Chronology of Iranian events leading to hostage capture

By , Staff writer of the Christian Science Monitor

How Iran's history evolved from the time of the Pahlavi takeover in 1921 to the seizing of the US hostages in November, 1979: 1921: Col. Reza Pahlavi, Russian-trained Cossack officer, seizes power in Iran through military coup. Crowns himself "Reza Shah the Great." Rules with iron fist, establishes modern railroads, Army, bureaucracy. Pacifies tribes, limits influence of Islamic clergy.

1930s: Reza Shah fosters close relations with Germany to offset Soviet and British influence in region.

1941: British, Soviets occupy Iran. Reza Shah abdicates; son, Muhammad Reza, becomes figurehead ruler for Allies.

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1941-1945: Parliamentary rule established. Landlords, tribes, religious leaders, radical political parties regain strength.

1945-46: British and Soviet occupation troops withdraw. 1951: National Front , a nationalistic, Islamic, social-democratic movement, sweeps charismatic leader Muhammad Mossadeq into power. He nationalizes oil fields. Britain sets up economic blockade.

1952: Iran's economic situation worsens, National Front weakens. Eisenhower administration refuses aid, fears communist takeover.

1953, Aug.: US persuades Shah to dismiss Mossadeq, appoint Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi as Prime Minister. Mossadeq refuses to step down. Shah flees iran. Pro-Shah Iranian generals and CIA carryout military coup against Mossadeq. Shah returns 3 days later after Mossadeq is arrested. Political opposition to Shah banned.

Sept.: Eisenhower administration allocates $45 million in emergency aid to Iran and $5 million a month aid for next 3 years.

1954, Aug.: Shah signs agreement giving Iranian government nominal control over oil fields while vesting management rights in consortium of British, US, European oil companies. US companies enter Iran reluctantly -- after deal in which they cooperate with US government in oil ventures around world in exchange for exemption from anti-trust prosecution that could have deprived them of price-fixing powers.

1956: Formation of political police (Savak) by Iran's Army and CIA. Iran's premier ends martial law (in force since 1941 in Tehran). Two-party government formed.

USSR offers Iran unlimited credit to expand heavy industry.

Early '60s: Shah reverses Mossadeq's support for Arabs in Arab-Israeli conflict, severs diplomatic relations with Arab League, strengthens relations with Israel, selling oil in exchange for Israeli technical and intelligence advisers. Opposition stiffens among students, National Front over alleged election rigging. Iran nears bankruptcy. Shah concludes multimillion dollar trade agreements with USSR, donates $133 million to create Pahlavi Foundation, ostensibly a philanthropic trust.

1962, April: Shah visits US, asks Congress for more aid. Says Iran will never surrender to communism but if US will not supply aid, communists will. Kennedy administration urges Shah to institute program of economic reforms. Kennedy and Shah issue joint communique stressing need for economic development in Iran and more US aid.

Aug.: US decides Iran spends too much of budget on security, ends $30 million annual payments for support of Iran's Army.

Nov.: Hundreds of mullahs (Islamic clergymen) march in Tehran against government's rule by decree.

1963: Shah launches "White Revolution," calling for land reform, women's vote , Health Corps, Literacy Corps, participatory capitalism, nationalizing forest and water resources. (A decade later government claims reforms increased GNP 11 .4 percent; farm production 4.3 percent; industry 12.8 percent; literacy from 24 to 50 percent. Opponents say reform extended Shah's control over countryside, benefitted richer peasants, did little for majority of peasants, ruined Iranian agriculture, left Iran dependent on US grain.)

Shiite Muslim leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Ayatollah is title meaning "example of God") is outspoken critic of Shah and reforms. (Shiites make up 93 percent of Iran's 35 million people.)

Shiite clergy, National Front fear "White Revolution" will extend Shah's control; they oppose reforms.

March: Shah gives women right to vote and run for office.

June: Reforms spark widespread protests. Government troops with tanks, machine guns subdue thousands of marchers in Tehran, Qom Shiraz. Martial law declared. Estimates of killed range from 60 to several thousand.Khomeini and 40 other religious leaders arrested.

Aug.: Khomeini, now released, raps bill giving diplomatic immunity to US military advisers; is exiled to Turkey, then Iraq.

