General Trinh is delivering papers
by: Walter Guest
Ahmed returned to Iran with thousands of veteran fighters. The Iranian army was still strong but there were signs that the power of the mullahs was weakening. Ahmed was forced to play a waiting game.
The rebellion in southern Iraq alarmed the Iranians. Almost all the remainder of the Iraqi army was shifted to that region to fight their own people. Many Iranian army units were shifted to the southern border with Iraq to balance the forces there. Who could know what the madman Hussein might do"
Other Iranian troops were sent to the Afghanistan border to cope with the unsettled situation there. The Russian hold was weakening but was being replaced by orthodox Sunni Muslims, who were blood enemies of the Shi-ite Iranians.
In addition to these problems, there was some turmoil in the officer corps. There were reports that some high ranking officers had been shot. The army appeared demoralized and leaderless.
"The time is ripe," Yasin told Ahmed. "They are weak, we are strong. We can throw them out."
"The time is good," Ahmed agreed. "I will send out word. We will assemble our forces."
"But how long will that take?"
"Two or three months. Then we will be ready."
"Everything could change in two or three months. The Iranians are weak now. We must strike now."
"We need more men than we have now. We don't have enough weapons and ammunition. We need artillery."
"We Kurds have never needed artillery to fight Iranians."
"And we seldom beat them. When we had artillery in Iraq, we won many battles."
It was the first time the brothers had argued since they were little boys. They sat in silence for several minutes, staring at each other.
"You must trust me in these things," Ahmed said.
"But you must trust me," Yasin replied. "I know the situation here better than you."
Ahmed considered that. It was a valid point.
"Do you have a plan?" Ahmed asked.
"I think we are both right," Yasin said. "You can send out the word to assemble your forces. But we can also attack now with what we have. Do you agree we can drive the Iranians back with the forces we now have?"
"Yes," Ahmed replied. "We can drive them back."
"Then would it not be better to do that first, while the Iranians are weak. Surely, we can hold them off for two or three months."
Ahmed frowned. "We can try."
The attack was made and all went well. The Iranians were driven back a hundred miles. The neighboring Khans joined with Ahmed and Yasin.
But within a month the Iranians counterattacked with many tanks and armored vehicles. The Kurds on their horses were no match for them. They had to pull back into the hills. The Iranians sealed every road to Iraq over which artillery could pass.
The rush of Iranian armor to the Iraqi border, however, caused several incidents with the Iraqi army. There was some shooting across the border and the two nations nearly went to war again.
That gave Ahmed an idea.
"We have lost," Yasin said when next they were in council. "It is all my fault. You are the soldier," he told Ahmed, "I am the administrator. We must stay in our own fields."
"It took many years to gain what we gained in Iraq," Ahmed said. "We cannot lose here in a month. This is the beginning and nothing more. But from this time on you, Yasin, must be with me in the field and become a soldier. I must be with you at home and become an administrator. When you learn more about fighting, your advice will be valuable. And you must show me the work here so I can perhaps be of help."
Yasin thought Ahmed's meaning was clear. The Khan would be taking over all the duties of the Khan. He had waited until they were in the middle of the council to make his wishes known. Yasin's humiliation was great but his face showed no expression as he said, "It shall be so."
Two years went by while the Kurds recovered some strength. They were years with the brothers being hunted men by the Iranians but the acknowledged leaders by their fellow Kurds. The brothers followed the external world politics because, their people being a minor pawn in world happenings, needed that information to form local tactics.
"Now I have a plan," Ahmed said, "to draw the army away so we can open the border roads for our artillery. We need the uniforms of thirty or forty Iranian soldiers."
The uniforms were easily obtained, although some were punctured and stained with blood. Ahmed and Yasin, with fifty men and extra horses, rode for five days to the south. They kept to the caravan trails, away from the main roads and Iranians.
On the night of the fifth day, Ahmed found the place he wanted. There was a small Iranian outpost facing the Iraqi border. Just across the border was a larger Iraqi post with a barrack.
Ahmed had his men put on the uniforms they had brought. Some of the men without uniforms blocked the road on the Iranian side while others stayed with the horses.
It was a simple thing to surprise first two Iranian border guards, then five Iraqi border guards. They were dispatched silently without a shot being fired. Then Ahmed gave his instructions.
"We are going to attack the Iraqi barrack. Not one word of Kurdish will be spoken. If you cannot speak Farsi, do not speak at all. Some of the Iraqis must be left alive to tell who attacked them. I want no Kurd left alive over there to tell them a different story. Do you understand?"
They all understood.
The attack would have gone better if it hadn't been necessary to leave some Iraqis alive. The few that escaped cut down three of Ahmed's men. Four more were lost in the original assault. Several others were wounded. All the Iraqis were killed except the few that were allowed to escape.
Ahmed examined the pockets and persons of his dead. Two of them looked too Kurdish to leave. They brought them back for secret burial. The others were left where they fell as further testimony that it was an Iranian raid. One man was too badly wounded to make the ride back to the north. He looked fearful when Ahmed examined his wound.
"Will you shoot me, oh great Khan?"
"No," Ahmed told him. "You will live to fight another day. Can you ride as far as the caravan trail?"
"Yes," the man said, though he wasn't sure.
"We will leave you there," Ahmed said. "Our brothers will care for you."
The caravan trails were used solely by migratory tribes of Kurds.
With help, the wounded man was able to ride that far. They left him with a small band of Kurds that was camped there. The rest of the group rode back to the Khaneh area.
Two days after Ahmed's raid, a battle raged in the south. Neither side would report it as a resumption of the war. They were careful to keep a news blackout, but nevertheless, there was some serious fighting.
Most of the Iranian armor was pulled out of Kurdistan to fight in the south. But even the small amount left was too much for men without some kind of artillery. Ahmed needed a way to destroy the armor so he could open the roads for that artillery.
The brothers spent more time as fugitives in their own land. Many of their fighting men melted away. A leader who does not bring victories loses esteem. At the same time, the Kurds Ahmed had helped in northern Iraq became powerful. Why could they not help him now"
"Ah," he was told, "the situation here is delicate. A move one way or another might bring the house of cards crashing down. Your time will come. You will see. When that time comes, you will have our full support."
So Ahmed knew he would get nothing from the leadership there. But there were other sympathetic Kurds in Iraq who had access to artillery and some armor. And the fools in Tehran were in a verbal war with the Americans, who now occupied all of Iraq. The Americans were strong enough to march to Tehran. Their strength was in the center. If they marched, Ahmed had to control the north or be left out. To control the north he had to open the roads now controlled by the Iranian armor.