For the Iranian nation, each January brings along the harrowing memory of the butchering of 68 special-needs and middle-school children in western Iran by a heavily Western-attired former Iraqi military raining down firepower on the country.
The victims perished instantaneously after the then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces struck two adjacent schools in the city of Boroujerd on January 10, 1987.
The ground-to-ground projectiles ripped through the buildings as the students were observing their regular afternoon-time ceremony, when they would queue up and listen to Qur’an recitation.
The fatalities were among the roughly 40,000 people who died at the hands of the invading military in the penultimate year of an eight-year war it had imposed on the Islamic Republic.
The Iraqi forces managed to cause a death toll of such sheer size by mobilizing almost entirely against the astonishingly-disadvantaged Iranian servicemen and not hesitating to lay waste to purely residential areas.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif once famously described the difference between the Iranian forces’ level of preparedness and equipment and the upper hand that the aggressor had.
We did not have “a single missile to retaliate so that maybe Saddam Hussein would stop,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in September 2017. “We went to one country after another, begging, begging, I am insisting, begging for a single Scud missile to defend our people,” he added back then.
None of these, however, discouraged Iranians from holding onto their belief of eventual divine victory — something they had been clearly assured of by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini. Nor did they despair of trying to preserve the Islamic Republic that had been born out of their 1979 Islamic Revolution under Imam Khomeini’s leadership.
Towards the end of the war, the Iranian military even managed to start developing its missile program, a crucial part of the Islamic Republic’s burgeoning defense power.
Now, 34 years on, every single innocent life that were snuffed out at the hands of the Western-backed Iraqi dictator keeps reminding the nation of the need to keep invigorating its deterrence might and defensive prowess against potential aggressors.
“Now you want us to get a few dollars…to abandon defending our people?” Zarif also chidingly told the CNN in that interview in reference to pressure by the United States and its allies on the Islamic Republic to subject its missile power to negotiation.
Washington’s allies keep bellyaching about Iran’s missile tests, although the country’s projectiles are all conventional in nature.
The US and Washington-aligned European states sustain the pressure at the same time as they pump billions of dollars in state-of-the-art military equipment into the Middle East, including Iran’s neighbors, each and every year.