HISTORICAL CRISIS Committee


Topic: The Cabinet of Jimmy Carter: The Iran Hostage Crisis (1979)

In early November 1979, a small group of Iranian students with an anti-American and Islamic extremist stance took 60 American hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, ranging from junior staff members to the Chargé d’Affaires. These hostages were held for 444 days, with the Carter administration working tirelessly, but not very effectively, to diplomatically and later, more aggressively, fight for their return to the United States. The conflict between Iranian nationalists and the U.S. government can be dated back to 25 years prior to the crisis. In 1951, Muhammad Mossadegh, an Iranian nationalist, was elected as president and represented an anti-Western, nationalist view on governing Iran, with a large part of his policy focused on nationalizing Iranian oil. This led the CIA, along with the British Intelligence, to launch a covert operation called Operation TP-Ajax, resulting in the deposition of President Mossadegh and the installation of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, a member of the Iranian royal family. The Shah represented Western interests by giving 80% of Iran’s oil wells to Britain and the U.S. while receiving millions of dollars in foreign aid and spending much of the nation's wealth on American arms, even amid domestic economic disarray. Fed up with his regime, in July 1979, Iranian revolutionaries threw their support behind Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical, militant Islamist and Iranian nationalist, and overthrew the Shah’s regime. This power vacuum led to the rise of militant Islamic groups taking over the government of Iran. When the Shah was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, President Carter allowed him into the United States for treatment, angering many Iranians and causing the hostage situation in Tehran. Delegates will aim to solve the crisis quickly and efficiently, while keeping the administration fully running, ensuring the safety of the hostages, and looking beyond just the immediate political ramifications.

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