IRAN-IRAQ: CONSEQUENCES OF AN IRANIAN BREAKTHROUGH AT AL BASRAH

Created: 3/23/1984

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Jran Ins .iMssod manyOO troops near XI Basrah tor what it hop's will be the climactic offensive of the war. Opposing tlum, ir.iq haselt equipped troops dug i" behind nHfn.tivf fortifications, with air superiority, wo beJ-ievr tlie Xraglr should oe able to contain the offensive and to inflict massive .Msudilies on the Iranians. On the other hand. If Iraqia,or defeat, the consequences could be dire-. peculative, 'worst-case* assessment ol unncT. ot such an event, j

a lor dWmt of th* Iraqi army coulderies of evttntsinq to the overthrow ot Iraqi President Saddam liusayn and hisentundamentalist Shia regime itmrr-tlIfil hu Ti-hrHtt-. GovexiMents withoftenllk# the USSR, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Israelro-Iranian regime In Baghdad, but notv is liXttlu* able to act quickly or effectively enough to prnvoin khWitiul^tme. |

radical Shia regime in Baghdad would have profound implications for the political equilibrium In amco of the HiddXa Bast and would threaten US interests in the reqlon.

61CT0ADR ORV FROM HULTIPU

I

Victory tor Iran would be seen io theby both friends and detest for Che VS, causing farther questioning of US commitments and reliabilityriend

uritv /wren.

An Iranian rlctory could lead fairly rapidly tothe reand Bahrain wouldvulnerable. We would expect at least sometumvvtt to appease Tehran and to distanceth- us. Even so, their ability to withstandsnltUaml pressure would beIn Baghdad began working io concert with

0 Iran would be In an excellent position to increase its subversive activities In Saudi Arabia, particularly in the oU-ritHi Krtsfm Province, The Iranians could easily slip.,ndacrma Iraq's lone and poorly controlled border with Saudi Arabia.

0ontrol over Iraq's oil reserves aad its increased Kmpabll.tutAreeten Cuif regimes wouldisruptive *'ttectin: stability of world oil markets.

0 Iran would beuch better position to play a

disruptive ro|-Arab-Israeli affairs through3or-Un and Syria,

hia reeime In Baghdad could be expected to seize US officials is host age* In order to humiliate the ts Government. [

Iran's Goal

Iran's goal in thp upcoming offensive is toajor defeatand to threaten Al Basrah. Iran hopt. that the reoiw ui Iraqi President Saddam Husayn will begin to unravel under tht impactvy military casualties and large numbers of cIvlMan

'oU"secularicaliM Shia-jim- controlled by Tehran.

rnVUdrah 1ro* th* "orth and

I 0 bombard the city at close range..tha

e opposite the city. Al Basrah is

'. l>,tv- ''"ithanee, causing massive numbers of refugees

II. Wrl'IW'"ir'1l tokilometers from Al

Iraq's Capabilities

10thesenior Iraqi

k- ( Iraqi troop morale remains high. Iraq has

airwifcrw-to-Qt* advantage in armor and artillery. gence no Iranian deployments. NumerousIran. rtwB since Iraqeriesflmutirrlyf TWI

Iraqi Reaction to anlr^fcthrough

however, the Iraqi armyontinue fighting. Iraq would have Saddam's regime would be badly shaken, but

inrtes would need time to regroup* andresupplyUack- Iranian forces then might try to

, ', he"PP'? road to

and ' , ' c"or Wl oilfields

a^ees and defeated Iraqi troops to flood Into

f th*defeat east of Al Basrah, we Uary action. We would

0 Attack lnternaUon.il oil tankers calling at Khark Island: this step would Bivvnrl rero effect on Iran's war-making ability, but wouldthr- wer.-whlch Saddam hopes will bring more .iihslmtMl wurld ui-ssuft in bear on Tehran.

