Iran-Iraq War. Do You Remember How It Ended? 

UI – Part 525 – Iran-Iraq War. Do You Remember How It Ended?

After Carter allowed the Ayatollah and the militant Shiites to overcome Iran (Iran Revolution January 1979), taking the breath of freedom from the populace, Iraq saw an opportunity to invade. A war between Iraq and Iran ensued for 8 years, September 1980 to August 1988.  US Presidents were conflicted, Carter and Reagan were the two in office during this period.

Carter basically facilitated the overthrow of Shah Pahlavi in 1979.  A poorly prepared theocratic regime lead by a popular Ayatollah Khomeini, excited and intent on imposing their will on an advancing nation, introduced their retrograde ideological Islamism by assuming the reins of power. That included oversight of the strongest military in the Middle East at that time (thank America).  But they lacked the ability to properly proceed and were as children with loaded AK-47’s. From trash to electricity, to stocking store shelves to directing military campaigns these incompetent clerics, knowledgeable only in the dictates of Allah via the Quran, tried to run things. What they opened was Pandora’s box and Saddam Hussein of Iraq saw a way for Iraq to move into the land of the Persians.

As an aside, the Iranian Shiite Mullahs and clerics have a day of celebration, The National Day of Confronting Global Arrogance, commemorating the November 4, 1980, taking of the American Embassy in Tehran. As you may recall the occupants were held for 444 days, released on the day of the Inauguration of Ronald Reagan.

Back to the Iraq-Iran conflagration. Saddam was as inept at warfare as the clerics, probably moreso, but he gained the favor of Reagan, as America by now realized their error in allowing these Shiite tigers to take over Iran. Land incursions began. Then there were efforts to curb flows of oil by ships in the Persian Gulf. The Straits of Hormuz became a battle zone as the Tanker War brought oil slicks to cover much of the sea. Small speed boats manned by Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked larger vessels at will. That is until the US Navy came to the area.

During this protracted war between Arab and Persian autocrats Reagan’s greatest error, Iran Contra, took place. Supporting Iraq in this war the CIA began to sell weapons surreptitiously to Iran at significantly marked up prices to then buy weapons to supply the Nicaraguan Contras. Whose side were we on?  Congress was neither aware nor did it vote to support such activity.

America made many mistakes during the Iraq-Iran conflict, to include inept practices of the CIA which readily revealed the identity of intelligence operatives, many of whom were sought out and killed, both Americans and Iranians. The ploy to recruit Iranian informants was centered on the line for Visas to the USA. The channels of communiques were less than secure and bulk transmissions of directives to spies revealing multiple names at once was a disgrace to the CIA and the Reagan team.

Then a modem Naval vessel, the $1 billion US Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Vincennes, entered the Gulf in 1987 to degrade an already degraded Iran rag tag Navy even further.

Iran Air 655, an Airbus carrying passengers, civilians, on July 3, 1988, took off from the southern Bandar Abbas Airport headed for Dubai. To cover the 150 miles takes one hour.  The airport is located on the northern edge of the Gulf or Hormuz.  This gulf is a narrow sea passage and at the time was closely patrolled by naval ships.  The plane was 27 minutes late in departing. The pilot set his transponder on the civilian frequency. The radar attendant on the USS Vincennes however picked up a signal from a military F-14 still on the runway, tracking that plane. Checking the schedules for flights the NCO responsible did not notice that particular flight, failing to realize it was late. Communications between ships in the area, the Vincennes and the USS Sides, continued to improperly ID the Airbus.  Feeling threatened by the overhead aircraft, signals were sent as a warning; the military channel was used. The warning went unheeded. At the same time a US military plane was descending rapidly to land on an aircraft carrier, also mistakenly ID’d. The captain of the Vincennes was engaging Iranian speedboats buzzing like bees, firing shots to chase them away. Dealing with multiple attackers and the threat of missiles from a rapidly approaching military plane the Captain, following protocol, gave “permission to fire.”


Two missiles were launched and hit the target, one on the wing, the other on the tail.  From David Crist’s book, The Twilight War:  The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran (pg 367-368/642 ebook), he wrote, “the airplane broke apart as the force of the air stripped the clothes from its passengers, sending their bodies raining down on the blue waters of the Persian Gulf.  All 290 souls on Iran Airbus 655 perished.”

Given the information provided the Capitan made the right call, even though it was a tragic mistake. Force to defend our ships was called for. No malice was intended. The blame went to ‘the fog of war.’  Iran filed a grievance with the UN. The UN did not condemn the US. Little was heard from the Muslim world, except for Iran. Serious discussion followed about ending the war between Iraq and Iran. Iraq continued to rain down missiles on Iran and make inroads into Iranian territory. The UN issued Resolution 598 to end the war.  On July 20, 1988 the Ayatollah Khomeini accepted the cease fire (effective August 20, 1988).

The downing of the Airbus was too much for the theocratic despot.  Hatred towards America remained.

Understanding the history of our involvement in the Middle East, as well as the ideology of Islam, its leaders, its factions, and its intentions is important for all to know.  Now you know the story of how the Iraq-Iran war ended.  But there was more before and more after that continued to devastate the Middle East and the Muslim world.  Consider how America turned on Saddam Hussein.  Consider how the Shiite clerics still dominate and control the people of Iran. Consider too how the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS and others came to be.  With each American President policies towards nations in the Middle East and other Muslim countries were modified. Inconsistency is the constant, it seems.

Grace and Peace

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