Turbulent Iran: Recollections, Revelations and a Proposal for Peace

By Eldon Griffiths | Go to book overview

RESCUE AT THE LONDON EMBASSY

The hardness of reality compels me thus to act.

— Virgil, Aeneid, Book I, 563–4

The revolutionary Islamic regime in Teheran had been in office for less than eighteen months when Saddam Hussein launched a surprise attack on Iran. The Iranian armed forces had been demoralized by the mullahs’ execution of scores of their top commanders. The Iraqi dictator ordered his air force to bomb Teheran, his army to seize the Iranian oilfields and his small boat navy to interdict the movement of tankers carrying oil from Kharg Island.

Saddam hoped to seize—or destroy—the Iranian oilfields and win control of both sides of the Shatt el Arab waterway, Iraq’s only outlet to the sea. He was also motivated by a desire to punish Iran for its longstanding support for the Kurds in northern Iraq and its new leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, for his religious evangelism among the oppressed majority Shiites in central and southern Iraq.

At first all went well for the Iraqis. They had the advantage of surprise. The U.S., Britain and France had also halted the supply of western military equipment to the Islamic regime in Teheran.

In the south, the Iraqi armed forces crossed the Shatt el Arab, ferried their tanks across the Karun River and captured Khorramshar. Six days of ferocious fighting cost the invaders twenty four thousand and the defenders twenty eight thousand casualties. Abadan was severely bombed and most of the refinery destroyed but the Iranians’ fierce resistance saved the city.

On the central front, Saddam’s infantry pushed through the mountains to seize several Iranian towns and bombard the city of Dezful, a

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Turbulent Iran: Recollections, Revelations and a Proposal for Peace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Part One 1
  • Discovering Persia as a Schoolboy 3
  • Brits and Persians 8
  • Mosaddegh Lifts His Nightgown 13
  • The Americans Move into Iran 19
  • The Shah's Dreams and Illusions 28
  • Ambassador Extraordinaire 34
  • Falling in Love with Iran 42
  • Bee-Pee and a Topless Beach 48
  • A Red-Haired Lady and a Blue Marchioness 55
  • Party at Persepolis 60
  • Radars and Trailers 65
  • Iranian Wheeler-Dealers 72
  • American's Iranian U-Turns 78
  • An Ambassador Poisoned, a Prime Minister Sacrificed 83
  • Black Friday 91
  • Could the Monarchy Have Been Saved? 95
  • Reaping the Whirlwind 101
  • The Flying Dutchman 106
  • Escape from Panama 115
  • The Corpses of Eagle Claw 125
  • Rescue at the London Embassy 129
  • Scuds and Chemical Weapons 133
  • Ollie North's Iranian Follies 140
  • Sanctions Have Failed 147
  • Reza Pah Lavi 154
  • They Came Not Empty-Handed 158
  • Orange County Opens a Dialogue 166
  • Histrionics at the Golden Mosque 174
  • The Reformer Whose Light Went out 182
  • Is Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad Bad or Mad? 188
  • Extracts from a Persian Letter 194
  • Part Two 197
  • Iranian Nuclear Turbulence 199
  • Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty 220
  • Part Three 223
  • Time to Talk 225
  • Engaging with Iran 236
  • Proposals for Peace 242
  • End Notes 251
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