Pikeville, TN – Baghdad stands. That phrase may not be true in a few days. In the city the local police are digging trenches, and getting ready for an attack that they fear from ISIS, (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), a group so militant that Al Qaeda will not join up with them.
Because of the situation, including the fact that Tel Affar has fallen, has caused two long time quasi foes to look towards each other, as possible allies in saving a state that has long been torn by dissention, and sits near some of the world’s largest oil reserves. This has raised a storm of comment, and forced talks at high levels about America being an alliance with a “long time foe.”
To understand our relationship with this volatile country, one must understand our past relationship. A key incident in this relationship, something the New York Times has called pivotal, happened in 1988.
On 3 July of that year, an Airbus A300 B2-203, flying for Iran Air, with 290 people aboard, including staff. The plane was flying its own territorial waters, and was making a signal to identify itself as a civilian plane. Three ships identified the plane. Two properly identified it as civilian, but the third, a rather jumpy ship, the United States Ship Vincennes, misidentified the flight as a warplane, and fired a missile, crashing the flight into the straits of Hormuz. There were no survivors.
America said they regretted the loss of civilian life, but never apologized, to my knowledge, to the Iranian government. Iran stated that that the ship did not, in fact, misidentify, but rather the Vincennes "hankered for an opportunity to show its stuff.” The Iranian government released a commemorative stamp of the affair, and the attack, which included the deaths of sixty-six children aboard the plane, did nothing to aid the already difficult relations between our two countries.
Since then, there have been multiple wars in the Middle East, killing hundreds of thousands, arguments over nuclear power, etc. Some of these rifts have healed. But this one it appears, has not.
Andrew C. Abbott