Spot Anything Questionable?

Early in the Iran-Iraq War, an AK-47-toting Iranian soldier watches smoke rising from burning oil refineries near the Iranian city of Abadan. The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, armed and supported by the United States, used mostly M16s.  <em>Photo: Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis</em>

Early in the Iran-Iraq War, an AK-47-toting Iranian soldier watches smoke rising from burning oil refineries near the Iranian city of Abadan. The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, armed and supported by the United States, used mostly M16s. Photo: Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis

From Wired.

UPDATE: The big thing I was questioning was “The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, armed and supported by the United States, used mostly M16s.” I’m unaware of M16s being present in either country in any significant numbers, let alone arming “most” of one nation’s army.

Though DJ Elliot comments that the Iranians had M14s.

Remember, the US had been arming Iran (not Iraq) until the overthrow of the Shah the year before the war started. MO readers will know that Iran still has at least a few F-14 Tomcats in flying condition.

Comments

  1. Questionable?

    Errrr, Is there a figure of Jesus Christ hidden in the burning oil smoke?

    If thiere is I can’t spot it.

  2. Are you SURE of the time/date when this photo was taken?
    Things that make you go hmmmmmm. . . .

  3. I simply copied the photo and caption from Wired. I’m wondering if anyone else thinks anything is odd about the photo or caption.

  4. They burned oil fields during the Iran / Iraq War? Why?

    I don’t believe the caption about Iraqis using M16’s. Way too sensitve to sand for a poorly trained army to use in those conditions.

    Where is the rest of the army? No tank tracks or anything.

  5. Even if it were true- that Iraqis “used mostly M16s”- I don’t understand what it would have to do with the photo.

    Interesting aside- I met an Iranian once who was issued a G3 during the war. Paraphrasing, he said where he was operating was actually more temperate/moist, and G3s would rust/foul quickly without disciplined maintenance.

    So I guess the caption could read, “…an AK-47-toting Iranian soldier watches smoke rising from burning oil refineries near the Iranian city of Abadan. The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, armed and supported by the United States, used mostly M16s, while the Iranians, armed by the Germans, used some G3s.”

  6. Someone is clueless.

    Yes, the US supported Saddam Hussein. But we didn’t sell the Iraqis M16s then (or they’d still have had them for the first gulf war 3 years later). We’re selling them M16s now.

  7. “…an AK-47-toting Iranian soldier watches smoke rising from burning oil refineries near the Iranian city of Abadan. The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, armed and supported by the United States, used mostly M16s, while the Iranians, armed by the Germans, used some G3s. The United States also supported Iran with limited military sales prior to their Revolution, while the USSR supported all comers at various times, never mind the black sales by other companies through shadow companies operated in Israel and the Arab world. Little of that has anything to do with the photo. I like eggs.”

  8. Both sides used AKs. Although M14s were also in the Iranian inventory.

    Iran was the US armed country in those days. Iran was only cut off from US weapons in 1979.

    The only US weapons Iraq had in those days were captured Iranian…

    Iraq was a USSR sponsered nation then. They did not use US weapons.

    And neither side used M16s in that war.

  9. LOL. I knew DJ would make a list of stuff.

    Yeah, guys, a number of you mentioned the M16s. Though I’m sure someone had some M16s back then, I don’t know of either side having them in any significant numbers let alone one side using “mostly M16s”.

    And, as alluded to by DJ, the Iranians had more US hardware than the Iraqis due to our arming the Shah’s government. Who had the F-14 Tomcats?

    I didn’t know that M14s were used by the Iranians, though. Was it present in numbers?

  10. I hadn’t heard before that M16 or M14s were present in any significant number. I don’t recall ever seeing any photos showing Iranians troops armed with those rifles.

  11. As with many progressive sites, Wired has an editorial policy of not letting the facts or accuracy get in the way of a good story (or caption). .)

  12. Anyone who says that during Saddam’s regine rule the Iraqi’s were armed with U.S. weapons is either a fool or a liar!

  13. 1. the Iranians had their own factory for the G3A6.
    2. The Iraqis made their own AK called the “Tabuk”, using imported machinery (probably Yugoslav).

    Cheers

  14. I’ve never seen a picture of an Iranian with a G3. The G3 is far more reliable than the M16 but it is still a rifle for a professional army – not semi-trained 3rd world soldiers. It needs regular cleaning, lubrication, and occasional attention from an armorer. Re-assembling that roller-bolt is a royal bitch.

  15. Bram,
    Yeeeaah…some Bundeswehr guys showed me how to take down a G3 once. As soon as he took those 2 pins out of the rec and fitted them into the matching holes in the butt so they didn’t get lost, I had seen enough. It was apparent very quickly that the weapon wasn’t for Joe Grabass just off the street.

  16. Not sure what the picture of, but a quick look on the web seems to show that the refinery is located in the city appears to be centralized. The view in the picture looks to widely scattered to be what it says to be.

  17. I have often watched videos of Iranian soldiers with the G3. And local variations of the AK.

    Cheers

  18. The US never supported Saddam’s Iraq. Iraq under Saddam was a Soviet client state, trained and equipped with Soviet weapons and gear especially during the Iran/Iraq war. They bought some French stuff later.

    The idea that the US ‘supported” Iraq under Saddam is a Big Lie. We helped them once when it looked like the Iranians might pull off a surprise attack and told them about it, not because we ‘suupported” Iraq, but because we wanted the fighting to continue. We did the same for Iran and sold them F-14 parts.

