by Red MacDonald
Copyright © 2013 Red MacDonald
All Rights Reserved.
The Faithful, North African and Middle Eastern Islamic nations, are plotting to seize the oil resources of the Middle East. By controlling the earth's oil and its major trade routes, they plan to bring the world to its knees. Then, when the entire world is kneeling, the Faithful of Allah will read to them from the Koran, preaching the message of Islam, the True Faith. The Faithful will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. But how far will they go? And how many lives will it cost?
9 Turning Points
Terror! The only thing Hammedyanni had felt was sheer blinding terror. Who wouldn't have?
Invisible fighters hit them first. The Air Force had told him that they had new ways to detect them. One of them had tried to explain it. He had said something about being able to see their speed. Tavid hadn't understand it then and still didn't. The man had said it was like seeing a shadow. Even if you couldn't see the man, you knew where he was by watching his shadow. Obviously, their shadow watching hadn't worked.
They had told him that Ha-Il was a secure air base. They had shown him two squadrons of MiG-31s and a squadron of Su-27s parked in reinforced concrete revetments. They had shown him their four missile batteries and their anti-aircraft guns. They had assured him that they could defeat anything the Americans could fly against them.
They were wrong! The first flights of Americans came in bombing and strafing. There was no warning at all. They came in low and fast using cluster bombs. He had heard about them and had seen their terrible effects, but he had never experienced them before.
He'd hidden under his desk until they had passed, and then ran to the door. Just as he turned the handle, the second raid arrived. His beautiful supply depot was smashed. Supplies that he had spent weeks of great effort to amass were either blown up or burned down in just a matter of minutes. He shook his fist at them, but they only bombed more and more. He took refuge in a drainage ditch filled with odious, smelly waste.
When the raid seemed over, he'd run as fast as he could to the motor pool. He had to get away! Two drivers were lurking beneath a truck. He'd shouted at them, but they would not move. He'd kicked at them, but they only withdrew further beneath its bulk. Finally, he pulled out his service pistol and threatened them with instant death. Reluctantly, they climbed aboard, and the truck started to move.
The third raid arrived without warning. Buildings burst into flame as bombs fell everywhere. The building they had just left seemed to jump into the air engulfed in flames and then settled back down in a pyre of death. It was awful! On and on it went until he thought he would go mad.
Then it stopped, and he heard the one noise that frightened him more than any other. Helicopters! Hundreds of helicopters. They were everywhere. Some were shooting, but most were landing to disgorge thousands of troops.
Americans! He had to get away. He had to warn his commanders of the Americans. He had to go to Ratha as quickly as possible and warn them. "Go!" he'd screamed, "You stupid peasants, drive! Drive as fast as you dare, and then drive faster!"
The truck had lurched and bucked its way down the mountain side. The drive itself had frightened him, but not like the bombing and the helicopters. The truck slowed.
"What are you doing? Drive on!"
"We cannot. We are out of fuel."
"Surely, you have extra. Each truck has two extra cans of twenty-five liters. We will use them."
"Yes, we know about them, and we were about to use them. Please climb out. It is unsafe for anyone to sit in the truck while it is refueling."
It was a reasonable safety precaution. He had climbed down and stepped away from the truck. He remembered looking up towards Ha-Il. The dark shapes of airplanes and helicopters hovered and swooped over the supply depot he had so lovingly and carefully built. Weeks of effort and countless hours of work were all gone. His greatest achievement had disappeared in just a few minutes under a rain of bombs. How would he ever rebuild it?
He'd heard the crunch of sand behind him and turned around just as a mighty fist had struck him in the face. He'd fallen over backwards with the two men on top of him. He'd fought savagely, and then they were gone. He'd looked up. One was standing with a pistol in his hand. He had reached for his own, but the holster was empty!
"Yes, General, this is your gun, and now it is mine. The truck is refueled, and we will be going now. You will not. You, we will leave here, in the desert to die of thirst. You are on the edge of the Nafud, where many have died. You will join a long line of your ancestors and others who have invaded our lands.
