The Odyssey of US Iranian Relations: From Solidarity to Imperialism

So wide and deep is the gap between the United States and Iran (at every level) that any prospect of normalization of ties, governmental or non-governmental seems dim at the best. One can mostly credit this to President Donald Trump and his dark antagonizing rhetoric and reckless policies, but there are also deeper scars that speak of historical differences and competing interests. The most dramatic change in US Iranian relations came after the success of the Islamic Revolution or when “Carter Lost Iran!”. We will get to that later but for now suffice it to say that the United States has lost a great number of her political assets, strategic ground and her most important ally in the Middle East.  Today, instead of a partner, the United States has a strategic competitor in the Middle East and the Trump-Pompeo team desperately wants to reverse the history and make Iran another US satellite state. As delusional as their plan for Iran is, the US media, intentionally or not, follows the US government line, neglecting this crucial fact that the argument is not over Iran’s nuclear program or an “Iranian threat, as it is over dominating the Middle East.

The foundation for US Iranian relations, at the time, was based on Iranian admiration for the American Revolution, democracy and American sympathy for Iranian revolutionaries.

US Iranian relations, from 1906 the time of the Constitutional Revolution in Persia (now Iran) to where we are now, speaks volumes on the long tumultuous path that was not always paved with such antagonism and hostile actions. It started with good intentions and understanding that the two nations were equal but in different stages of their struggle for freedom and democracy; American Revolution had matured and institutionalized, Iranian Revolution had passed its incubation period and had just erupted into a revolutionary war. The foundation for US Iranian relations, at the time, was based on Iranian admiration for the American Revolution, democracy and American sympathy for Iranian revolutionaries. There are historical examples that point to cordiality and mutual respect in relationships and the way the two countries related to each other. Sensational stories from Iranian history are examples of pre-conflict US Iranian relations; stories of Howard Baskerville and Morgan Shuster are only two of them.

At the beginning 

In the summer of 1906, Howard C. Baskerville a 23 years old graduate of Princeton University (from North Platte, Nebraska) arrived in the city of Tabriz (in Northwestern Iran) to teach at Tabriz Memorial School. He was sent by Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in the United States to run a missionary school founded and staffed by Iranian and American teachers. At the time Tabriz was under Russian siege and food and supplies to the city were cut off. Seeing the plight of starving citizens of Tabriz, Baskerville showed interest in the Constitutional Revolution in Iran and became sympathetic to its cause. School officials became concerned about Baskerville’s increasing attachment to his students and sharing the cause with their quest for freedom and democracy, He was warned by William Doty, the American council in Tabriz that he had“no right to interfere with the internal politics of Persia.” To which Baskerville reportedly replied:

“I cannot remain calm and watch indifferently the sufferings of a people fighting for their right. I am an American citizen and am proud of it. But I am also a human being and cannot help feeling deep sympathy with the people of this city. I am not able to go on teaching calmly and quietly while tragic events happen daily around me. I assure you I am not afraid of any fatal consequences and I am determined to serve the national cause of Persia.” 

On April 19, 1909, Baskerville and a small group of his students gathered to break through outnumbered and outgunned Russian lines and escort back food and supplies to the city. It was during this operation that Baskerville was killed. The next day, thousands of people poured into the streets of Tabriz to participate in his funeral procession. Iranian revolutionary leaders wrapped Baskerville’s rifle in a Persian flag and sent it to his parents along with a telegraph that read:

“Persia much regrets the honorable loss of your dear son in the cause of liberty, and we give our parole that future Persia will always revere his name in her history like that of Lafayette in America and will respect his venerable tomb.”

Baskerville was buried in a park in his name and a bust of him still stands in Constitution Hall of Tabriz.

Howard Baskerville’s grave in Tabriz.

At the time, Great Britain and Russia were wielding an undue amount of influence in Iran and were determining most of the governmental decisions. They had signed a secret treaty between themselves and divided Iran into three parts; the Northern part was put under the Russian influence and the southern part (including Oil fields) was to be under influence of Great Britain leaving the only central part the buffer zone between them. Faced with overt foreign interference, hefty foreign debt that the Qajar dynasty had accumulated to pay for their lavish and expensive travels to European capitals, antiquate administration tools and widespread poverty, the infant revolution set to form Iran’s first modern administration. The first order of business was to put the country’s financial affairs in order; Russia and Great Britain could not be trusted so the better option was America who had largely stayed out of revolutionary affairs and conflict between Persia, Russia and Great Britain. So, the revolution’s first parliament approved legislation authorizing the government to invite someone from the United States.

