FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 4, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | [email protected]
NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement marking 40 years since the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran:
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“The seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran 40 years ago by Iranian students has left a lasting scar for Americans and continues to affect American views of Iran. Breaking with international law and diplomatic decorum, the hostage crisis forced the United States to break diplomatic ties with Iran and the ensuing 444-day crisis fueled a discriminatory backlash against Iranian nationals and Iranian Americans alike. Unfortunately, U.S.-Iran relations continue to be defined by the Hostage Crisis and other historical grievances – including the 1953 Coup – and not by many of the shared interests that could unite the American and Iranian people.
“The act of taking hostages, especially on diplomatic soil, must always be condemned. Moreover, Iran has shamefully continued to target civilians with ties to Western nations and imprisoned them on trumped up charges.
“Dismissing the valid historical grievances on both sides of the U.S.-Iran dispute will ensure that history continues to repeat itself. We must acknowledge and understand the past while pursuing real resolutions and not holding the future hostage to it. For its part, the U.S. overthrew Iran’s popularly elected government in 1953 and reinstalled the Shah. Granting the Shah asylum amid the Revolution fed popular fears that the U.S. would once again reinstall the unpopular authoritarian from the U.S. embassy, as it had 26 years earlier. Understanding that history will not erase old wounds and the people involved cannot evade responsibility, but it can help to bring clarity and to acknowledge mutual grievances in order to move forward.
“U.S.-Iran relations need not be perpetually crisis ridden, but this requires leaders on both sides to look beyond the grievances of the past and build trust, not entrench old enmities. As Americans, we must do our part by holding our leaders accountable. The Trump administration’s decision to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions one year ago have put us on yet another collision course with Iran. Instead of moving forward on the path of cooperation the deal engendered, the policies of this administration have brought aggressive rhetoric and tense escalation that are only too familiar and utterly avoidable.”