When did Iran directly attack another country?

Allan Jones
8 min readFeb 20, 2020


The answer is 222 years ago.

[Full disclosure: the following information may make you uncomfortable. If it does, good. I will have achieved my goal. The truth sometimes has that effect.]

President Trump recently authorized an attack on General Soleimani, an Iranian leader on Iraqi soil. The rational for the attack was that he was organizing an imminent attack on, … well, we’re not sure who he was going to attack, or where, or exactly when. But the ‘attack was imminent’ and he was a ‘really bad guy’, so it was okay to launch a missile to kill him and anybody who happened to be in his immediate vicinity at the time. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Have we totally lost control?

When did Iran directly attack another country ? The answer is 222 years ago. The Shah of Iran attacked Basra, Iraq in 1798. That’s it! Iran is not an aggressor nation. You may recall the late 1970’s ‘attack’ on the US Embassy. Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, after a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. This was not exactly a nuclear attack on US territory. It was a bunch of college kids trying to send a message. The message in general was for the US and Great Britain to stop interfering in Iranian governmental affairs and to stop stealing Iranian oil. Iran never attacked the US or Great Britain, despite decades of interference in their government and robbery of their oil. During these decades, the US has supported Iran’s regional enemies.

I could go on with pointing out how the US encouraged Israel to provoke Iran, but I believe my point has been made, the US is not in danger from an attack by Iran. In recent proclamations to a group of donors at Mar A Largo, the President said nothing about an “imminent attack.” Instead, he spoke broadly about Soleimani as, the father of the roadside bomb, responsible for every young, beautiful man or woman who you see walking around with no legs, no arms. Trump said he heard about two weeks ago that the United States had Soleimani under surveillance and he was “talking about bad stuff. He was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, “Listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?”

Let’s consider what he said. He blamed the person that he ordered assassinated for our troop’s loss of limbs. Those IEDs were placed on Iranian soil to defend their territory, a very measured defensive response to our attack. The Commander in Chief (Trump loves that title.) was responsible for the injuries to our troops by ordering US troops into harm’s way without provocation. The US was the invading force. Iran was defending its territory. Imagine if the situation were reversed and Iran was attacking US soil. Would our tactics to defend ourselves be considered ‘terrorism’? U.S. media conveniently avoid defining “terrorism,” because a consistent definition would undermine the conventional usage — that terrorism is what you call weak, nonstate actors using homemade bombs, regardless of their target. If you defined terrorism instead as “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes,” that would tend to rule out roadside bombs hitting U.S. military patrols, and rule in Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed bombing of Yemeni civilians.

What do you call it when innocent civilians get killed in a war? If the people are killed by a small group of dedicated (fanatical) Arab individuals, we call it “terrorism”. If they are killed by American military forces as a part of an attack on another country, we call it “Collateral Damage”. Critics of the use of the term “collateral damage” see it as a euphemism that dehumanizes non-combatants killed or injured during combat. It is used to reduce the perceived culpability of military leadership in failing to prevent non-combatant civilian casualties.

The number of Americans killed by Iranian terrorists in the US from 1995 to 2020 is zero. The number of civilian casualties, collateral damage, from 1985 to 2015 as a result of American attacks was about 1,000. I say about, because actual numbers are impossible to find, Many of the numbers are cavalierly determined by estimating them as some percent of the total killed. The percent varies from 1% to 35%. The issue is compounded by President Obama’s redefining “Militants” as “Any military-age males in the area”. By that definition, all military age males cannot be collateral damage.

The US has spent many years and millions of dollars painting Iran as a terrorist sponsoring country. But, is it true? The last time the US was the victim of a major terrorist attack was on 9–11–2001. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen all played a role. Not Iran or Iraq. So, who did we attack? We attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. Remember the lies we were told about WMD’s (Weapons or Mass Destruction) in Iraq. Not true. As of July 7, 2018, there have been 2,440 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,320 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities. We have been fighting in Afghanistan for over 18 years, with no sign of winning, and no exit strategy. Why does the war drag on and on? Fear of terrorism leads to more military spending. There have only been 71 deaths caused by Islamic terrorists in the US in the past five years, and 48 of them were at one event in Las Vegas; and none of them can be linked to Iran. If Iran is not an aggressor, why is the US attacking it?