For this grave matter, Persia’s revolutionary leaders approached the US Department of State and asked for advice. The State Department recommended William Morgan Shuster to fill the position of all-powerful General Treasurer of Persia. Shuster, a 33 years old lawyer and graduate of Columbia University who had served the US government as a tax collector was not new to the field; despite his young age, Shuster had modernized governmental finances in Cuba and the Philippines. Shuster arrived in Tehran in May 1911 and immediately set to control ridiculous salaries that members of the royal family and other relatives had secured for themselves; by receiving the ostentatious title from the Royal Court that entitled them to receive hefty monthly salaries. Among them was Shah’s Brother Shoa’ah Saltaneh that had secret contact with Russia and supported their cause. He and other members of the Royal Family protested Shuster’s moves and demanded his removal. More importantly, both Russia and Great Britain who had secured outrageous concessions (in exchange for loans that the royal family wasted in Europe) rejected Shuster’s presence in Persia and demanded his removal.  Shuster had formed an armed tax collecting company and had rejected demands for a new concession to powerful Russian and European countries. This had infuriated Russia and Great Britain, Russia gave Majlis (parliament) an ultimatum to fire Shuster, but the Majlis with the overwhelming support of people rejected Russia’s ultimatum. A few days later Russian troops occupied Tehran and bombarded the Majlis and with that what is called “Dictatorship Minor” began. Shuster was dismissed and after only 8 months on his job, in December of 1911 was forced to leave Iran.

A different beginning 

Then came 1941 and occupation of Iran by Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. At the time German engineers were building Iran’s first modern infrastructure. Making their presence an excuse, allies demanded Germens to be expelled. But despite Iran’s declaration of neutrality, it was occupied anyway; in order to use Iran’s newly developed railroad to send arms and supplies to the Soviet Union to open an eastern front against Germany.  Iran was called the “Bridge to Victory” built at the expense of Iranian people. Allies forced Reza Shah (Shah’s father) to abdicate in favor of his young and inexperienced son who remained loyal to the United States all his life. From this point on, Iran became only a pawn in the United States’ strategic calculation for global hegemony. Rather than democracy and freedom, the focus of the United States became preserving the Shah at all cost, disregarding people’s resentment of him. Things worsened in 1953 when a CIA engineered a coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mossadegh.

Iran became only a pawn in the United States’ strategic calculation for global hegemony.

If 1979 taking of American diplomats’ hostage was when Iran lost her innocence to American people, the 1953 coup that brought Shah to power and reinstated dictatorship on Iran for more than 35 years, did the same to Iranians. Fixated on the extravagance of Shah and his so-called modernization program, the US government and media forgot all about Iranian people and the fact that Shah was deeply despised inside Iran. Blinded by oil, the huge amount of money that Shah was spending on importing arms from the United States and Shah’s fateful obedience in following American interest in the international arena, the United States allowed not only Shah’s despotic rule continue but also facilitated his tyranny.  In fact, in 1949, in the heat of the power struggle between Shah and Mossadegh, the United States took side with Shah and advised him to dismiss Mossadegh. In 1957 when there were still pockets of pro-Democracy and opposition among intellectuals in Iran. The United States gave Shah his most important tool of repression; the nefarious SAVAK. It was built by CIA and Mossad as secret police to deal with the security of the country but in practice, it became an instrument of oppression. Nevertheless, hidden from the mighty eyes of SAVAK and CIA, a revolution was brewing under the ashes of lost hope for freedom and democracy.

Rude awakening

On November 12, 1977, amid Shah’s widespread clampdown on the opposition, US president Jimmy Carter hosted the Shah in Washington for talks on Oil and the Middle East peace process.  However, the official welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of White House was interrupted by tear gas coming from White House front gate where Iranian students were battling the SAVAK organized (and paid for) counter-demonstrators.  At home, in Iran, the situation was not any better; fear and widespread suppression of any form of opposition, SAVAK’s heavy-handed treatment of political prisoners, corruption, and arrogance of Shah’s bootlickers and rapid westernization had created a potent revolutionary force spearheaded by intellectuals and Islamic clericals.

