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Beginning of the New Decade Strains World Stability

When duty calls, Marines rely on their intensive training to win our nation’s battles by air, land, and sea. – Courtesy photo by Sgt. Amaia Unanue

Tensions escalate between U.S. and Iran as 3,500 troops head to Middle East post drone attack in Baghdad

By Terry Miller

We’re but a few days into 2020 and already the fifes and drums are beating for history to repeat itself; imminent presidential impeachment may be looming hard and heavy; plus a brave new world order to help fight the enemies of the United States may be, just around the corner.

Fear of the unknown is indeed taking its toll on people the world over. One can only speculate where this international baked potato will land and what form it will take.

Last week it was announced that Iran Revolutionary Guard’s top general, Oasem Soleimani, was killed by a drone air strike at Baghdad airport Friday in a move ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump. The incident has deeply strained the paper-thin relationship between Iran and U.S. beyond measure.

Asked in the Oval Office, Tuesday Jan. 7, whether there were any signs of imminent retaliation by Iran, Trump said, “Well don’t forget, in our case, it was retaliation, because they were there first. … just in the very short period of time, two people dead, people badly injured, and then before that there were other attacks. And look at what he was planning.”

Trump added that what Soleimani was planning to do to the U.S., which remains classified, would be discussed Wednesday morning with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the joint chiefs of staff. Trump asserted that the U.S. is prepared for an attack by Iran.

The decision to kill Soleimani has touched off a fresh crisis between the U.S. and Iran. In an interview with CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen on Tuesday, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the drone strike an act of “state terrorism.”

The 62-year-old Soleimani spearheaded Iran Middle East operations as head of the elite Quds Force. Trump has claimed he killed or wounded thousands of Americans during his reign.

His funeral this past weekend was attended by thousands of Iranians pledging “Death to America.”

Since the attack at Baghdad Airport, the rhetoric on both sides has been fear-provoking to say the least. Perhaps the most devastating act of an undeclared war — according to numerous sources — this will no doubt provoke far more repercussions than Iran’s promise of “severe revenge” and continue to promote disdain for America and all its values.

U.S.-Iran relations have been tenuous at best since the overthrow of Mossaddeq, the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Iran’s prime minister in 1953, to tension and confrontation under President Trump, a look back over more than 65 years of tricky relations between Iran and the U.S.

Here’s a brief chronological overview:

  • In 1979 the Iranian Revolution ultimately resulted in the Embassy hostage crisis. The U.S. embassy in Tehran is seized by protesters in November 1979 and American hostages are held inside for 444 days. The final 52 hostages are freed in January 1981, the day of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.
  • And, then of course we had Iran Contra in 1985-86. The U.S. secretly ships weapons to Iran, allegedly in exchange for Tehran’s help in freeing U.S. hostages held by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. The profits are illegally channeled to rebels in Nicaragua, creating a political crisis for Reagan.
  • A few years later an Iranian passenger plane was shot down by the U.S. claiming the vessel was a fighter jet. Iran said almost 300 Iranian pilgrims died in that air disaster.
  • In 2002 President Bush claimed Iran was the “Axis of Evil.”
  • In July 2015, under the Obama administration, Iran agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. The agreement offered Tehran billions in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing the country’s nuclear program. Tehran agreed to a 10-year restriction on nuclear production, agreed to close thousands of centrifuges and exported much of its bomb-making material. The country also agreed that it would not “seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”
  • In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump abandons the nuclear deal, before reinstating sanctions against Iran and countries that trade with it. Then, in May and June 2019, explosions hit six oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the U.S. accuses Iran.
  • In June 2019, Iranian forces shoot down a U.S. military drone over the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. says it was over international waters, Iran says it is over their territory.

On Tuesday Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq housing U.S. and coalition troops in retaliation for the killing of Suleimani. According to the Iraqi prime minister’s office, Iran notified Iraq that an attack had begun and clarified that strike would be limited to locations where U.S. troops were present. Iran’s prime minister said the country now aims to “kick all U.S. forces out of the region.”

There have been no reports from U.S. officials of any American casualties from the strike. Iraqi officials have said none of their troops were killed or injured. After the attack, President Trump took to Twitter proclaiming “All is well!”

President Trump addressed the nation Wednesday morning to announce new sanctions. “As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.”

What happens next is pure conjecture but hopefully cooler heads will prevail and ultimately the world powers will seek diplomatic solutions to what, at present, seems to be a severely strained, dangerous and volatile situation.

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