The following is an excerpt of an article by Dan Mountain. This features in our fifth print issue, available from the 15th September.
Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.
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Any casual-eyed observer of the news lately is no doubt aware of the heated squabble between the United States and Iran. In the last few months both have heightened their military presence in the Gulf whilst Iranian and US officials have exchanged a series of diplomatic spats at one another in light of recent escalations, including the breakdown of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the seizure of a number of oil tankers from both sides. While this unnecessary feud between the two powers is becoming precarious and unstable, this is only the latest development in a hostile relationship that has spanned much of the twentieth century.
The relationship between the United States and Iran is an intriguing one. Trouble between the two nations began in 1953 when US and UK intelligence coordinated to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh sought to nationalise Iran’s oil industry, damaging US and UK economic interests in the process. The west couldn’t allow this to happen.
However, in 1979 hostilities between the US and Iran took a turn for the worst. On 16th January, after months of protests from secular and religious opposition, US assisted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by the Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini who founded the current Islamic Republic of Iran. As a result, and particularly after Khomeini had labelled the US as ‘The Great Satan’, US-Iranian relations would be shrouded in enmity and aggression.
Between 1979 and 1981 the US embassy in Iran was attacked, several American officials were killed and Iranian and US diplomatic relations were left in tatters. Moreover, ties between the two were further stretched on 3rd July 1988 when the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner carrying pilgrims bound for Mecca. All twenty-nine on board were killed sparking outrage in Iran.
Iranian-US relations failed to rec-over, taking another hit in 2002 following President George W. Bush classifying the Islamic Republic as a member of the so-called ‘Axis of Evil’ alongside the regimes of North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Consequently, the US imposed tight sanctions on Iran in 2002 after an Iranian opposition group revealed the government’s development of nuclear weapons facilities including a uranium enrichment site. Iran’s economy lost two thirds of its value in two years as a consequence. Similarly, friction between the two nations was felt in 2011 when President Ahmadinejad claimed the US was behind 9/11 in a baffling speech directed at the UN General Assembly.
As one can see, Iranian-US relations have never been courteous even before President Trump’s latest assault on Rouhani’s government.
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Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.
Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet on Flickr.