Unaware of the burning fire of revolution that would in only a few months lead to the departure of more than 60 thousand US military advisors from Iran, President Carter praised Shah for his, “tremendous amount of self-assurance” and “courage in giving his speech to the people of our country without hesitation.” But despite his Human Rights platform, Carter chose to ignore the opposition to Shah in front of him outside White House gate. Later in this visit again Carter spoke of strength US-Iranian relation: “We are bound together with unbreakable ties of friendship”, and that “Our military alliance is unshakable.”  Six weeks later on the New Year Eve in Tehran, Carter toasted Shah for his “Great Leadership” and “love of his people for him” saying “Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” It is not clear whether Carter saw, on his way to Niavaran Palace, the large banner made of bedsheets and hung from a window of student dormitory denouncing his visit.

There is a phrase that often repeated when comes to the Iranian revolution and Carter administration. The phrase goes something like this: ‘Carter lost Iran’ to which Nom Chomsky replies one does not lose what one does not have. The phrase tacitly confesses to the dominant control of Shah at the service of the United States. This is the true definition of Imperialism that is imposed on Iran through Shah’s total obedient relations with the United States and his willingness (or ignorance for that matter) to allow the tentacle of imperialism to get hold of Iran.  This is what Shah called Iran’s Great Civilization that was supposed to come with the economic prosperity and glory of Shahanshah (the King of Kings). The path to Shah’s dream was paved with tyranny, deculturization and structural economic shift that left the majority in poverty.

The Reign of Terror

A portrayal of a torture scene in a SAVAK interrogation room at the prison | Source: The Sun

By 1977, fear of SAVAK had reigned the national psychic for more than 20 years and by now it was skilled in creating an atmosphere of fear and terror. The motto was: terror, fear and rule; that is where the Pahlavi dynasty found its legitimacy and ruled for more than 35 years. In this suffocating atmosphere, people talked about the politic only in private or didn’t mention politics at all; it was only restless young university student and leftwing intellectuals that remained vocal and for that they paid more than their share of abuse in Shah’s torture chambers. Traditionalists who had opposed Shah’s reform found themselves under SAVAK’s surveillance; some arrested, some tortured and some killed. Everywhere you went the nagging fear of SAVAK followed you.  Certain books were banned and if you owned one, you could be at risk of being arrested by SAVAK.

More than others, writers, poet, musicians, filmmakers, and other intellectuals found themselves the target of SAVAK’s harassment. Their work was banned or heavily censored for any sign of opposition to Shah, rejection of existing order or objection to his so-called “Great Civilization” that envisioned Iran to be a secular pro-western, pro-American and capitalist country.

One of those dangerous books that was banned was Jalal Al-e-Ahmad’s Westoxication; an essay on the import of Western culture and the rapid growth of commercialism and consumerism. It was he who spoke about politics and cultural imperialism and ills of an unjust society. Another book that grabbed SAVAK attention was Samad Behrangi’s children’s book titled Little Black Fish that SAVAK believed had political connotation and encouraged resistance against tyranny. Among the other books that SAVAK didn’t like were likes of Freedom or Death and Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis and Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone; all with oppression and struggle as underlining. Shah was building his modernized westernized and obedient society and the West was cheering him.

Shah’s mad dash toward westernization came at the cost of structural socioeconomic shift; from a largely agrarian to Industrial society (without much of industry or means of production).  Westernization led to the import of Western culture and values at the expense of national identity. The face of cities changed, advertising began appearing everywhere, nightclubs and liquor stores began popping up in big cities, sale of cosmetic goods skyrocketed, and Iranians were pushed toward becoming Universal Man (secular, modernized and consumerized.)  Vocal and restless clericals saw this as an assault on Islam caused by the emergence of wasteful consumerism and supremacy of materialism over Islam. It is this onslaught of Western culture that the Islamic Republic fears and is constantly and desperately fighting against. This is Iran’s Ackley’s heel that the United States is trying to take advantage of, sew discord and bring instability to Iran. For the Islamic Republic, deculturization and import of western culture and abandonment of Islamic values is a matter of national security. 

