced and declared to the world to make them realize that if you want to help Saddam further, we will cut your hands from oil and if you help Saddam target our economic resources, you will not see the oil anymore. I hope that this will not happen. What is of more importance is the crime of these superpowers as well as of France which has hurt us; but the one that has hurt us the most is the US."
Following these explicit statements by Imam Khomeini, a new plan was needed to repeat the successful operations of the second and third years of the imposed war. On one hand, the experiences of several operations after the liberation of Khorramshahr and the efforts of Saddam to expand the war with bombardment and missile attack on the cities, and on the other hand targeting Iran's oil tankers and terminals in the Persian Gulf necessitated the need for a change in Iran's strategy. Regarding the limitation of favorable lands for successful operations, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps tried to select a specific region for planning the operation.
The selected territories for operations should provide geopolitical capabilities to Iranian combatants to change the military balance in favor of Iran. The chosen region should be in way that the Iraqi army wouldn't be inclined to fight in that region and prefer other regions for fight. Due to the weaknesses of the Ba'athist army for amphibious operations, in order to disrupt the military equation of the war for the benefit of the Islamic Republic and to take the initiative, the wetland region was chosen due to three outstanding features:
The first feature was the weakness of Iraq in amphibious operations and its inability to adapt quickly to the new position. The main strength of the Iraqi army was the armored unit and it didn't have the power of maneuver in wetlands. The second feature was the speed of the Iranian forces in wetlands and the third feature was the principle of surprise, because Iraqi forces did not expect any operation in that region. A wetland is generally at the sea level, and is deeper than the adjacent areas, and is created along the path of permanent rivers. Thus, a wetland covered with ample reeds, was chosen for amphibious operation with the aim of passing round the Iraqi army and cutting the Al-Amara and Basra roads. We will talk about the Kheibar operation in the wetland in the next episode.