The list below presents specific incidents of U.S. policy in the Middle
East. The list minimizes the grievances against the United States in the
region because it excludes more generalized long-standing policies, such as
U.S. backing for authoritarian regimes (arming Saudi Arabia, training the
secret police in Iran under the Shah, providing arms and aid to Turkey as it
ruthlessly attacked Kurdish villages, etc.) The list also excludes actions
of Israel in which the United States is indirectly implicated because Israel
has been the leading or second-ranking recipient of U.S. aid for many years
and has received U.S. high-tech weaponry and the diplomatic benefit of U.S.
veto power in the Security Council.
1948: Israel established. U.S. declines to press Israel to allow expelled
Palestinians to return.
1949: CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of Syria.
1953: CIA helps overthrow the democratically-elected Mossadeq government in
Iran (which had nationalized the British oil company) leading to a
quarter-century of repressive and dictatorial rule by the Shah, Mohammed
1956: U.S. cuts off promised funding for Aswan Dam in Egypt after Egypt
receives Eastern bloc arms.
1956: Israel, Britain, and France invade Egypt. U.S. does not support
invasion, but the involvement of its NATO allies severely diminishes
Washington's reputation in the region.
1958: U.S. troops land in Lebanon to preserve "stability".
early 1960s: U.S. unsuccessfully attempts assassination of Iraqi leader,
Abdul Karim Qassim.
1963: U.S. reported to gives Iraqi Ba'ath party (soon to be headed by Saddam
Hussein) names of communists to murder, which they do with vigor.
1967-: U.S. blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce SC
Resolution 242, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in
the 1967 war.
1970: Civil war between Jordan and PLO. Israel and U.S. prepare to intervene
on side of Jordan if Syria backs PLO.
1972: U.S. blocks Sadat's efforts to reach a peace agreement with Egypt.
1973: U.S. military aid enables Israel to turn the tide in war with Syria
1973-75: U.S. supports Kurdish rebels in Iraq. When Iran reaches an
agreement with Iraq in 1975 and seals the border, Iraq slaughters Kurds and
U.S. denies them refuge. Kissinger secretly explains that "covert action
should not be confused with missionary work."
1978-79: Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah. U.S. tells Shah it
supports him "without reservation" and urges him to act forcefully. Until
the last minute, U.S. tries to organize military coup to save the Shah, but
to no avail.
1979-88: U.S. begins covert aid to Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months
before Soviet invasion in Dec. 1979. Over the next decade U.S. provides
training and more than $3 billion in arms and aid.
1980-88: Iran-Iraq war. When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any
Security Council action to condemn the invasion. U.S. soon removes Iraq from
its list of nations supporting terrorism and allows U.S. arms to be
transferred to Iraq. At the same time, U.S. lets Israel provide arms to Iran
and in 1985 U.S. provides arms directly (though secretly) to Iran. U.S.
provides intelligence information to Iraq. Iraq uses chemical weapons in
1984; U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq. 1987 U.S. sends its navy
into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq's side; an overly-aggressive U.S. ship
shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290.
1981, 1986: U.S. holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya in waters
claimed by Libya with the clear purpose of provoking Qaddafi. In 1981, a
Libyan plane fires a missile and two Libyan planes shot down. In 1986, Libya
fires missiles that land far from any target and U.S. attacks Libyan patrol
boats, killing 72, and shore installations. When a bomb goes off in a Berlin
nightclub, killing two, the U.S. charges that Qaddafi was behind it
(possibly true) and conducts major bombing raids in Libya, killing dozens of
civilians, including Qaddafi's adopted daughter.
1982: U.S. gives "green light" to Israeli invasion of Lebanon, killing more
than 10,000 civilians. U.S. chooses not to invoke its laws prohibiting
Israeli use of U.S. weapons except in self-defense.
1983: U.S. troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping
force; intervene on one side of a civil war. Withdraw after suicide bombing
of marine barracks.
1984: U.S.-backed rebels in Afghanistan fire on civilian airliner.
1988: Saddam Hussein kills many thousands of his own Kurdish population and
uses chemical weapons against them. The U.S. increases its economic ties to
1990-91: U.S. rejects any diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait (for example, rebuffing any attempt to link the two regional
occupations, of Kuwait and of Palestine). U.S. leads international coalition
in war against Iraq. Civilian infrastructure targeted. To promote
"stability" U.S. refuses to aid post-war uprisings by Shi'ites in the south
and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons
and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter flights.
1991-: Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq. U.S. and Britain
block all attempts to lift them. Hundreds of thousands die. Though Security
Council had stated that sanctions were to be lifted once Saddam Hussein's
programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended, Washington makes
it known that the sanctions would remain as long as Saddam remains in power.
Sanctions in fact strengthen Saddam's position. Asked about the horrendous
human consequences of the sanctions, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
declares that "the price is worth it."
1993-: U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self-defense against
an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months
1998: U.S. and U.K. bomb Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even
though Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.
1998: U.S. destroys factory producing half of Sudan's pharmaceutical supply,
claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and
that factory was involved in chemical warfare. U.S. later acknowledges there
is no evidence for the chemical warfare charge.