By General® Mirza Aslam Beg
President Trump is building-up his strategic naval forces, in the Gulf Region, not to fight the ‘naval superiority battle’ of the deep seas, but to apply “Shock and Awe” therapy on the Iranians, suffering from decades of “monetary terrorism” and “social engineering” – an act of war, imposed over several decades. He thinks it is the opportune time for Israel to strike to achieve the objectives of the “Warsaw Plan,” February 2019. The plan envisages Israel ‘to take-on Iran’ supported by US and the coalition members. US will not get directly involved in this war. They consider Iran politically and economically weakened for Israel, to bring about regime change in Iran. It appears that, both USA and Israel have learnt no lessons from their contemporary wars in the region.
First: In 1980 US induced Iraq to invade Iran, to crush the Revolution and bring about regime change. The day after, General Zia called an emergent meeting of the cabinet to discuss the impending situation. As CGS, I represented GHQ. All the participants were of the opinion that Iran will be defeated in a matter of weeks. I intervened:
“The war is not going to end in a matter of days or weeks, rather it would be a long protracted war, lasting over several years, with Iran emerging as the victor, and the revolution would consolidate. The famous Chinese saying will prove right: “Never take-on the revolutionaries unless you have an ideology stronger than theirs.” And there is no ideology stronger than the ideology of Islam. Historically, the Iranians have always stood united against foreign aggression. No doubt Raza Shah’s armed forces are in disarray and are locked-up in their barracks, but they will rise, as one, to defend the country, supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, who would consolidate the Revolution.”
“The Iraqi armed forces, no doubt, have a modern military machine, but their higher military leadership, lacks the professional ability of the German General Staff, to launch the breakthrough battle, followed by blitzkrieg operations deep into the enemy territory. The boggy areas in the South and the mountainous region in the north would restrict deep manoeuvres. Thus there would be no major gains or losses and a slow slogging series of battles causing heavy casualties. Ultimately the Iranians would emerge victorious. I therefore submit that, we formulate our policy also for the options, i.e., a long war, with Iran emerging as the victor.”
I was proved right. After eight years of brutal war, the Iranian forces crossed the Shat-al-Arab and concentrated at Faw, to capture Basra. Saddam attacked with chemical weapons, supplied by the civilized world, causing heavy casualties. Iran had no defense against chemical weapons and opted for cease fire. Situation now is very similar, but militarily Iran is ten times stronger than in 1980.
Second: In 2006, an Iranian military delegation called on me. There was threat of war by Israel. I advised them that “they could counter Israel by firing free flight missiles and rockets, to degrade their “Iron-Dome, air defense system.” In the meantime, Reuter’s journalists also called and asked me about my discussion with the Iranians. I told them, “If Israel attacked, Iran would reply with missiles and rockets to engage targets deep into Israel.” Instead of Iran, Israel selected Hezbollah as the weaker enemy. Hezbollah countered by firing free flight rockets in large numbers, a threat which the American Iron Dome could not effectively counter. The Israeli government panicked and decided to use the Army, to destroy Hezbollah missile firing sites, but failed, because man to man, they were no match to Hezbollah fighters.
The situation on ground today appears most unfavourable for Israel. If Israel decides to engage Iran, the estimated number of over 200,000 missiles and free flight rockets, would be raining over Israel from three directions – Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. That would degrade the Iron-Dome Air Defense System of Israel, within days. Only recently Hamas fired over 400 rockets over Israel and the Israeli air defense system could intercept only 60% of those. This factor would form the ‘critical mass’ for decision between the two “opposing will”.
Third: In 2001, when Pakistan joined US war against Afghanistan, I warned General Musharraf:
“You have taken the decision and therefore there is no point in justifying it now. The critical issue is, of joining the war, having no moral or ethical ground. The Afghans have never done any harm to us, nor do we have a defence pact with America to join them. However, we now have to carefully proceed ahead, so that the red line is not crossed to harm our national interests.”
“In a matter of weeks, the invading forces will occupy Afghanistan and Taliban will fall back to the line – Jalalabad – Kandahar, from where they had started in 1996, and would link-up with their support base in Pakistan. Ultimately they will regroup, forming an alliance with the old Mujahideen and supported by the young jehadis from Pakistan and other countries, would build-up a formidable resistance movement against the occupation forces. As the resistance would develop, the conflict zone would expand to our border region, reversing the war on Pakistan. This would be a difficult period for Pakistan, facing a two-front war. No doubt the America and their allies will take full control of Afghanistan in a matter of weeks but ultimately Taliban would emerge victorious. America and the allies would be the loosers.”
Having lost a trillion dollar and lives of over 2400 soldiers in Afghanistan, America and the allies seem to have missed “the logic of conflict,” which derives strength from the ideology of the Iranian Revolution and the ideology of the Afghan Jihad. Both meet at one point – oneness of Allah, guiding the destiny of nations. America, the sole super power of the world, thus is beseeching Taliban for cease fire, for an honourable exit. Sure, Israel is listening and watching.
Iran will not target any of the US forces in the region, so as not to invite a Pearl Harbor, although the enemies of Iran are trying to get USA drawn into the conflict. Four oil tankers, heading for US ports have been “carefully damaged” near the UAE Coast-line, some 140 KM distance from the Gulf. The Houties from Yemen have carried out attacks to damage the two pumping stations supplying oil to Saudi towns. The ruse may work but Iran will ‘take Israel hostage’ with missiles raining from three directions – Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. No doubt, Israel can engage targets deep inside Iran using the American F-35 – the air superiority weapon, yet the Iranians are also capable of giving a big surprise to the Israelis, threatening its very existence. If war breaks-out, it would be characterized by massive use of missiles, rockets, drones and suicide bombers, as the deciding factors. It would be in the interest of Israel; therefore, not to go “the Trump way” but follow the two nation theory to establish lasting peace in the region.
It appears that, both USA and Israel have learnt no lessons from their contemporary wars in the region.
(The writer is a former COAS of Pakistan. He may contacted at email@example.com)