40 years later, the Iranians remember the hostage crisis of the US embassy in 1979
TEHERAN: For those who were there, memories are still fresh, 40 years after one of the defining events of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, when protesters seized the U.S. Embassy. Tehran and triggered a 444-day hostage crisis.
The consequences of this crisis have repercussions to this day.
Veteran Iranian photographer Kaveh Kazemi recalled shooting with his camera while standing behind the door where Iranian militant students would take American hostages blindfolded to those gathered outside waving anti-American banners and calling for extradition of the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi .
Sometimes they brought an American flag and burned it, put it on fire and then threw it into the crowd, said Kazemi, now 67, pointing to the place. They came and sang 'death to America', 'death to the sha' ... changed the world as I knew it.
Anger toward the United States had already been growing throughout 1979 as the revolutionary government of Iran seized, but it overflowed in October when the United States received the sick sha for medical treatment.
After several protests, Islamist students raided the embassy on November 4 and took 98 hostages.
What initially began as a sit-in became 444 days of captivity for 52 Americans confiscated in the embassy. He urged President Jimmy Carter to expel Iranian diplomats and launch a failed rescue mission before the Americans were finally released on the last day of his presidency, unleashing decades of hostility amid an Islamic seizure of power that converted the country from a former ally of the United States in perhaps his greatest adversary.
Many of those sentiments remain today amid the escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington, following the disintegration of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal and the subsequent US sanctions that have sent the Iranian economy into free fall.
Outside the shady red brick walls of the former embassy, which were in the process of being painted with anti-American murals for the next anniversary, former protester Hossein Kouhi said he showed up in 1979 to denounce what the US intervention called in Iran's internal affairs, something he says continues today.
I had a good feeling then, but we had a bad destiny, said Kouhi, now 76, and blamed the United States for the shortage of drugs in Iran due to sanctions. Even today, if we allow it, (USA) will come here to plunder Iran, just as it is doing with other countries in the region. No foreigner is a friend of Iran. Everyone lies. Zahra Tashakori, a 41-year-old school teacher, agreed and said she was glad that the American presence was long gone.
Watch his movies. They promote violence and other bad things in societies, he said. They ruined wherever they intervened in the region. Just look at Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini He repeatedly praises the militants who took over the embassy as being ahead of their time. However, others on the street had a more nuanced view in retrospect.
I thought the US Embassy should have been officially closed, but not through the takeover, said Ghasem Rabiei, 49. The United States opposed the Islamic Republic in many ways, so they should have been deported from our country, but peacefully and legally.
Reza Ghorbani, a 19-year-old engineering student at Tehran 's Azad University, asked: "What is the result of this super long hostility? I do not say the US government is good, but these lengthy bitter relations have damaged Iran, too."
The United States blames Iran for a series of mysterious oil tanker attacks this year and alleges that it carried out last month's attack on the world's largest oil processor in Saudi Arabia, which caused an increase in oil prices in the highest percentage since the Gulf War of 1991.
Iran denies the accusations and has warned that any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an "all-out war," as it has begun enriching uranium beyond the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. Iran also shot down a US military surveillance drone and seized oil tankers, as the Trump administration insists upon continuing its "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.
As every anniversary does, Iran plans to fill the streets outside the former embassy, renowned as the Espionage Lair, for another mass demonstration that seeks to feed more anti-American sentiment for at least another year. For those who witnessed how it all started, it serves primarily as a reminder of everything that has cost them.
People should not suffer from hostilities between the two countries, said Kazemi, the photographer. If countries want to kill each other, kill each other. But ordinary people should not suffer. Inflation, sanctions, everything affects all people every day.