Over 80 percent.
This figure is concerning when it represents how many persons dislike you. And that is exactly the percentage of Iranians and Americans who consider each other enemies.
The question then comes to mind: Why? Why is Iran – once held so close to the heart by Americans – so hated? Additionally, why have the Americans who found so much in Tehran – including a military ally –become so pathologically loathsome to Iran? And why does Iran now want "death to the US"?
The answer is simple: It is all about how oil in the region would be exploited, how security for Israel would be maintained and how American dominance in the region would be secured. The answer may be simple but the description of this change of heart for both for America and Iran is long and sinuous. It often ensnares the politics of the entire Arab world.
And it all relates to the change of American foreign policy since World War II – with the spectre of spreading communism shaping the minds of US policymakers. From the day of the creation of a Zionist state of Israel during the tenure of Harry Truman, to the last major war in the region, and the invasion of Iraq by George W Bush Jr, everything has changed Iran's fate and role in the region.
The Persian empire, founded by Cyrus the Great, had once been one of the largest in the world – stretching from the Balkan to India –and it boasted a very proud people with a refined culture.
Today, Iran has been rendered a crippled country through economic embargoes, mostly on false pretenses.
In the following story, The Business Standard trots back in history to unravel the Iran-US rivalry for its readers to get their bearings about the US' assassination of Iran's most celebrated general, Qassem Soleimani.
Why is America so hell-bent on destroying Iran? Or conversely, why does Iran want the death of the US?
This Iran-US story is woven into oil, the Cold War and the exigency of keeping Israel safe. But then the same applies to America's engagement in the entire Middle East.
When these three elements come into play, the American policy is to befriend monarchies and dictators in the Middle East, but to react violently towards countries which disagree with it or challenge its authority over the region.
This is why one of the most undemocratic countries, Saudi Arabia that fares poorly on human rights issues, is America's best friend; while some of the more liberal Arab countries such as Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria or Libya had become its enemies.
For Iran, today's enemy, America had once done everything to endear it, showering it with aid, arms and nuclear reactors. But as the tables have turned, the same America now wants to shower it with bombs.
The Soleimani backlash
Soleimani was not Bin Laden, nor is Iran Afghanistan
Friend or foe? It depends on what the US gets
To read the Iran-US story one needs to travel back to the time before World War II when Iran's oil was controlled by the British through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. As the war raged on, the Americans, the British, and the Soviets all converged on Iran as allied forces. The Soviet's equipment supply was ensured by the Americans.
However, soon after the war ended and the Cold War began, the Soviet presence in northern Iran was viewed as undesirable by the US which wanted hegemony over oil in the region. Ultimately the Soviets had to pack up, leaving Iran to the happy Americans.
Surprise and disappointment were in store for America as Iran's pro-Western prime minister Ali Razmara was assassinated by Shia fundamentalists, and a nationalist leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, became the prime minister. Shah Mohamnmed Reza Pahlevi was then the monarch of Iran, but the real power lay with the premier.
Mosaddegh sidestepped the Shah in his policy decisions. He believed Iran's oil belonged to Iran alone and so in the very fashion of Egypt's Gamael Abdul Naser, he went on a nationalization programme. He nationalized Iran's oil fields in 1951 and earned an enemy in Washington.
The following year, the British were expelled from Iran and diplomatic ties were broken. It was then that Iran made the US an enemy for the first time. In its habitual approach to adverse foreign governments, America empowered the CIA to dislodge Mosaddegh, a communist who could "destablise" the region through his communist influence. The Soviets were just across the border, breathing down their necks and Mosaddegh's presence had the potential to establish Soviet influence across the whole region – an unpalatable choice for America.
So, the CIA agents took to the streets against Mosaddegh. At the same time, CIA agents disguised as Mossaddegh's supporters threw bombs on mosques to make the communists look bad in the eyes of the Iranian Muslims. Police and army were bribed by the CIA who started disobeying Mosaddegh.
The first attempt to dislodge Mosaddegh occurred on August 16, 1953, only two years after his coming to power. Mosaddegh survived the attempt because his loyalists and the Shah fled to Iraq. Tanks rolled through Tehran's streets and guarded Mosaddegh's residence to protect the premier.
However, more intrigue was in store as the Shah dismissed Mosaddegh by dint of his monarchic power and appointed another retired general Fazollah Zahedi the prime minister. Before this, Zahedi was the interior minister under Mosaddegh, but now treachery was in progress and loyalty was fleeting.
