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Iran-US tensions: 5 ways Americans and Iranians are actually similar

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2. Fighting tyranny

For some Iranians, toppling the tyrannical rule of the pro-West Shah in 1979 was akin to early Americans' pursuit of freedom and democracy.

Before Iran's Islamic revolution, Washington maintained a no-questions-asked alliance with the Shah, including CIA training of the dictator's SAVAK torturers and unlimited weapons sales. Iranian revolutionaries framed the fight as one against despotism supported from abroad, in this case by the US.

"We feel that what we seek is what the [Puritan] founders ... were also pursuing four centuries ago," said then-President Mohammad Khatami in an overture to the US in early 1998. "This is why we sense an intellectual affinity with the essence of the American civilization."

He said America's history "deserved respect." But modern US policies like backing the Shah, trying to undermine the Islamic Republic, and military attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, drive perceptions today. Anti-Americanism has been called an "endless religious duty."

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