Iran planning hostage crisis anniversary ceremony on Election Day

SOMAYEH MALEKIAN
·3 min read

After four decades, early November still marks a moment of tension between Iran and the United States.

The U.S. Election Day, which might have a dramatic impact on the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic, coincides with the anniversary of the hostage crisis in Iran that has become a diplomatic deadlock between the two countries.

The hostage crisis took place when Iranian revolutionary students took over the American embassy in November of 1979 and held 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days.

The anniversary of the hostage crisis has constantly been marked in Iran with demonstrations, the "Death to America" slogan and people setting fire to American flags. However, this year, these ceremonies are to be restrained, Iranian officials said.

Since Iran is going through its most severe surge of COVID-19 with over 35,000 lives lost by the end of October, health officials warned against any gatherings.

MORE: Key moments in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis at US Embassy

Nonetheless, the conservative office in charge of commemorating the event said that the ceremony will be held in different cities.

The ceremony is to be held in Tehran and across the country with "limited gatherings" by observing "preventive protocols," Nosratollah Seifi, deputy head of the Islamic development coordination council, said in a press conference, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday.

But reformist figures are worried the coverage of the hostage crisis anniversary demonstrations will send a negative political message to the U.S. amid an early worrying time.

"It is the message that extremists like to send to America, 'Iran is an anti-U.S. country, regardless of who wins the election, Trump or Biden,'" Mostafa Tajzadeh, a reformist Iranian politician, told ABC News.

PHOTO: Members of the Iraqi security forces stand guard during the reopening of the Iraqi capital Baghdad's central Tahrir Square on October 31, 2020.  (Sabah Arar/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Members of the Iraqi security forces stand guard during the reopening of the Iraqi capital Baghdad's central Tahrir Square on October 31, 2020. (Sabah Arar/AFP via Getty Images)

Tajzadeh believes that the common interests between Tehran and Washington are more than their conflicts.

"It is the reason why negotiation -- with whoever has the office either in Iran or in the U.S. -- is a more feasible solution for the two countries than catastrophic options like a military approach," he said.

Still, some people affiliated to conservative groups and to the opposition figures of the Islamic Republic prefer the reelection of President Donald Trump.

"Pro-system conservatives prefer Trump, because this result will help them keep up the anti-negotiation stance they have always taken," Tajzadeh explained.

He believes that Trump's policies toward Tehran have empowered extremists, caused economic harm and damaged reformist political powers.

Iran's economy has worsened since Trump's administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal known as the JCPOA in May 2018.

MORE: AP Analysis: Iran, US still captive to 1979 hostage crisis

The deal was aimed to ease economic sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran's commitment to restrain its nuclear programs.

But, the U.S.' withdrawal from the deal reinstated former sanctions and severely affected Tehran's ailing economy, which was already suffering from endemic corruption and domestic mismanagement in the country.

PHOTO: Mask-clad Iranians shop at the Tajrish Bazaar market in the capital Tehran, on November 1, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mask-clad Iranians shop at the Tajrish Bazaar market in the capital Tehran, on November 1, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

According to Iran's Statistic Center, the inflation rate hit over 40% in October compared to last year. The value of the national currency, rial, is also cut to one tenth compared to when Trump took office.

Unemployment and stagnation have also worsened during the pandemic.

MORE: 40 years on, Iranians recall 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis

Considering the economic solution and setting a reasonable ground by defusing the heightened tensions between the two countries could facilitate potential negotiations between Iran and America. Tajzadeh finds this reachable if Joe Biden wins the election.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ali Khamenei clearly said that Iran has no intention of negotiating with the Trump administration. But, he did not reject the possibility of negotiation if Biden wins.

"Why should we negotiate? The JCPOA was a clear example. This is while I was very strict about it… So, it is impossible to negotiate with this government," Ayatollah Khamenei said in a speech after Trump's withdrawal of the nuclear deal according to his official website.

"We are destined to negotiate," Tajzadeh said. "The critical situation of the region and the depressed economy leaves no choice to both parties but to negotiate, no matter if the anniversary of the hostage crisis is held, or who wins the election," he added.

Iran planning hostage crisis anniversary ceremony on Election Day originally appeared on abcnews.go.com