Nov.: Soviet President Brezhnev tours Iran, praises Iranian Parliament for its stand against foreign missiles on its soil.

1965: Shah claims Iran's military soon will match West Germany's.

1967: Air strikes end 5-year uprising of Qashqai tribe in southern Iran, fighting what it saw as government extermination of livestock. Iran buys 2 squadrons of US F-4 fighter-bombers. US assures Iran of continue arms aid. US bans all contact with Shah's opponents, a policy maintained through Kissinger years. Image of Shah as progressive, modernizing leader goes largely unchallenged.

Oct.: Shah stages coronation ceremony for himself and Empress Farah Diba. (He had put off ceremony, according to press reports, until satisfied that he could rule over country with less poverty, illiteracy, and foreign influence.)

Nov.: Secretary of State Dean Rusk, at end of 15-year development aid program to Iran, applauds White Revolution. (That aid totals $605 million since Truman era. Other aid in form of weapons and food now totals about $1.2 billion, types of aid that will continue.)

1968, Jan.: Premier Hoveyda states that Iran can and will defend oil-rich Gulf area after Britain's expected withdrawal in 1971.

April 2: Visit of Soviet Premier Kosygin to Iran coincides with new Iranian posture of Independence in international affairs.

April 22: First UN Conference on Human Rights begins in Tehran with 1,300 participants from 87 nations.

1969, Jan.: Military court sentences 14 intellectuals accused of communist plots to harsh prison terms. Most claim being tortured in jail. Iranian students occupy Iran's embassy in Rome in protest.

Oct.: Shah says on US TV that if US increases oil purchases, Iran will spend oil revenues on US-made military and capital goods.

Early '70s: Marxist urban guerrillas target some foreign military officials, rally popular support among poor, Shah's opponents.

World organization of about 20,000 Iranian students intensifies anti-Shah protests. Shah's opponents consistently fail in efforts to persuade US that regime is brutal, corrupt dictatorship.

US leaders shown lavish hospitality by Shah's last Ambassador to US, Ardeshir Zahedi, son of general who brought Shah to power.

1970, April 8: French newspaper Le Monde publishes report by Western human rights advocates (including philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre) of arbitrary arrests, torture, and closed trials by Savak police.

Dec. 2: Amnesty International reports Iranian government has jailed 1,000 persons on political charges in past year.

1971, Oct.: In air-conditioned tents at Persepolis, center of ancient Persian empire, Shah stages lavish celebration of 2,500th anniversary of empire's founding. Dignitaries from 70 countries attend. Some put cost at $100 million; Shah says $16.6 million.

1972: Iranian students in US stage protests for death sentences given over 12 of 120 political prisoners arrested by Savak. President Nixon meets Shah about arms sales; hopes Iran will exemplify Nixon Doctrine in which regional powers stabilize areas of US interest.

1973: Energy crisis hits US after Arab oil boycott following Arab-Israeli war. Iran does not participate in boycott, but Shah announces huge oil price rise, takeover of all oil production by 1979.

1974: Iran's oil revenues jump to $18 billion (from $2.5 billion in 1971). Iran buys $600 million in nonmilitary goods from US. Shah buys $5 billion in US arms, remains top US arms buyer until 1979.

German Industrialists agree to build $2.2 billion in heavy industry projects in Iran. French government: $4 billion in nuclear reactors, railway construction, gas liquefaction plant and pipeline.

Journalistic reports of Shah's excesses hit Western press.

May: Amnesty International director reports of Iran: "No country in the world has a worse record in human rights."

1975: Increasing clashes between terrorists (Muslim and communist) and police. Harassment, murders of US officials, civilians. Shah declares Iran one-party state, sparking protests in religious city of Qom.

1976: May 29: International Commission of Jurists (Geneva) reports prisoners in Iran subjected to systematic torture by Savak.

Nov. 28: Amnesty International reports 25,000 to 100,000 people jailed in Iran for political reasons and tortured.

1977: President Carter's outspoken human rights policies spur hope among Shah's opponents. Dozens of letters from writers, judges urge Shah to curb abuses, protect public and individual freedoms.

Carter administration feels Shah lags on human rights, but concedes his authoritarian control, continues unrestricted support. Administration offers neither public warnings about Shah's suppression of dissent, nor support to Shah's opponents, now taking open risks in hopes that human rights policy will be a protection.

