Sunday, October 14, 2012

Iran's View Of America

Morgan Shuster and US officials at Atabak Palace, Tehran, 1911. Their group was appointed by Iran's parliament to reform and modernize Iran's Department of Treasury and Finances.
At the moment, there are no formal relations between Iran and the United States.  Due to the poor relations between the two countries, they do not even swap ambassadors. Iran maintains an interests section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., while the United States has maintained an interests section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran.  Relations between the two countries began in the mid to late nineteenth century, as to start with, Iran was weary of the British and Russian colonies, but saw America as a strong western power.  Amerricans Arthur Millspaugh and Morgan Shuster (in the picture above) were even appointed treasurers-general by the Shahs of that time.

America and Iran had strong, positive relations (even after the UK and the Soviet Union invaded Iran during World War II, and these countries were strong allies with the US) until Mohammed Mossadeq's later years of his government, when they were overthrown by MI6, who were aided by the CIA.  This was followed by hostility from Iran towards the USA, after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Now, the US has an embargo with Iran, which has been in place since 1995.  This relates to Obama's inauguration speech and how the President wanted to reform alliances with Iran.  However, the article suggests that due to culture differences and how Iran and the US view democracy and certain policies differently, that regaining alliances between both countries will be hard.

This is a video from MSNBC, on how Iran see's America.

In 1979, there was the Iranian Revolution where the Pro-American Shah was ousted and replaced by the Anit-American Supreme Leader Ayatollah Komeini.  This suprised the American Government, and the intelligence service and State Departments 'consistently underestimated the magnitude and long-term implications of this unrest'.  Khomeini instantly got rid of the Shah’s prime minister and replaced him with a moderate politician called Mehdi Bazargan. Until this point, the Carter Administration was still hoping to renormalize its relationship with Iran, sending its National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, whilst not recognizing the new regime. Unfortunately, this idea was unconceivable towards the ordinary Iranians, resulting in massive anti-American and anti-Bazargan demonstrations and forcing him to resign.

In 1979, the revolutionary group 'Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line', was frustrated that the recently disposed Shah was enabled to go the US.  Therefore, the Muslim Student Followers occupied the American Embassy in Tehran and took 52 American Diplomats hostage and kept them for 444 days.  In Iran, the incident was seen by many as a blow against American influence in Iran and the moderately liberal government of PM Mehdi Bazargan, who opposed the hostage taking and resigned soon after. The hostage takers felt that their action was connected to the 1953 American-backed coup against the government of Prime Minister Mosaddeq.
"You have no right to complain, because you took our whole country hostage in 1953''
 said one of the hostage takers to Bruce Laingen, chief U.S. diplomat in Iran at the time.

After the hostage taking of 1979, America froze about $12 billion of Iranian assests, gold, bank deposits and properties.  According to American officials, most of those were released in 1981 as part of the deal to release the hostages.  However, Iran still say today that the US have still frozen about $10 billion worth of Iranian assests, which is pending due to the resolution claims from the revolution.

Then there was the Iran-Iraq war.  Although President Carter declared 'strict neutrality in the conflict', the US government was helping Iraq diplomatically and economically.  During the second half of the war, the US sanctioned several bills against Iran, yet cleared Saddam Hussein's government from U.S list of State Sponsors Of Terrorism and created diplomatic relations (according to Iran and the US: Engagement or Confrontation". Journal of International and Area Studies).

There is many other situations why America and Iran do not have strong positive relations, including the Hezbollah Bombings which seen an Anti-American terrorist attacks, including the April 1983 United States Embassy bombing which killed 17 Americans, the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing which killed 241 U.S. peace keepers in Lebanon, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. An American district court judge ruled in 2003 that the April 1983 United States Embassy bombing was carried out with Iranian support.

Although Obama wanted to reform connections with Iran, I believe it would take alot more to recover a positive relations between both countries.

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