British Empire, Iran – Contra affair, Middle East, Nicaragua, Persian Gulf, Reagan Administration, United States, World War II
Throughout the 20th and the first decade and a half of the the 21st century, history proves that getting involved with any country in the Middle East is like getting in between family members already in the middle of a family fight. For example, take the British and their involvement in the area. Insidiously being dragged further into the politics of each country that the crown wanted as an ally or for the need of oil. The British wish to control the area required many concessions to the various tribes including the cost in finances, military arms, and personnel.
Although the United States has had a presence in the Gulf since the end of World War II, dealing with the changing world politics, friends become enemies and enemies become friends. It is all a matter of timing. The Iran – Contra affair is a good example of this. After a splinter Iranian group took seven Americans hostages, high-ranking officials in the Reagan government thought they could use weapons as a bargaining chip with the Iranian government to apply pressure on the splinter group. The CIA sold weapons to Iran, at a considerable markup. Unfortunately, dealing with the Iranian groups became more involved, and for each sale of arms to Iran, the kidnappers released only one hostage. Selling of arms to the Iranians, who was, and is still under an arms embargo, was illegal.
The proceeds would go to the Nicaragua contra revolutionaries. . The “contras” were receiving military and financial support from the United States government. The United States Congress cut off their funds due to human rights violations. The Reagan administration decided to continue to help this group in spite of Congress. The sale of the arms to Iran, through Israeli middlemen were supposed to be a secret. A plan that was to release seven prisoners ended up being a two year affair and started with negotiations with a moderate Islamic Iranian group, that was modified into dealing with moderates within the Iranian Army, then finally changed to eliminating the Israeli middlemen and selling directly to the Iranian government.