"Do you know why we will leave you to die this slow and painful death? Do you remember the old man and the boy you shot? That old man was my father, and the boy was my elder son. I knew Allah would grant me revenge, so I have awaited this day. I curse you, General, and your whole race. May Allah destroy you all!"
That was two days ago. He had survived for two days in the desert before. Allah had preserved him then, and would preserve him now. All he had to do was continue along this road. This road would lead him to Turabah, where he would be refreshed. Then, he would find those two and shoot them. No, he would question them first. He would learn of their entire family, and he would have them all shot. Traitors! Infidels! But, first he would have to get to Turabah.
The mountain was very steep. Each step was a labor, and the thought of the next one a trial of his will. And, the thirst! He had tried the old remedy of sucking upon a stone to increase his own sputum, but that no longer worked. He tried to look ahead, hoping to see the end of his climb, but there was no end. Twice before he had climbed what had appeared to be the summit, only to see the road double back, ascending yet another rise. Still, he must go on. Allah would not let him die in this way!
And, the nights! Thirst was his constant companion, but the cold sapped what little strength remained. He shivered, but could find no warmth, not even in the rocks which held the noonday heat.
He needed rest. He needed to sleep. Perhaps when he awoke, he would find water. It wouldn't take very much - just a pool left from the spring rains. It had rained. He remembered the swamp and the marshes where he had led his troops to victory.
'That stupid General Yousoufli! I attacked the Saudis just as I had been ordered. Yousoufli lied! Instead of being the hero, I was shipped off in disgrace to fight against the Israelis and their helicopters.
'Helicopters! I hear the sound of helicopters coming for me. They will take me to Paradise. I will sit at Mohammed's side and listen to the stories. The Infidels will serve me, and I shall eat the honeyed fruit.
'Helicopters! I shall sleep in the helicopter, and when I awake, Allah's face will shine upon me. Sleep in the helicopter!'
"I do not know, Sir, I found him there. He was dressed in the uniform of a general, so I didn't touch him. I drove here as quickly as I could to tell you."
"What did you do then?"
"I drove back with the lieutenant. The lieutenant rolled him over and held his wrist. The lieutenant said that the man was dead. So, we put him into the truck and brought him back. That is all I know."
"How did the Major General get out there? He was only two or three kilometers from Turabah. Did he get lost, or stumble and hit his head or what?"
"I do not know. I found him lying by the side of the road, so I came back here to tell the lieutenant ..."
"Yes, and he was dead. Poor General Hammedyanni. What will I tell his father? How can I explain that his son died only three kilometers from his own supply base?"
9.7.2 Attack on Ha-Il
Splitting a superior force in the face of the enemy was against all military logic. Lieutenant General Afstanabul had little choice. They had transferred him from the eastern front, telling him how critical this mission was, and that they would give him all the resources he needed. Instead, he had found that this whole operation was being run on a shoe-string. They had expended too much effort in the east. Overextended, they had no reserves left for the army that was to bring the war to a successful conclusion.
Then, they had saddled him with that idiot Hammedyanni. How had he made Major General? Afstanabul knew: politics!
Yet, his five divisions were more than enough to defeat a single American Air Assault Division. Once he had defeated it, he would re-establish the supply route linking his army with Ratha. He would rejoin the Iraqis in the attack on Buraydah, the gateway to Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
He climbed into a tall chair to see the battle board over the heads of the staffers gathered around it. Those closest to the board were manipulating small wooden counters, each representing a battalion. Colonel Ayed stood next to him, relaying the incoming calls from the field commanders while directing Afstanabul's attention to the map with his pointer.
