The Tension Between Iran and the U.S., Explained

Tweets from Donald Trump regarding the assassination of an Iranian leader. Screen capture from Twitter.

By: Fabian Osorio/Staff Writer

Iran and the United States have had no formal diplomatic relations since 1980, but the problem restarted when the Iran hostage crisis took place after their revolution.

The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic standoff between the United States and Iran. 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days. 

“From 1979, it has mostly been an escalation of conflict with tough periods of cooperation between Iran and the United States. So, there have been a few periods of cooperation between the two,” said Naisy Sarduy from the department of Politics and International Relations at FIU. “But the one moment where you had a diplomatic breakthrough was with President Obama in 2015, when the JCPOA (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was signed.” 

Dr. Naisy Sarduy specializes in international relations involving the Middle East, with a particular focus on Iran, Islamic political movements and their relations with the West. She teaches Introduction to International Relations and International Relations of the Middle East at FIU.

The recent tension between the U.S. and Iran means a lot of stress for her, as well as a lot of people around the world.

“I think it is all the stress of trying to follow events and trying to keep up with it. You know, teaching a region that has been mired in conflict for intensely since 2003. We had a war in 2002 with Afghanistan, that war is ongoing. It is been 19 years. It is not settled,” Dr. Sarduy said. “The situation in Iraq is very unstable still today.”

She says is an antiwar person – both for the sake of the people in the region, and for the sake of American soldiers that are sent off to fight.

“I think wars have not been conducive to anything,” she said. “We have been fighting in Afghanistan for 19 years. What is the end result?”

The country that has more at stake in this conflict is Iran, according to her.

“They have everything basically, I think, to lose,” she said. “Ultimately the Iranians would be the ones that will be on the losing side. They are under that level of pressure.”

Iranians have been under sanctions for decades, however, this level of sanction is extreme. According to her, the lower class in Iran is who suffers the most during this time of tension.

“What is happening now, I think, because they have been under sanctions for so long, they are an economy that is relatively resilient,” she said. “We saw what happened just last month, the government had to raise the price of gasoline, and it did so very quickly.”

There were massive riots that became very violent, where protesters set fire to gasoline stations and businesses and the government has hitmen, these protesters and many people were killed.

Dr. Sarduy said that “we don’t know what the numbers are. It could be hundreds. It could be maybe one thousand. We’re not sure how many people were killed. But most of this from my understanding was taking place also from people that were in those lower classes, that were very had been hit hard because the price of everything has gone up significantly.”

Dr. Sarduy has not heard of anyone from the FIU community who has been involved in active groups wishing to stop the conflict, but this conflict may have consequences for FIU students.

“American students are in a different situation from the international students who are here on student visas, and many of them are doctoral students. So, this is one of the things that has been affected. If you look at Iran, you look at universities like the University of Tehran or Sharif University, these universities, traditionally have been considered top universities where American universities draw students from,” she said.

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