The following is the final entry in Michael Gladius‘s ‘Counter-Revolutionary Case Studies’ series.
It is quite interesting and provides some additional perspective to things seeing as it was a Muslim vs Muslim conflict.
At the bottom I also include a few thoughts of my own.
Note: I had to edit this one to a reasonably large extent due to certain logistical reasons, but have tried to do so in a way that most closely preserves Michael’s original intent. Beyond that it also includes additional indentations, bolding, italics, and a few other things I often add in for various reasons.
Iran-Iraq War Significance (Know Your Enemy)
by Michael Gladius
Iran-Iraq War History
In 1980, Iran and Iraq went to war over a territorial dispute.
The issue had been present since 1637, when the Ottomans and Persians had agreed to divide use of the Shatt al-Arab river region.
In 1937, when relations between the two countries were friendly, another treaty was signed in order to permit oil shipments by both countries down the waterway, with Iraq holding most of the land and Iran paying a toll.
However, two territories remained under Iranian control, and Iraq coveted these provinces.
During the mid-20th century, Arab nationalism swept away many British-established political parties/dynasties. Iraq’s socialist-nationalist Ba’ath Party took power in 1968, and Saddam Hussein became leader.
At the time, Egypt’s leader, General Abdel Nasser, was the most powerful leader in the Arab nationalist movement. When Nasser died in 1970, Saddam sought to fill in the leadership role he left behind, and declared himself to be ‘leader of the Arab world.’
Around this time, both Iraq and Iran began arming for war, and Iran began ignoring the river tolls, declaring them unfair to Iranian shipping. Iranian warships escorted merchant ships down the river, and Iraq was powerless to stop them.
Both sides began to support separatists within the other’s country, particularly the Kurds, who straddled both nations.
Iraq attempted an invasion of Iran in 1975, but was quickly defeated and sued for peace. In exchange, Iran ceased supporting the Kurds, but Saddam did not plan to honor the truce any longer than necessary. He released Ruhollah Kohemini from exile in Iraq, and sent him to Iran, in a manner eerily similar to Lenin or Trotsky.
Kohemini overthrew the Shah, and established Iran as the leader of the Pan-Islamic movement, in direct opposition to Arab Nationalism. Initially, Saddam supported the Koheminis, in order to eliminate the Shah, but once Kohemini was in power, he rejected Saddam’s offer of friendship and called for an Islamic revolution in Baghdad.
Predictably, Saddam was alarmed, and received encouragement from fellow Arab states to check the pan-Islamic movement’s advance, lest it consume their countries as well. He accelerated mobilization, and began a propaganda campaign to depict himself as a defender of Arabs against the Persians.
Relations deteriorated, and rioting by Iraqi Shias gave Saddam the excuse to expel Iran’s ambassador, along with 70,000 Arab Shias, despite the latter having no ties to Iran whatsoever.
Iraq declared war on September 22nd, 1980. Their war goals were limited to seizing Khuzestan, an oil-rich province which had a substantial Arab population, and had been depicted as part of Iraq on propaganda television for months.
Iraq’s air forces bombed the Iranians’ air bases and ground assaults by 6 divisions crossed the Shatt al-Arab river and seized the city of Khorramshahr.
However, the Iraqi air attacks proved ineffective at neutralizing Iran’s air force, and the Iranians retaliated with American-made F-14 Tomcats, achieving far better results.
On the ground, the Iraqis slogged their way into Khorramshahr, and only took the city after a savage urban battle. The Arabs in the city did not rally to Iraq, but remained loyal to Iran. The Iranians, rather than splintering, united and supported the revolutionary government in order to preserve their nation.
Saddam’s strategy had backfired, and his military victories had come at a high cost.
Saddam attempted to continue the offensive, but the Iraqis could not advance in the face of Iranian opposition. The Iranians had superior numbers and superior technology, but few heavy weapons. Iraq, with a smaller population, had fewer troops but all of them were equipped with modern Soviet and French equipment.
Iraq could replenish their losses in equipment, while Iran was subject to an embargo. As time went on, Iraq received copious amounts of materiel, financing, and even manpower from Arab nations, NATO, and the USSR. By the end of the war, Saddam’s army grew to become bigger and more powerful than the Iranian Army, and the 4th-largest in the world.
Apart from Iran retaking Khorramshahr from Iraq in 1982, the front remained static for the next 8 years, despite numerous air and ground attacks. Trench warfare was the norm, and only the Iranians attempted Maneuver Warfare (and even then, could only do so tactically).
Iran launched over 70 major offensives, but failed to drive the Iraqis back. Iraq spent 6 years on the defensive, but launched numerous chemical attacks against Iranian cities.