As he watched his units moving to their assault positions, Afstanabul reviewed his battle plans. The American Screaming Eagles were a light but highly mobile division of no more than ten to twelve thousand. His four infantry divisions were each over seven thousand and his armored division was over nine thousand. He had some forty-five thousands including an armored division to destroy an enemy force only one-third his size. The Iraqis had kept the bulk of the army, some ninety thousand, to attack the one American division and two scratch Saudi Brigades, totaling only twenty-five to thirty thousand.
Perhaps he was just being an old worrier, but the guiding principle of all military logic was not to divide a superior force in the face of an enemy. It only invited a defeat of cataclysmic proportions. Still, the odds were on his side. The daring, but foolish American attempt to destroy his supply lines had to be defeated or else the entire army would be forced to retreat and begin the assault all over again. If that happened the Americans would gain the time they needed to bring their massive reinforcements to bear. Time was on the American's side. The supply line to Baghdad had to be reopened.
Fortunately, air power canceled out air power. The large air forces of both Iran and Iraq, combined with those of many friendly powers, were fully in place in Ratha and advanced bases had been established in Turabah for just such an eventuality. Assuredly, the Americans had placed aircraft in Ha-Il, and there was some evidence that another American aircraft carrier lurked in the Red Sea. Yet, neither side could mount a serious air offensive without alerting the other. In a war of attrition, both sides would suffer, but he could afford to suffer longer than the Americans.
The biggest threat would be the American helicopter forces. They loved helicopters, and, under certain circumstances, they could be devastating. That was why he had chosen to divert from the main road to attack Ha-Il from the south and east. There would be fewer places for the American helicopters to hide and use their infamous "pop-up" attacks. The flatter plains would give his missileers greater range of vision and more time to shoot their missiles. And, it was tank country! If the Americans had one disadvantage, it was in the way of armor. He had tanks, and they didn't. They would make all the difference.
Colonel Ayed pointed to the board, announcing, "We're coming into position, Sir."
His chief of staff was always adroit. He left "the old man" alone with his thoughts, and seemed to be able to understand just the proper moment to interject an appropriate comment. "Good man, I shall have to promote him."
"Thank you, Colonel. Inform the division commanders." He watched, as the radio operators busily relayed his orders to the four infantry division commanders.
His would be a textbook attack. The initial assault would be made by his Second and Third Divisions in the center of his line. His First and Fourth Divisions, slightly behind and on the flanks of the two central divisions, would serve one of two purposes. If the attack proceeded as planned, then they would move forward onto the flanks, extending the front and enveloping the enemy. However, if the Americans attempted to use their mobility to flank his army, either First or Fourth Division would align themselves towards the counter-attack and defeat it.
His armored division would remain in the center behind his infantry divisions. When the infantry had engulfed the enemy, First Armor would smash through their center, sundering them. Then, he would crush the remaining, small pockets of resistance. However, if the Americans did mount a major counter-attack, he could quickly divert his armor to support either wing of the army.
"The infantry is in position, General. Artillery reports ready to begin bombardment. First Armored Division is not yet in position, but they report that they will be by the time the bombardment ends."
Afstanabul thought for a moment. Should he go on? All was not ready, and, therefore, anything could go wrong. If he attacked now, he would have five hours of sunlight. The Americans were especially dangerous at night. He needed full daylight to nullify the American's technological advantage in night warfare.
"Commence bombardment, Colonel. Have the infantry move into their final attack positions. I will stay here and watch the board."
The general remembered well the terrain around Ha-Il from the weeks he had spent here. He could almost visualize the scene that each of his battalion commanders was viewing at this instant. He was ready.
The deep-throated boom of two-hundred millimeter howitzers resounded across the plain. Quickly, the bass section of his artillery choir was joined by the altos, the one-hundred and fifty millimeter cannons. It was only a matter of minutes before the tenors of tanks and the sopranos of field howitzers joined his chorus of destruction.
He felt like standing and leading his orchestra as he had seen the Maestro do in London many years before. Each maestro has his orchestra, and this was Afstanabul's overture. Soon, very soon his actors would appear, and the opera would begin.
