The United States and Iran have been on the brink of war for a long time, accentuated by recent events such as the airstrike and killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. While President Donald Trump insists that Soleimani carried out “evil crimes” and is a “son of a b----,” many Democrats believe that it was unjust to approve an airstrike against Soleimani without asking Congress first. Popular and reputable news sources such as BBC, CNN, and PBS (wow, lot’s of acronyms) have assembled timelines of the conflict between the two countries, and we’ll go through some of the most important moments that defined this dispute.
PBS’s timeline goes way back to the 1920s, so I highly suggest you go back and look at their timeline. The three agencies agree that the first major event of this disagreement was the overthrowing of the elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh. The CIA supported the coup d’etat because Mossadegh has moved to nationalize the country’s oil fields. The US has always relied heavily on the Middle Eastern oil fields and this would have been considered a great blow to our country. In 1957, an Iranian intelligence organization called SAVAK was formed, but it was later blamed for the torture and death of several thousand political prisoners.
In 1979, the US-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, is forced to leave the country amid protests and demonstrations. Popular religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile and encourages the “brewing revolution.” He renames the country to the Islamic Republic of Iran. From 1979 to 1981, the storming and siege of the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran is carried out by Islamic students. Dozens of Americans hostages are held inside for 444 days and are released the day of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. The Iranians basically hated former President Jimmy Carter’s guts because Carter had allowed the exiled Shah (Pahlavi) to enter the United States for medical conditions.
n September 1980, in the midst of the US Embassy hostage situation, the Iran-Iraq war begins. The Iran-Contra scandal in 1985 (through 1987) was the biggest crisis during the Reagan Administration. The US secretly shipped guns to Iran “allegedly in exchange for Tehran's help in freeing US hostages held by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon,” the BBC timeline reports. Unfortunately, some of the profits were used to fund militias in Nicaragua who were trying to overthrow the “socialist regime.” In July 1988, American naval ship USS Vincennes shoots down Iranian passenger plane en route to Dubai, killing all 290 passengers on board. Most passengers were Iranian pilgrims on their way to Mecca, says PBS.
Qasem Soleimani is appointed head of the Quds Force in 1997. Former US President George W. Bush refers to Iran as the “axis of evil” along with other countries Iraq and North Korea. His speech causes outrage in Iran; Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi calls Bush’s comments “arrogant” and an “interference in internal affairs.” The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran admitted to producing enriched plutonium and agrees to more United Nations inspections of their nuclear plants. A nuclear agreement is announced in 2015, signed by Iran, the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany (later, the US withdraws from the agreement). The nuclear agreement was made and signed during the Obama Administration.
n 2017, President Trump signs an executive order for a travel ban for Islamic countries, including Iran. Iran called the ban “an obvious insult to the Islamic world” and began conducting ballistic tests. In May 2018, President Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement with Iran and began a “maximum pressure campaign” to force Iran to make a new deal. According to PBS, international nuclear watchdogs later confirmed that Iran had exceeded its nuclear limits. April 8, 2019, President Trump declares Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a “foreign terrorist organization.” Iran responds by calling the United States a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
CNN reports, “Tensions further escalate after attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, as well as the downing of a US drone, which Washington and its allies blame on Iran.” Iranian forces shoot down a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz, which is a joint Iran-Oman territory.
On January 3, 2020 --the event that’s been in the news for so long-- Major General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in the Baghdad airport. Thousands take to the streets to mourn Soleimani, calling him a martyr. A report says over 50 people were trampled in the protesting.
Tehran launched missiles at two US bases in Iran: Al Asad air base and a camp in Erbil. The damage was light and President Trump said that no US personnel were killed.
On the 8th of January, a Boeing 737 crashed shortly after takeoff. All 176 people were killed; 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, 4 Afghans, three Germans, and 3 British nationalists. Iran announced that it had accidentally shot down the aircraft with two Russian-made missiles after mounting evidence pointed that way. The admission “sparked protest in Tehran and elsewhere against Iranian leaders.”
So what now?
Most news sources believe that President Trump’s decision to deal with the situation diplomatically is a sign that tensions are cooling off. While beliefs are split on this issue, some think that Iran intentionally missed important structures to avoid loss of live. Army General Mark Milley, however, said that Iran “intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft, and to kill personnel.” CNN journalist Jake Tapper wrote on Twitter, “Pentagon official tells me that many US military leaders think Iran deliberately chose targets that would not result in loss of life.”
While some worry of a World War 3, news sources agree that another world war is not on the horizon.
Story by Caroline Barton