Iraq was eventually able to resume offensives in 1986. Both armies bled each other severely, but could not achieve a strategic victory. Eventually, the Iraqis broke the Iranian army by destroying 570 of their 1000 tanks in a series of battles in 1988, and threatened a new invasion.
Iran and Iraq accepted a ceasefire, as both nations were exhausted, but no territory was exchanged. The border remained the same as before the war. Seeking to recuperate for these losses, Saddam invaded oil-rich Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War in 1991.
How The Iraqis Fought
Iraq began the war with a modern arsenal, but a smaller army than Iran. Soviet equipment was plentiful, and no Iraqi units suffered defeats from lack of supplies or parts.
Saddam’s logistics were modern enough to keep his armies fully supplied, and 6 years of strategic defense enabled him to stay near his supply bases, while the Iranians were forced to carry their supplies over mountains, far from their supply bases.
Despite having greater quantities of modern equipment, particularly heavy weaponry, the Iraqis battlefield performance was terrible. They demonstrated the typical strengths and weaknesses of Arab armies throughout the 20th century: excellent logistics, hit-or-miss unit cohesion, stubbornness in defense, occasional operational skill, and nonexistent tactical skill.
Also of relevance to all this, it must be acknowledged that Islam is innately hierarchical and supremacist. The man is more human than the woman. The Muslim is more human than the Kaffir. The tribe is more human than members of other tribes. The inner circle of the tribe is more human than those who are further out.
As a result, there is no shame in utilizing cruelty or dishonesty in the treatment of ‘inferiors.’In many ways in this ideology, individual lives don’t matter, unless they further the cause of Islam or the tribe. Affronts to honor must be avenged in blood, no matter how slight.
Since all Muslims are officially the same ‘tribe,’ then any affront at any time, by anybody, to Islam must be retaliated against.
Since Allah is an arbitrary and mysterious tyrant, Islamic cultures offer little in the way of empathy or compassion to their peoples. For a Muslim, faith trumps logic, obedience trumps everything else, and his mission is to spread Islam by any and all means.
This rarely involves anything other than killing infidels, including the wrong kinds of Muslims. Beyond that, there is nothing, either in this life or the next. So there is little motivation to act, unless it is in jihad. Without jihad, a Muslim’s life is joyless and unfulfilling, his every step dictated by the false prophet.
Arguing with Muslims is generally fruitless ( http://www.thisblogisdangerous.com/we-do-not-debate-with-the-left/</a >). When challenged about hypocrisy or violent behavior, their answer is ‘What are you going to do to stop us?’
The predatory mindset is nothing more than prison rules: the strong do as they please, and the weak suffer as they must. They steal because they can, they kill because they can, they brutalize those they defeat because they can. It makes them feel powerful and superior, which affirms their faith and sense of legitimacy.
In a lawless environment, which every culture has experienced at some point in its history, this is the only way to survive, but Islam has given this divine sanction, and made it the purpose of every faithful Muslim to carry out.
This is why many converts to Islam occur inside prisons, and why ‘moderate Muslims’ are a myth- for, if they authentically believe in non-Islamic ideas, then they are apostates and heretics according to their faith, and the orthodoxy declares their lives forfeit (http://plancksconstant.org/blog1/2006/04/honor_killings_when_you_have_n.html).
As a result, many ‘sinister’ elements of Arab Muslims or Sunni-Islam are often remarked upon, such as the endorsement in the Koran of torture, slavery, sex slavery, sex with immediate family members, and other such horrors (some of which still exist in modern Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia).
The epitome of Islamic perversion however is found in sodomy of young boys by older men (see below video), as it is the ultimate form of sex as a form of dominance (again, parallel to prison rape).
So how does this affect their fighting capabilities? Firstly, the Arabic temperament is more suited to raiding than anything else. They seem socially pre-adapted to such tactics, which also gives them an advantage in guerrilla warfare, allowing them to lie in ambush, launch hit-and-run tactics, and disappear.
In the Battle of Fallujah, the fighters regularly used drugs to push their animal strengths to the limit, and many eagerly fought hand-to-hand against Coalition troops (despite their ferocity, none of them won).
Various historical military examples suggest Arabs have a tendency to suddenly suffer mass panics and flee however, guided by their survival instincts. Throughout the 20th century, Arabs would fight well in the defense, but could not conduct an orderly withdrawal, and the slightest attack on a withdrawing column would send the mass into a panic.
On the other side, in the Iran-Iraq war the Iraqis’ attacks were rarely more than slow, frontal assaults with guns blazing. The junior officers on-site deferred decision-making to the top, and waited for orders to trickle down again.
