History of Iranian-American confrontation!

January 07, 2020
History of Iranian-American confrontation!
Mohammed Al-Saaed

Many Arab leftists and remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab nationalism movement are talking about a secret alliance between Washington and Tehran.

Of course, they can only attempt to convince those who are easily fooled that the US is coordinating with Iran to swallow the region and that all that we are seeing is merely a conspiracy.

This is despite the fact that events of the past 40 years have proved that Iran and the US have moved in two separate directions, except during the Obama era.

The important question is: Does Iran actually want enmity with the US? Of course, not!

Iran is dying to establish close ties with Washington, which is rejecting this for historical reasons and the bloodshed between them that cannot be forgotten.

Otherwise, who killed Al-Qaeda members and passed information to Washington? Wasn’t it Iran? Who allowed American planes to cross to Afghanistan? Was it the Persian Republic of “Mars”? All these were an attempt to find a window through which Iran could seek to improve relations with Washington.

Why was Obama different from other American presidents in terms of relations with the Iranians?

Undoubtedly, this was an exceptional case in the ideology of American policy. Obama was an academic, who came from an environment of unrealistic romanticism, and he had deep hatred for Arab countries.

He believed that Arab countries did not possess any civilization. He wanted to replace America’s allies in the region - from Sunni Saudi Arabia to Shiite Iran - believing that Tehran was an alternative to the weight and stature of Riyadh.

However, this did not nullify the history of continuous confrontation between Washington and Tehran, which began immediately following the downfall of the Shah. After the US agreed to receive the Shah of Iran for treatment, the mullahs directed their Revolutionary Guard, under the guise of university students, to carry out an attack against the US Embassy in November 1979. They held hostage 54 diplomats and confiscated whatever secrets and documents they found in the embassy.

At that point, US President Jimmy Carter decided to resort to the military option. In April 1980, a military unit was assigned the mission to release the diplomats, so they flew in an EC-130 aircraft from Masirah in Oman to a desert area near Tehran. They also had a helicopter and several members of the Special Forces.

During the operation, an error occurred leading to the blowing up of the aircraft and aborting the entire operation.

Since that incident, Iranian-American relations have remained tense despite all attempts by Tehran to defuse the tension and improve ties. During the Iraq-Iran war, which erupted in 1981, Washington took the side of Iraq along with Saudi Arabia. They supported Baghdad in its defense of its territories against the Iranian invasion. In this regard, the US provided Iraq with military information and allowed it to purchase arms.

In 1983, the confrontation shifted to Lebanon, where Washington received a severe blow with the blowing up of two trucks full of explosives that targeted two buildings housing US troops deployed in Beirut. This blast led to the death of 299 American and French soldiers. The Islamic Jihad movement claimed responsibility for the blast. Of course, this name was but a pseudonym for Hezbollah.

In 1985, Iran started the so-called tankers war, as it sunk and attacked Gulf, especially Kuwaiti, petroleum tankers. That was the start of a real global economic crisis, but the international community did not allow Iran to continue. Kuwaiti vessels resorted to hoisting the flags of Western countries to force Iran to stop sinking oil tankers.

The Iranians did not stop but resorted to planting mines on the routes of oil tankers and military vessels, until in 1988 the American warship Bradley was struck by a mine causing it to go out of service. The Americans then launched a massive military operation.

The operation included preemptive strikes to neutralize Iranian capabilities in the Gulf and cause their oil platforms to cease functioning, which apart from being used for exporting oil were used as bases for spreading mines and dispatching military boats. Several Iranian oil platforms were totally destroyed.

All of these events caused Iranian-American relations to worsen, until they reached the peak of the crisis when the US frigate Vincent shot down an Iranian Airways Airbus plane killing 290 passengers.

At that time, the Americans refused to bear legal responsibility for the incident and considered it to be an accident due to the aircraft entering military airspace over the Gulf.

The confrontation did not stop and the Iranians remained under American pressure, until in 1996, Iran via its terrorist arm Al-Hijaz Hezbollah blew up Al-Khobar towers. This was an attempt to dismantle the Saudi-American alliance, but Saudi Arabia, through its security apparatus, was able to capture all of those who were responsible for the blast and put them on trial.

US-Iranian relations continued to worsen even in the new millennium to the extent that US president George W. Bush described Tehran as one of the “Axis of Evil” countries. He threatened Iran if it continued with its nuclear program.

In 2008, Obama became president of the US and allowed Iran to expand and occupy Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It would also have occupied Bahrain and Yemen, were it not for the firm stand taken by Saudi Arabia.

Today the US and Iran are on the brink of a direct war after America eliminated Tehran’s strong man Qasem Soleimani, who was deemed the “Emperor of Iranian War” in four Arab capitals.

The US wants to tell the world that it will not forsake the Middle East, but it has given up the conventional war that George W. Bush waged against Iraq.

The Trump Administration established an operation which could be called Removing the Hawk’s Eyes, which means keeping the hawk alive but without its eyes, hence causing it to lose importance as it cannot fly. It has turned into a very sad bird or a paper tiger.


Muhammad Al-Saaed is a Saudi writer.

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