It’s time for a brief history lesson. How did Iran become the enemy of the US? It’s all about Iran’s Oil. The history of Iran’s oil industry began in 1901, when British speculator William D’Arcy received a concession from Iran to explore and develop southern Iran’s oil resources. D’Arcy bribed the three Iranian officials negotiating with him. The discovery of oil on May 26, 1908. led to the formation in 1909 of the London-based Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC). By purchasing a majority of the company’s shares in 1914, the British government gained direct control of the Iranian oil industry, which it would not relinquish for 37 years. After 1935 the APOC was called the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). A 60-year agreement signed in 1933 established a flat payment to Iran of four British pounds for every ton of crude oil exported and denied Iran any right to control oil exports.

In 1950 ongoing popular demand prompted a vote in the Majlis to nationalize the petroleum industry. A year later, the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq formed the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). A 1953 coup d’état led by British and U.S. intelligence agencies ousted the Mossadeq government and paved the way for a new oil agreement. In a well-orchestrated move, the American CIA and the British government colluded with the Iranian King to remove Mossadegh from office. Following the coup, Mossadegh was humiliated in a sham trial and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. In 1954 a new agreement divided profits equally between the NIOC and a multinational consortium that had replaced the AIOC. The Iranian parliament remained a rubber-stamp institution until 1951, when it voted to nationalize Iranian oil and boot-out the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. This was a major success in asserting Iran’s national interests, but the charismatic Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh paid a heavy price for his leadership.

By 1951, Iranian support for nationalization of the AIOC was intense. Grievances included the small fraction of revenues Iran received. In 1947, for example, AIOC reported after-tax profits of £40 million ($112 million), but the contractual agreement entitled Iran to just £7 million (17.5% of profits) from Iranian oil. Britain was receiving more from AIOC than Iran. In addition, conditions for Iranian oil workers and their families were very bad. For a complete detailed explanation of the significance of the importance of oil in US/British/Iranian relations read the Wiki explanation at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Persian_Oil_Company

The best way to summarize and characterize the relationship is as one of greed, bad faith, and aggression on the part of Britain and the US.

Iranian politicians and religious leaders still use the coup as a way to foment anti-American sentiment. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian president from 2005 until earlier this year, demanded apologies from the United States for “crimes” the CIA committed in Iran during the 1953 coup.

“The issue is more than academic,” wrote Byrne of George Washington University. “Political partisans on all sides, including the Iranian government, regularly invoke the coup to argue whether Iran or foreign powers are primarily responsible for the country’s historical trajectory, whether the United States can be trusted to respect Iran’s sovereignty, or whether Washington needs to apologize for its prior interference before better relations can occur.”

Sanctions were imposed in December 2006 pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1737 after Iran refused to comply with UNSC Resolution 1696 which demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program. Initially, U.S. sanctions targeted investments in oil, gas, and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, and business dealings with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It encompassed banking and insurance transactions (including with the Central Bank of Iran), shipping, web-hosting services for commercial endeavors, and domain name registration services. Subsequent UN Resolutions have expanded sanctions against Iran. Remember, Iran has not attacked anyone for over two centuries. All it has done is try to get back what has been stolen. The UN sanctions have devastated the Iranian economy and caused great suffering for the Iranian people.

Over the years, sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy and people. Since 1979, the United States has led international efforts to use sanctions to influence Iran’s policies, including Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Western governments fear is intended for developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran counters that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, including generating electricity and medical purposes.

When nuclear talks between Iran and Western governments were stalled and seen as a failure, US senators cited them as a reason to enforce stronger economic sanctions on Iran. On 2 April 2015, the P5+1 and Iran, meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, reached a provisional agreement on a framework that, once finalized and implemented, would lift most of the sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear programs extending for at least ten years. The final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was adopted on 18 October 2015. As a result, UN sanctions were lifted on 16 January 2016.

Under Obama, we negotiated the JCPOA Nuclear treaty that included releasing billions of Iranian dollars that had been embargoed. It was their money! The Iranian people had been suffering for decades for no reason other than the US and British wanted control of their oil.

You can’t buy the Trump lies about Iran being a terrorist nation unless you also buy the definition of terrorists as ‘small groups of people fighting to defend Iran from outside attacks and occupation’.



Allan Jones

Allan is a lifetime educator with two daily goals. 1) learn something. 2) Make the world a better place.