On January 3, 2020, American forces killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps with a drone strike in Iraq. Along with Soleimani, Americans killed nine other Iranian military personnel in Iraq. Soleimani was Iran’s number one military leader in the area. In response to this, Iran launched 15 missiles aimed at American soldiers in Iraq. No American was killed, but the Pentagon reported that thirty-four Americans suffered nonimpact injuries. It is important to know the history of the area and the relations between the United States of America and Iran to understand what the current event means.
In 1921, A Persian officer, Reza Khan, orchestrated a coup of Iran, overthrew a dynasty, and took the title of Shah (king) of Iran in 1925. Reza Shah ruled until 1941, when Allied forces invaded Iran to guarantee Iranian oil would help the U.S.A., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union win World War II. The Allies replaced Reza Shah with his son, Mohammad-Reza Shah (simply known as the Shah of Iran). After World War II, the Iranian government moved against American and British interests. Iranians removed the Shah. In 1951, Iran nationalized the British-owned oil industry. Two years later, the United States and Great Britain organized a coup, overthrew the Iranian government, and placed the Shah back in power as king. Throughout his rule, the Shah of Iran instituted democratic reforms. In 1963, women gained the right to vote in parliamentary elections. This democratization of Iran upset the radical Islamic leaders of Iran. They believe that women should not have the right to vote and should be treated as second-class citizens.
The Iranian Revolution and the Islamic Republic 1979 – 2016
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, many in Iran were unhappy with the Shah of Iran and his supporters, the U.S.A. and Great Britain. The main leader of the revolution was the Islamic leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, who believed that everyone requires guardianship by a leading Islamic leader. The Ayatollah was upset at the Shah’s western ties, believing the west to be evil and decadent. He did not approve that women should have the same rights as men. In 1979, massive protests throughout the country forced the Shah to leave. The Ayatollah took power, and a national vote made Iran an Islamic Republic. Iranians held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days from 1979 to 1981. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini died and the Ayatollah Khamenei replaced him as the “Supreme Leader.” Iran has a parliamentary system, but every governmental decision has to be approved and is directed by the religious leader the Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the U.S.A. is the “Great Satan,” the source of everything in the world that is evil, it officially hates Israel and seeks to destroy it, and it does not allow any freedom that goes against its strict interpretation of Islam. It publicly states its hatred for the United States and Israel, and, it openly supports terrorist organizations that kill Americans, Israelis, and anyone who opposes the Iranian view of the world. Ayatollah Khamenei uses every method of communication, including Twitter, to detail his plan for eliminating Israel. In Iran, women have much less rights than men, men can have four wives, and the government of Iran punishes those who do not follow the religious laws. For example, the punishment for homosexuality is execution and the punishment for adultery for women is execution.
Since Iran became a theocratic dictatorship, the United States has tried to isolate Iran and work with allies to confront the country. Still, Iran has been successful in sponsoring, arming, and cooperating with terrorists. For a complete list of their decades of murder and terror, simply conduct an internet search with the phrase “Iran and state-sponsored terrorism.”
The Obama Administration and the Iran Nuclear Deal
President Obama thought that the best way to change Iran was not to isolate Iran but to remove all sanctions against the country and to look the other way if Iran sponsored terror. President Obama believed that Iran would eventually join other nations if it were treated as if it were a peaceful country. During the Obama administration, American cooperation with Iran continued even though Iran kept funding and coordinating terrorist acts against Americans and its allies. In the fall of 2015, the Obama administration orchestrated what is called the Iran Nuclear Deal between the U.S.A., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany.
The Agreement between the Six Countries and Iran
President Trump ran for office decrying the Iran Nuclear Deal as the “worst deal ever negotiated.” He argued that the deal gave Iran money to sponsor more terror, did not hinder Iran from building nuclear weapons, endangered Americans and its allies, and allowed the failing Iranian dictatorship to withstand criticism at home. Iran had indeed continued to sponsor terror, and the U.S. could not get Iran to change its ways. In May of 2018, the United States of America officially withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal. In 2019, Iran announced it had exceeded the limits to its stockpile of low enriched uranium and began enriching uranium to a higher concentration. It also, essentially, withdrew from the deal.
