It must be noted that the United States and Middle Eastern contemporary conflicts date much further back than this timeline. The following begins with the Obama administration to today.
January 2014: The marked beginnings of the nuclear deal agreement between Iran and five United Nations members – including the U.S. – take place.
July 2015: Negotiations cease and a nuclear deal is agreed upon. Iran agrees to international inspections of its nuclear program in exchange for gradually lifted trade sanctions.
January 2016: The first round of sanctions was lifted. However, under the Obama administration, the Treasury Department applies sanctions onto 11 businesses and individuals for supporting the Iranian ballistic missile program.
2017: Within a month of inauguration, President Trump signs an executive order banning people from entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations, including Iran. Tensions begin to rise; yet Trump still renews the sanction waivers per the 2015 nuclear deal.
May 8, 2018: The U.S. withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal with the intent to pressure a new agreement. Iran responds by exceeding its uranium enrichment limitations.
April 8, 2019: The Trump administration categorizes part of the Iranian government, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. This is the first instance in which the U.S. has categorized a foreign government as such. Also, within this month, Trump ends waivers for countries to import Iranian oil, crippling Iran’s economy severely.
May-October 2019: The U.S. accuses Iran of attacking oil tankards near the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian officials deny a connection. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claim responsibility for the attack. The U.S. moves to seize Iranian oil tankards.
November 2019: Riots break out in Iran in protest of the rising oil prices. The Iranian government reacts and hundreds lose their lives.
Dec. 27, 2019: Kata’ib Hezbollah, a militia group with ties to Iran, attacks the K1 military base north of Baghdad, Iraq. The attack kills an American contractor and wounds four Americans and two Iraqis. Iran denies any connection to the attacks.
Dec. 29, 2019: Trump orders an attack via air strike in and around both Iraq and Syria where militia members were believed to be located. On Dec. 30, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper spoke at a media briefing, stating, “We will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran.”
Dec. 31, 2019: Thousands of protesters target the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In response, Trump deploys 650 troops to the area.
Jan. 3, 2020: A U.S. drone strike kills Iranian top general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi military leader Abu Mahdi al- Muhandis. Iranians riot in the capitol city of Tehran. Congress and U.S. allies were not consulted prior to the move, but Trump defends the attack. On Jan. 4, Trump tweets, “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites … and those targets … WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
Jan. 8, 2020: Iran launches missiles on two U.S. bases in Iraq. No deaths but some concussions are reported. Later that day, a Ukrainian airliner crashes after taking off from Tehran. Many suspect the Iranian government, but Iran denies these accusations.
Jan. 9, 2020: The U.S. sets up more trade sanctions targeting construction, manufacturing, mining and textiles in Iran. Later, aluminum, copper, iron and steel manufacturers are added to the sanction list. As well, there were a reported eight Iranian officials with sanctions, but the Treasury Department website only lists seven names: Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council; Mohsen Rezaee, adviser to Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei; Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the deputy coordinator of the IRGC; senior Iranian military leaders Mohammad Reza Ashtiani and Ali Abdollahi; Ali Asghar Hejazi, the director of Khamenei’s security office; and Mohsen Qomi, Khamenei’s deputy adviser for international affairs and adviser on international communications.
Jan. 11, 2020: Iran confirms responsibility for Ukrainian airline tragedy, on account of human error. According to Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vadym Prystaiko, no passengers survived. They included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, ten Swedes, four Afghans, three Britons and three Germans. More protests spark within Iran as well as internationally, but against the Iranian government and calling for official resignations.
Jan. 17, 2020: For the first time in eight years, Iran’s Khamenei leads Friday prayers in Tehran. In his speech, he expresses regret and condolences to the families of the victims of the Ukrainian plan crash. He also criticizes the recent American actions, stating, “These American clowns lie in utter viciousness that they stand with the Iranian people. They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian (people), it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers.”
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