The direction of the first Iraqi offensive was in the south-east, aiming to seize the Shatt al Arab, Khorramshahr and Abadan, and then to take Ahwaz as the capital of Khuzestan, and also Dezful. The concept of operations was to replicate the Israeli opening of the 1967 war — a lightning strike with air power to knock out the Iranian air force while it was still on the ground, followed by a swift land operation led by armoured formations. This approach would give the Iraqis air supremacy, enable them to overwhelm the Iranian resistance on the borders and create a psychological effect that would encourage the anti-Iranian government resistance and cause the collapse of the regime in Tehran. The Iraqi strategy also had to block any possible Iranian move in the north against its oilfields, and it had to safeguard all the approaches to Baghdad. In the south it had to cover the strategic ports and Basra. Success would therefore depend on a decisive result within the first few weeks and then negotiations could be opened from a position of strength. Saddam had no intention of pushing into the depths of Iran or of reaching Tehran; his calculation was that such risks would not be necessary.
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