Use

missl In Iran.

and ^

weapons against

Fate

Sadrtam-mleht be ttw key to continued Baathist rule In

Baghdad. ssavmiiUon nr removaloup probably would trigger a

fro1.on.ivdl nlnstability in the capital. The army has been

iBIMll Aral: control of Iraq for over two

decaflV.,. mnvji,thr unraveling of the army, would

#I'm-hia-dominated Islamic

political infighting would be early utthtm believed the situation warranted er.inq Ihe Iranians. The dilemma for the

..idtitm would not bewill notuthlessly with suspected coup-plotters In iKttly to settle for less than the total itruelure in Baghdad if it believes that

1 iiivi mirinl inj.-wi.nl

Li >lClui

'i

fnplarp powur vmIi.ii. the past.cplaCt.-ttH.-nl<

Iraqi del.

_

Otherh.it Saddam Is tn sprinus trouble night Include:

0 Saudi Arable mi4 Kuwait, financial and oil aid to Baghdad and refuse to -iIKai (rdfKshlpmcnt of military equipment across their lm iluiyy ways.io jppease Iran.

0emonstrations nr riots, especially In the pilgrimage citiesind Haj.ii .

0 Abrogation by Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani of his recent ceasefire

it with 'xniiiam.

*_

0 Civil disturbances, fond riots, or other signsreakdown tn law ami tinVf, i'.ir'n'jljrly-tn Baghdad.

reakdown in discipline or an upsurge In desertions fromunits.

if Iraqinllapsoesult of an Iranian breakthrough, them| iRiinary Mluatioit in Iraq could unravelatter-of ilayvui- Wc os tuna to that Shla compriseercent of the rmy's onlr .iruild dissolve rapidly. There are an estinal<-il twoivinti in ilayhdad, mostly concentrated in slum areas oflv, win*f in civil disturbanceshey sensed an Iranianw.r, Irntnmi. Wine Iranian units are incapable of fighting their way to ila.jlidad il Ihi! Iraqi .irmcd forces remain intact, the Iranians might ben reach the Iraqi capital, overcoming sporadic resistancetiei.my unravlwl. '

Regional implicationsadical Regime

A radical Shiain Baqhdad would fundamentally alter the political equilibrium iniiMh- Loil, j'iu would prove highly destabilizing to US Interests innn. Nevertheless, we do not believe most regional states will olfir mil itupport iif they believed Saddam's regime were infmi.

leaders nf Saudi Arabii and the othertates could be expected to greatly mcn-ov irielr appealV to ihu US and the other Western powers to "do something" in stop tin- Ir.utijus. inu tiulf states, however, are also concerned that loo optti idciilif icatiun witn UieInviting In US militaryrovoke lr.iin.in wr.iiii .iini further subversion. Moreover, many Gulf leadersmi.-rpri-ii-.iuullback nf the US Marines from Lebanon as "abandonment" otir. ujuinnwiit toeleaguered central government, and womlor hnw Imm ih'- idld hy themonflict with the Iranians.

We believelf Arab regimes, barring overt Iranian aggression against them, would nm :iini their mil ilary'forces to help Iraq, nor would they invite in limy know their own forces would have no Impact on the Oultuiw ui th'- wai wri wuuhlincrease the risk of Iranian

retaliation. In fact, if the Gulf states believe an Iranian breakthrough at Al Basrahheinning of the end for Saddan's regime, they might cut of* financial and iiinl-.tual support for Iraq--hastening the very defeat they hope to avoid.

Over thr short run, the most serloas dangers to the Internal securityGull stairsan Iranian breakthrough probably are sporadicShia violence.hy.Iranian military victories, oriiarsh government reprisals against

dissidents, which in turn rnuld sharpen Sunni-Shla communal tensions. Kuwait and Bahrain fact' ihe -jicil.-it dangers. hia government in Baghdad, working in conctrlTwilh li.m. <mihl hwjin slipping arms and personnel across the border into Kuwait. Moreover, there0 Iraqis0 Iranians alreadywaii. sikh- nt norm likely would support subversive operations. Over bb percent uiative population is Shia and Manama continues toajor target illon-.ored subversion.

J_'i Hussein has provided support to Iraq throughout the war, but wouldamnd regular military units toaltering Saddam Huiayn. Mill,ypt were to send troops, he might feel obliged to offer token Jurdimaii lone...

