The recent shoot-down of an unmanned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian missile has escalated tensions between the two governments to a dangerous level.
President Trump has shown great restraint in not responding to this attack militarily – choosing for the time being to increase economic sanctions on Iran instead.
Here are 12 important things you need to know to understand what’s going on in Iran and why:
- Iran hates America and Israel.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, America has been called the “Great Satan” by the Shiite leaders of Iran and by radical Muslims.
Israel is referred to as the “Little Satan.”
All people everywhere who do not follow Islam are called unbelievers and infidels.
- Iran spreads death and destruction throughout the Middle East.
Iran is the number one terrorist state in the world … and is the number one sponsor of terrorism worldwide.
Billions of dollars in economic aid is used by the Iranian government to support terrorism rather than to improve the economy and the lives of Iranian citizens.
- Iran is driven by Islamic extremism.
It trains, finances and provides weapons and safe havens for:
- Hezbollah in Lebanon
- Hamas in Gaza
- Other Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran was pro-Western. Most of the country’s 80 million citizens have no memory or knowledge of those days.
The regime under President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is brutal and oppressive, enforcing a medieval Islamic code of social mores … while highly educated and technically savvy young Iranians admire and want to adopt Western culture in music, TV, dress and treatment of women.
- Both Iran and the U.S. are conducting cyber-attacks against each other.
The U.S. Cyber Command conducted online attacks against an Iranian intelligence group that American officials believed helped plan the oil tanker attacks.
The Quds Force is the intelligence division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which carries out unconventional warfare as part of Iran’s extraterritorial operations. It reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei … and is estimated to have between 10,000 and 20,000 members.
- Iran’s socialist economy is falling apart.
Things were supposed to get better after the U.S. lifted economic sanctions and sent $1.7 billion to the Iranian government as part of the 2015 “nuclear deal.”
But years of internal economic mismanagement and the renewed sanctions imposed by President Trump when he withdrew from the nuclear deal have led to skyrocketing unemployment of over 12 percent … and inflation rising to nearly 40 percent.
Iran’s economy is expected to shrink by 6 percent this year, after contracting 3.9 percent last year. By contrast, it grew 3.8 percent in 2017, before the Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions.
But unemployment is still 40% for young Iranians in the 15 to 29 age group … and the freedom of speech enjoyed by their Western counterparts is still wishful thinking in Iran.
- The U.S. is no longer dependent on Middle East oil.
Due to the new technologies of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling, The U.S. is now the world’s top oil producer, with more recoverable oil reserves than any other country in the world – including Saudi Arabia and Russia.
- Iran is capable of inflicting damage.
Thirty percent of the world’s oil still passes through the Strait of Hormuz. If Iran closed this passageway, the U.S. and other nations would be forced to respond militarily.
Also, Iran could soon develop nuclear weapons.
- Iran’s history matters today.
Iran was known as Persia until 1935.
- The Persian Empire rose to prominence in the sixth century BC, liberating the Jews from their Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 21:2; 45:1-7; Daniel 5).
- Persia was the setting for the first part of Nehemiah and the book of Esther.
- Many historians believe that the Magi who worshipped the infant Christ were from Persia.
“Parthians and Medes and Elamites” from the region of Persia) were present at Pentecost (Acts 2:9).
From 1941 to 1979, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled Iran. He adopted a pro-western foreign policy and brought economic development to the country.
However, he suffered political criticism from those who thought his economic reforms didn’t move far enough or fast enough … and religious criticism from those who believed westernization was contrary to the teachings of Islam.
Government corruption and autocratic rule eventually led to turmoil and riots, which forced Shah Pahlavi to flee the country in January 1979.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – a Shiite religious leader previously living in exile in Paris – returned and assumed control of the country.
- Christian revival is happening in Iran – along with massive persecution.
Christianity is considered a Western influence and therefore a threat to the Islamic identity of the country.
Converts to Christianity from Islam comprise the largest group of Christians and suffer the most persecution.
A Persian person who decides to leave Islam can be sentenced to death if male … life in prison if female.
And yet, Iran is experiencing “one of the fastest growing underground church movements in the world.
- President Trump is reversing Obama’s betrayal of Iran.
The Obama administration deliberately ignored the anti-regime Green Movement protests in 2009. Currying favor with Tehran to negotiate a nuclear weapons agreement was more important than speaking out against human rights violations.
President Trump and Vice President Pence are providing moral support and leadership by praising and encouraging the protestors … and by criticizing the oppression and violence of the Iranian government.
- Democratic politicians and the media are attacking Trump and Pence for supporting freedom.
The media mocks America’s new stance to encourage freedom…
The progressive left creates fear as it advocates appeasement … and the deep state bureaucrats do all they can to undermine Trump’s policies.
Former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice believes President Trump’s America First foreign policy has relinquished the nation’s moral authority.
She believes he needs to “be quiet” about the protesters and the regime in Iran.
The New York Times and Newsweek both scolded Trump over his statements about the Iranian government blocking social media sites.
“Trump bars Americans on Twitter but tells Iran to unblock social media sites,” chimed Newsweek … as if the comparison is even remotely relevant.
- President Trump is following the Reagan Doctrine.
The Reagan Doctrine was the foreign policy philosophy that freedom is a universal God-given right of all people … and that it should be the mission of the United States to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.”
Who would have thought the Berlin Wall would come down or the Soviet Union collapse?
Who would have thought atheistic Romania and other Eastern Bloc countries would break free from the Soviet orbit?
The question is … what will fill the vacuum?
During a speech before the U.N. General Assembly last September, President Trump stated, “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”
What do you think? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the rest of this week’s articles: