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Soaring tensions

“All the world’s a stage,” said Shakespeare. For nearly four years, President Donald Trump treats the world as his stage. “

The start of the New Year witnessed the assassination of Iran’s top military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, by a US drone strike on 3 January 2020. Soon after, thousands of people in Iran thronged the funeral, mourning their war hero, General Soleimani and registered a mass protest against the US action. This mass sentiment was marred by an accidental airstrike by Iran on an Ukrainian passenger plane, minutes after take-off from Tehran.

Strained relationship

Relations between Iran and America have been tense since the 1950s, ever since the coup against the then Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, who nationalised an oil refinery established by the British. After a coup by Bri-
tain and USA, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, took over, leading a monarchy-like government under the watchful eyes of the US. Thirty years later, young Iranians ended the Shah’s rule, took 52 Americans hostage. Anti-Americanism became a part of an Iranian’s blood. A series of conflicts followed with several attacks on Iran by US troops. Iran has been retaliating with attacks on several Western embassies across the Middle East.

The Nuclear Deal

It is imperative to be cognisant of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and its role in recent conflicts with the United States. In brief, the deal focuses on Iran limiting its nuclear programme in return for ease of economic sanctions of Iran by the USA, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. In 2018, President Trump pulled out of the agreement signed by former US President Obama, stating that it was ‘a bad deal and that he didn’t trust Iran.’ This not only meant the revival of economic sanctions on Iran, leading to an economic crisis but also further conflict and uncertainty for other countries.

Iran’s Current Status…

President Trump has been clear that even if a single American was killed in Iran, a war will follow. At the end of 2019, an American contractor was killed by the Iranian-backed militia group, Kata’ib Hezbollah. The assassination of Soleimani by the USA was a direct outcome of this. Iran has not been silent despite its fast-dwindling economic situation, with inflation at its peak and officially pulling back from the 2015 nuclear deal. Germany and Britain are unable to salvage the situation and the International Atomic Energy Agency reveals that the Iranian government is increasing its production of uranium, the most important element for powering nuclear reactors.

It is unclear if any fair negotiation will be possible between Tehran and Washington as a shadow war has been on for 6 decades. Iran, Europe, and the USA are all players involved this time and the future is fraught with uncertainty.

 

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