Saturday, April 12, 2014

52/444/1979

Iran (1979). It was the best of times for dreamy eyed revolutionaries (and the worst of times for others). There were 52 american hostages who were terrorized for 444 days by the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line (see below), the spiritual grandfather of the Taliban so to speak.

As the Friends of Iran would like to tell us, all the above misunderstanding is just so much water down the bridge. It should be possible to rise above past bitterness and do business with Iran. And who better to extend the hand of friendship than the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama?  

Except that in the Middle East (as Obama is about to discover) the past is not really a different country.

The Iranians have selected a student revolutionary as their UN envoy. The USA has been forced to retaliate by denying him a VISA. Despite the good intentions from both sides it appears that the green shoots of an US-Iran entente will shortly shrivel and dry up (Israel and Saudis will be most pleased).
 ....
The United States, in a rare diplomatic rebuke, will not grant a visa to Tehran's pick for envoy to the United Nations, the Obama administration said on Friday.

The move could complicate efforts to thaw the decades-long diplomatic freeze between the US and Iran, as the two countries negotiate a deal to curb Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

President Barack Obama's administration had previously said only that it opposed the nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran as a revolution erupted in Iran.

US officials had hoped the issue could be resolved by Tehran simply withdrawing the nomination.
That did not happen, so the US made the unusual, if not unprecedented, move to not grant a visa to a UN ambassadorial nominee.

Aboutalebi is alleged to have participated in a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days during the takeover. His nomination has outraged members of Congress, who passed a bill barring entry to the US to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or a threat to national security. Carney would not say whether Obama would sign the bill but said the president shares its sentiments.

United Nations officials had no immediate comment on the US decision.

Iran has called US rejection of Aboutalebi “not acceptable,” with Iranian state television quoting Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying Aboutalebi is one of the country's best diplomats and arguing that he previously received a US visa.

Aboutalebi has insisted his involvement in the group involved in the embassy takeover, Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line, was limited to translation and negotiation.
...

Here is some details of the hostage crisis [excerpts from Wiki]

....
Around 6:30 a.m. on November 4, 1979, the ringleaders gathered between 300 and 500 selected students, thereafter known as Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, and briefed them on the battle plan. A female student was given a pair of metal cutters to break the chains locking the embassy's gates, and she hid them beneath her chador.

The occupiers bound and blindfolded the embassy Marines and staff and paraded them in front of photographers. In the first couple of days, many of the embassy staff who had sneaked out of the compound or not been there at the time of the takeover were rounded up by Islamists and returned as hostages. 

Iranian propaganda stated that the hostages were "guests" treated with respect. Ibrahim Asgharzadeh described the original hostage taking plan as a "nonviolent" and symbolic action where the "gentle and respectful treatment" of the hostages would dramatize to the whole world the offended sovereignty and dignity of Iran......

The actual treatment of the hostages was far different from that purported in Iranian propaganda: the hostages described beatings, theft, the fear of bodily harm while being paraded blindfold before a large, angry chanting crowd outside the embassy, having their hands bound "day and night" for days or even weeks, long periods of solitary confinement and months of being forbidden to speak to one another or stand, walk, and leave their space unless they were going to the bathroom. In particular they felt the threat of trial and execution, as all of the hostages "were threatened repeatedly with execution, and took it seriously". The hostage takers played Russian roulette with their victims.

The most terrifying night for the hostages came on February 5, 1980, when guards in black ski masks roused the 52 hostages from their sleep and led them blindfolded to other rooms. They were searched after being ordered to strip themselves until they were bare, and to keep their hands up. They were then told to kneel down. "This was the greatest moment" as one hostage said. They were still wearing the blindfolds, so naturally, they were terrified even further. One of the hostages later recalled 'It was an embarrassing moment. However, we were too scared to realize it.' The mock execution ended after the guards cocked their weapons and readied them to fire but finally ejected their rounds and told the prisoners to wear their clothes again. The hostages were later told the exercise was "just a joke" and something the guards "had wanted to do". However, this affected a lot of the hostages long after.

regards