Heightened Tensions in the Middle East

There has been a series of events which have escalated tensions between Iran and the U.S. There have been riots, attacks, mobs, and threats. However, what caught the attention of the world was the death of General Soleimani, a top Iranian general. This sparked a global conversation and raised questions about who is in the wrong. This direct attack on Iran has escalated the situation to a new high. But, aggression between Iran and the U.S. has been building up for a long time.

The U.S. has been involved in Iran since 1953 when Iran started forcing foreigners out of their oil reserves. At the time, Britain had a big stake in their oil industry. They had a plant in Iran called the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company which the Iranian government tried to take over. Britain responded by boycotting Iran. But as the situation continued to unfold, Britain and the U.S. were afraid that the prime minister was unreliable and a communist takeover might happen. So, the U.S. and Britain overthrew the government and seated a monarch in power. Twenty six years later the people overthrew the U.S. backed leader. They returned back to a republic. But the people were still unhappy with America so they protested outside of the embassy, which quickly turned violent. They took almost 60 American hostages for 444 days. After that, there were secret arms deals in 1985, a ban on all Iranian trade within America in 2002, and a secret Iranian nuclear plant discovered in 2003. Finally, in the early 2010’s they reached a nuclear deal that lifted sanctions and decreased nuclear weapons. However, this peace wouldn’t last long.

The more modern part of this relationship started in 2018. President Trump pulled out of the Iranian Nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions. He claims he did this because the deal was “rotten” and America didn’t have the ability to actually stop Iran’s nuclear production. This was the first step towards the current situation between Iran and America. Trump designated part of the Iranian military a terrorist group in April 2019, for the first time in U.S. history.  In the summer of  2019, several oil tankers were hit with explosions and America pointed their finger at Iran. This caused the U.S. to deploy an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle east. Later, in July, Iran started to drawback from the nuclear deal. Riots started over economic concerns in November. Two days after Christmas, December 27, there was a rocket attack on a military base in Iraq that injured a service member and killed an American citizen. While no group officially claimed the attack, the U.S. was quick to react two days later with an air strike on a Iranian backed terrorist group in Iraq. On the last day of 2019, Iranian protesters attacked the American embassy in Iran. Finally, General Soleimani was killed in a U.S. led airstrike creating outrage throughout Iran. The Iranians responded with a missile strike on a military base in the middle east, which was mostly vacant. The question now is, how will the U.S. and Iran move forward?

 

While the future of the U.S. and Irans’ relationship is uncertain, there are several paths that this situation could follow. De-escalation. Perhaps the easiest route to follow for both world powers would be de-escalation. The most recent strike on an American base did not leave anyone seriously injured. This was called an intentional move by the leader of Iran, Hussan Rouhandi. According to the Guardian, Rouhandi said, “Iran will not wage war against any nation.” However, the possibility of a war has not been completely knocked off the board.  CNBC quoted Mark Esper, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, who said, “If we get word of attacks, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces, protect American lives. The game has changed.” America has the biggest military budget and one of the largest military forces, so war is in the realm of their capabilities.  After the attack on the embassy 3000 troops were deployed to the area. A war, in America, means anywhere from one million and 16 million deployed troops. Moreover, if there is war between America and Iran there would be implications beyond war. It is no secret wars cost money. But a study from Brown University’s Cost of War Project estimates that $5.9 trillion was spent post 9/11 on war. A war with Iran could be deadly and costly. Can America afford the cost?

 

With Iran and the USA’s future still unclear, there are a lot of things that the public is still learning and trying to understand. From their lengthy history to the modern timeline leading up to the death of General Soleimani. Now, on to their future. The biggest question weighs heavy on some people’s minds; Will there be war? Because there is one thing for certain, this is not the end of this situation.