"Division commanders reporting that lead battalions are moving forward." Ayed pointed. "Bombardment about to cease. Bombardment has ceased."
Afstanabul looked where the colonel had directed. Little wooden blocks were being pushed forward from the center divisions towards a barbed red line. Behind them other blocks of wood followed in parallel. The lead regiments of two infantry divisions were advancing, in a standard "two up, one back formation". As he watched, the remaining regiments of Second and Third Divisions moved ahead to follow their assault troops towards the American lines.
Ayed's pointer waved back and forth. "Heavy firing reported all along the front, Sir. Artillery, Sir, reported to be one-hundred millimeter and heavy mortar."
Yes, he had expected that. They would have brought in light howitzers and as many mortars as they could find. They would try to make up for their lack of heavy artillery with lots of smaller ones. It would work if they had brought sufficient numbers. More importantly, however, where were their helicopters?
"Leading battalions report coming under intense small arms fire. Reserve battalions moving forward towards enemy lines. First and Fourth Divisions moving forward with no opposition."
Excellent! His center divisions would pin the Americans down, holding them in position as his First and Fourth divisions advanced. The enemy lines would stretch, and he would stretch them to the breaking point. Then, like the maestro, he would point to his tympanis. His armor would resound and in the echo of their cannons, he would render them in twain!
"Enemy aircraft reported, coming from the south. Air officer reports our air units are engaging."
Yes, the American aircraft carrier. He had assumed correctly. The violins and piccolos were playing the high descant soprano.
"Enemy helicopters reported by both First and Fourth Divisions."
He laughed, thinking, 'They do not like my envelopment. They attack my flankers with their reserves. They are now fully committed and have nothing left.
'I will continue my attack until they are exhausted. I will push them until even their last ounce of strength is committed. Then, my armor will crash its cymbals and the tympani will boom out with my final assault. They will be crushed, those impudent Americans.'
"Fourth Division reports enemy tanks attacking. Strength unknown."
He stared at the board in disbelief. Tanks? Do they mean real tanks or some kind of light armored fighting vehicle? "Confirm that report, Colonel. I want to know what kind of tanks, how many and vector."
"Third Battalion," the colonel pointed at the extreme right flank of the Fourth Division, which was nearest the cliffs that fell to the desert below, "reports many tanks advancing along the precipice from the northeast." The colonel placed a small wooden block in front of Fourth Division. Its small arrow pointed threateningly towards the center of Afstanabul's army.
"Colonel, order Fourth Division to fall back and assume a defensive posture. They are to defeat the counter-attack and then resume the assault. They are to protect the right flank at all costs."
"First Division reports many tanks." The Colonel laid another block to the west of the army, directing its arrow into the heart of the army.
"Colonel, order First Division to fall back and assume a defensive posture. Tell them to defeat the counter-attack and resume the attack."
Even as his issued his orders, Afstanabul wondered, 'Where did the Americans get tanks? All of them are supposed to be at Riyadh. They cannot be large tanks and still be carried by their helicopters. Their Marines have small tanks, but even they are large and cannot be borne by helicopters. They must be armored fighting vehicles which look like tanks, but are not.'
"Issue this directive to the First and Fourth Divisions, Colonel Ayed. Enemy tanks are American fighting vehicles. Such vehicles appear to be tanks, but are lightly armored and easily destroyed using standard anti-tank tactics. Destroy these vehicles and resume the assault. They try to frighten us with mirages. Attack!"
"Fourth Division," Ayed's pointer wavered over the army's right flank, "reports that enemy tanks have broken through. They are realigning their reserve regiment to engage counter-attack by light armored personnel carriers and battle tanks, heavily supported by helicopter gunships."
'It can not be! It is full daylight! Do they not see that they are not tanks?'