Officers at the top developed a distrust of their subordinates, and vice versa, each reinforcing the other, in a vicious cycle that left them vulnerable during fast-paced battles when the situation changed faster than their commanders could respond. Only by micromanagement could Iraqi junior officers be goaded into action.
This lack of initiative also manifested itself when Iraq was fighting a defensive campaign. Whenever breakthroughs occurred in the Iraqi lines, Iraqi troops would not respond unless directly ordered to. They would not shift forces, fall back to a better defensive position, or even counterattack, unless it had been extensively planned and rehearsed beforehand. Against Iranian light infantry, this ended disastrously throughout the entire war.
Unable to tactically beat the Iranians, the Iraqis learned to counter them operationally by building extensive defensive fortifications, arraying themselves in depth, draining marshlands, and extensively using chemical weapons and antiaircraft guns against human wave attacks.
These methods slowed the Iranian attacks until they ran out of steam, and bought time for the Iraqis to plan counterattacks. Even so, the result was usually a stalemate, rather than a victory.
How The Iranians Fought
When the war began, Iran was in turmoil. The revolutionary government clashed with the army and other power groups within the country, and this disunity was one of the factors that gave the Iraqis great confidence in a quick victory.
Iran’s government experienced a series of purges as the war went on, but did not suffer political collapses. Iraqi chemical attacks against cities, combined with high battlefield casualties and economic problems were the driving force behind their eventually suing for peace.
The Iranians’ biggest weakness was their lack of heavy weaponry. Iranian air power was vastly superior in quality to the Iraqis, but limited in quantity. Iran had better tanks, but less than 1000 in their entire arsenal. The American arms embargo prevented them from acquiring spare parts for these, and anything that couldn’t be reverse-engineered had to be smuggled in from the black market or cannibalized.
As a result, armor and aircraft were used sparingly and selectively, leaving gaps that the Iraqis could exploit. The Iranian production of small arms and artillery was average when the war began, but by the war’s end their armies were fully equipped.
Iran also began to rely heavily on rockets and missiles to give their infantry a fighting chance against Iraqi armor. Finally, the Iranian navy was decisively better than Iraq’s, enabling them to operate in the Persian Gulf with near-impunity.
Iran’s relatively low industrial production and lack of heavy weaponry meant that their armies were largely comprised of light infantry. Fortunately, Iran had a bigger population than Iraq, and their soldiers generally gave a better performance in the field.
Iranian attacks at the beginning of the war generally consisted of human wave attacks, with armor supporting where appropriate. As the war went on, the Iranians became adept at raids, mountain fighting, infiltrations, river/marsh warfare, and sought to encircle Iraqi units at every opportunity.
This tactical skill, combined with their sheer mass, forced the Iraqis to change their tactics. Iranian armor and air units were likewise more skilled fighters than the Iraqis, and were able to keep their units intact throughout the war.
In the beginning of the war, Iranian human wave attacks were very simple, but effective. They emulated Soviet tactics, which involved attacking with conventional infantry along a broad front, but this method proved unsuitable for light infantry. Swamping Iraqi forces with sheer weight of numbers stopped the initial advance into Iran, but came at a high cost (Iran needed 8 months to prepare for their follow-up attack).
As time went on, Iran continued to employ infantry en masse, but refined their tactics, and began emulating the Chinese, who were also a light infantry army. Rather than attacking on a broad front, which diluted their limited firepower, the Iranians began attacking on narrow fronts. They used their mass as a battering ram to break through Iraqi lines, and then simultaneously flood into their rear areas and roll up their flanks.
This bears a striking resemblance to Soviet Deep Battle Doctrine, but the Iranian infantry was usually dismounted, and could not advance as quickly as mechanized Soviet conventional infantry could.
The Iranians shared many Islamic attributes as their Arab opponents, but there were key differences. Both sides showed a callous disregard for human life, and Iran took it even further than Iraq.
The most shocking were the human minesweepers: Iraqi minefields posed a threat to Iranian human wave attacks, so children aged 6-8 years old were conscripted into ‘martyrdom squads’ to clear paths through them. They were given plastic keys and told that these were keys to paradise: by detonating mines with their bodies, they were guaranteed access to Heaven.
However, the Iranians normally showed more initiative and ingenuity than the Iraqis. Combined with a similar primal intuition as their opponents, they became adept at raids, infiltration, and stealth. The influence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was also significant in this, as they were politically connected and favored unconventional tactics.
The Shah’s former Army, on the other hand, still favored conventional warfare. This conventional/unconventional hybrid was useful against Iraqi artillery, but not against chemical attacks, as Iran had no protective/decontamination gear.