Qasem Soleimani and Attacks on Americans
Since 1998, Iranian General Qasem Soleimani had been actively involve in planning, directing, and implementing the killing of Americans and its allies in Iraq, as well as actively supporting terrorist organizations in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. He was commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which was responsible for killing 608 American soldiers during the Iraq War, as well as injuring over 1,000 Americans. He abetted genocide in Syria in support of Bashar Assad, and he aided the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon with military hardware and training that went into use attacking innocent Israelis. Soleimani was Iran’s number one military commander operating in foreign countries. In late December, 2019, Soleimani-backed Iranian militias killed an American contractor and wounded American soldiers in Iraq. Also in December, Soleimani-supported terrorists attacked the American embassy in Iraq. At the time of his killing in Iraq, Soleimani was actively planning to kill more Americans and its allies in the region.
On January 3, 2020, American forces killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps with a drone strike in Iraq. Along with Soleimani, Americans killed nine other Iranian military personnel in Iraq. President Trump defended the attack by arguing that anybody who kills Americans will be met by force.
Political Unrest in Iran
In response to America’s attack against Soleimani, Iran launched missiles at American military sites in Iraq. At about the same time, the Iranians mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet that had just taken off from the Baghdad Airport, killing all passengers on board. Most of the passengers were Iranian citizens. Initially claiming the jet crashed on its own, the Iranian military then admitted its error. In response, thousands of Iranians protested, demanding that the Ayatollah Khamenei step down from terror. The protesters were met with Iranian police action, including being fired upon, beaten, and arrested.
The Trump Policy Regarding Iran
President Trump has warned Iran that if any Americans are harmed due to an Iranian strike, the United States would respond militarily. He tweeted, ““Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites...some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.” The 52 sites are supposed to refer to the 52 Americans held hostage in 1979-1980. It appears that the fifteen missiles Iran launched against the Americans did not meet President Trump’s criteria for military retaliation as the missiles did not directly hit Americans. Trump did announce that America would impose “powerful sanctions” against Iran until it changed its ways.
In May, 2018, President Trump fulfilled a campaign promise and moved the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since 1995, all U.S. Presidents had promised or spoken about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Israelis praised this move and named an Israeli intersection near the embassy Trump Square. Hamas protested this move by staging attacks against the Israeli – Gaza Strip border. Israeli defense forces killed 58 repelling these attacks. Hamas is the radical Islamic terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a country and believes Jerusalem needs to be the Islamic capital of Hamas-controlled Palestine. Israel is the only republic on the peninsula of Arabia.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not begin centuries ago, but instead, after World War II. In a series of three articles, The Classical Historian traces the Israeli-Palestinian conflict throughout history. Before World War II, there was not an extended history of conflict between Jews and Arabs. In 1947, two years after the end of World War II, the United Nations voted to establish two countries west of the Jordan River; a Jewish and a Palestinian Arab country. The Jews accepted this plan, but the Palestinians and surrounding Arab countries did not. In 1948, Jews in Palestine declared the birth of the modern country of Israel, consisting of the lands the United Nations had set aside. The surrounding Arab nations (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon) militarily occupied the land that had been set aside for the Palestinian Arabs. These four countries attacked Israel. Over the next 29 years, Israelis fought the Arab nations in all-out war, in smaller, disconnected battles, or against Arab terrorist attacks. Major wars during this time were the initial Israeli-Arab War in 1948, the Suez War in 1956, the 1967 Six-Day War, the War of Attrition in 1969-1970, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. During these wars, Israel defeated the Arabs and conquered land that the United Nations had set aside for an Arab Palestinian country. Israel holds some of this land, believing that it is necessary to repel invasions from the Arab countries.
