Friday, November 8, 2013

The Iranian Hostage Crisis: 34 Years Later

by Majid Rafizadeh


As the Obama administration stays determined to push for domestic and foreign policies that would prevent further pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, attempting to diplomatically and pleasantly reach out to the Islamists in Iran, just this week Islamist Iranian leaders responded to Obama’s outreach and foreign policies with a robust reaffirmation of their antagonism towards the United States and Israel.

This Monday marked the 34th anniversary of the American Embassy takeover in Iran, which led to 52 Americans being held hostage for several months in Tehran during the Carter administration. Contrary to what many liberal policy analysts in the Obama administration thought, and despite their recent portrayal of the constructive ties between the Islamists in Iran and United States, several powerful political Iranian institutions called for one of the biggest rallies this week.

Tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators packed the streets outside the former US embassy in Tehran. Hundreds of thousands also demonstrated against Israel and the US in various cities across the country. This call to rally against the United States and Israel created one of the most unprecedented demonstrations in size and scope. Many Western and Eastern media outlets reported that these gatherings were the biggest anti-US and anti-Israel rally in years. Even according to Iran’s official media, millions of people participated in the protests around the country, resulting in the largest anti-US and anti-Israel demonstration turnout in years.

Additionally, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran declared November 4th as the “National Day against Global Arrogance.” While this week, tens of thousands of Iranians shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” The burning of American and Israeli flags took place throughout Iranian cities. Furthermore, effigies of US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and US Secretary of State John Kerry were held up high by protestors.

The more the Obama administration pushes for a weakening of policies towards Iran — such as compromising and calling the ruling party “moderate” — the more the Islamic Republic of Iran is sending formidable signs to the United States that it will not put away its antagonizing policies towards the United States.

For 34 years, the United States and the international community have tried—through unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral talks, diplomatic initiatives, and later through sanctions, political, and economic pressure— to persuade the leaders of the Islamist state of Iran to change their extremist domestic and foreign policies, and to respect the modern standards of the international community, the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, Amnesty International, and other human rights watch groups.

None of these political and diplomatic approaches have yielded a positive result. Not only have extremist Iranian leaders not scaled down their aggressive foreign policy and their support for terrorist proxies, but they have also increased their domestic repression, human rights abuses, imprisonment and execution of political and human rights activists, along with their persecution of Christians, Jews, and Baha’is.

After all the efforts undertaken by the international community, the Obama administration is, in a sense, restarting its foreign policy from a clean slate. President Obama is attempting to use pleasant diplomatic language with Iranian leaders to ease sanctions on the nation. According to Iranian media, Eastern mainstream news, and some Western outlets, President Obama has repeatedly and desperately begged President Rouhani to speak with him on the phone.

In the arena of international politics taking such initiatives a crucial issue arises, President Obama is significantly weakening the geopolitical position of the United States and emboldening the power of the hardliners and extremists in Iran.

Recently, one of the most powerful military and ideologically hardlined institutions in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) stated on the Persian Sepah News website, that the slogan “Death to America” was a sign, and manifestation, of the Iranian people’s will, determination, and robust resistance against “the dominance of oppressive and untrustworthy America.” Hardliners even announced a few days before the protests that they composed several new anti-American Islamist songs to be played next to the American embassy.

Additionally, during the opening session of Iran’s parliament (Majlis), all members of the Majlis joined the hardliners’ call, stating that they will proudly carry the slogan “Death to America.”

Beside all these foreign policy gaffs, the Obama administration is currently pushing to invite Iran to the Geneva II conference. Kerry has repeatedly called to engage Iran in the upcoming Geneva Conference.

The matter of fact is that the key political institutions of Iran- such as the IRGC, the paramilitary Basij militia, the ministry of intelligence and security, the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution (which owns and manages approximately 350 subsidiary and affiliate companies in fields including industry, transportation, commerce, agriculture, and tourism), the Supreme National Security Council, the army, and the Expediency Council- have made it clear that their antagonism towards the United States and Israel is an unalterable part of their policies. The reason that these institutions exist is based on their fundamental ideology to act against Washington and Tel Aviv. Their existence, and Islamic legitimacy, will be endangered if they change this fundamental Islamic ideology.

Majid Rafizadeh


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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