What was the cause of the Iranian hostage crisis?

1 Answer
Dec 3, 2016

Iranian students, protesting the perceived harbouring of exiled former Shah of Iran in the US, climbed the walls of the US Embassy in Tehran, occupied the compound, and held US diplomats.


1979 was a difficult year for US President Jimmy Carter and Iran.
The Shah was the leader of the secular government of Iran. Because of intense civil unrest fomented by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shah was advised to leave Iran by the US.

Without the Shah and strong support from the US, the Iranian government could not survive. Khomeini, a Shiite Cleric, returned to Iran in February to a jubilant population.

The Shah went to medical treatment for cancer in the US. Iranian students protested the perception that the US was giving the Shah refuge. In early November these protests escalated into the take over of the Embassy.

Carter likely fumbled the situation badly and it would cost him the next presidential election.

For Islam the attacks of November 20th, 1979 on the Grand Mosque Mecca by Sunni radicals, in part reacting to the Iranian crisis, would also shake the Muslim world.