  19. Neither side used the M-16. Iraq used several versions of the AK-47. Regular Iranian forces, who still retained some measure of professionalism, were generally armed with G-3s. The Rev Guards and Basij forces, whose brilliant tactics consisted of yelling “Allah akbar!” and making frontal assaults on fortified positions, were issued AK-47s. As Dave said, Saddam was equipped first by the Soviets, and later, to a lesser extent, by the French. He also bought some first-rate 155mm towed artillery, the GHN-45 and the G-5, from Austria and South Africa, respectively, as well as armored vehicles from China and Brazil. All I gotta say is I’m glad I wasn’t the Iraqi Army maintenance chief, who had to keep all that assorted hardware working.

    It’s most accurate to say that the U.S. opposed Iran, not that we supported Iraq. The U.S. Government at that time recognized Saddam for what he was–a brutal, mercurial dictator who could not be regarded as a reliable ally in any sense of the word. The very limited U.S. aid Iraq got was targeted against Iran, not given to Saddam for his own sake.

  20. Well DAVE,

    The FACTS ARE the U.S. DID help Saddam regime during the last part of the Iran-Iraq war. Had we not, Iran
    would NOT have FINALY agreed to stop the fighing and not continuing with their plans to first take Iraq and then ALL of the area to the West & South of Iran.

    As “HELPED” and “SUPPORTED” basically mean the same thing, I submit WE DID “Support” Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War.

    And, GOOD ON US FOR DOING SO!

    Neil C. Reinhardt

  21. The media’s job is not to inform us, it is to indoctrinate us.

    During WWII the media indoctrinated Americans into supporting the fight against the Axis.

    During the Vietnam War the media indoctrinated Americans into supporting the North Vietnamese invasion of the South. Ever since then we’ve been f*cked.

  22. Neil C. Reinhardt:

    The US did not support Saddam. Period. I spent the last year of Iran-Iraq war in the Gulf and we were ready to shoot at both sides.

    What threw the balance of the Iran-Iraq war was Hezbollah kidnaping and killing four USSR embassy officials in Lebanon in 1986.

    In addition to Spetznaz dealing with Hezbollah directly,
    the USSR reduced the price of the tanks sold to Iraq,
    increased the debt they were willing to allow Saddam, and
    started donating tanks from storage.

    Iraq took delivery of over 2,000 Soviet tanks in the last two years of the war (Fall 1986-Fall 1988). Then there was all the rest of the equipment from the USSR.

    It is not smart to PO the Russians. Even by proxy…

    The Iran-Iraq war was a Red-on-Red fight from the US perspective. We did not want either to win. We did not support either side. Period.

  23. Poor DJ Elliott thinks because he spent some time in a area he knows everything there is to know about it.

    IF instead of dashing off a reply to me and proving how much he does not know, had he had actually done some in-depth research, he will find U,S, assistance to Saddam during the Iraq – Iran War was WELL DOCUMENTED.

    The reason Mr Elliott, Iraq was finally able to force Iran to stop the war, was due to the intelligence the Americans supplied to Iraq. We used our spy satellites, radio intercepts and intelligence gained by other means to inform Saddam’s regime the location of Iranian assets and movement of Iranian forces.

    IF Mr Elliott will DO the research, he will find I am correct! DOUBLE PERIOD!

  24. Hey Freedom Now,

    You really NEED to spend some time FREEING your mind from it wallowing around in the deep dark caves of massive IGNORANCE!

    Your comment: “During WWII the media indoctrinated Americans into supporting the fight against the Axis.
    IS one of the most stupid, asinine and ludicrous things I have ever read!

    LOOK CHILD, we did NOT NEED ANYONE indoctrinating us to fight the Axis and WE DAMN WELL do not need anyone indoctrinating us to fight Moslem Terrorists either.

  25. Mr Elliot,

    This is one of the 4,190,000 “goggle” entries i got when I searched for” “US Support of Iraq during the Iraq – Iran War”

    The United States supported Iraq during the Iran

  26. “The United States supported Iraq during the Iraq War as a counterbalance to post -revolutionary Iran. This support included several billion dollars worth of direct economic aid, the sale of dual-use technology, non-U.S. origin weaponry, military intelligence, Special Operations training, and direct involvement in warfare against Iran as well.

    Support from the U.S. for Iraq was not a secret and was frequently discussed in open session of the Senate and House of Representatives, although the public and news media paid little attention.

    On June 9, 1992, Ted Koppel reported on ABC’s Nightline, ‘It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam’s Iraq into the power it became.’

    Both the ‘Reagan & Bush administrations permitted’ and ‘frequently encouraged’ the flow of money, agricultural credits, dual- use technology, as well as chemicals, and weapons to Iraq.”

    The Wikipedia article provided sources, facts and figures for those interested in further research..

  27. As an Iranian citizen, I just wanted to let you know that the Iranian Army still use G3A6 however, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard use AK-47. I served a two year mandatory service in the Iranian Army back in 2006. They trained the soldiers with G3 riffles which date back to 1975. I am not sure if they still use the same riffle because I am not living in Iran anymore.

    Regarding the foreigners support to Saddam Hussein, yes, the U.S. supported Saddam by giving him intelligence reports of the Iranian Army movements, location and etc. While other Western countries like Germany equipped his army with chemical and biochemical weapons.

    Finally, it is not the Gulf, it is PERSIAN GULF!

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