Unfortunately, the February 1979 triumph of revolution did not lead to a cohesive revolutionary front; a long list of political entities with competing ideological views began fighting for the future of the revolution. An array of leftist groups that had emerged after Shah left the country, began challenging the core revolutionary camp (as is the destiny of all revolutions). Fighting broke out in streets and Arab and Kurdish minorities, supported by leftist demanded autonomy or secession. It was at this junction that American diplomats in Iran were taken hostage. While the hostage crisis served the core revolutionary objective of consolidating its power, it marked another threshold, the beginning of open US Iranian hostilities. 

Creating hegemonic reality

The problem with the US Iranian conflict is that it is taking place across two unequal and opposing paradigms. The dominant paradigm supported by overwhelmingly dominant Western media which controls not only the narrative but also the global news agenda. This is the definition of Cultural Imperialism that refers to dissolving national culture in West dominated global culture. John Tomlinson in his famous book Globalization and Culture, categorizes elements of cultural domination as; the media, national domination, global domination and global dominance of capitalism, as four components of Cultural Imperialism but he gives special importance to the media. Armand Mattelart, professor of mass communication at the University of Chile, and Ariel Dorfman, a literary critic, and novelist, in 1971 published Para leer al pato Donald (How to Read Donald Duck,) denouncing Hollywood’s distorted version of reality in which the dominant western media “forces us Latin Americans to see ourselves as they see us.” Today, the emergence of Social Media has made the issue of urgent attention for leaders of the Islamic Republic, for it is the very survival of theocracy that is at stake. 

Using myth, fantasy and metaphor the American media has created a dark picture of Iran that fits perfectly US’s global hegemonic interests.

One cannot also forget about the United States’ vast means of soft propaganda (including US founded radio and television stations) beaming in Iran. While claiming objectivity they closely follow the policy lines of the government of the United States.  The American domestic media’s narrative on foreign affairs also closely identifies with US government positions. Using myth, fantasy and metaphor the American media has created a dark picture of Iran that fits perfectly US’s global hegemonic interests. It makes presumptions (i.e. Iran is a threat) then construct a fantasy based on reality. Complete with heroes and villains, the media through the use of metaphor and double-sided words demonize Iran. It first assumes that the United States is the defender of freedom and democracy who has divine right to lead the world (Myth.) and then defines Iran that defies the established presumption as a villain who resisting US rule as heroes.

It is this globally dominant US news media that forgets all about illegal Israeli occupation when it reports on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, defines those who defy West’s Cultural, economic, political and military dominance as backward or illegitimate, lists those who take arm against tyranny as terrorist, remains indifferent about casualties of West’s economic and military interventions, and tacitly supports West’s exceptionalism in determining the destiny of other nations. As result alternative narratives are stifled, reality becomes that of West’ and any deviation from the discourse is taken as backward, outdated and outside universal norms. The Islamic Republic in Iran is a good example; it is considered aggressor while it is surrounded by the formidable American military and called a terrorist while all its life has been fighting terrorists inside and outside of the country. It is called undemocratic though when compared to others in the Middle East, Iran enjoys a measure of democracy (true it is a theocracy but is based on Shi’a doctrine held by 90 percent of the population).

What does the US want?

At the root of US Iranian conflict is a fundamental question; what does the U.S. want from Iran? The answer in short is; the U.S. wants Iran to retreat from her strategic interest, abandon her ambitions in her own neighborhood, not challenge US designs in the Middle East and be militarily weak and subject to pressure politically, this means the United States and to a large extent, her Western European allies (+Israel) want a total transformation of Iranian politics, society, and military away from Islam toward Western Neoliberalism, therefore, open yet another market for Western goods. In other words, Iran must perfectly fit the mold that the West has provided for her and to the delight of western media adopt Western values and demonstrate the western culture and behavior; as is evident in media’s celebration of any adoption of western values and lifestyle in Iran. 

In addition to cultural and economic matters is the issue of geography that puts Iran in the middle of American strategic calculation. Iran has located adjacent to the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz and is only a short dash to the Eurasian heartland and its economic network. It is in this fight against Eastern powers that Iran plays an important role as a bridge to Global Domination. In this respect, to a great extent, Iran is a victim of her geography that has put Iran at the center of the emperor’s map and jousting ground for great power competition.

But total domination of the world is a tall order for today’s imperial powers who have nothing left in their toolbox but military power and abuse of a global economic interdependence through sanctions and other forms of economic punishment. These tools, however, are not enough for global domination, especially in a vastly interconnected and politically charged environment like the Middle East where a combination of, nationalism, tribalism, and anti-Americanism dominate the popular discourse. In this respect, the recent unrest in the Middle East can be attributed, as much to domestic corruption and miserable living condition as it rejects world political and economic order that has left them behind. 

