The documents that have recently been declassified in the United States show that prior to the Islamic revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini was in contact with the administration of US President Jimmy Carter. Khomeini persuaded Carter to help him return to Tehran. This gives one a reason to think about the true nature of American-Iranian relations. Is there another game hidden behind the mask of "implacable hostility?"
The documents from the Carter administration shed light on the events of January 1979 that preceded to Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran and the ensuing revolution that turned the country from a monarchy into an Islamic republic.
Until recently, it was generally believed that Khomeini was always a sworn enemy of the United States of America. It was him who dubbed the USA "the Great Satan" (the USSR was the "Little Satan"). Khomeini's rhetoric is imbued with anti-Americanism. His opposition to the United States has become a constant policy of Iran, perhaps the essence of existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its inception.
It turns out that this is not the case.
When protests against the policies of Shah Pahlavi reached the boiling point in Iran in 1979, Khomeini decided to return from exile to his homeland to lead the revolution. Crowds of people on the streets of Tehran were waiting for him with impatience. Washington - the US was keeping the Shah and his regime under control - advised Pahlavi should go for treatment to play it safe. Khomeini understood that his hour had come.
However, Khomeini feared the army that remained faithful to the oath and stood up against the plans to establish an Islamic republic in the country. The Iranian army was staying at the time under absolute control of the United States. The USA had made the Iranian army the most efficient one in the region. Neither Khomeini nor the Americans could predict what the outcome of possible clashes between the people and the military could be. Not without reason, Ayatollah feared his supporters could suffer a defeat. Iran could see a repetition of the military coup of 1953, when the army with the support of the CIA overthrew Mossadegh's Republican government and put Shah Pahlavi on the throne.
Washington also feared that its weapons could fall into the hands of uncontrollable rioters. It is worth noting here that Iran was developing nuclear missiles in cooperation with Israel at that time. Of course, it was no secret to the US and gave even more reason for concern.
Khomeini perfectly understood that and offered the Carter administration a deal. Washington does not intervene and ensures the neutrality of the Iranian army, whereas Khomeini ensures swift and bloodless transfer of power without using the army and preserves allied relations with the United States! In particular, he promised to continue oil supplies to the West and not to make friendly steps towards the USSR - the "godless" power, with which the Islamic regime could not have anything in common as opposed to the "believing" America.
Carter agreed. He made Iranian generals not interfere with Khomeini's triumphant return, even though the Iranians had plans to either shoot down his plane, or capture him at the airport. Ayatollah returned, established the Islamic Republic, unleashed a relentless anti-American campaign, and destroyed the Shah's army during ten years of war with Iraq.
Khomeini outgamed Washington's most prominent strategists, such as, for example, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who then served as the national security adviser, and subtle intellectual, then head of the Department of State, Cyrus Vance.
One of the first "foreign political demarches" of the young Islamic Republic was the capture of US Embassy officers in Tehran. They were held in the building of the embassy for 444 days (from November 1979 till January 1981), demanding the US should deliver the dethroned Shah of Iran. The shah died, and the hostages were released the day when new US President Ronald Reagan swore in.
During Reagan's presidency, it appeared that antagonism between the US and Iran reached the highest point. Iran was declared a "terrorist country." In turn, Tehran was constantly cursing "the Great Satan."
Suddenly, it turned out that the Reagan administration with the help of the CIA established arms supplies to Iran bypassing its own stringent sanctions against Iran. Officially, the United States was supporting Baghdad. In a nutshell, the public enmity did not prevent Washington and Tehran from solving extremely delicate issues that required intimately subtle mutual understanding. The feud gave America a reason to re-create its 5th Fleet in 1995 and take control of the military-political situation in the north-west of the Indian Ocean. Since then, the United States have never left the Persian Gulf.
Desert Storm was America's first war against Iraq in 1990-1991. It is very difficult to imagine that the Americans were not cooperating with the Iranians during the operation, taking into consideration the fact that Iran had been fighting Saddam Hussein for ten years before that.
The cooperation between the United States and Iran during the second war against Iraq, when Saddam was finally overthrown, does not require specific evidence, just like their close cooperation on the Iraqi territory at the moment.
The saga of the Iranian nuclear program is really fascinating. Iran has its missiles and they in good faith justify the creation of NATO's missile defense system in Europe. Iran promised not to build an A bomb in the next 15 years, although there are no legal obligations at this point.
In dealing with Iran, we must understand that its policy comes in line with Washington's strategy. Iran is America's natural ally, and no rhetoric can change that.
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