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Khamenei Hails Ceasefire With Iraq 40 Years Ago

IRAN -- Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei delivers a live speech during a video conference on the occasion of the annual military parade marking the Iraqi invasion of 1980, and defense week, in Tehran, September 21, 2020

On Monday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praised the eight-year Iran-Iraq war as "one of the most rational events in Iran's history" and described accepting the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 598, which ended the war, as "the (one of) most rational decisions made."

UNSC Resolution 598 was adopted unanimously on July 20, 1987. It called for an immediate ceasefire between Iran and Iraq. Iraq endorsed it immediately, but it took Iran nearly a year to accept it. The founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, famously said at the time that accepting the UNSCR 598 was like drinking from a poisoned chalice.

In a video speech commemorating the anniversary of the devastating war with Iraq, Khamenei told a group of the military that the whole eight-year war with Iraq was a "rational phenomenon," that should be kept away from "distortion."

The more we get away from the Iran-Iraq war, Khamenei argued, the closer we should get to it in terms of knowledge because "distortive hands are lying in ambush."

"Some accuse the Sacred Defense's (Iran-Iraq War) people of recklessness," he said. "This is absolutely not the case. Even accepting the resolution in that circumstances that the Imam (Khomeini) interpreted as drinking the cup of poison was wise. If he were not prudent and wise, the Imam would not have done it. We watched closely and saw what was going on. The move was sagacious."

With more than one million casualties and nearly one trillion dollars of damages on Iran's infrastructure, the eight-year war was one of the most devastating of its kind in the twentieth century.

About sixty thousand Iranian soldiers and civilians were also killed or wounded in chemical attacks, which many individuals and families are still suffering from.

During the early years of the war, and following an initial defeat, Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein withdrew his forces beyond the international borders and offered a ceasefire.

Many Iranian military commanders and dozens of politicians believed that the ceasefire offer should be accepted, and the war ended. At the same time, Iran had the upper hand and was in military superiority.

Nevertheless, Khomeini adamantly insisted on carrying on the war, praising it as a "blessing."

Echoing Khomeini's comment, Khamenei also called the war a "divine gift" with "numerous achievements" for Iran, before accusing the United States of initiating the war.

"The U.S. and other powers started the war to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but they were defeated. Iran's victory in this war is as clear as the existence of the sun," Khamenei claimed without elaboration.

During his speech, Khamenei underlined the need to counter the "distortion movement," which aims to spread misinformation about Iranian principles and sow doubts among the youth, who were born in the last years of the war or after it and thus have no memory of the war.

Earlier, in unprecedented remarks, the Coordinating Deputy of the Islamic Republic's Army (Artesh), Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, had bitterly expressed his dissatisfaction with the country's state-controlled media for downplaying the regular Army's role.

The Iranian government's official news agency, IRNA, published a short video in May of its interview with Sayyari titled "Untold stories of the Army by General Amir Sayyari," which was removed from IRNA's website shortly after its publishing.

In his interview with IRNA, Sayyari criticized the Army's absence from the state propaganda, including movies, while religious men are falsely presented as "heroes" who were capable of wiping out a division with only one single machine gun. If that was the case, Sayyari quipped, "Why did the war take eight years?"