by contributing writer Emily Colby
Before the 1979 Iranian Revolution plummeted its nation into strict, religious militancy, it was a strong ally to the United States. This was true, so much so, that a then, sitting President Carter once described the land as, “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” In 1970, the globe watched, eyes gaping, as a country, once described as the “most stable” in the Middle East, took a 180 degree turn in policy, and ended up, one of the most corrupt and oppressive governments of the late 20th century.
How could things change so quickly, and how does the US-Iran relationship fare today? The strained Iranian-American relation is one that has touched every president, beginning primarily from the Reagan Era onward. United States economic containment of Iran eventually led to US containment of Iran and Iraq. But despite America’s attempts to isolate the region, Iran’s export revenues on oil typically saw enough success throughout the rest of the world to remain economically stable. The string of US Presidents after the Carter Administration participated in a passive-aggressive game of cat and mouse, that ultimately only amounted to some additional sanctions and threatening words.
The US under the presidential leadership of George W Bush saw some increased action, when in 2002 during his State of the Union Address, Bush called Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, an “axis of evil.” The harsh statement created an uproar in Iran, and resulting, subsequent developments of nuclear facilities were later uncovered.
In 2013, President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani re initiated the relationship between the two countries, in a phone call. This was the most communication the two nation’s leaders had succeeded at in three decades.
Finally, in 2015 the much-contested Iran nuclear deal was reached under the collaboration of Iran, the members of the UN Security Council, known as the P5+1, (the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) and the EU. Of course, the deal was largely scrapped under the following Trump Administration in May of 2018.
That all leads us to today, days after Trump has declared himself victorious in his job talking to North Korean Leader, Kim Jung-un at a joint summit in Singapore. Only hours after concluding the talk, President Trump was quick to link his perceived success with North Korea to an optimistic future outlook on US-Iran relations. “I hope that they’re going to come back and negotiate a real deal.” A beaming President Trump told reporters on Tuesday.
Iran, on the other hand, does not seem so eager. “This man does not represent the American people, and they will surely distance themselves from him at the next elections.” A spokesman for the Iranian Government said in a statement to the Iranian state-sanctioned news.
But the longer Iran waits to come to the table, the more its people suffer. Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement has sent Iran’s economy into a downward spiral. ‘“I am buying my insulin shots at double the price only because of Trump’s decision,” fumed Najmeh Songhori, a 35-year-old diabetic mother of two standing in front of a pharmacy in central Tehran.’ reported AP News on Monday of this week.
How far is the Iranian regime willing to hurt its people before agreeing to talk? It might not be a fair game, but it could be the only option for economic salvation at this point.