Part of the book “Lurking in Red Rose”

About Martyr Ali Sayyad Shirazi

Selected by Fatemeh Beheshti
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2024-4-17


Colonel Sayyad!

When he arrived at the Majlis (parliament), some time had passed since the start of the meeting. He felt that in those corridors of the building, the condition of his clothes and appearance burst everyone’s bubble. For a while, he thought about going back to the officer’s school to wear more suitable clothes; but suddenly he decided to enter the room with the same appearance. Anyway, the country was at war, everyone should have understood this. Accidentally, some of the commanders of the armies operating in the recent operations were also there and complained about his appointment and considered the command of the force beyond his stature! Some of them, contrary to the customs of the army and the system, could not even hide their displeasure with this issue in the presence of the heads of the country. I went to the meeting. Officials were present there. Four army division commanders were also present in the meeting. When I entered, I said to myself: How should I deal with these? Because they were older than me and I was practically a major. It is true that they gave me the temporary rank of colonel, but in the army, the culture of rank is important. Even one day of seniority is important and one who is more senior than the other feels privileged, let alone if they are a few years older and have completed more courses!
Four army commanders were there, and these four, naturally, were colonels. Some of them were at the retirement level. First, I thought what to do with these four people so that they didn't ignore me in the first encounter. I did not have a degree and on the other hand, had a gun with me. I went inside. I decided to say hello to all of them; contrary to army regulations, they must salute the commander. I said to myself: “I say hello; I don't have a degree, who cares!”
I said hello and got four answers. Psychologically, the four answers were as follows: one gave a very loving greeting; that I am friends with you. That person's division was under my command when I was in Kurdistan and I had appointed him. As a result, he answered my greetings with a history of friendship and felt affection.
A commander came and greeted. I looked at his face. He was about fifty-three or fifty-four years old; Martyr Brigadier "Niaki", commander of "92nd Armored Division of Ahvaz". He was so bound by military rules and regulations that since I was the commander of the ground force, he answered my salute according to the rules. The military salute was firm but dry. There was no heartfelt affection in that greeting. Since he was a serviceman, he did his duty according to the regulations. That is, he had convinced himself that he should answer the salute with a strong military one.
The third figure, with a state of contempt and a state that was too difficult for him, reached out and shook hands. There were no sign of love or military discipline in it.
The fourth turned his back to me and turned his gaze to that side. He pretended not to see me at all. It was clear that there was a war going on inside him and it was difficult for him to even respond to my salute. That he feels that I have become the new commander of the ground forces and that he feels that he is obliged to exercise military salutation as one of the commanders of the army. He didn't care.
All this happened in one moment; But it was a good start for me. The first benefit I got from this scene was that I said: Sirs, the army commanders, come to my office tomorrow.
I should have revised the appointments earlier and seen who work with me.
They asked: "When shall we come?"
I said: "You and you at six o'clock, you and you at seven o'clock."
I classified them based on how they treated me. The spirit of the first and the second was such that I felt we could work together. I had to talk to the other two people separately so that they would not interfere psychologically.[1]

The next day, early in the morning, the new commander of the force was in his office in Lavizan. Before he arrived in Tehran, some of his friends had set up a center and had done some preparatory work.
Maybe at that moment, Ali remembered the day he had come here for the first time. General Owaisi, the commander of the force, asked him to attend because of his success in America. Ali had come to Tehran from Kermanshah, but he stayed behind the door of the general’s room for three consecutive days from morning to evening to see him for just a few moments!
Colonel Lotfi and Colonel Niaki came at six a.m. As he had predicted, they had no problem to cooperate with him. At the order of the new commander of the force, they returned to their units, the 16th and 92nd divisions. Then the next two commanders came. He said: "Gentlemen, you are more or less familiar with my state and mood, you also know the situation of the war and the fronts. Are you willing to cooperate with me?"
The same person who had not paid attention the day before said in one sentence: "What was wrong with the Imam to give you the rank of brigadier general and after one or two months, give us the rank of brigadier general; in response to the fact that we toiled and worked on the front?"
I saw that the topic of his conversation was completely different from my question. The meeting lasted some an hour and a half. I said: "I'm very sorry, I mean something else."
God helped me say something. Things like: I'm looking for a job and I'm not looking for a degree or position at all. We are all focused on stopping the enemy. Our state of mind is to drive out the enemy. You are saying things that I do not understand - I understand from a military point of view, because I am a military man - but at this time, I am not in this mood. Don't say these things at all.
The same person who did not pay attention said: "Let me go and work in the joint staff." I can't work here."
"I send you with respect," I said.
"I'll work with you if you want," said another, who was more moderate.
I did not want him to work. I had asked about his background. He did not want to do the mission at the front. I quickly replaced him and introduced Colonel Hasani Sa’adi as the Commander of the 21st Hamzeh Division, who worked very well.
After that meeting, on the first day of his work as a force commander, Colonel Sayyad went to Khuzestan to closely visit the operational area of Samen al-A’emmeh (AS) and the combatants of the 27th Khorasan Division who had participated in this operation.
He went to Dezful in the same trip and visited the headquarters of the ground force in the south. It was in a tire factory and at a depth of 14 meters and extremely strong and reliable in terms of security. But he did not like it there. In a meeting with staff members and operational officers, he said two things. First, this headquarters must be moved to Ahvaz in two days. He believed that: "The closer the command post is to the units in the front line, in addition to raising the morale of the combatants, it causes the commander to have accurate information about the fronts and the situation of the combat units and to create a closer relationship with the combatants."[2]

