U.S.-Iran Relations: A Primer
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
For more than four decades, Iran has been a nefarious actor on the international stage. They’ve spent billions of dollars supporting terrorist activities across the globe, wreaking havoc in the Middle East and threatening to destroy the United States and our allies. We’ve seen this escalate in recent weeks as they killed an American contractor in Iraq and orchestrated the storming of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, putting American lives in danger.
President Trump made the bold decision to take out Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military leader responsible for planning and executing Iran’s terrorist activities. This necessary action was designed to protect Americans from anticipated attacks that he was directly involved in planning and let Iran know that threats to the U.S. and our partners will not be tolerated.
When the Iranian regime came to power in 1979 it was through a violent overthrow. For the past four decades, they’ve sought to spread their influence and extremist ideologies by assassinating rivals, arming terrorists and using unconventional warfare against their enemies. In 1979, Iran took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. In 1982, they oversaw the creation of the terrorist group Hezbollah. Hezbollah and Iran worked hand-in-hand to orchestrate the bombings of the American embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, which killed 241 Americans. It is also believed that Iran and Hezbollah bombed the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992, as well as a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
Since 1998, these actions were led by Qasem Soleimani, a designated terrorist by both the United States and the United Nations. He is responsible for killing over 600 American troops in Iraq and was planning future attacks. Other than Osama Bin Laden, no other terrorist is responsible for killing more Americans over the past two decades than Soleimani. The world is a safer place without him in it.
In a recent briefing with top administration officials, we learned more about the events that led the president to take the decisive action to take out Soleimani. Following that briefing, it was clear to me that there was an imminent threat to U.S. interests and that President Trump acted appropriately to protect the lives of American citizens when he ordered the airstrikes that killed Qasem Soleimani. We also learned more about Iran’s retaliatory airstrikes at two American bases in Iraq. We are grateful that there were no casualties from their attack. It would be in Iran’s best interest to take this as an opportunity to de-escalate tensions between our two countries and stop any plans for future attacks.
We do not want war with Iran, and President Trump has made it clear that he wants to eliminate conflict in the Middle East. But he has also made clear that we won’t back down when American lives are threatened. He drew a red line in the sand and when Iran threatened American lives, he took decisive action to let them know enough is enough. Iran must know that when we’re provoked, we will use the resources we have to defend ourselves. As the situation with Iran continues to unfold, we will make sure the safety of Americans is the top priority.