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A Coup, A Hostage Crisis And More Than 60 Years Of U.S.-Iran Tensions

U.S. Navy patrol boats carrying journalists to see damaged oil tankers leaves a U.S. Navy 5th Fleet base near Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili
Kamran Jebreili
The Associated Press

Tension between the United States and Iran is nothing new. It goes back decades. Dr. Michael Khaghany, a retired cardio thoracic surgeon in Kalamazoo says it can be traced back to 1953. Khaghany, a native or Iran says the CIA led coup in Iraq has left “a bad taste in the Iranian psyche.”

Khaghany was a boy when the elected Prime Minster Mohammad Mossadegh was removed from power. The Shah of Iran who had been in exile returned. Earlier this year NPR’s podcast Throughline examined the U.S. and British governments’ role in the 1953 Iranian coup.

Retired Unitarian Universalist minister Harold Beu says when most Americans think of Iran, they think 1979 when 52 hostages were taken at the embassy in Tehran. He says “Iranians think of 1953.”

Extended interview in WMUK's WestSouthwest podcast

Khaghany came to the United States in 1970, for a fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. He planned to return to Iran after finishing in 1978, but discovered it would be difficult to set up a medical practice. Khaghany also saw the unrest in Iran, and decided it would be best for his children to stay in the United States.

Despite the tense history between the two nations, Khaghany says he and other Iranians admire the United States. He says they see it as a “freedom loving nation.” Khaghany says many of the people he graduated with in Iran came to the U.S.

Beu, a member of Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents of War, says there’s no reason for the U.S. and Iran to always be adversaries. He says the U.S. is now friends with former enemies like Germany and Japan. But Beu says it’s important for the American people to understand the reasons for the tension.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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