The US and Iran have been bickering for the last couple of years. However, lately, things have been heading towards an all-out fight. In April 2019, the US used a bullying tactic to say that they would put sanctions on any country that continued to buy oil from Iran. The sanctions, which President Trump restarted after pulling out of a nuclear deal last year, have hit Iran hard with its people suffering the most. (See more about the deal here)
In May, relations between the two countries worsened when the US sent a navy ship and B-52 bombers just outside the Persian Gulf after Iran supposedly threatened US forces and hinted that they would disrupt oil shipping in the Straits of Hormuz.
Then Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played another card. He said that unless the European Union and other world powers saved the nuclear deal within 60 days, Iran would start enriching more uranium which is needed for nuclear weapons. Iran had agreed to limit this activity as part of its 2015 deal in exchange for the sanctions being lifted. In reply, the US sent even more ships to the Persian Gulf.
On 12 May, four oil tankers were damaged in the Gulf of Oman. The UAE and the Saudis both said that Iran was behind the attack. A day later, the US Defence Secretary outlined a military plan to send troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked US troops in the area. But after tempers cooled down, both the US and Iran stated they were not interested in beginning a war.
The seesaw continued though, because things heated up again after President Trump warned that if a war began, it would be “the official end of Iran.” Coincidentally on the same day, a rocket exploded just a mile from the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq and the US once again blamed Iran for the action.
On 20 June, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a US surveillance drone which it said had illegally crossed into their airspace. Iran said that it was a signal to the US that though they did not want a war, Iran would be ready for one if the US made further moves to increase tensions. US President Trump reported that he had been ready to attack three sites in Iran, but called off the strike at the last minute. In this time of great tension in the area, many commercial airlines have changed their flight routes so that they are not flying over Iran.
A clash of egos? An economic disaster? Unnecessary threats of war? The world waits and watches while international bodies work hard to tone down the tension.
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.