The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 19: The Battle of Chains

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 3

Having written to Hormuz from Yamamah, Khalid knew that the Persian would expect him to advance on the direct route from Yamamah to Uballa, via Kazima, and would make his defensive plans accordingly. Khalid decided not to move on that route, but to approach Uballa from the south-west so that he would be free to manoeuvre on two axes-the Kazima axis and the Hufair axis-thus creating a difficult problem for the less mobile Persians. With this design in mind he marched to, Nibbaj, dividing his army into three groups as already explained, and took under command the 2,000 warriors of Muthanna, who, along with their intrepid chief, were awaiting Khalid at Nibbaj. 1 From Nibbaj he marched in the direction of Hufair, picking up the other three chiefs on the way, and approached Hufair with 18,000 men.

Khalid was not in the least worried about the presence of the Persian Army at Kazima. Hormuz at Kazima posed no threat to Khalid, for the Persians could not venture into the desert to disrupt his communications, apart from the fact that a mobile force like Khalid's operating in the desert did not present particularly vulnerable lines of communication. Khalid made no attempt to rush through Hufair and make for Uballa, because with Hormuz's large army on his flank his forward movement beyond Hufair might spell serious trouble. Hormuz could fall upon his rear and cut his line of retreat. No Arab would ever accept interference, or even a threat of interference, with his route back into the friendly, safe desert where he alone was master. Hence Khalid waited in front of Hufair, while light detachments of his cavalry kept Hormuz under observation. He knew, that his presence near Hufair would cause near-panic in the mind of Hormuz.

This is just what happened. The moment Hormuz got word of Khalid's movement towards Hufair, he realised the grave danger in which his army was placed. The Arab was not so simple after all! As an experienced strategist, he knew that his base was threatened. He immediately ordered a move to Hufair, 50 miles away, and his army, weighed down with its heavy equipment, trudged along the track. The two days' march was tiring, but the tough and disciplined Persian soldier accepted his trials without complaint. On arrival at Hufair, however, Hormuz found no trace of Khalid. Expecting the Muslims to arrive soon, he deployed for battle as he had done at Kazima, chains and all; but hardly had his men taken up their positions when his scouts came rushing to inform him that Khalid was moving towards Kazima!

And Khalid was indeed moving towards Kazima. He had waited near, Hufair until he heard of the hurried approach of Hormuz. Then he had withdrawn a short distance and begun a counter-march through the desert towards Kazima, not going too far into the desert so as not to become invisible to Persian scouts. Khalid was in no hurry. His men were well mounted, and he took his time. He had no desire to get to Kazima first and occupy it, for then he would have to position himself for battle and his opponent would be free to manoeuvre. Khalid preferred to let the Persians position themselves while he himself remained free to approach and attack as he liked, with the desert behind him.

The Persians again packed their bags and set off for Kazima, for Hormuz could not leave the Kazima route to the Muslims. Hormuz could have fought a defensive battle closer to Uballa; but having experienced the terrible havoc wrought by Muthanna in his district, he was in no mood to let Khalid approach close enough to let his raiders loose in the fertile region of Uballa. He was determined to fight and destroy Khalid at a safe distance from the district which it was his duty to protect, and he rejoiced at the prospect of a set-piece battle against the desert Arabs. Moreover, armies act as magnets: they attract each other. Sometimes an area which is not otherwise strategically important becomes so through the presence of a hostile army. Now Hormuz was drawn to Kazima not only by the strategical importance of the place but also by the army of Khalid.

This time the forced march did not go down so well with the Persians and there was grumbling, especially amongst the Arab auxiliaries serving under Hormuz, who cursed the Persian for all the trouble that he was causing them. The Persians arrived at Kazima in a state of exhaustion. Hormuz, the professional regular soldier, wasted no time and at once deployed the army for battle in the normal formation of a centre and wings. The generals commanding his wings were Qubaz and Anushjan. The men again linked themselves with chains. (For a graphic illustration of march and counter-march see Map 12 below.)

map 2 chapter 19

1. The old Nibbaj is the present Nabqiyya, 25 miles north-east of Buraida. (See Maps 7 and 8)