Revolution (Ghareeb, 1990, p. 27).
There are two main reasons for indirect interference of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf after the withdrawal of the U.K. from East of Suez and the Persian Gulf region. Firstly, because of defeat in the Vietnam war and pressure of American public opinion on the Nixon administration. Secondly, because of the condition of bipolarity after World War II, the Twin-Pillar policy as part of U.S. strategy was largely in line with the self-perception of Iran and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, legitimizing and reinforcing their roles as status quo powers in the region.
The lynchpin of the Twin-Pillar doctrine was the Pahlavi regime in Iran and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was considered as financial supporter of the Nixon Doctrine. In this regard, the consecutive US administrations agreed that ‘geo-politics’ and ‘Cold War bipolarity’ required a militarily strong, anti-Communist and pro-Western Iran. The Pahlavi regime in Iran also agreed to be the gendarme of western interests in the region. It is necessary to remember that Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime was indebted to the U.S. and U.K., because the Shah Pahlavi was brought back to power by a MI6/CIA-sponsored military coup in 1953, which ousted the democratically-elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh.
The central concentration of US and western countries after World War II was Iran because Iran was the border line between the communist world under the leadership of the Soviet Union and the West under the leadership of the United States. At the end of World War II, the presence of the communist party of Tudeh and precedents of Soviet intrusion to Iranian sovereignty, most clearly exemplified in the refusal to withdraw Soviet military forces from the Northern Iranian region of Gilan after the Second World War (1946), was the alarm for the West to help secure Iran from both external aggression and internal subversion. The role of Iran as a bulwark against communism and as the fundamental Western ally in the Persian Gulf region was institutionalized by the formal treaty of Central Treaty Organization (also referred to as CENTO, original known as Middle East Treaty Organization or METO, also known as the Baghdad Pact) that was established in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and it was dissolved in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Although the United States itself at first could not participate in the CENTCOM, but in 1958, the United States joined the military committee of the alliance. CENTO is generally viewed as one of the least successful of the Cold War alliances (Amirsadeghi, 1981, pp. 160-161).
From 1971, Iran was systemically legitimized as the regional pillar of Western strategy and had the role of policing regional stability, if necessary by force. For example, in 1973 Iranian troops at the invitation of Sultan Qabus, defused the Dhoffar separatist uprising, a Marxist separatist military group in the Dhoffar province of the Omani country.
During the period of the Nixon-Kissinger Doctrine, 1971-1979, there was close cooperation between the two kingdom pillars of Iran and Saudi Arabia. For the first time, OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) developed into an effective international cartel, able to influence the direction of the world economy and also able to influence political gains (Mojtahed-Zadeh, 1998). For example, increasing of oil prices in 1973 was in reaction to the Arab-Israeli ‘October war’, a protest against Zionism and the western countries because of their support of the Israeli regime (Kissinger, 1982). Although the Pahlavi regime depended on Western powers and colluded with Israel, in that context, demonstrating solidarity with Iran’s Arab neighbors on the issue of Palestine was a utilitarian-economic decision and had its economic reason to raise crude oil prices, because the shah had begun huge industrial and economic development plans and needed more petroleum income.
There was excellent cooperation between the regional Persian Gulf states and the role of diplomacy was important between 1968 and 1978. During this period and especially after the withdrawal of British forces in 1971, the harmony between Iran and Saudi Arabia secured the region against the communism of the Soviet Union. Without a meaningful military presence in the Persian Gulf, the ‘West’ legitimized the regional stability, relying on Saudi Arabia and Iran as regional proxies. Also, during this period there was excellent cooperation between the twin-pillars of the region that was extended to their alliance in OPEC for the stability of crude oil prices. In this regard, Richard Hass, Special Assistant to the Deputy under Secretary of Defense and also Director of the Bush administration’s Policy Planning Staff expressed:
… It is the large degree of commonality of interests and purpose between Iran and Saudi Arabia throughout much of the past decade that impresses the observer. Despite differences over the price and availability of oil, the two were instrumental to OPEC’s ability to both survive and thrive during a period of fundamental change in the international political economy of oil. Massive importation of arms and mutual military development did not bring about deep hostility or conflict between the two countries, while the absence of formal machinery for the promotion of regional security did not preclude co-ordination and tacit co-operation. Lastly, differences between approaches to the Arab-Israeli Middle East question narrowed rather than widened over time… (haass, 1981).
۳.۷.۱ Areas of cooperation between Iran and US
During the period of 1971 – 1979 when the Shah Pahlavi regime was one of the pillars of western alliance in the Persian Gulf region, the convergence of the U.S. and Iran had some results in the Middle East, South West and South East of Asia: in the Middle East (a), the Shah Pahlavi’s regime did not permit the Soviet Union flight airlifts to the Arab countries; (b) the Pahlavi regime refused to join the Arab oil embargo against the U.S. and western countries in 1973; (c) export of oil to the western countries and Israeli regime during the period of the Arab oil embargo and Arab-Israeli conflict; (d), Iran’s export of fuel to the American carrier task force in the Indian Ocean; (e), the Pahlavi’s readiness to play an intermediary role in the Arab-Israeli struggle; (f), the Pahlavi regime’s support of Egyptian president Saadaat in his negotiation with the Israeli regime and financially supporting Egypt from 1974-1975 and supporting the Camp David accords and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty (R. Ramazani, 1976); J) to absorb the energies of radical Arab neighbors to prevent them from threatening the moderate regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Persian Gulf (Kissinger, 1979, p. 1262)
The role of the Shah’s regime in Western of Asia was considered as; (a), “to help damp India’s temptations to conclude its conquest of Pakistan” (Kissinger, 1979, p. 1264); (b), opposing India as a threat to the United States-Iranian security interests in South Asia, with the Shah giving his full support to Pakistan. In South-East Asia also, the Shah supported American policies: (a), Iran helped south Vietnam during the Vietnam war and had a medical team in Saigon (Kissinger, p. 1264); (b), United States used F-5A jet fighters borrowed from Iran when it was forced to withdraw from Vietnam according to the 1973 agreement; (b) Shah Pahlavi supported the US policy and position in Indochina.
There was a common political development perception between Iran and the U.S. in the Horn of Africa during the 1970’s: (a), Iran had the role of supporting moderate regimes against Soviet-Cuban violation (Kissinger, p. 1262); (b), the Shah’s regime was supporting the pro-western regime of Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, in its disputes with the radical regime in Somalia and by 1977 Iran became a source of military and economic aid to Somalia against Ethiopian rebellion.
۳.۷.۲ US military assistance to Iran
Following the announcement of the Nixon Doctrine and the subsequent choice of Iran as the regional guarantee of the US and western countries in the Persian Gulf region, the U.S. gave its military assistance to Iran. According to the US government, such assistance was essential to enable the United States to participate effectively in arrangements for individual and collective security and increasing the responsibilities of American allies in other geographical regions (Lewis, 1977, p. 188). William Rogers, former US Secretary of State, in 1971 stated:
The US objectives in Iran are… to assist Iran, in accordance with the Nixon Doctrine, in attaining economic and military self-reliance… We now provide Export-Import Bank loans to assist Iran in purchasing both military and commercial