Historical Studies Quarterly, No 30, Autumn 2010



Special issue on:
US Embassy Seizure in Tehran, 1980

The titles and abstracts of the articles included in the latest issue of Historical Studies Quarterly which is concentrated on the seizure of American Embassy by Iranian Students in Tehran in 1980 are as follow:
 
The Role of Imam Khomeini in the Management of Hostages Crisis at US Espionage Den
By: Hassan Beheshtipoor

Capturing the American Embassy in Tehran by "Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line" is one of the turning points of 32-year-history of Iranian Islamic Revolution. Imam Khomeini managed this crisis and changed it to a historical fortune for the country and Islamic Revolution and because of deep effects of this historical event in Iran, region and the world we are about to review this subject in this article. We have tried to analyze the trend of developments considering the centrality of Imam and his management based on the memoirs of people who had key roles in this event. The main trend of this article is based on a theory that Imam had no role in the design and capturing the US embassy in Tehran, however just at the beginning of this challenge when being informed of the attempt by students, he tried to use this event as a historical fortune to stabilize the Islamic Revolution; the event that could lead the country to a war.
 
An Interview with Reza Seyfullahi
The attempt to seizure the US Espionage Den was revolutionary but in general look, a defensive attempt. This attempt was a correct and revolutionary and could defend the nation against the abasement of superpower policies. The reason for why this identically defending attempt happened in a revolutionary form hides in the background of Iran-US relations and the historical trend of intervening attempts by the Americans. Without considering the background of Iran-US relations, there is no possibility for understanding the basis of seizing the US Espionage Den. If we start considering these relations from the 1953 coup, we observe the Americans have abdicated a legitimate and national government by an illegitimate intervene and bringing Mohammad Reza to power. Then they supported and armed him. The Americans ruled over our national, economic, military and political destiny by an illegitimate puppet. After the Islamic Revolution the American interventions continued in the framework of fighting against the revolutionary goals of Iranian nation.
 
Interview with Ebrahim Asgharzadeh
The historical events whose effects go beyond the time, tell us that event has had a rational reason. During the history and around the world, there have happened many events like the seizure of US Embassy in Iran. But all of them have been so limited or removed from the memoirs of those nations. Why the incidents of US Embassy have survived up to this time, partly goes back to the rationality behind it. After WWII, because of the British retreatment from the Suez Canal and Persian Gulf, USA could replace them and had great influence. After WWII, US followed very intervening doctrines, such Nixon's whose basis was coups one after another in military and puppet regimes; in order to deter the influence of Communism and also preserving the US interest in different districts of the world.
 
The domestic Reasons for the Seizure of American Espionage Den in Tehran
Seyyed Mohammad Hashempoor Yazdan Parast

On February 3rd 1979, two days after the entrance of Imam to Iran, Mehdi Bazargan was appointed by him as the prime minister of interim government of Iran. The interim government after the victory of Islamic Revolution on February 11th 1979 introduced some individuals as ministers of this government. Step by step interactions with the enemies of Iran were the approach of this government. Bazargan became prime minister by the support of people and Imam Khomeini but when he introduced his ministers, it was clear that there was not compatibility with aims of people and the ideas of some of his ministers. The revolutionary youth were observing this matter while they have had experienced the revolutionary conditions.
Imam Khomeini had written in his appointment sanction: "I appoint you to form a government without considering party orientations or relations." However, he appointed a group of non-governmental individuals who most of them were from Nahzat-e Azadi (Liberty Movement) or National Front. From the 30 ministers of the 9-month-length interim government, 21 were from Nahzat-e Azadi, 2 from JAMA (Iranian Nation's Revolutionary Movement) whose leader was Kazem Sami. The other governmental high ranking managers were also chosen from Nahzat-e Azadi or National Front who did not believe in an Islamic based government. The first 6 ministers were introduced on 14th of February and when the revolutionary council rejected some of them, Bazargan threatened to resign and finally the council was forced to approve them.
As Bazargan has said, one of main obstructions against his government was the seizure of American Embassy. When the interim government could not bring the students out of Embassy by pressure or several contacts with the Imam's office on November 4th 1979 and from the other side Imam approved the students movement on the next day, it had no way to evacuate the Embassy and freeing the hostages except resigning in order to put pressure on Imam. This decision was made in the longest session of the cabinet some hours after the approval of this movement by Imam was announced about 9 pm.
 
