Iranian Hostage Crisis
Iran Seizes American Hostages
Carter hoped that Camp David Accords would usher in a new era of cooperation in the Middle East. Yet events in Iran showed that troubles in the region were far from over. Since the 1950s, the United States had supported the rule of the Shah, or emperor of Iran. In the 1970s, however, opposition to the Shah began to grow within Iran.
The Iranian Revolution which toppled the Shah and brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979, had a strong anti-American component. The United States had supported Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Iran’s Shah, to secure a firm ally against communism in the region. However, the Shah’s rule grew more oppressive after 1953, when the CIA had helped him control a challenge to his power. Resentment over political interference and foreign involvement in Iran’s oil industry boiled over when the deposed Shah entered the US for medical treatment. Facing a rebellion at home and dying of cancer, the Shah fled from Iran in January 1979. Fundamentalists Islamic clerics, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini took power. Carter allowed the Shah to enter the US to seek medical treatment. Enraged Iranian radical students invaded the US Embassy and took 66 American hostages, 52 of whom were held for 444 days. The Khomeini government then took control of both the embassy and the hostages to defy the United States.
• January 1979 Iranian Revolution forced the Shah into exile
• February 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 15 years in exile
• April 1979 Khomeini takes power
• October 1979 The Shah enters the US
• November 1979 Militant students take 66 Americans hostage. Carter halts oil imports and freezes Iranian assets in the US
• Aoril 1980 Carter severs diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes an economic embargo. A Mission to free the hostages ends in disaster
• January 1981 On the day of Reagan’s inauguration, the hostages are released in exchange for $8 billion in frozen assets and a promise to lift trade sanctions against Iran
The hostage crisis consumed the attention of Carter during the last year of his presidency. To many Americans, Carter’s failure to win all of the hostages’ release was evidence of American weakness. As Peter Bourne put it in his biography of Jimmy Carter “Because people felt that Cater had not been tough enough in foreign policy… some bunch of students would seize American diplomatic officials and hold them prisoner and thumb their nose at the United States.”.
The hostage crisis began to change the way Americans viewed the world outside their borders. Nuclear war between the two superpowers was no longer the only threat to the United States. Although the Cold War still concerned Americans, the threats posed by conflicts in the Middle East threated to become the greatest foreign policy challenge.
• What events triggered the seizer of the American hostages in Iran?
• What actions did Carter take to try to get the hostages released?
• How did the seizure of the US embassy by Iranian students affect American’s view of the world?
IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS
Directions: Use this website to answer the questions on the worksheet http://iranhostagecrisisactivity.weebly.com/
1. Describe the history of relations between the United States and Iran.
2. What led to the Iranian revolution?
3. What did Carter and Khomeini request in their letters?
U.S. stake in Iran Read the first four pages of the document and answer the questions below.
4. According to the National Security Agency report, what was the United States’ greatest stake in Iran? Explain.
5. What did the document have to say about the U.S.S.R.?
6. According to this document, why was the hostage crisis so worrisome to the West?
7. How would the crisis put new stresses on the U.S. economy and the world financial system?
The hostages’ release
8. What led to the release of the remaining hostages? Describe.
(After the video)
9. How do you observe Carter's dedication to human rights within his decision-making process?
10. Do you agree with Carter's decision on how best to handle the situation?
11. What were the lasting effects of the hostage situation ?
12. How can you see these effects today?
Task: Find two political cartoon on the Iranian Hostage Crisis and describe them completely