From November 4, 1979, lasting to January 20, 1981, the "Iran Hostage Crisis" was a diplomatic standoff between the United States and Iran. Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from, after a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Here is a clip explaining how the Iran hostage crisis unfolded:
Western media described the crisis as an "entanglement" of "vengeance and mutual incomprehension." American President Jimmy Carter called the hostage-taking an act of "blackmail" and the hostages "victims of terrorism and anarchy." In Iran it was widely seen as an act against the U.S. and its influence in Iran, including its perceived attempts to undermine the Iranian Revolution and its longstanding support of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown in 1979. Here is news coverage from NBC News anchor, Tom Brokaw:
After Shah Pahlavi was overthrown, he was admitted to the U.S. for cancer treatment. Iran demanded his return in order to stand trial for crimes that he was accused of committing during his reign. Specifically, he was accused of committing crimes against Iranian citizens with the help of his secret police. Iran's demands were rejected by the United States, and Iran saw the decision to grant him asylum as American complicity in those atrocities. The Americans saw the hostage-taking as an egregious violation of the principles of international law, such as the Vienna Convention, which granted diplomats immunity from arrest and made diplomatic compounds inviolable. Here is news coverage from ABC News anchor, Ted Brokaw:
The crisis reached a climax after diplomatic negotiations failed to win the release of the hostages. Carter ordered the U.S. military to attempt a rescue mission – Operation Eagle Claw – using warships that included the USS Nimitz and USS Coral Sea, which were patrolling the waters near Iran. The failed attempt on April 24, 1980 resulted in the death of one Iranian civilian, and the accidental deaths of eight American servicemen after one of the helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft. United States Secretary of State Cyrus Vance resigned his position following the failure. Here is news coverage from CBS News including footage from CBS News anchor, Walter Cronkite:
The Shah left the United States in December 1979 and was ultimately granted asylum in Egypt, where he died from complications of cancer at age 60 on July 27, 1980. Six American diplomats who had evaded capture had been rescued by a joint CIA–Canadian effort on January 27, 1980.
Political analysts cited the standoff as a major factor in the continuing downfall of Carter's presidency and his landslide loss in the 1980 presidential election; the hostages were formally released into United States custody the day after the signing of the Algiers Accords, just minutes after American President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. In Iran the crisis strengthened the prestige of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the political power of theocrats who opposed any normalization of relations with the West. The crisis also led to American economic sanctions against Iran, which further weakened ties between the two countries.
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