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Iran in the 20th Century Essay

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2020

Introduction to the 20th Century History of Iran

Based on historical records Iran has been a site of contention for western powers since not only has it acted as battlefield of interests for military purposes but it has been a site of economic and political conflict which has had a distinct impact on the way in which western powers deal with the Middle East (Iran, 2009). What must be understood is that the rich oil fields of Iran have been one of the major sources of conflict in that part of the world.

As evidenced by successive attacks on the country during World War I and II wherein western powers have always intervened on Iran’s behalf in order to prevent the oil fields from falling into enemy hands (Omar, 2006).

Ironically by 1951 such actions were proven to be for naught since in a move to create a higher source of income for the country resulted in the nationalization of the oil industry from foreign powers which in effect kicked out all foreign personnel from the country whereby the oil producing facilities fell into Iranian hands (Omar, 2006).

The 1970 Revolution

The 1970 revolution in Iran was actually precipitated by three distinct factors that led to the eventual downfall of the Shah and rise of Ayatollah Khomeinii as the leader of Iran, namely: the human rights violations precipitated by the Shah’s secret polices, the loss of support from the Arab League due to the Shah’s western leaning policies especially those concerning Israel and the machinations of Ayatollah Khomeinii who used his religious influence to precipitate the fires of revolution in the Iranian people (Jefferson, n.d.).

The result of the revolution was the dissolution of the previous Shah regime, the end of Iran’s close relationship with the U.S. and the creation of government that was more inclined towards Islamic rather than Democratic tenets.

The end result of the 1970 revolution was a decidedly anti-American stance within Iran developed as a result of the Shah’s close U.S. stance which defined his regime. This culminated in the subsequent hostage situation in Iran wherein several members of the U.S. embassy were held hostage over a period of 444 days (Jefferson, n.d.).

To this day relations between the U.S. and Iran are strained at best and antagonistic at worst due to the persistent anti-U.S. sentiment which appears to be a cornerstone of Iran’s foreign policy from the start of the revolution all the way to the present.

Iran in the latter part of the 20th Century

Towards the end of the 20th century Iran was identified as rogue state by the U.S. due to reports of it producing and harboring terrorists from various international organizations (Iran: Risk Summary, 2010). As a result U.S. interests in the country declined resulting in a boycott of Iranian oil by the U.S. government and various U.S. based companies.

Towards the latter part of the 1990’s the development of nuclear based technology in Iran due to associations with Russia resulted in Iran being labeled a threat to U.S. interests resulting in its current status as a country high on American’s “list” of potential dangers to the U.S. (Iran: Risk Summary, 2010)

Reference List

Iran. (2009). Country Report. Iran, 1-22. EBSCO host.

Iran: Risk Summary. (2010). Middle East Monitor: The Gulf, 10(10), 12. EBSCO host.

Jefferson, J. The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran. DOMES, 14(1), 109-112. EBSCO host.

Omaar, R. (2006). Iran: the force behind three conflicts. New Statesman, 135(4802), 24. EBSCO host.

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