Over the past week few weeks, the world has been witness to many fascinating and, somewhat, mindboggling revelations. Perhaps, none more significant than the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) massive data release. While the Stargate Project and the mentioning of the UFOs may have made headlines in the United States, yet the CIA’s digital data has so much to say about the country’s bilateral relationship with its friends and foes. The declassified information contains almost 12 million pages, and around 930,000 documents that entail CIA’s worldwide reach.

The data was released on January 17 through Crest and Reading Room, CIA’s official database. Previously, the Reading Room was allowed to be accessed only during office hours at the selected CIA offices. The classified documents have been released ahead of schedule, which was supposed to be by the end of the year 2017.

Iran’s affability with the nukes hasn’t gone down well with President Trump. The war of words has started all over again. But, this surely isn’t something out of the blue. CIA’s declassified documents reveal that Iran has always held a special place in CIA’s international operations. In the entire treasure trove, there are 1,582 search results pertaining to documents related to Iran.

To subdue any regional influence the revolution might gather, CIA’s deployment of its field officers in Iran in a large number is an open secret. It wasn’t just the 1979 revolution that caught the Americans by surprise. Rather, the U.S. has always been wary of the Shia version of Islam, which is considered by most of the Americans as inherently opposed to their geopolitical maneuvers. Noticeably, Iran, over the years, has only been the real threat to Israel’s regional supremacy. Whether that threat is genuine or not, isn’t part of the debate, anyway.

A document from CIA’s 1979 directory, and approved for release in 2003, highlights CIA’s  assumed vulnerability towards Shia Islam. It is titled: “Iran: The Shia Revolution and Iran’s Neighbors.” It continuously refers to the Iranian Shias as ‘radials’, and the discomforting effect they can have on the entire world.   Even back then, the CIA seemed worried about the Iranians having an extended international clout. CIA back then had had suitable ties with the gulf region. Primarily, adherents of Sunni Islam. Thereby, the intelligence agency made sure not to let the Shia influence gather any foothold outside Iran and Iraq. In this context, the CIA documents specifically mention Moderrassi, who had been deported from Bahrain on the suspicions of promoting Shia Islam in the gulf.

Contrary to the popular belief, the Shah of Iran wasn’t the CIA’s ‘go-to guy’. Documents reveals that the intelligence agency believed that he was responsible for much of the chaos that had gripped the region back then. In a specific statement, CIA noted that, “The real culprit behind the great oil rip-off is identified in secret intelligence reports as the Shah of Iran.” The document goes on to state that the intelligence agency was convinced that Shah’s agitation and the policies thereof led to the 1973 oil crises.

The recently released documents authenticate the view that the CIA wasn’t able to foresee the revolution. The revolution not only caught the entire intelligence community caught by surprise, but it was a moment of awe for the entire world. As per the released documents, The CIA director noted that, “what we didn’t forecast was that a 78-year old cleric who had been in exile for 14 years would be the catalyst that would bring these forces together, and that we would have one huge volcano- a truly national revolution.” The reason being the fact that CIA’s primary role was to ensure Iran wasn’t able to flex its muscles beyond its borders. The domestic developments, more or less, had gone unnoticed.

Concerns regarding Iran’s regional influence had skyrocketed during the Iran-Iraq War.  A document from 1982 signifies that the CIA had been closely observing the proceedings during the War. The document contains all the graphical representations and pictorials that the CIA operatives were able to gather and report to their offices in the United States. In regards to Iran, the intelligence brief noted that, “Iranian forces have received additional infantry and engineer units and the supply and transport staging area in the vicinity.” To ascertain the Iraqi position and deployment of their forces, the document notes that, “Iraqi forces continue to redeploy, reinforce, and construct positions along their side in probable preparation for an expected Iranian attack.”

Not just the observation, but also the CIA was astute enough to have come up with a classified document that briefs the decision makers about who the actual culprit of the war really was. As per the assessment, both Iran and Iraq had their reasons and the policy decisions to back their claims. On Iraq, the CIA stated that, “Iran almost certainly will insist on approving prospective panel members and will expect that they will reach a verdict quickly, punish Saddam Husayn, and assess reparations. Even if a panel issues a verdict generally favorable to Iran, Tehran probably will continue to seek a military victory over Iraq.” Highlighting the Iraqi perspective on the issue, the document notes that, “Iraq will also insist on choosing sympathetic panel members who believe Iran shares responsibility for the war.”

Along with Hezbollah, the hard-liners in Iran including Ali Akbar Mohtashemi were staunchly opposed to the President Rafsanjani and the idea of hostage release. The CIA noted, “Rafsanjani, wants to use the hostages to get the United States to return to Iran more than $1 billion in frozen assets. He hopes the hostages can be a bartering chip in Iran’s bid to join the community of civilized nations.”

Yom Kippur War in 1973, again, manifests that CIA’s policies towards Iran have historically brought pandemonium to the region. The war not only disrupted the Middle Eastern geopolitics, but it enhanced CIA’s role in the region as well. While the CIA was busy keeping Iran at Bay, other players in the region jumped in unscathed, and engaged in what went on to be a decisive war in the recent history of the Middle East. A paper recently released reaffirms the notion in an unprecedented manner, stating: “It was an intelligence failure.”

The U.S has always been skeptical about Iran having a nuclear weapon. It isn’t just about JCPOA agreement. In a confidential document dated back to 1984, it was stated that the CIA is of the view that “Iran is in the final stages of making a nuclear bomb.” If Iran gets the bomb, it will enjoy regional influence. The same perspective led the CIA to conclude in 1984 that Iran was about to make the bomb. The nuclear paranoia has historically kept the premier intelligence agency of the United States to be watchful of every move of Iran.

Considering President Trump’s views on Iran, and his National Security Advisor Lt. General Michael Flynn’s perpetual animosity towards the Islamic Republic, the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Iran might deteriorate even further. It seems as if Iran is setting itself up for a standoff with the United States. The recent spat doesn’t bode well. Calmness and tranquility is direly needed. CIA, on the other hand, will surely be contemplating its next move. Watch out, Iran.