Why Iranians Refer to their Eight-Year War against Iraq as “Sacred Defense“?
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Tahereh Moghri Moazen
Expert on European Issues
Discussing about human civilizations without referring to Persia as one of the world’s most important cradles of civilization is almost impossible; as a unified and integrated land, Iran has always been a crib for people with different languages, traditions, religions and ethnicities. Hence, Iran’s history is devoid of any record of quest for independence or separatism. However, in spite of such a popular culture and brilliant history and also the important role Iranians set for unity in overcoming the problems and adversities, Iran’s geographical borders have been drastically changed over the time.
Only between the years 650 to 1785 A.D., i.e. when Yazdegerd III (1) was overthrown until the day Qajarid dynasty took power in Iran, more than hundreds of tribes and clans ruled over the country. The ineptitude of the Qajar kings in managing the domestic affairs had provided the aliens with a golden opportunity to ransack and separate many parts of the Aryan homeland. For Instance, The 11-article peace treaty of Gulistan was concluded between Iran and Russia In 1813 when the 9-year Iran-Russia battle was over. According to the treaty, Iran not only had lost many parts of its territory, but Iranian ships lost full rights to navigate all of the Caspian Sea and its coasts, Iran also was forced to sign economic treaties with Russian merchants, while Russia just promised to support Abbas Mirza as the heir to the throne of Persia after Fath Ali Shah died. (This proved impossible when Abbas Mirza predeceased Fath Ali Shah.)
The world’ most authoritative historical books have referred to the peace traties of Gulistan and Turkamanchay as the most depreciating treaties signed by the Iranian rulers.
After another two-year war, the peace treaty of Turkamanchay became another disgraceful treaty in Iran’s history which was made between Persian and Russian rulers in 1828, according to which Iran lost its northern lands where mostly were resided by Armenian and Azerbaijani people. Moreover, Iran was coerced to pay Russia 10 korur in gold or 20 million silver rubles (in 1828 currency), to recognize capitulation rights for Russians in Iran, to give Russia the right to send consulate envoys anywhere in Iran, to exchange war prisoners, and finally to officially apologize for breaking its promises made in the treaty of Gulistan.
When Germany introduced itself as the emerging superpower in the World, Britain and France started to forget their long-standing disputations and to promote unity against the increasing influence of Germans over the region.
Intending to safeguard its new occupied colony, Britain asked for separation of Herat from Iran with the aim of establishing a puppet government in Afghanistan that could protect its interests in India. In response to Iran’s negative response to such indecent proposition, Britain occupied several cities in Southern Iran. To solve the problem, Iranian rulers found the best solution in signing the Treaty of Paris (1857) which was concluded by sending an envoy to Paris and mediation of Napoleon III. Again, according to the 15-clause treaty, Iran agreed to withdraw from Herat and was forced to acquiesce into other conditions imposed by the British Empire.
The treaty of Akhal, or Treaty of 1881, was endorsed in order to demarcate borders of Empire Iran and Imperial Russia across the Turkmen-residing lands along the eastern Caspian Sea. Russia had occupied Iranian lands up to Khwarazm City on the one hand and the Iranian emperor had never succeeded to achieve reconciliation with his Turkmen people on the other hand. Thus, Iranian rulers again signed a shameful treaty by which hundreds of kilometers of Persian lands were separated. Perhaps Iranian governors got rid of the occasionally riots of Turkmens, but the treaty truncated the Iranian borders to where the current Sarakhs City is located.
A British Board which had been established in Sistan Region for more than three decades in order to resolve possible disputations over Hirmand River’s water between Iran and Afghanistan issued a decree unilaterally which was rejected by Iran. However, because of the Constitution Revolution in Iran, its domestic situation was so disturbed that no effective measurement and follow-up was practiced in this issue. The British board, presided by Lieutenant Colonel Henry McMahon, set new borders for Iran. Indeed, many experts believe that the final decree was a lever to put the Russia under pressure to sign a treaty in 1907 with Britain. In other words, the British officials’ main purpose of appointing McMahon as the arbitrator and setting the new borders was preventing Russia from trespassing on the Persian Gulf Region hence protecting India.
After collapse of Qajarid Dynasty, Pahlavi Regime took power in Iran that in turn lost some parts of Iran; as Iran was coerced to recognize Bahrain as an independent state by virtue of the United Nations’ verdict in 1971, while the Britain’s conspiracy to separate Bahrain, Iran’s fourteenth province, from Iran was completely clear cut.
When the Islamic Revolution of Iran toppled Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi on February 11, 1979, Iraq assailed Iran and its dictator Saddam Hussein claimed that he will conquer Tehran in only a week. The claim was not improbable with regard to the current situation of Iran and its historical background in losing lands. But Saddam had not considered an important point and it was considerable change in Iran’s rulership from kingdom to republic government. In the early days of Iraq attack to Iran, Iranian faithful youth defended Iran’s territorial integrity. Although many of them had not been passed military and or war training courses, relying on their faith and love to the homeland, they resisted against the world’s fourth great army. The West which somehow was sure about Iraq’s victory in this battle during the early days of the war gradually changed its position and started to support Iran’s intruder neighbor through an all-out war. It was supposed that Iran will be defeated very soon, but all Iranians with different ethnicities, languages and cultures left their homes for the frontlines and made history there. Previous wars of Iran usually was involved with a certain region and people and or a certain army of soldiers, but the men and women who had figured out that the results of wars are nothing but poverty, calamity, irreverence and losing the identity departed for the war zones.
Bystanders have treated unreasonable the Iran war death toll and the Western media took advantage of the different ideological space to arrange their propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran. They believed that saving one acre of Iran was not deserved to death of thousands men and women, while Iranian warriors thought that saving the land for the coming generations was highly preferable to living with abasement and humiliation for many years.
In over past 200 years it was the first time that Iran’s map remained intact after invasion of foes.
(1) Twenty-ninth and last king of the Sassanid dynasty of Iran
Fig.1 Persian Empire Map
Fig. 2 Iran’s borders after the 9-year battle against Russia are highlighted in bold
Fig.3 According to the Turkamanchay Treaty, Aras River was recognized as the new borderline between Iran and Russia
Fig.4 Signing the Treaty of Paris in 1857 separated Herat from its Motherland
Fig.5 Treaty of Akhal (1881) annexed Iranian Turkmen-residing lands in Eastern Caspian Sea to Russia
Fig. 6 Although the unilateral arbitration of McMahon was never approved by Iran, it made new borders
Fig. 7 Iran’s borders remain intact after 8-year war against Iraq