"Fourth Division reports a heavy concentration of tanks has forced Third Regiment to retreat. Fourth Division has realigned Third Regiment to conform and is engaging enemy counter-attack. Fourth Division reports that assignment of light armored infantry vehicle is incorrect. They report battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and lightly armored personnel carriers have engaged both Third and Second Regiments."
'It is impossible! But it is happening. Somehow the Americans have been reinforced with armored troops. This is a trap! Allah preserve us!'
"Inform all divisions that enemy armored columns are attacking. They are to break off their attacks and retreat towards Fayd. Tell Fourth Division to use its entire strength to hold the enemy at bay. As long as they hold the edge of the precipice, the enemy can not flank us. Order First Armored Division to our left flank to support First Infantry. Order them to stop the enemy advance at all costs.
"Colonel, this is a trap," Afstanabul confided to his chief of staff. "We are about to be engulfed, just as we intended to engulf them. We must hold the right flank so that we can retreat towards Fayd. Fourth Division is to retreat along the ridge line. The enemy tanks can't fly. They must stay here on the plateau, but Fourth must stop them from coming behind us and cutting off the army's retreat.
"We have no such advantage on our left flank. If necessary, First Armor must fight muzzle to muzzle to defeat the enemy and to stop them from closing the bag over our heads.
"Get your best people on this, Colonel, at the secondary board. I will stay in the middle to consult with both teams. Assign a good man to communications, and you take charge of the emergency team."
Afstanabul rearranged his high chair between the large battle map and the smaller planning map. For a few minutes his head was on a pivot, as he tried to assimilate both the ever-changing events of reality and the rapid planning of his threat team.
The young lieutenant assigned to keep the general informed began speaking, his pointer waving near the left flank. "First Infantry reports tanks breaking through in large numbers." The lieutenant's pointer began to jump about as he tried to relay the stream of data coming in from the field. "Third Division reports enemy armor in its rear attacking them. Fourth Division reports Second Regiment is retreating in disorder. First Division reports breakthrough repulsed by First Armored Division's counter-attacks. First Armored reports heavy losses in First Armored Regiment."
"Lieutenant, tell First Armored they must hold the flank at all costs. Order Second and Third Infantry to retreat. What do we hear from Fourth Infantry?"
"General, Fourth Infantry reports enemy tanks have broken through in two places. They have lost contact with Third Infantry. Enemy tanks advancing from the north are now attacking westward towards Third Division's flank. Fourth Division cannot maintain their right flank on the precipice."
Afstanabul heard the sharp report of a tank cannon. It was not near, but neither was it far away. The distance was insufficient to dull the sharp edge of its snare drum-like quality.
"Third Division must retreat and reform with Fourth Division. They must realign to meet the threat axis from the northeast. Order Fourth Division to retreat to the south and to reestablish contact with the Third Division."
Before he could comply, the lieutenant pointed to the west. "Second Division reports enemy armor in its rear. First Division reports a breakthrough. Third Regiment has been overrun and is retreating in disorder. Second Division reports that enemy infantry is attacking with heavy helicopter support.
"Order Second, Third and Fourth Infantry to retreat to the south. They must reestablish order. Tell them to maintain contact with adjacent divisions at all costs. First Armored must protect the left flank!"
"General, First Armor reports enemy tanks flanking their positions. Enemy tanks reported south and west of First Armored attacking on a northerly vector."
"Order First Armor to retreat eastward, immediately. Order First Infantry to retreat eastward while maintaining contact with First Armored and Second Infantry."
The lieutenant's pointer began in the west and moved steadily to the east as he echoed the desperate accounts of the battle. "First Infantry reports breakthrough all along its front. Second Infantry reports infantry attacks from its front and armored attacks from its rear. Third Infantry reports heavy infantry and helicopter attacks on its front and Jew tanks." The lieutenant paused, listening. "Confirming that, Sir. Yes, confirmed. Jew tanks and armored vehicles attacking Third Infantry from the rear. Third Infantry reports Second and Third Regiments retreating in disorder. Fourth Infantry reports that Third Regiment is no longer in communication. Second Regiment is retreating in disorder."