K fnnstraliwdack of popular or military supporttly and protraued confrontation with Tehran. In addition, Cairo is currentlyby the. latest Libyan troublemaking in Sudan. esult, fcuyiii; uniikelyommit large numbers of ground forces to the fray, and incH llie capability toorce rapidly to Iraq capable of makingr more troops might be required. President Mubarak uiqhi otter to send military advisers to the Gulf states and appeal lo the Hi to increase its security assistance to these states. If an Iranian militaryntn Iraq appeared lo threaten Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, Cairn might send pilots to these states to bolster their air defenses oroken force.

Syrian President Assad might have to change policy abruptly If an Iranianof Baathist rule in Baghdad. Assad, whoivalath Vai ly. has supported Iran's war efforts against Iraq because ol personal haired for Saddam Husayn and traditional Syrian-Iraqi pnljtioil riv-iiry. d would like to see Saddam toppled, but replacedinvrnmenl susceptible to Syrianoutcome that is Niilikely ifoiansreakthrough.

Assad's taenia) umiwraMon with Iran in Lebanon and in the war against

IraqI utij.im nl.i. -in lerth* two States that would likely

come lo iheehcm were0undamentalist Shia government in Kaqlviail. ecular government and ruthlessly crushed an iipri'.iiiuenrfamental ist Muslim Brotherhood

Ho would tearore powerful Iran would turn its attention

toward jiawam.us,. ihall.n'ie Syria's roleeading Middle Eastern political ami miln.iry power, ina victorious Iran would want tojip.irt for Shian Lebanon--causing Syria additional problem',rmi <in vi easily without use of its bases in Syria

Or, Syrian-controlled parts of Lebanon. Assad would likely try to pose asoi thr (Witrder toajor source oftowothe expansion of Iranian influence In

the region.

oncerr.'. about thr Iran-Iraq war focus largely on thef Islamitinfluence, deteriorating economic prospectsawners, and security problems posed by the

ll three countries'

g advantage of the collapse of central authority

we believe turkey would move militarily

into Iraq. a limited to crushing the Kurds' military and

Iraqi territui nowavar. Iran

ndependento bet,eye Turkish forces would be reluctant.to remain on

ssary to accomplish these goals. an independent state or to becomean Iranian puppet. Turkey might choose this time to assert itsng jo part of northern Iraq-bringing Ankara

Intoinflict wilh Miran

n-Ir^.wdr "rvcdinterests by keepingightingtFerThasIraq covertly backed Iran's war effort, but

Israeli* questioning that policy. Israel wouldome to power in Baghdad, butt lu-wt tin- situation if Iran were toreakthrough. wwld pi ofer that law Iraqi .irmy held and were able to remaindrying the attention and resources of the Arab world to r.niIsrael might revert to trying to covertlyKurds as it did in theuppori

Impact on World Oil HarfcM

If Saddam escalates the war by carrying out his threats to attack Iran's Khark Island oil terminal rjr associated International tanker traffic, Iran could respond iniiinftii" ot way.. These range from relatively low-risk options suchmen?ia let forts* In the Gulf states or launching air attacks against Kuwait to mure high-risk options such as attacking Saudi Arabianil Urgi-ts. Iran probahly recognizes that the higher risk optionst prospect of confrontation with thesomething lerw-w, pr-.iPM;.ly wauIi* seek tn avoid. If Iran believed It could totally delistnortTehran might choose not to retaliate for an ,ir mi.-rnaiinr.jl oil tankers in order to avoid drawiny in

irin,.i, such Iraqind Iranian countermeasures arecaj',ennin niu-rn.itliwial nil markets, and to raiseoil pi nesnsinaiwe ratos in the Gulf. The potentialoilmi tccl, however, if any

interruptions innrts was confined only to Iran and Iraq. The ability of Saudi Arahi.1roi.iimie to use its excess oil producing capacity to ease upward pressure ran oil prices would he critical. It wouldajor

disruption of Saudi nil reports to substantially change this picture. Saudi Arabiap.i. ly hObarrels of oil tn floating storage around the wo Id fotaiur disruption of supplies from the Persian Gulf.

