Remembering Iraq's Invasion of Iran

Monday, September 21, 2015

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

September 22 is a significant day in modern Iranian history, the day when several divisions of Iraqi army poured into Iran and blatantly violated Iran's sovereignty and territorial integrity without receiving any international condemnation. It is a dark day not just for Iran but also for the United Nations, that took its blessed time to react and simply called for the cessation of hostilities, instead of identifying Iraq as the aggressor -- that followed the aim of seizing huge chunks of Iranian territory and dominate Iran's oil fields in Khuzestan province.

Thanks to the heroic effort of Iranian people, who heeded the call of their spiritual leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, to launch a steadfast resistance in the "imposed war," Saddam Hussain's evil plans fell apart and it was not long before Iran turned the table and was in hot pursuit of the invading army.

The recent meeting of Iran's Supreme Leader with the wounded war veterans was another reminder of the horrible reality of the 8 year war that exacted so many lives on both sides and caused huge physical destruction of dozens of Iranian cities and towns including the capital that was the target of hundreds of Iraqi missiles. 

There are today upwards of 60,000 victims of Iraq's chemical attacks, whose daily suffering is a reminder of the West's complicity with a murderous regime that was aided and armed by the nations that profess loyalty to international norms and rule of international law. The Iraqis committed unspeakable atrocities not only against the Iranian army, but also Kurdish and Iranian civilians by subjecting them to hundreds of chemical attacks. The shocking images from Halabcheh are still fresh on our minds and reminder of why Iran distrusts the West -- that turned against Saddam only when their stooge crossed their line by invading Kuwait. But, then again, there is evidence that Saddam Hussain fell into the American trap of thinking that just because US did not have a treaty to protect Kuwait it would stand by while he gobbled up the Kuwaiti oil fortunes. Saddam had received a tacit approval in his previous invasion of Iran and was therefore emboldened to thinking that the West would not react to his sequel action.

But what is important at this juncture are the lessons of the Iran-Iraq war, one of which is that Iran's strong defense is a top priority that is second to none, and that the heroic efforts of the Iranian defenders, e.g., in liberating Khorramshahr, is a stuff of legends that will be remembered for generations. Another lesson is that Iran's distrust of the US is rooted in history and we have learned from that invasion not to put any trust in the US government -- that became increasingly involved in the latter stages of the war. 

What the proud Iranian nation should take from commemorating the September 22 'tragedy' is that no matter what the human and physical cost, the country at the end emerged stronger and more united and the fervent patriotism will live on forever.

*Kaveh Afrasiabi, Ph.D, is a former political science professor at Tehran University and the author of several books on Iran’s foreign policy. His writings have appeared on several online and print publications, including UN Chronicle, New York Times, Der Tagesspiegel, Middle East Journal, Harvard International Review, and Brown's Journal of World Affairs, Guardian, Russia Today, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Mediterranean Affairs, Nation, Telos, Der Tageszeit, Hamdard Islamicus, Iranian Journal of International Affairs, Global Dialogue.

More By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi:

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*Selected U.S.-Iran Cooperation after the Nuclear Deal:

*White House's Bad Means For A Good End:

*Photo Credit: Farhang News

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.

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