Ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Iran is an oppressive theocratic regime. Women risk prison for not wearing a hijab and there are hundreds of political prisoners that would testify about the lack of freedom within its borders.
However the U.S.A. has never had a real problem with dictatorships. Just across the Persian Gulf the Saudi Arabian regime, who remain one of the US’s closest allies and biggest recipients of military hardware, maintains an infinitely more oppressive theocratic regime. Atheists are classed as terrorists, women have virtually no rights, teeangers are being executed for expressing their political views online, and public beheadings are a common occurrence.
So it is clearly the fact that, as Trump is at pains to point out, Iran is a state sponsor of terror that has earned America’s wrath. Indeed they do provide both economic and military support to both Hezbollah and Hammas, both classified as terrorist organisations by the USA and Israel. However it is important to note that whilst both Hezbollah and Hammas are by no means model global citizens, they both hold their current political powers in their respective countries due to democratic elections. Meanwhile Iran was invaluable is assisting the Iraqi army in halting the advance of ISIS in Iraq and was pivotal in ensuring Baghdad didn’t fall. Yes they support the dictator Assad (who once again is fighting Islamist extremists) but the US has backed dictatorial allies many times throughout the years. Yes they have supported Houthis rebels in Yemen as they overthrew the unpopular dictator there, once again, a move replicated many times by the US throughout history.
Saudi Arabia on the other hand is probably the single biggest reason behind the propagation of the Salafist interpretation of Islam that has fuelled the current Islamist scourge that threatens Western Civilisation. Funded by billions of dollars in oil money they have exported their Wahhabism across the Muslim world. It is no coincidence that when the Islamic State set up schools within their Caliphate they chose to utilise school books taken straight from Saudi Arabian schools. Islamist militants in Syria and Afghanistan have long been known to be funded by Saudi millions. Should we mention Saudi born Osama Bin Laden? Yes why not. Because of the 19 men involved in the September 11 attacks, 15 were Saudi Arabian!
But of course the “Death To America” chants and the burning American flags? Clearly it’s Iran that started the hate, right? Well let’s quickly remind ourselves why Iranian kids might grow up with a slight bad taste in their mouth about the famous red and white stripes.
We have to go back to 1953 when Iran’s popular and democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was overthrown by a coup. A coup, entirely and unapologetically orchestrated and manufactured by the the CIA. This is not a conspiracy theory, this is something the CIA openly brags about. You see Mossadegh was trying to do something that was unacceptable to America, he was trying to nationalise Iran's oil. It wanted the bulk of the money to stay in Iran instead of being controlled by American and British companies. So the US worked their magic and reinstalled the Shah (a monarch/dictator) who brutally oppressed his people for another 25 years.
Then once the Shah was overthrown in an actual popular revolution in 1978 they were obviously pretty keen for revenge and took a number of US diplomats hostage for a few years. The US for their part initiated crippling sanctions and seized $400 million the Shah had just paid in advance for some fighter jets. So needless to say… Iranians have some very good reasons to dislike Americans.
But of course it’s not about history, it’s about the nuclear weapons right? Indeed, Iran has had a rather concerning interest in nuclear weapons and there is a clear intrinsic danger in allowing weapons of an apocalyptic nature getting into the hands of a theocracy.
But why do Iran want nuclear weapons? To start with, since the revolution they have been a non-aligned nation. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or other Gulf States that have existed under the US nuclear umbrella, or states that leaned towards the socialist Soviet Union or China, Iran had to fend for itself. It wasn’t entirely alone in this capacity, India and Pakistan were in the same boat… hence they got themselves nuclear weapons.
More recently they have witnessed first hand the US execute regime change next door in Iraq (amongst others) and they can’t seem to shake this overwhelming sense that the US wants to effect regime change in Iran too. This is probably, and this is just a guess, because the White House keeps saying they do. National Security Adviser John Bolton has publically demanded regime change in multiple speeches. Secretary of State has called for regime change as well as air raids on Iran. Only this weekend Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a in a speech to Iranian dissidents "We have a president who is as committed to regime change as we are."
So you know what? I think the Iranians have a very good reason for thinking that the US could at any moment try and effect “regime change”... again…
It does seem odd that whilst the US is prepared to talk and make a deal with a brutal North Korean regime that already has nuclear weapons, they just tore up a deal with a country that doesn’t, a deal the entire world was happy with except for Saudi Arabia and Israel (the latter of which also happens to have nuclear weapons in defiance of the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty).
The reason the US ripped up this agreement is complicated. It has more to do with political power plays between Saudi Arabia and Iran than any genuine concern for their nuclear program. It has more to do with the Sunni vs Shia religious rift than with any desire to sprout democracy. Saudi Arabia and Israel know they have Trump’s ear, they know they can now attack Iran’s interests and attempt to goad them into an over reacted reply that would galvanise public support for an invasion or at the very least, complete isolation.
Look, as I said from the outset, Iran is no innocent party here. They are an oppressive regime. But every other Western Nation recognised that the current democratically elected President of Iran is a progressive and has managed to gather public support to liberalise and slowly open up to the West. Generating wealth in Iran through trade would strengthen the educated middle classes and inevitably lead to further reforms.
By violating this agreement Trump just crippled the progressives within Iran who were trying to convince everyone else that maybe the USA isn’t that bad. Ultra conservatives are now beating their chests and basking in the glory of being able to say they told them so. The U.S.A. cannot be trusted by Iran, and this once again proves it.
Obama tried to bring Iran in from the cold. By tearing up this deal Trump has tried his best to put Iran right back out there. In the end, ironically, this event will instead possibly be seen by history as another step towards the isolation of the U.S.A.