Book Review: “Oral History of Sacred Defense”

Narrated by Seyed Yahya Safavi (Second Volume – From Eastern Basra to Mehran)

Fereydoun Heydari Molkmian
Translated By M. B. Khoshnevisan


On the back cover of the book, with a simple and green background, which covers the front cover as well, we read: “Major General Seyed Yahya (Rahim) Safavi is one of the main commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who during the years of the sacred defense has played a role in the responsibilities of the commander of IRGC operations in the south, the IRGC operations’ commander, the commander of IRGC ground force and the deputy commander of the IRGC ground force. From the beginning to the end of the war, he has played a major role in the formation of the military organization of the IRGC and the design and implementation of the operations. The second volume of Dr. Safavi's oral history begins with the topics related to crossing the border after the conquest of Khorramshahr and ends with the description of the operations Karbala 1 and 2”.

It should be noted that the first volume of the oral history, which was previously published under the title "From Sanandaj to Khorramshahr", had been arranged in 28 chapters (sessions). The second volume also starts from the 29th session titled “From Eastern Basra to Mehran” and continues until the 50th session.

The text of the book is illustrated and has a foreword and an introduction from the Center for Sacred Defense Documents and Research, which contains good documents such as examples of the documents related to the years 1361 to 1365 (1982-1986), signed by the general or addressed to him (74 pages) and acceptable and good quality color images and (44 pages) . The final pages of the book are dedicated to the index as usual.

The main topic of the 29th session (which this volume of the book begins with it) is the continuation of the war after the conquest of Khorramshahr. According to the narrator, political officials and military commanders at that time believed that defending Khuzestan and preventing the Iraqi army from attacking Iran again, entering Iraqi territory with the aim of reaching a suitable defense line and imposing the political will of the Islamic Republic on the Ba’ath regime was necessary for reclamation of the rights of the Iranian people; because although it seemed that after the liberation of Khorramshahr, the war would end soon and Saddam would accept Iran's conditions, but after that, the Iraqi Baath army took action to rebuild its damaged and destroyed units, and in addition, it built triangular embankments and numerous barriers and channels from Talaiyeh to Kushk and from Kushk to Shalamcheh. This was when Iran decided to enter Iraq.

The 30th to 35th sessions are devoted to Operation Ramadhan, Muslim Ibn Aqeel and Muharram operations, the planning of preliminary Operation Valfajr, goals and stages of preliminary Operation Valfajr, Operation Valfajr, and Valfajr 2, 3 and 4 operations.

In the 36th session, there was talk of changing Iran's military strategy. From the changing Iran's military-political strategy, the changing of Iraq's strategy, as well as the changes that occurred in the international environment as a result of supporting Saddam. In the meantime, both the IRGC and the army agreed that one of the political leaders should take command of the war.

The thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth sessions respectively deal with the Operation Khaybar: the goals of the Operation Khaybar and preparing for it, the implementation of the Operation Khaybar, the role of the army and the Jihad Sazandegi (Constructive) in the Operation Khaybar. In the 40th session, the aborted Operation Valfajr 8 and the planning of the Operation Badr were discussed, and the 40th session also dealt with the implementation of the Operation Badr.

But the 42nd devoted is devoted to the discussion about the formation of the three forces of the IRGC. After the Operation Badr, there were many discussions about the reasons for the failure in the Khaybar and Badr operations, and as a result, it became clear that the lack of manpower, necessary facilities and equipment, as well as the weakness in air and artillery support caused the defeat of the internal forces in these operations. On the other hand, the process of the war command was different from the beginning to the end of the Sacred Defense years: from Shahrivar 1359 (August 1980) to Mehr 1360 (September 1981), the war command was in charge of the army. From Mehr 1360 (September 1981) to 1363 (1984), the operations continued under the joint command of the IRGC and the army, and from 1364 (1985), with a united command, and according to his opinion, the IRGC and the army separately planned and implemented operations.

In continuation, the next six sessions from the 42nd to the 48th session revolve around the topics related to the Operation Valfajr; including the combat power of Iran and Iraq in the operation, the planning of the operation, obtaining the necessary preparations for carrying out the operation, the stages for implementing the operation, the support of the operation and finally the achievements of the Operation Valfajr 8.

The 49th session refers to the series of operations known as the mobile defense of the Iraqi Ba’ath army: the defeat of the Iraqi army in Operation Valfajr 8 and the conquest of Faw at the hands of Iranian forces put so much pressure on the Baath regime that they started bombing the cities and economic centers of Iran to compensate for this failure. From Safavi's point of view, the most important decision of the Ba’ath army after the Operation Valfajr 8 was to adopt a mobile defense strategy. Iraq's goal of using this strategy was to give morale to the Iraqi people, the Ba’ath army forces and its supporters by carrying out moderate operations and to prove that it can attack Iran. Another goal was to make Iran passive by dividing the Iranian forces and grounding them, and get an opportunity to rebuild its forces and repair some border lines. With these goals, Iraq carried out operations in about ten regions and succeeded in capturing them, the most important of which was the town of Mehran.

The last session (fiftieth) is related to the liberation of Mehran. In this session, general Safavi explains the operations of Karbala 1 and 2. He was the first of the senior commanders of the war and IRGC who entered the operational area of Mehran and went so far that he was faced with the shooting of the enemy forces and their ambush, and he ordered the construction of an embankment on the spot. By building the embankment, the friendly forces brought themselves closer to the enemy, and since they gradually began to do this, they made the situation seem normal. After the construction of embankments, reconnaissance began in the complicated operational area of Mehran. Then it was time to carry out the operation and with the victory of Operation Karbala 1and the liberation of Mehran, the mobile defense strategy of the Ba’ath army failed. Through the Operation Karbala 2, the forces were able to capture the Sadr heights and the tall heights of the area. In this operation, about 300 Ba’ath army forces were captured and more than 3 thousand of them were also killed.

The book “Oral History of Scared Defense” has been compiled by Dr. Hossein Ardestani and its first edition has been published by the Center for Sacred Defense Documents and Research in 488 pages and in 1000 copies.

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