The most revealing passage in the Iraqi ruler’s address to the nation on Thursday, August 8, was his veiled appeal to Iran to let bygones be bygones and help Iraq defeat their common enemy, the United States.
Speaking on the 14th anniversary of the bitter war the two Gulf nations fought for eight years, at a cost of one million dead, Saddam Hussein did not utter the name of Iran, any more than he cited America. What he said was this:
Allah has cleansed our hearts of hatred and prevents a grudge or rancor from entering our souls compared with the hatred and hard-headedness we encountered in eight years of fighting.
The Iraqi government also announced officially the arrival of the Iranian Federation of Chambers of Commerce head, Ali Naghi Khamoushi, for a five-day visit to Baghdad.
Saddam’s message is not only clearly legible in Tehran; according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources, his words and the Iranian visit are the first outward signs of the unfolding military collaboration already in progress between the two old foes.
According to our sources in Tehran, Iran’s leaders have decided to boost Iraqi war preparations – not out of love for the Saddam regime, but because their interests coincide at one point: the aspiration to prevent America from winning the war to unseat him.
The overriding Iranian interest is to keep the United States from dominating Iraq’s 16 million Shiites and the oil regions they inhabit in southern Iraq, which abut those of Iran. With America in control of those Shiite regions – in addition to its military presence in the Caspian, Central Asia and Afghanistan – Iran will find itself hemmed in on all hands. The pervasive US military presence entails also its dominion over vital oil regions. Tehran is determined not to let Iraq’s oil fields fall to the Americans as well.
Even that prospect represents only one half of the ayatollahs’ nightmare. A victory won by the Big Satan against the regime next door will dramatize the depth of the Khomeinist Islamic revolution’s failure. In 23 years, Iran has not succeeded in exporting revolution to a single Muslim society – aside only from the southern region of Lebanon.
Tehran has therefore embarked on certain military steps to help its neighbor stand up to a US offensive, as revealed now by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence and military sources:
1. Iranian armored divisions are being moved to the Iraqi frontier and deployed in battle array; Iranian trucks and trains are ferrying large quantities of ammunition and missiles to the Iraqi border region.
2. This week, Iran moved 4 Shehab-3 ground-to-ground missile batteries to the Iraqi border region and placed them in position
3. In the past week, Iran has been running into Iraq a supply line of 400 trucks loaded with large quantities of various types of ammunition, thousands of guns, mortars, machine guns and cannons, including anti-air guns, as well as military equipment, including communications systems and night vision gear. The Iranians have also sent Iraq two military field hospitals.
Our military and intelligence sources report that some of the supply convoys are turning aside from their appointed route and heading into southern Iraqi to bring supplies to the Shiite guerrilla militias who take their orders from Tehran. Iraq is turning a blind eye to the diversion.
The Iranian official, Khamoushi, welcomed in Baghdad this week was there a number of times on the quiet to find out from Iraqi army chiefs what they needed in the short term to stand up to a US invasion and negotiate payment. Our sources report Iraq undertook to pay for the supplies either in cash dollars or refined oil. (Iran’s refineries do not meet all local demands.)
They also reveal that the ground for his mission was prepared by an earlier secret visit to Baghdad two weeks ago by Hashemi Rafsanjani’s daughter Faezeh. Saddam Hussein gave her and Tehran’s offer of assistance a warm welcome.