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5 things to know about Iran

News & Commentary  |  By Tori Bateman, Sep 16, 2019
Photo: AFSC

It seems unfathomable that the U.S. would fan the flames of further wars in the Middle East, but right now the Trump administration is rapidly escalating tensions with Iran.

Here’s what you need to know and how you can call for lasting peace. 

1. U.S. aggression toward Iran is reaching a fever pitch. 

This weekend, the U.S. accused Iran of being behind drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. The Houthi militia in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the U.S. cited the direction of the attack as evidence that the attack came from Iran. 

U.S. leadership continues to push us toward strikes against Iran. In response to the bombing of Saudi oil facilities, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. was "locked and loaded" to retaliate, pending input from Saudi Arabia. Earlier in the summer, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had been heard using the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to justify potential U.S. military action against Iran.

2. These recent developments are just the latest in a long line of provocations between Iran and the U.S. 

In early September, the United States attempted to bribe the captain of an Iranian ship in order to seize the tanker and the 2.1 million barrels of oil it carried. In June, Iran had shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone it says crossed into Iranian airspace. Trump ordered retaliatory strikes on Iran, only calling them off at the last minute. In May, the United States accused Iran of using naval mines to attack two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian-U.S. relationship has also been complicated by a long list of announcements from Iran that they have breached limits on enriched uranium production and nuclear research imposed by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – a reaction to sanctions reinstated after the U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018.

What’s happening now follows a long line of provocations, including the incorporation of Iranians in the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and economic sanctions imposed by each nation on the other. Tensions reach back to the CIA’s involvement in the 1953 coup that deposed Iran’s democratically elected leader to establish a dictatorship friendlier to U.S. and U.K. oil interests.     

3. The calls for war with Iran echo the misguided calls for war with Iraq. 

From the framing of tensions as attacks on the world's oil supply, to accusations of guilt for attacks based on the intelligence community's assessment of limited evidence, the calls for war with Iran are eerily similar to those that led us into war with Iraq. In addition, military action against Iran would likely be based on the 2001 AUMF and shaky claims that Iran has collaborated with al-Qaida. If there is one thing we learned from U.S. military intervention in Iraq, it's that war does not make people safer and only further entrenches and expands conflicts.

4. The military industrial complex has already benefited from the rhetoric.

The Trump administration used tensions with Iran to justify circumventing the congressional approval process for an $8 billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia. 

5.  War with Iran – or any country – is never the answer.

AFSC stands against any military action against Iran. We reject the idea that national security is a zero-sum game and seek a model of security that recognizes the interconnectedness of all people. 

Join AFSC and people across the country in calling on Congress to do everything in their power to stop the Trump administration from bringing us closer to war with Iran! Contact your elected officials today. 

About the Author

Tori Bateman is policy advocacy coordinator in AFSC's Office of Public Policy and Advocacy. She advocates for U.S. policy that aligns with AFSC's vision of shared security.