The relation between Iran and the USA of late is still a deadlock. However, this diplomatic impasse never existed for the better part of pre 1979 Iran. Even though the United States has made advances to mend the broken relations, the deadlock has seemingly proved to be hard nut to crack. This paper therefore traces this diplomatic tension that has existed between Iran and the United States.
Strong diplomatic ties between Iran and United States can be traced to the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi that began from 1941 to 1979 when the Islamic Revolution wrecked havoc. During the period of the Cold War, Iran proved to be a strategic locale for the advancement of the American foreign policy in the region of Middle East. Besides, Iran proved to be very rich in oil (Teicher, Radley, & HarperCollins, 1993)
During this existing relation between Iran and United States, Iranian Premier Mossadeq came into picture. Mossadeq initiated nationalization of the Iranian oil industry which the British did not welcome. Thus, the British Empire with the backing of international oil companies retaliated with a naval blockade and boycott.
Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency was engineering an overthrow of the democratically instituted Mossadeq regime. Operation Ajax, the infamous coup d’état to oust Mossadeq was organized under the Eisenhower Administration. This forcible entry into the Iranian political affairs was to destabilize the Tudhe-a communist party in Iran- and thus providing the United States a leeway to continue fighting the Cold War. Therefore, it was the geostrategic location of Iran and the oil that prompted the United States to aid in the establishment of the tyrannical rule. (Gasiarowski, 2004) Although the first operation failed, second attempts lead to the imprisonment of Mossadeq on August 19, 1953 by a mob with full backing of the United States. Treason charges lead to the jailing of Mossadeq, an anti British-American hegemony champion.
This paved way for the Western puppet, Pahlavi, to continue his iron fist rule and to ensure that the relations between Iran and the Western powers soared. (Abrahamian, 2008) Immediately, the Shah dynasty began a reformation of the Iranian governmental affairs with the institution of the White Revolution which locked out the Muslims from government offices besides altering other traditional norms. Iranian Islamic leaders considered this as an affront to their faith. Ayatollah Khomeini, a Shia marja and a renowned politician was one such leader with dissenting opinions. According to Abrahamian (2008), Pahlavi continued his tyrannical rule by declaring himself the emperor of Iran, silencing journalists and suppressing the Tudhe political party with the help of U.S. military.
Ayatollah Khomeini lead a political unrest against the oppressive rule by the Shah monarchy through spreading of dissenting views that lead to a killing spree by the Shah’s brutal secret police force. Iranians in the long run toppled Pahlavi’s dynasty leading to his disgraceful flight. This lead to a revamp in the Iranian governance which determined to rid Iran of any Western influence. Iran was once again declared an Islamic state with efforts initiated to redirect the populace to Islamic customs. (Algar, 2000) The current diplomatic standoff thus set pace henceforth. Later the hostage crisis commenced with 66 of the American citizens from the American embassy being taken captive by Iranian students in Tehran. Some other hostages were later released but 51 citizens and American diplomats were kept hostage for 444 days. The then United States president, Jimmy Carter, started a negotiation with the new Iranian government but hit a snag. The Iranians wanted the Shah who was receiving medical treatment in America to be referred back to Iran for trial and that the United States would cease any intrusion in the affairs of Iran. Of course the proud Carter Administration would not play ball but instead decided to impose sanctions against the Iranian government.
An Operation Eagle Claw was initiated as a rescue effort for the hostages but was called off when an airplane and a helicopter collided with the demise of six American patriots. The hostages were, however, released after a change of guard in Washington with Ronald Reagan at the helm. Whatever negotiations that may have ensued leading to the cessation of the hostage crisis is shrouded in mystery but the fact remains that any future Iran-U.S. diplomatic relations would continue to prove elusive. (Lawson & Silberdick, 1991) The war between Iran and Iraq was not in the interest of the United States but the move by Saddam Hussein to donate huge amounts of money prior to the war proved as leverage to the United States. The United States responded in kind by offering intelligence, economic and weaponry support. (Karsh, 2002)
Kashani (2004) notes that even though Iraq had initially been under the totalitarian rule of Saddam Hussein and allied to the Soviet Union, the United States viewed her as a lesser threat. Iran’s Islamic regime proved to be an impenetrable governance system and a threat to the United States. This diplomatic impasse was later increased by when the Bush Administration declared Iran as one of the safety and security threats to the United States after the September 11 attacks. President Bush in his address of January 29, 2002 claimed that states like Iran made up an “axis of evil” that threatened the global peace. Forte (2010), mentions that the Iran president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, requested for a neutral and independent probe into the real orchestrators of the September 11 attacks while addressing delegates in a United Nation conference.
Down the Memory Lane
The historical deadlock in Iran-United States diplomatic relations continues to mount even as the United States is making desperate efforts to quell and hopefully end this standoff. The continued kidnappings and attacks of consulates for instance the consulate the Northern consulate in Irbil, continue to foster tension between the two states. The sentencing of the United States Hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer due to an alleged charge of espionage on August 19, 2011, is another event that has contributed into the tension between the states. (Jones, 2011)
Moreover, the deployment of a missile shield by the Obama administration as a defense against supposed attack on American allies (U.A.E, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain) residing at the Gulf by Tehran goes a long way to describe the existing tension between the two states. It is thought that Tehran might respond to the sanctions that have been imposed on them because of their nuclear program. Though Iran has come clean on their proper intentional use of the program, the United States is for the idea that Iran is intending to use this program to install nuclear weapons. (Starke, 2011) And now, the American spy drone that crashed in Iran has provoked more animosity between the two states as the Iranian government is expected to turn down the request by the Obama Administration to return the drone.
The future relations between Iran and the United States remain elusive as tensions continue to grow. It is a Herculean task to bring back these two states to the close relationship they once enjoyed some 30 plus years ago. The Obama administration might crack this diplomatic deadlock or not.