The memories of the great Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1896 – and the democracy and liberties which sprang from it – never really died amongst Iran’s people, even after their Democratic Constitution of 1906 was secretly destroyed by the United States and Britain in 1953 (see an earlier post).
By the 1970s, “people power” in Iran was coming to the surface once again after 25 years of increasingly dictatorial rule by what would turn out to be, the final Shah of Iran.
The Iranian people had had enough of their western installed puppet dictator, whose extravagances included flying first class Concorde supersonic jets to Iran, all the way from Paris, with his lunch being the only passenger.
The protests against the Shah, were being led by young people – the students of Iran. The protests grew louder and louder as the outcome and forward momentum became increasingly obvious. It was the end of Iran’s long line of Royal Shahs – for good this time.
In 1979, what the Iranian people remembered from 1953, and what is still never widely acknowledged or shared by western media or their governments, is that the illegal overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohummed Mossadegh, was planned and carried out from within the walls of the American embassy in Tehran. Plotting this act of western sabotage against your host nation, from within a protected diplomatic compound was plainly illegal and against diplomatic law, as well as being against all of the traditional deeds of trust that enable foreign embassies to function safely in another country.
In 1979 the Iranians had learnt that the biggest threat to this, their second revolution were the western embassies where the illegal coup against their Prime Minister in 1953 had been plotted from. This time, there would be no foreign backed coup and, this time, no more innocent Iranian lives would be lost. This revolution was going to stick. American hostages were the guarantee of that.
Iranian students had entered the American embassy and taken American diplomatic staff hostage. A clearly illegal act. But was it justified in light of the recent history of America’s illegal coup plotting from inside this same embassy?
Whatever the legal niceties of who did the most illegal thing, the student led Iranian Revolution of 1979 succeeded. All of the American hostages were eventually released 444 days later.
(Controversy and duplicity surround the release of the hostages. It has been alleged by several top American officials, as well as a former Iranian President, that the release of the hostages was delayed by a secret deal made between Iran and the Republican nomination for President Ronald Reagan, who was a favourite to win the November 1980 US election against incumbent President Carter.
By this claim, a deal to release the hostages had been agreed to by the Carter administration and Iran, before Democratic President Carter was due to leave office on January 20, 1981. The hostages should have been released and greeted by outgoing President. However, behind the scenes talks initiated by members of the Reagan team persuaded Iran to keep the hostages just a little longer, so that they could be “released” in a great photo opportunity for new President Reagan.
Iran for its co-operation, would receive gold and be sold (illegal only for US) American weapons, through the intermediary nation of Israel.
Weapons were indeed what were sold to Iran illegally by the Reagan administration as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. The arms sale to Iran was against American law.
Whether the “October surprise” of an “early” hostage release being delayed was true or not we may never know. However, the illegal act of private American citizens – as they’re not sworn into any public office – conducting foreign policy talks with officials from other nations is not unique. A similar event occured in 1968 when Republican nominee for President, Richard Nixon allegedly convinced South Vietnam not to agree to a deal with the outgoing adminstration of President Johnson to end the American bombing of their nation. Nixon convinced Hanoi they would get a better deal under his new administration.)
After the successful 1979 Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis was all settled, Iran had a new who leader who promised Iranian’s protection from harrassment by greedy foreigners.
A new written Constitution was prepared by the new leadership and it was fully endorsed by the Iranian people’s vote.
It seemed that Iranians – who had suffered for so long from foreign meddling in their internal affairs – could finally get their country back on track and in charge of its own business.
But sadly, that was not to be. Iran was soon to discover that a brutal new form of persecution was already being created in the west by the same governments who had always had their eye on Iran’s resources. Empires don’t let go that easily.
The dust had hardly settled on the 1979 revolution but Iran was about to face a terrible new challenge to its sovereignty and independence. This time the threat came from the neighbours. But the same western empires were behind it all.
This will be the subject of the next post on the modern, and untold history, of Iran.