Many Arab countries and people continue to refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and a constant state of war exists. Palestinians organized themselves into various terrorist organizations, aiming to destroy Israel. A terrorist organization attempts to harm its enemy by using horrific acts of barbarity, such as purposefully killing innocent civilians on a bus or in a pizza restaurant, or by assassinating athletes and journalists and women and children. Yasser Arafat founded the terrorist group Fatah in 1959, and in 1970, the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was established in Jordan and later moved to Lebanon. Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda are more modern terrorist organizations aimed against Israel.
1979-1986, Egypt and Lebanon Recognize Israel
Major peace developments occurred in 1979 and the 1980s. In 1979, with U.S. President Carter acting as the chief negotiator, Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement, and Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize Israel’s right to exist. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and destroyed much of the PLO. In 1983, Lebanon recognized Israel’s right to exist, the PLO was forced to leave Lebanon, and Israel agreed to not invade Lebanon.
1987-1993 The First Intifada
In 1987, the First Palestinian Intifada began. Intifada means “shaking off” or “shaking up.” Arab Palestinians violently protested Israel’s occupation of lands that the United Nations originally had chosen for the Palestinian country. Israel had taken these lands in the wars against the Arab countries. Israel argued that occupation of these lands was necessary so it wouldn’t be attacked from those areas.
Much changed from 1987 to 1993. In the Intifada, Palestinians threw rocks at Israelis, attacked civilians, and Israel used its military supremacy to defeat the protesters. Palestinians targeted both military targets and Israeli citizens. One technique used during the Intifada was the suicide bomber. A Palestinian would strap bombs to himself, go on a crowded bus or in a restaurant, and blow himself up, killing innocent Israelis.
About 2,000 Palestinians and 300 Israelis were killed during this time. Palestinians claimed Israel was an occupying force that abused its power. Israel claimed the right to exist and protect itself. At the end of the Intifada, Israel withdrew from much of the two areas it had occupied, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The PLO, led by Arafat, renounced violence, accepted the United Nations plan for two states in Palestine, and recognized Israel’s right to exist. Israel recognized the PLO as the representatives of the Palestinian people. It was to be known as the Palestinian Authority (PA) from now on.
1993-2000 The Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords were various agreements between Israel and the PA that was to eventually establish two countries, Israel and Palestine, and resolve the problems that had existed between the Israelis and the Palestinians since World War I. It began with much enthusiasm on both sides, but ended in armed conflict. Disagreements involved the capital city of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
2000-2005 The Second Intifada
Open conflict between Palestinians and Israelis continued. As in the First Intifada, Palestinians targeted both soldiers and civilians and used suicide bombers. In contrast with the First Intifada, Israel aggressively asserted control over civilian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing terrorist leaders in their homes, destroying PA infrastructure, and maintained occupying forces. PA leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004. The new PA leader, Abbas, agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to stop all fighting. The cease fire began in 2005.
2005 to Present Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, and Israel
In the last 9 or 10 years, Israel has fought against radical Islamic groups in the West Bank and Gaza, in Lebanon, and has militarily occupied parts of Palestine. Israel has also continued to expand Jewish settlements into areas that Palestinians claim as their own. Hamas, Fatah, and Hezbollah are three terrorist organizations whose stated goal is to destroy Israel.
Hamas won elections in the Gaza Strip in 2007 and took over administration. Hamas also defeated the Palestinian Authority. Along with running the government, Hamas built tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to smuggle in weapons used to attack the Israelis. Over the years, Hamas has launched missiles at Israel. Fatah, another terrorist organization, controls the West Bank. On November 2012, Israel launched a military offensive aimed at destroying the military power of Hamas. Hamas has launched more than 1100 missiles into Israel, and Israel successfully degraded Hamas’ ability to fight. Hezbollah is in southern Lebanon, and periodically launches missiles into Israel or conducts military raids.
