The decision by Iran to take the war into Iraq was not a simple one. Operations had already been carried over the border, but, despite the offensives of September 1981 to March 1982, the Iranians had not yet recovered all of their own territory. The Supreme Defence Council in Tehran carefully weighed up the limitations of Iran’s armed forces and the risks inherent on any attacks deeper into Iraq. The senior officers of the regular armed forces argued that Iran simply lacked the hardware, particularly armour, artillery and fighter aircraft, to defeat the Iraqis on their own soil. Moreover, logistical arrangements were inadequate, the country having barely managed the crisis of defence in 1981. Diplomatically, they risked squandering any sympathy they possessed against Iraq, which could mean the Libyans and Syrians might cut off existing and much needed supply of arms and ammunition. The ideologues on the council nevertheless argued that Iranian revolutionary zeal had already produced battlefield successes contrary to professional military advice. They believed, wrongly, that the Shia population in Iraq was on the verge of revolt against Saddam. Iraq, they reasoned, would be crippled by insurrection. Moreover, they argued that Iran need only occupy some of Iraq’s oil fields to create a diplomatic advantage at the negotiating table.
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