We can only spnniUte about the oil policieshia fundamentalist rcqim-iranian example suggests that both Iran and Iraq might kcup lU-irl-elnwttwir maximum capacity after the war. Iran under tjaoarlnilt-Mlntd to op.-ratc its oil industry with minimum Western assistance, and w*hiain Baghdad would pursue similar policies. n* war, we .'srlmate Iran would be able to comfortablyvc capacity ulillion barrels per day, while Baghdad's wouldMcwh.it lower. In the range. Iraq nowhmrm the Turkish pipellne--its only export outlet, and.. Iraq would have to rebuild'Mdui'i terminals in order to resume oil exports through the Gull . i thea would takeonths and wouldd tnxport capacity. In the first year or two following t ionm-lranian regime in Baghdad, we would expect both countries to liKtiii'.i- their imports somewhat to help rebuild their economies and financial'l.'hran has stated It would not demand war reparal lutw. Shia iMllii|nmi,ilt replaced Saddam.

In the lair, lgtui'. when wo ewet the oil narfcet to have tightened, however. Uh- two lumt.irwniilist Vila regimes would likely act in concert to restrict onlpat and Iu try inil prices higher. The regimes would chalUiiiiu -au.liin OPEC and view any price increases as damaging to the West andnd hence in their best interest. |

Soviet Attitudes and Uplines

The USSR does notundamentalist Islamic regime In Baghdad. The

Soviets have improvo! relations with Saddam Husayn over the past two years, while rotationsrai. have deteriorated. Saddam's replacementro-Iranian figure would dr.wiairtail Soviet Influence In Iraq and make theraness susceptible to Soviet inroads.

If an Iranian military breakthrough threatened the Iraqi regime,probably wnuld mnunt an emergency airlift of military suppliesand right In inirilitary maneuvers on their border They- unlildy to go as far as sending Soviet airbornen li.nj. bum. nf Itnm stops would have much effect onIranian ntlmiMvu, but Hnyrow might hope they would act asdet.rieiit on Vhran.

rn-Iranian Mria qcverrwnt replaced Saddam Husayn in Baghdad, the

d try Ui mat* Hit best of an unwelcome situation and minim wo strain'. win. - stUl tonr-ldersreater geopoliticalthan Iraq, nVspile current strained relations with Tehran. Ihe >vlt'ls wnglijhat an Iranian-installed regime in Baghdad would mil last.tut Mi.uiifavy dependence on Soviet weaponry would eventually Ip; iiiim lies with whatever regime II in power in

r.rf f"

Baghdad, if,hia regimeaghdad restructures its forces along Iranian iinfantry and militia forces rather than armor and aircralt--thVfi- wild he mi mure large sales of military equipment for the Soviets.

Implris,for the US

So long as Khoiwint lives, Iran is likely to consider itselfm.wH'.aHy, spiritually, and milwith the US. Khomeini remains dedicated toall US influence and presence in the region. e defeat nt Irag would represent the greatest victory forphilosophy of militant Shia Islam since he forced the Shah Into exileadiral Mita regime In Baghdad could be expected to seize USryte the US Government. "

A Shia regime in Baghdad would cause Iran's threat to the stability of the Middle Easi io grow dramatical ly. Most of Tehran's energies and attention probably would be,devoted, it least in the short term, to consolidating its victory in Iraq, hut we believe it would also step up its subversive and propaganda etiorts in Ihe ijulf. Khomeini has repeatedly stated that the next targets ol his revolution after Saddam are the conservative, oil-producing monarchies-i have supported Iraq's war effort.

KhomAfni charges that the Saudis and other 6ulf rulers are puppets of the US ond only si<,ypuwer with the nd of Washington. Attempting to subvert these slates himiM, irom lehran's viewpoint, have the dual appeal of continuing tu exportvolulion and of threatening key US interests in the region. lf states* turreni dilemma over whether to turn to the US for security assistance would lie greatly heightened and we would expect at least some ol litem io imve toonran and to distance themselves from the US. Even so, their ability to withstand Iranian subversion and political pressure is questionable, (hie of tne most serious implications for the US of an Iranian vir tury ing is that it could lead fairly rapidly to Iranian hegemony over the Gulfhole.

e

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