Unable to continue in the power struggle, Mosaddegh finally surrendered and was incarcerated. It was the turning point for Iran's history as the Shah, who had flown to Italy from Baghdad returned home with the proclamation: "In the name of the Almighty, I am profoundly grateful for the support that the Iranian people have shown toward me."
As the new chapter for Iran opened, the Shah became a subject of great comfort for the West, especially the US. He had a deep distaste for communism and wanted to fence off Soviet encroachment into the gulf.
So the Shah took the initiative to form an anti-Soviet pact called the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), originally known as the Baghdad Pact, joined by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
US President Eisenhower, happy with the Shah's steadfast support for America, gifted Iran with a nuclear reactor for peaceful use. This in the span of time spawned Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power under Ruhollah Khomeini.
Trade in military and non-military equipment boomed between the two countries with American arms pouring into Tehran. Between 1972 and 1977, the Shah bought more than $16 billion in arms from the US, endearing himself with the American arms lobby.
But the Shah was also savage in his suppression of opposition. His secret SAVAK police force disappeared dissidents. Social inequality increased, and so the people started agitating against the ruthless regime.
It was then a cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini became popular through his tirades against the Shah. In regular messages, Khomeini called for the overthrow of the Shah who arrested him in 1963. When the Iranians roiled at his arrest, the Shah immediately expelled Khoimeni from Iran.
He stationed himself in Iraq from where he started sending recorded messages. It is said that he actually started a "tape revolution," the first of its kind and certainly a predecessor to today's "social media revolution."
The Shah, on the other hand, tried to counter Khomeini by being more repressive and self-aggrandizing. His extravagant celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the pre-Islamic Persian monarchy was just another attempt to show his grandeur and authority as the Shah walked down a blue carpet in a gold-plated black dress with red stripes running down the sides, his wife in a white dress beside him.
This did not stop massive anti-Shah demonstrations breaking out in major cities, in 1978, with students spearheading the protests. Finally, the army mutinied and the Shah had no other option but to flee the country on January 16, 1979. Fifteen days later, Khomeini returned home from exile and formed an Islamic government and set about creating a theocratic state.
In the meantime, the Shah travelled on, living in various countries including Egypt, Morocco and the Bahamas. By that time he had developed cancer and US president Jimmy Carter brought him to America for treatment against the advice of the State Department which realized that the Shah was no longer of geostrategic importance.
Carter's response was another turning point in US-Iran relations. As soon as the Shah arrived in the US, Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage, demanding of the Shah be returned to stand trial.
The unprecedented siege lasted for 444 days during which Carter sent a failed commando mission to rescue the hostages. It resulted in three of the eight helicopters carrying the commandoes crashing, and eight US troops dying and five being injured.
The failed mission only gave the US more reasons to be embarrased.
Eventually, the Shah died and Carter lost the US election to Ronald Reagan. Iran by this time knew with the Shah dead it was pointless to continue the hostage crisis. With the help of Algeria, a negotiation started and finally Iran released the hostages in return for the US unfreezing $8 billion Iranian asset.
However, America did not pardon Iran for the humiliation and loss of a strategic location in the Gulf. It found a proxy friend in Saddam Hussain of Iraq who was instigated into attacking Iran. A bitter war of attrition began in which the US took Iraq's side, supplying it with weapons and intelligence reports.
Even after an inclusive end the war that dragged on for eight bloody years, US never tried to improve ties with Iran and Iran also viewed US as its enemy. US at stages imposed embargoes one after another on Iran that had long crippling impact on Iran's economy the aim of which was to weaken Iran and lead to a revolution for regime change.
Meantime, US and Israel continuously accused Iran of attempting to make nuclear weapons which Tehran kept on denying.
And finally in 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
The agreement had worked well as Iran had significantly reduced uranium enrichment.
But then suddenly, Donald Trump unilaterally cancelled the deal in 2018 which was not only condemned by Iran but also by UK, France, China and Russia. Trump following a 'maximum pressure' policy on Iran also imposed fresh sanctions.
From then on, Iran and the US have been trading tirades leading to Iran blocking oil supply through the straits of Hormuz.
A bitter US-Iran spat began that had finally culminated in the assassination of general Suleimani and the subsequent Iranian attack on US bases Wednesday.