How Iran see the conflict 

Iran sees in the current situation the seed of revolution in the Middle East and a prelude to a new order in which the United States plays a marginal role. Iran is not at fault for seeing a revolution in the air and believes that West’s behavior is cause for unrest, therefore, the unjust demands justice and this is possible only through prolong resistance. It points to West’s historical interventions that did not necessarily win hearts and minds.  

…it is claimed that it is Iran that is the aggressor and a threat to the United States; when in fact it has been the United States that over more than a century has sacrificed the interest of Iranian people to her ambition for global domination.

For more than a century now, the Middle East has been the big-power battleground. Whether through direct military intervention or political and military support of local despotic regimes that owe their survival to their patrons in the West, the West has tried to mold the Middle East in their image. For this, the West has not hesitated to force disobedient countries by any economic, political and military means. Some example of Western military adventurism in the Middle East include: Invasion and occupation of Egypt by Great Britain (1882 and again 1921), Great Britain invasion of Jordan (1916), Great Britain invasion of Turkey, (1918 to 1921) Allied invasion and occupation of Iran (first regime change in 1941 followed by second regime change in 1953), Great Britain invasion of Iraq, (Anglo-Iraqi war 1941) Israeli invasion and annexation of parts of Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Jordan (1948 and again in 1967), Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon (1982 – 1985 and again in 2006), US invasion of Iraq (the first Gulf War 1991 and second Gulf War 2003.) In other words for more than a century, European colonialism and neocolonialism, as well as U.S. Imperialism, has been busy changing not only international borders but also the history of the region. Notice the list of countries affected cover almost the entirety of the Middle East leaving aside mostly tyrannical regimes who protect American interest. Yet it is claimed that it is Iran that is the aggressor and a threat to the United States; when in fact it has been the United States that over more than a century has sacrificed the interest of Iranian people to her ambition for global domination. Since 1979 the United States has sought to secure her interests In Iran by whatever means possible and that include hostile action against Iran for more than four decades. (see timeline of US actions against Iran below.) 

This is the world that the Islamic Revolution inherited; a world hostile to it and its legitimacy. Despite occupying one of the most valued geographic pieces of real estate in the Middle East that sought by everyone, Iran has adopted the mentality of  “Neither East, Nor West” angering East and West.  Iran’s leaders believe the region is ripe and ready for revolution, its incubation period has passed and is trigger-ready to ignite. In this context, Arab spring and recent unrest in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa are a prelude to a larger transformation in which the United State play only a marginal role. Iranian leaders do not shy away from asserting the proposition that US must leave the Middle East. On December 12 Rear Admiral Hussein Khanzadi chief of Iran’s navy in conjunction with naval  exercise by China, Russia and Iran told reporters that the this (the naval exercise conducted in Sea Oman dubbed Marin Security Belt) should be a sign for United State and that “ the era of American free action in the region is over.”

Timeline of US hostile actions against Iran (1941 to 2020)

September 1941, the first regime change

Reza Khan is forced out of power for hosting German engineers and technicians in Iran

Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union invade Iran, Reza Khan (Reza Shah) is replaced with his son Muhammed Reza Pahlavi. At the end, Iran is occupied and British-controlled oil interests are largely maintained.  

1949, Shah’s power grab 

An intense power struggle between Shah and Prime Minster Mosaddegh reach to a pick in 1949 and under CIA advice, Shah attempts to dismiss Mosaddegh.

 1953, C.I.A coup

 In a coup orchestrated by CIA ,the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mosaddegh is toppled. Mosaddegh is arrested and put under house arrest. Iran remains under Shah’s oppressive rule for more than 35 years..

1957, The creation of SAVAK 

U.S. and Israeli intelligence officers create Iran’s first secret police; the notorious SAVAK that violently suppresses opposition to Shah. According to Amnesty International, the organization is responsible for the torcher and execution of hundreds of political prisoners.

1964 capitulation

At the request of American ambassador, a law is passed that exempts thousands of US military advisors from prosecution in Iran

1980 break off of diplomatic relation
The United States breaks diplomatic ties with Iran, expels Iranian diplomats and bans American exports to Iran

1980 to 1988, US support Saddam 

The US takes sides with Saddam in his war with Iran, provides intelligence to Iraqis and turns a blind eye to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran.

