How the USA and Iran came the brink of war?
Ahmet Emre Usta | 30 Jan 2020
After the USA killed Iran general Qassem Suleimani in a strike ordered by President Trump, the USA and Iran came to the brink of war. Iran considered the killing of Qassem Soleimani to be an “act of war” then Iran attacked two bases in Iraq that house American troops with a barrage of missiles. Those events scared the world about World War III as hreatening statements came one by one.
It can be helpful to look at history briefly between the USA and Iran for making clear why they have problems. No doubt, the 1979 Iran Revolution and the Iran Hostage Crisis are a big breaking point in the relationship between the USA and Iran. After those events, their relations never went on like in the past. When the George W. Bush period started, it worsened even more. Bush denominated Iraq, Iran and North Korea as Axis of Evil. American authorities blamed Tehran that it carries out the secret nuclear weapon program. After this date, according to the USA, Iran went on to be involved in nuclear activities. So in addition to UN sanctions, the USA started to impose more sanctions against Iran. Until the Obama period, relationships were bad between the two states. When Obama took office, President Ahmedinejad congratulated him, and Obama proposed without precondition negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program. It meant that it was a new page in the history of USA-Iran relations. However, it was not easy to reach an agreement. After long negotiations, it was entered into an agreement between Iran and a group of world powers: the P5+1 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China – plus Germany) and the European Union. According to this agreement, Iran would redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities and accept the Additional Protocol in order to lift all nuclear-related economic sanctions. However, relationships would change again after Trump administration.
It is necessary to look at Trump administration differently. Since Trump has taken office, he took on a harsh style against Iran and started to put into practice what he said. Before his presidency he indicated that he would make a rigid policy against Iran. After his inauguration he declared that the USA would withdraw from the nuclear agreement which was signed between Iran and P5+1 in May. In 2019, the USA tightened the sanctions of Iran’s oil export and because of that, Iran’s economy was affected badly. With some upcoming events, tensions went on to increase. The USA declared that two oil tankers were attacked and they accused Iran. Iran shot down a US military drone over the Strait of Hormuz. The US claimed it was over international waters, but Iran said it was over their territory. The tension was increasing day by day but the assassination of Qassem Suleimani was something unexpected.
Donald Trump ordered an airstrike to kill General Qassem Suleimani on 3 January 2020 and the operation was accomplished. It stunned Iran and all the world. Iran was declaring that they would revenge for Qassem Suleimani. However, Trump did not hesitate and went on to increase tension and said on Twitter on 4 January “…targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” Iran declared on 6 January that they would not go under the enrichment limits set in the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. On 8 January, Iran attacked two bases in Iraq that house American troops with a barrage of missiles and Iran’s Khamenei said the attacking of the USA’s bases was a “slap in the face” for the USA. Moreover, Javad Zarif said on Twitter “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” After that news, Donald Trump’s statements have changed temperately. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Trump said, striking a somber tone during his White House statement.
Even though it seems the tension calms nowadays, it was a hazardous game. The world saw that a war could start which could affect all the world. As history has shown us, there is no winner of any war. War means death of innocent people. The only way to avoid it would be that those two countries somehow come together and try to solve their problems with solely political instruments.
Photo: Funeral of Qasem Soleimani, Tehran, Iran on 6 January 2020. [Wikimedia Commons]