Another thing is that on that day, he asked them to plan for the future operation, emphasizing that: "From now on, the operation will be carried out with the full participation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), from the planning stage to the implementation, And by mobilizing popular forces, the IRGC is able to provide the necessary force to carry out large-scale offensive operations, and therefore, by providing sufficient combat power obtained from the participation of popular forces and the army, it becomes possible to carry out large-scale and decisive offensive operations against the enemy.[3]
Colonel Sayyad called this combination the sacred integration. He strongly believed in this plan and considered it the key to the success of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the enemy. He had already experienced this unity in Kurdistan and had witnessed its miracle. Therefore, after that, whenever there was talk of a plan to deal with the Iraqi army, he emphasized on this combination and tried to include it in his plans. He proposed a joint operation between the army and the IRGC to defeat the siege of Abadan at a time when none of the high-ranking commanders of the army could accept. They, who were mostly friends and loyalists of the Islamic Republic of Iran, did not believe in the effectiveness of the popular forces, the IRGC and the Basij, and said that in this case, we would fail from the very beginning! What they meant was that the existence of popular forces and IRGC forces among the army would cause the army forces to lose their efficiency and disorder would prevail over them. However, the Operation Samen al-A’emmeh (AS), which was carried out with the presence of units of the 77th Khorasan Division and 15 battalions of the IRGC, proved the accuracy of Colonel Sayyad's belief. In this operation, for the first time in the one-year war, Iran won a great victory.
Another important action of Colonel Sayyad was that he made some changes in the top ranks of the command in the ground force. This was a very difficult and sensitive task. He still remembered that a year ago due to the change of two army commanders in the Kurdistan region, he was criticized so much that finally led to his dismissal, but this time he was not afraid of that bitter experience and courageously, appointed all the motivated and worthy young people in high command positions and got results. But the use of young forces did not mean ungratefulness to the experiences of senior experts. The seniors of the ground force consider respecting the expertise and experiences of the veterans as one of the factors of Colonel Sayyad's success.[4]
Less than twenty days after his appointment, the ground force operation base in the south became the gathering center of the great masters of war. By the order of the colonel, the Command and Headquarters Faculty was temporarily closed[5] and its scientific professors came to the front to put their scientific experiences into practice at the command headquarters. Their first mission was to plan ten major operations.
Now all eyes were on the fronts and the people were waiting hard to hear the news of the victories of the army and the Islamic Corps. And Colonel Sayyad Shirazi was subjected to an important historical test. Could he come out of this test with honor and his name remain in the history of Iran?

 

Source: Momeni, Mohsen, Lurking in Red Rose, A narration of the life of martyr Major General Ali Sayyad Shirazi, Sooreh Mehr, 1382 (2003), P. 228.

 

 

 [1] In his daily notes, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani wrote about that day, “On Friday 10th of Mehr (October 1) … at 5 PM, the Supreme Council of Defense held a meeting in the Majlis... Several army commanders were unhappy with the appointment of Mr. Sayyad Shirazi as the commander of the ground forces... The commander of the air force and Mr. Rayshahri came and discussed about the air force and the plan of operations and clean-up until ten o'clock at night and their differences with the ground force”. Overcoming the Crisis, P. 311

[2] The book “Operation Tariq al-Qods” by Brigadier General Masoud Bakhtiari (the operational officer of Karbala Headquarters during the operation)

[3] Ibid.

[4] Part of the interview with Brigadier General Lotfi

[5] Apparently, it has had no students at that time.



 
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