Astudy on "Students Movement" in Iran and some discussions about the seizure of Espionage Den
Based on Mahmood Ahmadi Nezhad’s point of view,
Member of the Central office of Unity Enforcement office in 1980
By: Hamid Reza Esma'ili

I this article 5 subjects are discussed about the students movement from the viewpoint of Madmood Ahmadi Nezhad: 1) The concept of student movement, 2) A look over Iranian Students Movement in 1970s, 3) The impact of Imam Khomeini and Islamic Revolution on the students movement, 4) The formation of Unity Enforcement, 5) The seizure of American (Espionage Den) in October 1980.
As a matter of fact, Ahmadi Nezhad as student activist in late 1970s and particularly after the Islamic Revolution is a considerable matter to study; particularly when nor research has been done in this regard. In this article the above 5 questions would be answered based on the activities of Ahmadi Nezhad in those years.
In this article, the theory that comes out of the phenomena of "The Seizure of Espionage Den" by students is saying this movement is originated from inner layers of Islamic Revolution; something which is also observable in Ahmadi Nezhad's point of view. The seizure of American Embassy which was a core of power for Pahlavi regime, as a matter of fact was the complement of Islamic Revolution that happened 250 days later. This attempt showed that revolutionaries could see no difference between "Despotism" and "Colonialism". In other words the understandable theory is that Islamic Revolution was not only against domestic despotism but also the imperialistic world. The discussions about students' movement from the view point of Ahmadi Nezhad in this article narrate a part of these facts.
 
Debacle in the Desert
Carter's mission to rescue the hostages goes down in flames

Two lines of blue lights etched the outlines of the remote landing strip. Suddenly flames illuminated the night sky, then gradually flickered out. On the powdery sands of Dasht-e-Kavir, Iran's Great Salt Desert, lay the burned-out hulk of a lumbering U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft. Nearby rested the scorched skeleton of a U.S. Navy RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter. And in the wreckage were the burned bodies of eight American military air crewmen.
For Carter in particular, and for the U.S. in general, the desert debacle was a military, diplomatic and political fiasco. A once dominant military machine, first humbled in its agonizing standoff in Viet Nam, now looked incapable of keeping its aircraft aloft even when no enemy knew they were there, and even incapable of keeping them from crashing into each other despite four months of practice for their mission.
 
Raging Debate over the Desert Raid

Critics ask the Pentagon: Was it too little—or too much?
Three C-130 Hercules transport planes roared low across the Florida panhandle last week, two flying tightly as a pair, and one trailing without its partner. This is the traditional "missing buddy" formation of the U.S. Air Force, a symbol of mourning for lost fliers. On the ground, in a green park just inside the gates of Hurlburt Field, some of the toughest men in the armed services could not suppress their tears.
The ceremony honored five of the eight servicemen who died two weeks ago in Iran's Dasht-e-Kavir desert during the aborted raid to rescue the Americans held hostage in Tehran. Some 5,000 people gathered at Hurlburt in memory of the five air commandos who had been stationed there. One by one, the lost men were eulogized. Said Lieutenant Colonel Calvin Chasteen about his comrade, Captain Richard L. Bakke, a 33-year-old navigator: "He looked forward with enthusiasm and anticipation to this last opportunity to serve, not for the glory it offered but for the deep satisfaction of defending that which is good and decent."
 
Three Martyrs of Den
By: Ali Ashtari

From the students who participated in seizing The American Embassy in Tehran on November 4th 1979, some were martyred in Tehran in clashes with the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization or in war fronts. Mohsen Vezvayee, Mehdi Rajab Beygi, and Hussein Shoorideh are 3 of these martyrs; although they are not the only ones.
In this short article it is tried to write shortly about them based on the written materials and memoirs of their friends. Since all of these rewritten information are presented in the format of General informed narrator, is not so easy to refer to the information for each paragraph; but for further referring all the sources are brought at the end.
 
The Seizure of Liberty Statue
Rewriting and compilation by: Mahdiye Davoodi

Every thing was because of the 11 hour-distance between Tehran and New York. The Iranian Students in New York had decided show their protest against the acceptance of the Shah in USA in a symbolic attempt. The date that they had in mind was November 4th 1979. They woke early in the morning and went to their own work. They were not aware that some hours a go at their mid night, what has happened in Iran. The police captured them when they were doing their plan and imprisoned them since they were thinking that they were coordinated with the students in Iran who had seized the Embassy. …
"Abulfazl Nahidian" is one of those students who played a role in capturing the Liberty Statue; now he has narrated his memoirs after several years. Majid Zolfaghari has interviewed with him and Ms. Mahdiye Davoodi has compiled and edited this matter.
 
No Comment Documents
Subject: Persian Dichotomies

This document is a report by Victor Tomseth, the American consul in Shiraz about his observations during his trip to Kerman and something that express as Persian Dichotomies. What he writes as a comment at the end of his report is a readable one:
My experience was illustrative of dichotomies which pervade modern Iranian society: Hospitality that overwhelms but almost total incomprehension of meeting of service; inspired architecture but incompetent execution; sophisticated training but no mastery of basic skills. The list is endless. It is this aspect of Iran, the seeming lack of links between society at its most sublime and as it is most fundamentally manifest, that foreigners (and many Iranians after prolonged absences abroad) find so puzzling and frustrating. The mind boggles at the absurdity of Iran being the world’s fifth leading industrial power by the end of the century when it is impossible to fine a toilet seat that will stand up.



 
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