Sept. 22 marked the 34th anniversary of Iraq attacking Iran across its western border, starting a bloody war between the two countries. The occasion, as always, received a great deal of attention from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and other conservative media outlets. The costly and devastating war is rarely, however, examined with the nuance it deserves. Criticism of the events of that era only comes up when top leaders reveal details about it in attacking one another in the media over personal differences.
The eight-year war (1980-1988) was in many ways a unique event in Iranian history. One of its most important aspects was probably the massive participation of the Iranian people, from all the different regions of the country and levels of society. This year, the Organization for Safe-keeping and Publishing the Values of the Holy Defense, created after the war and operating under the supervision of the Iranian armed forces, reported, “During the war, 217,000 military personnel, 2,130,000 members of the Basij and 200,000 members of the Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and police forces defended the country against the enemy.”