July 1988 downing of Iranian jetliner

USS Vincennes shoots down an Iranian airliner killing all 290 passengers on board. The United States at first deny the US role in the tragedy but later admits that it had shut down the Iran Air flight 655. but calls it an unavoidable mistake

1993 Isolating Iran
The Clinton administration starts a campaign to isolate Iran, accusing her of supporting terrorism, seeking nuclear arms and trying to derail Middle East peace plan.

March 1995 – First sanction

President Bill Clinton issues executive orders preventing US companies from investing in Iranian oil and gas and trading with Iran.

1996 More Sanction
President Clinton signs a law that imposes sanctions on foreign companies investing heavily in “terrorist” Iran.

April 1996 – Sanction law

Congress passes a law requiring the US government to impose sanctions on foreign firms who invest in Iran’s energy sector.

2002 – “Axis of evil”

In his January State of the Union address, U.S. President George W. Bush refers to Iran as part of an “axis of evil,” accusing Iran of the pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction and support of terrorism 

2006 Operation Olympic Games 

Operation Olympic Games (still continuing} is  a covert campaign of sabotage by means of cyber disruption, It is directed at Iranian nuclear facilities by the United States and likely Israel. It is one of the first known uses of offensive cyber weapons. Started under the administration of George W. Bush in 2006, Olympic Games was accelerated under President Obama 

March 2007 UNSC vote

US sponsored UN Security Council vote that toughen sanctions by banning all of Iran’s arms exports and extending the freeze on assets of those associated with the enrichment program. One month later, the EU publishes an expanded list of Iranian individuals and companies deemed persona non grata in the bloc

October 2007 – More sanctions

The US announces a raft of new unilateral sanctions against Iran, the toughest since it first imposed sanctions almost 30 years ago, for “supporting terrorists”. The sanctions cut more than 20 organizations associated to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps from the US financial system and three state-owned banks.

June 2008 More fund

June 29 U.S. congressional leaders agreed to President George W. Bush’s funding request for a major escalation of covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing its leadership

June 2010, Funding for  

Iran becomes the victim of cyber-worm ‘Stuxnet‘.   The malware, developed by United States and Israel infiltrates  Natanz nuclear facility and destroys over 1,000 nuclear centrifuges.

June – July 2010 – New U.S. and allies sanctions on Iran

The U.N., U.S. and the European Union place further sanctions on Iran for its uranium enrichment activity.

2017: Trump administration

In his speech, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia US President Donald Trump holds Iran responsible for global extremism.

May  2018 – U.S. withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal

President Donald Trump announces the U.S. will withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and implements a “maximum pressure campaign” 

April 201

US designates Iran’s IRGC, a branch of Iran’s armed forces as “terrorist

May 2019 Demand for capitulation

The US demands Iran make sweeping changes – from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian war – or face severe economic sanctions.  This amounts to nothing short of capitulation predictably Iran reject the  

May 2019 more troops for Persian Gulf

US sends aircraft carrier to the Middle East this is follows, month later announcement for troop increase in the Persian Gulf

May 2019   Aircraft carrier strike group sent to the Persian Gulf 

National Security Adviser John Bolton announces US was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Middle East “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings”.

2019: Operation Sentinel: U.S. Central Command develop a multinational maritime force to increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East. 

2019 July 4

Following a US request Gibraltar and British marines seize the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1. at the request of the United States. 

Jan. 2 2020

Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani and five others are killed in a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport. U.S. officials call it a “defensive action,” saying Soleimani planned attacks on U.S. diplomats and troops.

January 9, 2020 – U.S. retaliates with sanctions

Trump announces his administration will impose new sanctions on Iran in response to the missile strike. The next day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin outline the details of the sanctions, which target the construction, manufacturing, mining, and textiles industries. The sanctions also name eight Iranian officials.

February 5, 2020 hosting anti Iran camp 

 White House Hosted Israel-UAE officials for Coordination Against Iran

Feb 21, 2020 Blacklisting Iran

Trump administration pressures global financial watchdog to ‘blacklist’ Iran The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that sets standards to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, places Iran back on its infamous “blacklist,” 


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