'Allah! Allah, I have been betrayed! The Iraqis have sent us into a trap, and we are lost!'
"First Armored reports that they are being attacked from three sides by heavy concentrations of armored units. Sir," the lieutenant looked up at him. His face seemed drained of color. "They also report that the armored units attacking them are Jews. Sir, we are not attacking Americans. The Jews are attacking us!"
"Inform Headquarters and inform Teheran," Afstanabul shouted, grimly. "Tell them our position. Tell them we have been defeated by the Jews! The Jews are in Saudi Arabia at Ha-Il! Tell them I am retreating towards Fayd. Do not tell them any more than that. Then, prepare to evacuate.
"Order First Armored to fight their way out to the east. Order all units to escape to Fayd in any way they can. Tell them I will meet them at Fayd with reinforcements. Hurry, we must leave before we are captured."
"Prepare to evacuate!"
9.7.3 Revolutionary Council
The Revolutionary Council listened in horror as Ayatollah Mohammed Hammedyanni described the disaster at Ha-Il.
"The Jews are in the Holy Land upon the great road to Al-Madinah, Jiddah and Makkah. They attack the pilgrims, defile the Holy Lands and murder the Followers of Allah who try to cleanse the path to the Great Mosque.
"How did they get there? Did they sprout wings like birds or travel across the desert like the camel? No, the Americans brought them there.
"Often we have heard it said that America is run by the Jews. We have always known this, but they have denied it. Now, we have the proof!
"And, what of the Saudis? We have tried to remonstrate with them to show them the error of their ways and bring them back to Allah and the teaching of his Prophet, Mohammed, long may his name be blessed. Instead of profiting from our counsels, they have brought the Infidels, the Unbelievers and now the Jews into the lands of Allah's Faithful, and desecrated those lands for generations.
"We must take the ultimate step in our battle with the Jews and the Infidels." The Party of the Elders sagely shook their heads in agreement.
Imam Rafsanadi Rashamani, leader of the Party of Allah, arose to speak. "The Saudis have indeed fallen to bring the Jews and their henchmen, the Americans, into this war. We know why the Americans are involved. Their god is gold, and their currency is oil. They care not about the Holy Lands or about Allah's Faithful. They must be defeated and driven into the sea.
"But, can we attack them in this way? They have always made a clear distinction between war and the use of weapons of mass destruction. They have repeatedly warned that they would retaliate if such weapons were used.
"What will we do then? How shall we defend ourselves from the airplanes we cannot even see, yet which bomb us daily? How shall we defend ourselves against these barbarians who, as we speak, drop bombs with such accuracy that they destroy one building amongst many, leaving all the others standing? We cannot vote for such a proposition until we have those answers."
Ayatollah Hammedyanni replied, Ayatollah Rashamani speaks well, so I shall answer him. We will use the tactics of terror. They cannot know of what we are capable, so they will remain frozen in fear over the consequences. Then, lest their worst fears are realized, they will withdraw."
Rashamani objected, "If instead of withdrawing they attack, then what will be our response?"
"They will not," Hammedyanni assured the Council. "The Americans are not a people of courage or will. This we have seen time and again. Even when it is in their interest to do a thing, they will talk about it and discuss it until they have convinced themselves that there is a danger to their actions. Then, having created their own dangers, they withdraw across their ocean. This is the history of the Americans. All we need do is make sure they understand the entire threat to them, and make them fear us."
The debate raged for hours, but in the end the Party of the Elders had its way. Coded messages were sent to the commanders at the front and weapons of terror were prepared.
However, without consulting the Council, Ayatollah Hammedyanni also sent other messages to various missions and consulates all over the world. Seemingly innocent travelers from friendly nations carried his orders to their final destinations in the United States.
Allah would bring America to its knees, and Hammedyanni was his servant.
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