Palestinians were the only nation who unequivocally and actively supported the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Palestine has been a nation drowning in blood and tears for two generations, and like all the angrily desperate, grabs on any glimmer of hope for revenge on Israel and its friends. That is how; Saddam could readily use the local Palestinians in Kuwait for guarding the town and functioning as a make-shift police force.
At the time of invasion, Iraq had the largest army in the region and the 4th in the world. Saddam had one million men under arms, four thousand modern tanks and 600 combat aircraft, as well as hundreds of ballistic missiles and tons of chemical weapons. The Iraq invasion or so called “liberation” of Kuwait, took only two days to complete, because it was rehearsed in great detail for the past six months. The Palestinian workers in the Kuwait City poured into the streets and celebrated their hero du jour.
To deter any third-party interference and prove its militaristic effectiveness, Saddam could show its recent string of victories over the Iranian army, which made ayatollah Khomeini swallow the “poison of peace”. Only two years ago, Iraq had conducted five monumental consecutive military operations against the Iranians, which fully crippled the IRI army. In the space of three months, the Iraqi forces had obliterated two IRI pasdar divisions at al-Faw, destroyed the combined pasdar and army concentrations around the Fish-Lake, conducted a crushing double-envelopment against IRI at the Hawizeh marshes, then another at Mehran and finally the last one at Dehloran. When Khomeini threw in the towel, the once formidable IRI army had been reduced to rubble.
The other country who supported Iraq throughout the invasion, was Jordan, where King Hussein was once again heavily influenced by its majority Palestinian population, and his crown prince (king’s brother Abdullah) who was openly anti-Israel. Perhaps King Hussein had mistakenly calculated that the balance of power in the Middle East was forever altered against the US-Israeli axis, and it was time to salute the new czar.
By capturing Kuwait, Iraq had effectively “acquired” its biggest creditor, who had financed the Iraqi war against Iran, to the tune of $150 billion. With that victory, Saddam was sitting on as much oil in Iraq as in Kuwait, which was in total equivalent to 200 billion barrels of proven reserves.
The combination of one million troops, that much oil and so many Palestinian supporters, alerted Israel and US to Saddam’s clear-and-present danger. Since its birth in 1948, Israel has constantly been threatened with annihilation, in the hands of its Arab neighbors. They had gone to all-out war four times, and each time the Israeli’s had been able to survive. This time, the threat was again both credible and ominous.
It is hard to fathom Iraq’s next move after Kuwait, but most likely it would have had a trajectory towards Jordan and Palestine, at least as a diversionary cover for its expansionary ambitions. It is unlikely that Iraq would have been foolish enough to again directly engage with the Israeli army, but Saddam could indefinitely finance terrorist and suicide attacks against their civilian targets. Later on, Iraq fully supported those attacks and even openly paid $25,000 to each suicide bomber’s family.
As surprising as it may be for us Iranians, most Arabs and Palestinians have traditionally mistrusted Iran’s governments as an “American-Israeli” supported entity. For them, the close relationship between Shah and Israel, as well as the covert support of US for the Islamic Republic (Iran-Contra), sort of “confirmed” that suspicion. In the Middle East, everything is a conspiracy theory, so for Palestinians, it was easy to believe that Iran was an Israeli diversion to bleed the Arab blood and weaken their armies. Hence, the active support of most Palestinian forces of Saddam, during his eight year war with Iran.
It is only recently, since the openly hostile gestures by the Iranian president Ahmadinejad, towards US and the threat of destroying Israel that the dominant Palestinian militia has turned pro-Iran. For their never ending yearn to fight and destroy the Jewish state, Iran has become the latest source of “hope and blessing”.
Since their sharp right-turn and the “election” of Ahmadinejad in 2005, the IRI has clearly placed the defeat of Israel and US at the top of its agenda. The IRI pasdaran foreign intervention brigade (Sepah Qods) has relentlessly armed and trained the Hezbollah of Lebanon in addition to the Hamas in Gaza. However, they clearly realize that sponsoring a proxy war against Israel will not go unpunished, nor have they forgotten how the 1,000,000 strong conventional army of Saddam was destroyed in six short weeks.
Therefore, it appears that the rulers of Iran are currently seeking the ultimate asymmetrical weapon against the threat of an Israeli-inspired US attack. For Tehran, arming against the American threat has been the number one military preparedness target since 1988. Moreover, the hardliners of IRI seem to have resigned to the fact that no conventional armed force in the Middle East will be able to withstand an Israeli or American assault. Hence, the world is anxiously witnessing their hurried drive towards the coveted A-bomb ability.
Today, the hard-core IRI calculations seem to have resulted in the following set of dogma:
1 – Israel is a strategic enemy of Islam, which should be defeated and destroyed, as clearly prescribed by Khomeini himself.
2 – Israel can only be crippled by a sustained, chronic and bloody war of attrition on its borders, carried out by the Palestinians, who are armed and financed by IRI and other “concerned parties”.
3 – Israel has steadily identified Iran as the only active supporter of the Palestinian armed struggle, and has engaged the IRI proxy forces in Lebanon and Gaza.
4 – The key Israel ally (US) will try to influence Iran to give up its active hostility against Israel, by political, economical and ultimately military means.
5 – Iran can only deter the American efforts, by acquiring A-bomb level nuclear capabilities.
Tehran’s recent reneging on its initial agreement with the very generous Western countries nuclear-package, concealment its new uranium enrichment plant in Qom and preparation for a long and arduous round of economical sanctions, can only be understood within the framework of the above dogma. That is how the hardliners in Tehran are again gambling with the livelihood and future of 75 million Iranians, on an Islamist ideological basis.