On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students seized the US embassy in Tehran, Iran and detained more than 60 people. This action constituted a diplomatic standoff between Iran and the United States. The detainees were held hostage for 444 days by the Muslim student followers who are believed to have followers of the Imam’s line that supported the Iranian revolution. The immediate cause of the crisis was an incomprehension and entanglement of vengeance that a section of the people of Iran had over the US decision to grant Shah Pahlavi asylum. Pahlavi was admitted in a US hospital after being overthrown and charged with crimes against humanity. Iran demanded his return from the US so that he could stand trial for the atrocities he was accused of. The US rejected Iran’s demands and granted Pahlavi asylum (Bowden, 2007). This paper discusses the effects of the Iranian hostage crisis.
Iran lost international support in its war against Iraq. The hostage taking had a negative impact on Iran in its war negotiations with Iraq. The negotiated war settlement between the two nations favored the United States because none of Iran’s demands were met. However, the crisis strengthened a section of Iranians who fully supported and initiated the hostage taking leading to intensification of Anti-Americanism. Some of the politicians such as Behzad Nabavi and Khoeniha strengthened their political positions and became more influential (Farber, 2009). On the other hand, the politicians who supported the Americans were removed from government. For instance: the Shah of Iran had great power before the crisis because his decisions were highly influenced by the United States. After the crisis he lost his power because Jimmy Carter, the US president, was no longer in office and had been succeeded by Ronald Reagan. Shah lost the support of the United States and his country prompting him to flee Iran and go to exile (Houghton & Patrick, 2001). His authority in Iran was brought to an end.
The Iranian hostage crisis broke the formal diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. Consequently, Iran selected Algeria as its protective power in the US. On the other hand, the United States selected Switzerland and its protecting power in Iran. The new relations between the two nations were guided by the US Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Iran and the Iranian Interest Section of Pakistan (Houghton & Patrick, 2001). To this day, there are no communications and transaction between the United States and Iran.
The hostage crisis led to switching of the Iranian government from dictatorship to theocracy. When the Shah was in power, the country had an authoritative government with the Shah being the dictator. Prior to the rise of the Shah to power, Iran had a democratic government. The United States overthrew the country’s democratic government and enhanced the creation of a dictatorial government under the Shah. The Shah made changes that had a positive impact on Iran’s oil export in the United States. Since, Iran never planned or wanted an authoritarian government, it was destined to change. Consequently, after the hostage crises, the Shah lost his power leading to the end of dictatorship and the creation of a theocratic regime under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Farber, 2009). The theocratic regime is still in place today.
In summary, the Hostage crises had a direct impact on the US and Iran political and economic landscape. The political landscape of modern Iran is directly linked to the events that ensued after its occurrence. The crises led to Iran’s loss of international support in its war against Iraq, breaking of US-Iran diplomatic relations and switching of the Iranian government from dictatorship to theocracy. The crisis had a lasting effect on Iran’s course of history.