In June 2017, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned U.S. policy towards Iran and the region in two speeches and a meeting. He also mocked President Donald Trump and his administration. “The new White House leaders are like nascent hooligans who scare people by brandishing their knives until somebody punches them in the mouth and puts them in their place,” he said in a June 18 address to families of fallen soldiers and police. “Don’t take all the huff and puff of the newcomer in the U.S. seriously. The U.S.
On June 20, a U.S. aircraft shot down an Iranian-made drone in Syria. “The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces,” according to the U.S.-led forces fighting ISIS. It was the second time that the United States shot down an Iranian-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). On June 8, a U.S. F-15 jet also shot down a Shaheed 129 drone.
On June 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson implied that the United States supports regime change in Iran, which would be a significant departure from U.S. policy under previous administrations. Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) asked Tillerson, who was testifying on the budget request for the State Department and USAID, if the United States supports peaceful regime change.
On June 7, the U.S. Senate voted 92-7 to advance a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran. The legislation aims to hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing behavior in the Middle East by sanctioning “Iran’s ballistic missile program, applying terrorism sanctions to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, imposing sanctions on Iranians engaged in human rights abuses, and tightening enforcement on arms embargoes on the Iranian regime,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said.
On June 5, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in a coordinated move. They accused Qatar of destabilizing the region by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al Qaeda, Iranian-backed groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Yemen, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government also cut ties with the small Gulf nation. Only two Gulf Cooperation Council states, Kuwait and Oman, did not cut ties. Kuwait offered to mediate.
Women in Iran “confront an array of legal and social barriers, restricting not only their lives but also their livelihoods, and contributing to starkly unequal economic outcomes,” according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. “Iranian women’s achievements in higher education demonstrate their capability and passion to be equal partners in building a better country, but discriminatory laws are holding them back,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
Iran “remains a significant challenge to the United States within the Middle East and Southwest Asia,” according to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment.” On May 23, DIA Director and Lt. Gen Vincent Stewart briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on the report’s findings.
On May 19, Iranians living in the United States overwhelmingly voted for President Hassan Rouhani. Some 96 percent of the 30,039 voters supported him. More than 50 polling stations were set up across the country. Iranians in the Washington D.C. area cast their votes at the Iranian Interests Section at the Pakistani Embassy. No polling stations were set up in Canada, so some Iranians traveled to Washington, New York or other states near the border to vote.
Iranian leaders have harshly criticized U.S. foreign policy and President Donald Trump for revitalizing the U.S.-Saudi relationship on his trip to the region. In a tweet, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sarcastically referred to the Sunni kingdom as a “bastion of democracy and moderation” and rhetorically asked if the arms deal Trump signed was foreign policy or “simply milking” the country of $480 billion.
On May 22, President Hassan Rouhani criticized U.S. foreign policy in his first press conference since he was reelected. “Americans have always made mistakes with regard to our region – when they attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, when they imposed sanctions on us, and in Syria and Yemen,” he told domestic and foreign journalists. “Americans do not know our region and the problem is that those who are advising the Americans are unfortunately either rulers who are misguiding the U.S., or buying off people in the U.S.”