For Americans 9/11 is a day of mourning, but for Iranians it should be 9/22! That's the date when Saddam's Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, leading to an 8-year war causing over 1 million deaths. It is one of the greatest human tragedies in recorded history. If America is so bent out of shape with 3000+ deaths on 9/11, and now over 1000 American military deaths in Iraq… How should Iranians feel?
New information, coming out of events related to the recent invasion of Iraq suggest that Saddam did not act alone. It was kicked off on August 10th 1980, when Saddam Hussein was invited to his first state visit to Saudi Arabia, the first for any Iraqi President. This was a historic meeting. Prince Fahd had been asked to convey a private message of support for an invasion of Iran by Saddam from President Carter.
Think back to the summer of 1980. Jimmy Carter was running for reelection as President. The Mullah's in Iran had turned against him holding Americans hostages at the US embassy in Tehran (even though he had brought about the Shah's demise). Carter had also been secretly briefed about private meetings between the Mullah's and the Republican Party… to hold the hostages until after November elections… to humiliate him and engineer his loss. The Mullah's had betrayed him.
With his back against the wall, Carter pushed for a quick decisive invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein… hoping for a quick demise of the newly installed Islamic regime. The Saudi's and other allied Arab states had been asked to assist. And assist they did…
And so, on September 22nd, 1980, twelve fully equipped Iraqi Army divisions crossed into Iran, with simultaneous fighter-bomber attacks of Iran's major airports. Iraqi troops immediately occupied ten important Iranian cities: Khoramshahr, Susangerd, Bostan, Mehran, Dehloran, Hoveizieh, Naft Shahr, Qasr Shirin, Sumar and Musian. And began targeting Abadan, Ahwaz, Dezful, Shushtar, Andimeshk, Isalmabad-e-qarb and Gilan-e-qarb with hundreds of surface-to-surface missiles. They also started targeting oil tankers servicing Iranian ports, Iranian Oil platforms, and Iranian Islands in the Persian Gulf – with Exocet missiles and Super Etendard Aircraft supplied by France. Iraq's goal was to completely shut down Iran's oil exports, and grab land.
Iran was very vulnerable. The Carter administration had placed Iran under a worldwide arms embargo, which in effect prevented Iran from obtaining weapons and spare parts necessary to defend it. Also, Iran's foreign currency assets were frozen. And most senior Iranian airforce and army officers had either been executed or imprisoned or had simply fled Iran. Iran was basically defenseless. Carter was now going for Iran's throat using Saddam's hands.
Carter's miscalculation cost him his presidency and cost millions of Iranians and Iraqi's their deaths. You could even say that Iraqi's who died after the war (during Saddam's brutal presidency, and two subsequent wars) as well as coalition soldiers who are dying now are deaths that in many ways can be linked to this war and Carter's fateful decision to invade Iran. (By the way, no one had the balls to mention any of this when he won the Nobel peace prize.)
As we learnt during Watergate, if you want to find out whose really behind a political move “follow-the-money.” Now that the US has invaded Iraq, there is the 'delicate' issue of how the world is going to deal with Iraq's foreign debt. The debt, after-all, was obtained during the Iran-Iraq war. You see Saddam borrowed many billions dollars to pay for the war. We now know as a result of the recent invasion, the details of who had helped Saddam. The US now wants all these countries to forgive the following loans to Iraq, so Iraq can make a fresh start:
Russia – $3.5 Bn; France – $3 Bn; Germany – $2.4 Bn; US – $2.2 Bn; UK – $1 Bn
Follow-the-money! It's easy to understand why Russia, France and Germany opposed the recent US invasion of Iraq. Saddam owed them a lot of money, and they realized that the US would want them to forgive the debt afterwards. Plus, they had lucrative deals with Iraq to exploit Iraq's oil fields that they have now lost.
