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Iran-US Relations

Great Satan is an unofficial Iranian nickname for the USA. The term was first used by Imam Khomeini in his speech on Nov, 5, 1979 to describe the U.S. atrocities towards the Iran. In 1953 the CIA overthrew the democratically elected Mohammed Mosaddegh in a military coup, after Nationalization of Oil. The CIA replaced him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran and installed a notorious secret police called SAVAK. With US encouragement, Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the USA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Saddam Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with chemical bombs. Use of the term at rallies is often accompanied by shouts of "Marg bar Amrika!" ("Death to America" is an inexact translation of "Marg Bar Amrika", but is supposed to mean "Down with America").

Tehran will be perhaps the biggest focus for US foreign policy in the region. Biden has made no secret of his desire to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Biden wrote in Spring 2020 that Iran must return to strict compliance with the deal. In an op-ed published by Foreign Affairs, Biden wrote: “If it does so, I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.” Asked what strengthening the deal would entail, Biden’s advisers said it would not solely focus on nuclear capabilities.

“The two additions to a deal will include Iran’s terrorist proxies and its ballistic and precision-guided missiles,” the former US diplomat said. He added that it would be unacceptable to “just go back to the status” under the deal brokered by Obama. And the idea that sanctions Trump slapped on Iran were too much is not an idea shared by Biden, according to people familiar with his thinking on the matter. “Some may be lifted to get Iran to recommit to a deal, but some need to be left as part of leverage as we try to push Iran to reengage on the JCPOA,” a director at a Middle East-focused think tank said.

Biden supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, despite his recent comments to the contrary, but Baghdad is not expected to be a priority for his administration. Similar to Lebanon, Iraq will not have a specific policy centered on its interests. It will come as part of the pressure campaign on Iran and its proxies in the region, which include Shia militias in Iraq. This was evident when neither Harris brought up Iraq in the rare interview she gave prior to the elections, nor in Biden’s two 2020 op-eds. “Iraq will be viewed through the administration’s two principal priorities in the Middle East: Returning to a negotiation path with Iran and ending forever wars,” senior fellow at the Middle East Institute Randa Slim recently wrote.

The current system of government in Iran may over time crumble due to internal weaknesses, but not external intervention. Democracy cannot be imported, it must emerge indigenously. Many compare the Iranian revolution to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, saying both created governments that were systemically flawed and not sustainable. What differentiated the Iranian revolution from the Russian revolution, was that the communist revolution was based on an ideology that was largely discarded after the system fell. Iran's revolution was based on Islam, which will survive the fall of the Islamic Republic.

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Page last modified: 20-05-2022 17:50:42 ZULU