On Nov. 19, 2019, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL) convened a panel of distinguished experts on US foreign policy to discuss the question of US-Iran relations.
Titled, “Learning from the Past to Inform the Future of US-Iran Relations: On the 40th Anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and Hostage Crisis, What Lies Ahead?” the panelists were:
- Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State and US Ambassador to Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, the UN, India, and Russia
- Thomas L. Ahern Jr., former intelligence officer and CIA Station Chief in Tehran
- Osamah Khalil, Associate Professor of History, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
The conversation—moderated by the SPL Director the Hon. James E. Baker—was timed to address the latest developments in US-Iranian relations and to mark a significant anniversary.
Referring to current events, the panel addressed President Donald J. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “Iran Nuclear Deal”); the attacks in May and June 2019 on international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz; the Sept. 14, 2019, attack on two Saudi oil fields (widely attributed to the Iranian government); and the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Saudi-Iranian proxy war in Yemen.
November 2019 also marked the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran (Nov. 4, 1979). The embassy seizure began a 444-day hostage crisis, which ended in 1981 with a diplomatic resolution brokered by the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as the Algiers Accords.
The insightful commentary from these experts, as well as a fruitful back-and-forth with the audience of foreign policy professionals and Syracuse alumni, explored the lessons that we can learn from the past in order to inform the future of this critical bilateral relationship.