It's also easy to understand why Saddam had an incentive to invade Kuwait. He owed them $15 Bn, so if he took over Kuwait, he would not have to repay them anything. What is also stunning for me, is the realization that Arabs – they must hate Iranians? Look at all the money they put up for Saddam to destroy Iran!
What Carter did not realize however, was the tremendous patriotism that Iranians have. The war united Iranians against a common territorial enemy. Iranians pro- or even against the government set aside their differences and focused on the war. Carter also miscalculated his Republican Party opponents. Acting outside governmental bounds (which by the way is illegal) Reagan's election team quickly firmed their deal with the Mullahs, and had Carter humiliated in exchange for arms (hence Iran-Contra, Oliver North, Bud McFarlane, etc.). The hostages were released 10 minutes after Reagan took office.
Iran did not lose the war, but Iran did lose a lot. Besides ruined cities, and hundreds of thousands soldiers and civilians deaths and casualties, Iran's greatest loss was the consolidation of power by the theocracy (caused by the war). The war immediately rallied the nation behind the Mullahs – and the Mullahs have grabbed the reigns of power ever since. The Republicans had promised the Mullahs noninterference in Iranian affairs and the Mullahs sit strong today knowing the Republicans will not break their word.
Then there is this other question of what arms were actually sold to Saddam Hussein? You know the big deal about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction before the recent invasion of Iraq? What did he have? Who sold it to him? And was he really supposed to use these weapons on Iran?
As I listened to Colin Powell put his reputation on the line, in front of the United Nation's Security Council, I kept wondering who the hell supplied all this to Saddam? And why?
Well, as it turned out, the United States had full diplomatic relations with Saddam Hussein right up to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The United States had detailed knowledge of his procurement activity and was an active participant in arm sales to Iraq (as well as Iran). Well, we now know from several sources that have emerged since Powell's UN speech, that many of these weapons of mass destruction were in fact sold by the United States to Iraq … knowingly!
For example, in the last 5 years of the war 771 export licenses were given to Iraq for items related to his weapons of mass destruction arsenal. Iraq purchased precursor chemicals for chemical weapons, biological agents (including anthrax), purchased cluster bombs, and even purchased calibration devices for mustard gas production — yes – for the production of chemical weapons (which he did use effectively against Iranians during the war). There are congressional documents and recently declassified NSA documents (NSA 139 9/5/84, NSD 114, NDA EBB… ) that clearly show that the United States government was aware and actively supportive of all these sales.
And so as this tragedy ages, we are able to learn more and more about the causes of the invasion and 8-year war. I am sure we that will learn more as more documents are declassified.
For over 25 years, since the CIA's coup in 1953 (and loss of democracy in Iran), American oil companies were happily involved in the exploitation and marketing of Iranian oil. Iran was America's ally in the 'Middle East' and a substantial importer of American goods. Iranian and American people enjoyed a great friendship.
And so a few Mullahs betrayed their American sponsors, why must a whole nation pay the huge price of such massive death tolls, and decades of brutality by the same Mullahs? What did Iranians, as a people, do to justify the sale of 'weapons of MASS destruction' to Iraq by the United States? Why was a whole nation condemned to war and tyranny?
The irony of the situation of course is that while Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, did start the war; Ronald Reagan, a Republican, was the one that finally ended up supporting the Mullahs and selling arms to both Iran and Iraq. The deaths caused by 9/22 can therefore be attributed to both sides of the American political divide.
Now as we note this anniversary, maybe the least we can do is plead for a little decency from both sides of the political divide in America. Let's bring this subject to the fore in American politics. It takes calling into radio and TV stations, it takes active lobbying, it takes writing letters to Newspapers – but we have to get the facts out. We cannot stand by and let all of this get swept under a rug!
It is my firm belief that if the average American voter knew of these acts by their leaders, tragedies like this war would not be repeated. Americans, as a nation, are actually very decent and loving.
My deepest sympathies and commiseration to the victims and families of 9/22!