2018 Trump Moves U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
Since 1995, every U.S. President has spoken about moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. However, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip object to the embassy in Jerusalem because it legitimizes the country of Israel. It is the stated goal of Hamas and Fatah to create a Palestinian country and to destroy Israel. Other Arab nations, and some Asian nations, also desire to annihilate Israel. Hamas and Fatah want Jerusalem to be a capital of an Islamic country. Because manyj have a strong hatred against Israel, each U.S. President has been afraid to move the embassy.
The opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a sign of American-Israeli friendship and a challenge to terrorist groups and countries who want to destroy Israel. When President Trump campaigned, he declared his administration would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This month, Trump followed through with his pledge.
2020 Trump Leads Historical Peace Process Between Arab Countries and Israel
In the last months of 2020, the Trump administration negotiated historic peace agreements between a number of Arab countries and Israel. Called the Abraham Accords, these agreements mark a major shift in Arab-Israeli relations and a break from past American administrations. Before President Trump, American administrations tried to make peace between Arab nations and Israel by focusing on the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Unfortunately, the leadership of these two Palestinians groups, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in the West Bank, have both declared for the annihilation of Jews and of Israel. President Trump went around the Palestinians to make peace treaties with Arab countries and Israel.
At the end of 2020, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and the Sudan all signed treaties acknowledging Israel's right to exist. This marks a drastic change from the past, where these countries would not state their support for a Jewish state. There are plans to add more Arab countries to the Abraham Accords.
When President Trump became United States President in January 2016, ISIS (also known as the Islamic State and DAESH) controlled roughly 1/3 of Iraq and 1/3 of Syria. By the end of November, 2017, the U.S. and its allies had defeated ISIS. ISIS no longer controls any territory. While ISIS still exists as an Islamic terrorist organization, it is now unable to collect any taxes or terrorize entire towns. The defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a monumental success in the war on terror and it has a stabilizing effect on peace throughout the world.
ISIS has its roots in the early 2000s, when many of its founding members were part of the al Qaeda organization, once led by Osama bin Laden. In 2013, Islamic terrorists reorganized into what they called “ISIS,” or, the Islamic State in Syria. The enemies of ISIS call them DAESH, which is an acronym for ISIS but also a derogatory term in Arabic. After President Obama pulled American troops out of Iraq, ISIS took over large areas of Iraq and Syria. Initially calling ISIS the “J.V.” of terrorist groups, President Obama was forced to send back American soldiers into Iraq to take back the land American soldiers had previously won.
The Classical Historian had reported the devastation ISIS had caused, not only in the Middle East but in the world. In “Syrian Refugee Crisis,” we reported that of the over 1,000,000 refugees fleeing Syria, many were in fact Islamic terrorists pretending to be refugees. In November, 2015, ISIS killed 130 people and wounded 413 in Paris, France. It was the worst attack in France since World War II. In December of 2015, two members of ISIS, an American-born Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife murdered 14 and wounded 21 in the barbarous attack on Americans in San Bernardino, California at a holiday party. On New Year’s Eve, 2015, in Cologne, Germany, over 600 German women were assaulted by Muslim immigrants from Syria. It is unknown if any of the immigrants were ISIS. In March, 2016, ISIS killed over 30 and wounded up to 230 in coordinated attacks in Brussels Belgium. Of course, there have been countless other terrorist attacks and it is impossible to list them all.
When President Trump campaigned for the Presidency, he promised that he would wage war against Muslim terrorists differently than President Obama had. Trump declared that his administration would clearly state that the terrorists were Islamic fundamentalists, and that naming clearly who the enemy was would help in the fight. President Obama’s administration refused to state that ISIS was an Islamic fundamentalist organization. Trump also stated that he would change the rules American soldiers fought under, so that they could more easily attack and defeat the terrorists. Rules of engaging the enemy has been changed, according to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, though because these rules are classified, it is impossible to know exactly how they were changed.
Though ISIS remains a threat to the Middle East and to the world, their threat has been greatly diminished by the policies of the Trump administration. ISIS no longer holds any territory, is unable to terrorize large communities, and collect taxes. ISIS and other radical Muslim terrorist groups exist, but they appear to be a much lesser threat than just a few years ago.
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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