Iran lies at the centre of the area known as the Middle East and has been at the crossroads linking Africa, Asia, and Europe since the beginning of recorded history.
• In 7000 BC, the area was home to half of the world’s population, a mix of Arabs and Caucasians.
• Being at the crossroads, the area experienced continuous invasion by Macedonians, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Europeans, Russians, and now the USA, seeking to control politics, religion and resources.
• 633-651 – Muslim conquest of Iran. Majority accepted Sunni Islam but Persians remained Persians.
• Mongols dominated from 1219-1370 and Shia Muslims ruled Iran from 1378-1501.
• 1501 – Iran reunified as an independent state ruled by often foreign-backed Shah monarchies.
• 1804-1828 Russo-Persian Wars – Iran was caught between two imperial powers, Britain and Russia.
• 1900 – Oil became a critical resource with 55 per cent of proven reserves residing in the Middle East. Four of the six largest reserves are in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia has 297 billion barrels, Iran has 211, Iraq has 142, Kuwait 103), Venezuela has 301 billion barrels, and Canada has 170.
• 1901 to 1952 – Anglo-Iranian Oil company (BP) enjoyed a monopoly on Iranian oil.
• 1921 – Persian Coup established a constitutional monarchy, the Pahlavi dynasty. Replaced Islamic law with western law – women resisted a ban on traditional hijab in public.
• 1952 – Iran nationalized the oil company – Britain sent war ships and imposed a crushing embargo.
• Churchill planned a coup – Truman (D) sympathized with nationalists vs imperialists. UK left Iran.
• 1953 – Eisenhower (R) changed US policy and sided with Britain. MI6 and CIA organized a coup to depose Iran’s only democratically elected government. Like us, Iranians were upset about outsiders seeking to change their religion and culture.
• 1973 – OPEC proclaimed the Arab oil embargo targeting nations supporting Israel vs Palestine. Created oil shortages for western countries and an oil revenue windfall for OPEC and Iran.
• 1977 – Shah Reza Pahlavi viewed as a pro-western puppet of USA – oppressive, brutal, corrupt. Ayatollah Khomeini opposed the Shah and was exiled for 15 years.
• US President Carter (D) enacted human rights policy in which countries guilty of human rights would be deprived of US arms and aid. Gave Iranian population courage to oppose their repressive regime.
• 1977-1979 Demonstrations and strikes – 52 American embassy employees held for 444 days.
• 1979 – Shah left for exile, Ayatollah Khomeini was invited back and formed a Shia theocracy. Khomeini was considered less of a threat than Russian Marxism.
• 1980 – Saddam Hussein’s Sunni forces attacked Shiite Iran. Ended in stalemate in 1988.
• 1983 – Iran proxies bombed US embassy in Beirut, killing 241 US servicemen.
• 1990 – 1991 US launched Operation Desert Storm after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
• 2003 to 2011 – US launched a second and unjustified attacked on Iraq. Iran sided with Iraqi Shiites and was complicit in the killing of US troops by Shiite militia.
• 2013 – US CIA finally acknowledged the 1953 coup in Iran was carried out under CIA direction.
• 2013 – Iranian population elected a moderate president (Rouhani), theocracy remained supreme
• 2015 – Obama (D) wrote Iran Nuclear Agreement with USA, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany, EU. After 62 years, an opportunity to resolve Iran’s grievances against UK and US aggression. Iran’s moderates in government and the general population were finally and fully engaged.
• I have known and worked with several Iranians. They are no different than us. Iran was always a cradle of science contributing to medicine, mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. But those living in that troubled part of the world have endured centuries of brutal treatment from corrupt regimes, most often as a result of foreign interventions. Hopefully they will soon get a break.
• Today, Iran’s population is same as Germany (83 million) and is second in the Middle East to Egypt’s 101 million.
• But, in spite of having the world’s third largest oil reserves, Iran’s GDP per capita at $20,000 is barely above the world average of $18,000 per capita and is now decreasing due to sanctions.
• 2016 – Enter Donald Trump with his extreme ego, ignorance of history, legendary bullying nature. To get elected, Trump campaigned against every Obama initiative including Iran nuclear deal.
• 2018 – Trump (R) withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Agreement and imposed crippling sanctions. No evidence that Iran violated the nuclear agreement. No other country withdrew. Sanctions undermined the moderates, provoked the hardliners, and wasted the opportunity. (After WW1, crippling sanctions by UK and France led to Hitler’s agitation starting WW2.)
• 2019 – Iran retaliated to sanctions with attacks on US and UK ships and US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
• 2020 – Trump (R) ordered the killing of Iran’s top military leader – Iran vows retaliation.
• After vowing to withdraw from the Middle East, Trump sends 3,500 troops back to the Middle East.
• Trump claims his decisions to end the nuclear agreement and to assassinate the Iranian general were to prevent more planned attacks on US assets and citizens. That is Trump’s typical short-sighted and self-serving view that ignores the fact of 60 years of US provocation. Trump’s impulsive, uninformed, foolish and self-serving decisions will haunt the USA for another 60 years.
Before 1800, the world had less than one billion people and it took weeks for communications and people to move between continents. Bull-headed selfish strongmen were often successful leaders in those conditions. But those conditions no longer exist.
In today’s world, fast approaching eight billion people, all with instant communications and the ability to fly from Beijing to Chicago in half a day, what is needed are leaders with a strong sense of fairness who can listen, reconcile, compromise, and work together for the good of all mankind.
Hugh Holland is a retired engineering and manufacturing executive now living in Huntsville, Ontario.
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