Likewise, the Iranians could defeat individual Iraqi units, but could not break through multiple defenses arrayed in depth without losing momentum. The Iranians were very successful at mountain warfare and riverine warfare, particularly the Hawizeh Marshes in southern Iraq, where Iraq could not build such deep defenses. In the end, however, the result was a stalemate.
Iran-Iraq War Conclusions
This war gives an important glimpse into the variances of Islamic mindset.
Not all Muslim armies or groups will fight the same way. Some are primal raiders, but hopeless in a stand-up fight. Others are skilled at maneuvers, and one must never assume that one’s enemies do not know how to fight, or won’t fight when faced with resistance.
It would be unwise for anyone to underestimate Muslims, especially lest one accidentally run into a Chechen…
The Iran-Iraq War also shows us that neither tactical skill nor material superiority guarantees victory. Iranian troops were far better at small-unit tactics than the Iraqis, but this didn’t negate Iraqi chemical weapons and firepower. Iraq had more tanks than the Iranians, but poor handling meant that this advantage was never exploited.
A successful army must be well-equipped, properly trained to use their resources on the battlefield, and well-led. The rest is up to chance. Good leaders will spot the decisive moment when it happens.
As a result, a culture of trust must exist between leaders of all ranks.
The forces in question should also strive to be competent in all 3 forms of warfare: conventional, light infantry, and guerrilla warfare. Conventional and light infantry training can be learned by joining a nation’s army reserves.
Another warning is against petty nationalism: http://www.thisblogisdangerous.com/moving-away-from-petty-nationalism/#more-510
Saddam expelled many Shia Iraqis on trumped-up charges of conspiring with Iran. Yet, throughout the war, these did not flock to join Iran any more than the Arabs in Khuzestan flocked to join Iraq.
This is a lesson for all Occidentals not to engage in such virtue-spiraling or hubris.
Being proud of one’s heritage does not justify ethnic cleansing or forced segregation. Europe has never been ethnically homogenous, nor ethnically pure, and will never have perfectly delineated meta-ethnic borders, nor the dissolving of borders into one all-encompassing macro-homeland. Trying to insist on such things will lead to a repeat of the horrors suffered in Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, the communists saw nationalism rising, and leapt in front of the movement to lead it.
Genocide followed, as night follows day. Occidental patriots must not make this mistake.
Europe can, and should, be a homeland for all who are related to Europeans by blood and culture. Mixing of European cultures has always been the norm, and this has not hurt our diversity (true diversity, as in Italian, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, etc). An obsession with replacing these national boundaries in the quest for an artificial ‘European’ macro-state would destroy the wonderful (true) diversity of Europe for the exact same reasons as globalism: it is de-culturalism (http://www.thisblogisdangerous.com/the-sinister-language-of-the-left/#more-370).
Again, big thanks to Michael for these articles!
If I understand right, the Iran-Iraq War was the last instance of trench warfare seen in the world. Along with the Cold War, its end seems to have ushered in the era of terrorism and 4th Generation Warfare.
I would wager one reason it was such a bloody, horrible war was the extremely high birthrates in those countries at that time (much larger even than today, when they are still greater than the West’s). As certain geopolitical experts have argued, high birthrates are a better indicator of societal violence and war than almost anything else, because (even if subconsciously) parents are ,more willing to risk the lives of their children, since they have so many.
We in the modern West are the opposite of this, and our extremely low birthrates are a prime explanation for our non-aggression as societies.
HOWEVER, one could also see it working the other way (at least hypothetically), where our low birthrates and preponderance of one child families will make people HYPER-aware of the threats facing our lands, since any one case of violence from such invaders is that much more likely to completely wipe out their bloodline as a result.
I don’t know if this is necessarily the case, but it sure would be nice if it is, and if it helps to catalyze greater action.
Maneuver Warfare Handbook (WESTVIEW SPECIAL STUDIES IN MILITARY AFFAIRS) by William S. Lind.
House of Saddam Excellent HBO series on Saddam Hussein from like 2008 if I remember right.
Generation Kill [Blu-ray] Absolutely BADASS, extremely-good HBO miniseries on group of Recon Marines in the Iraq War. One of the best portrayals of Millenial culture and what its like to have grown up in the Millenial Generation I can think of. I have probably watched it all the way through at least five times, and read the book it was based on (bottom image, below).
If you liked this article please share it on social
media and please leave a comment below with your
thoughts! — Also, (Disclaimer) this site uses affiliate links, so buying
any product linked to in an article is a great way to support the site!
(everytime you do we get a small commission) —You can also donate, which is great because we want
to expand our focus on raising awareness of what is happening in Europe to
as great a degree as possible!— Finally, please feel free to contact us anytime!