Foreign Affairs
Iran-US Relations: The Fallout of a Friendship

Iran and the United States have a complex and historically significant relationship, with the relationship undergoing a dramatic transformation since World War II. Iran, strategically located between the Soviet Union and the Middle East, became a focal point for Allied forces, with Reza Shah Pahlavi declaring neutrality but leaned towards the Allies. In 1941, British and Soviet forces occupied Iran to secure supply routes for wartime aid to the Soviet Union.

The United States joined this occupation to safeguard Iranian oil fields. Post-war, Iran became a bastion of stability in a tumultuous region, with the U.S. supporting Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who assumed power after his father’s ousting in 1941. The relationship flourished, with the U.S. providing military aid and helping Iran modernize its infrastructure, including nuclear energy development for peaceful purposes.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, marked a turning point in the relationship between Iran and the United States. The 444-day hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran shattered the Iran-US friendship and left a long-lasting impact. Since then, Iran and the U.S. have been embroiled in a series of conflicts, including Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is for peaceful purposes.

The U.S. has imposed economic sanctions on Iran, affecting its economy and citizens. Iran’s influence in the Middle East has clashed with American interests, particularly in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Proxy conflicts have exacerbated tensions.

The U.S. and international community have criticized Iran for its human rights record, including political repression and freedom of expression. Accusations of state-sponsored terrorism have further strained relations. Iran-US relations have been tense since 2015 when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by Iran, the U.S., and other world powers.

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