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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: September 2014

10 - Conclusion


The hardest point I went through was when we feared the Iranians would accept our cease fire suggestion [Referring to June 1982] … that was not the image that I thought our army should end this war with. The appropriate image … is to end the war with the Iranian broken and our army strengthened by God … [w]hat was accomplished was the highest of my hopes for this bloody route that has taken eight long years.

– Saddam Hussein, late 1988

Even after the disastrous defeats of Iran’s military forces as well as indications that morale in the army and on the home front was collapsing, Khomeini made every effort to keep up appearances. Despite a growing pragmatism among many senior clerics, the Majlis election resulted in a victory for “candidates who called for the most extreme policies.” Propaganda broadcast to the Iranian people described the defeats as “planned withdrawals.” There is some indication the regime increased the naval confrontation with the United States in the Gulf – a set of incidents that contributed to the shoot-down of the Iranian Airbus A300 – to distract the Iranians from the bad news on the battlefield. Finally, confronted with the possibility of greater defeats at the hands of the Iraqis and growing opposition at home, Khomeini yielded to the advice of Iran’s senior religious and political leaders and agreed to a ceasefire.

On 20 July, the Grand Ayatollah announced to the Iranian people, “Taking this decision was more deadly than poison. I submitted myself to God’s will and drank this drink for his satisfaction.” Khomeini’s humiliation was hardly sufficient for Saddam. Shortly after the conclusion of the armistice, Saddam rubbed salt in his enemy’s wounds by commenting publicly on the ceasefire:

Who deeply understands history knows that history plays an essential role in [what] people believe [and national policies] and this present day will become history in the future … For the above mentioned reasons, in addition to reasons related to our faith and the great history of our nation and people, we offer the hand of friendship, forgiveness and peace to the Iranian people regardless of the bitterness we feel and regardless of [their] assault and violation that [we were] exposed to.

Baktiari, Bahman, Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: The Institutionalization of Factional Politics (Gainesville, FL, 1996), 148;
Menashri, David, “Iran (Jumhuriyye Islamiyye Iran),” in Middle East Contemporary Survey, Volume XI: 1987, Ayalon, Ami and Shaked, Haim, eds. (Boulder, CO, 1988), 489–490.
Wise, Harold Lee, Inside the Danger Zone: The US Military in the Persian Gulf, 1987–1988 (Annapolis, MD, 2007), 219–232;
Chubin, Shahram, “The Last Phase of the Iran–Iraq War: From Stalemate to Ceasefire,” Third World Quarterly 11, no. 2 (1989), 4.
Wright, Robin, In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade (New York, NY, 1989), 192.
Gera, Gideon, “The Iraqi–Iranian War,” in Volume XII: 1988, Bengio, Ofra, ed., Middle East Contemporary Survey: Iraq, 1976–1999 (Tel Aviv, 1989), 212–213.