June: Charismatic Iranian intellectual Dr. Ali Shariati dies in London.Shah's opponents suspect foul play. (Shariati had sparked popular Iranian movement for a radical and contemporarily relevant Islam.) His writings spread throughout Iran.

June 23: International League for Human Rights protests to Shah about mass arrests, torture of Iranians in Iran and abroad; says State Department not candid to Congress about Iran's human rights.

July: Jamship Amouzegar, Minister of State and leader of growing civic participation movement, says millions gather in small groups all over Iran to demand more political participation.

Aug. 7: Amouzegar named Prime Minister by Shah, promises freedom of speech. Shah soon releases 572 political prisoners.

Oct. 29: Son of Khomeini dies. Shah's opponents suspicious.

Nov. 15: President Carter receives Shah at White House. Over 100 people injured as supporters and opponents of Shah clash nearby.

Early Dec.: 30 Iranian liberal intellectuals write critique of Shah's regime which they plan to make public Dec. 23, one week before Carter visit to Iran; tell US they are testing its human rights intentions, need publicly stated support for their call for freedom and rule of law. No support forthcoming from Carter administration.

Dec. 31: President Carter visits Iran, issues strong statements of support for the Shah.

1978: Receiving only mild harassment, Shah's liberal critics speculate US rights policy has moderating effect. Lull is temporary.

Iran's per capita income reported to be $2,200, but this masks wide gap between wealthy urban elite and rural poor.

Jan. 7: Khomeini attacked in Tehran newspaper.

Jan. 8: Shiite clergy of Qom stage massive protest march. Police scuffle with crowd, open fire. Dozens killed and injured, triggering protests in Iranian cities every 40 days to mourn Qom deaths. Shah's opposition organizes all over Iran -- broad alliance of intellectuals, merchants, Marxists, students, and 90,000 Muslim clergy. Khomeini becomes focal point of opposition.

Feb. 17-21: Riots in Tabriz after religious leaders call for business shutdowns to mourn Qom deaths. Iranian Army intervenes with tanks. Official press says 6 people killed, opponents say hundreds.

Feb. 28: Amnesty International says Iran rights deteriorate.

March 29-May 13: Bloody clashes between police and marchers in many Iranian cities. In Qom police pursue two Shiite clergy into home of Ayatollah Shariat-Madari, kill them before his eyes. Incident violates sanctity of religious leader's home. Rioting into summer.

Aug. 20: Movie theater burned in Abadan, southwest Iran, 800 people locked inside, 400 perish. Government accuses Muslim extremists, opponents accuse Shah's police. Aug. 27: Amouzegar dismissed. Longtime confidant of Shah, Sharif-Emaml becomes premier, makes concessions to opponents.

Sept. 4: On Islamic holiday hundreds of thousands of marchers pour into streets of every major Iranian city.

Sept. 7: Martial law imposed in Tehran and 11 other cities.

Sept. 8: "Black Friday." Thousands of students, ignoring call of National Front and religious leaders to stay home, meet in Tehran. Imperial Guard opens fire, killing hundreds. Sept. 10: President Carter assures Shah of American support.

Oct. 6: Khomeini expelled from Iraq, goes to Paris.

Oct. 16: At a Washington news conference Carter calls Iran "a strong stabilizing force" In the Middle East.

Oct. 12: Shah promises amnesty for 1,500 prisoners, elections.

Oct.-Nov.: Riots in many cities. Oil workers strike.

Nov. 6-7: Prime Minister Sharif-Emami resigns. Shah installs military government. In Paris, Khomeini threatens religious war if Islamic movement's goals are not met; calls on Army to revolt.

Dec. 10: More than a million demonstration march in Tehran to demand ouster of Shah. Street fighting continues throughout country.

Dec. 28: Carter administration indicates Shah should still play role in leading Iran to government of national reconcillation.

Dec. 30: Shah directs an opposition leader, Shahpur Bakhtiar, to form civilian government, Khomeini declares it illegal.

1979, Jan. Iran's oil production hits lowest point yet, at 250,000 barrels a day, compared to normal 6.5 million barrels.

Jan. 8: Khomeini-directed day of national mourning. US advises Shah to leave Iran temporarily.

Jan. 16: Shah leaves Iran for "vacation." Ayatollah Khomeini continues to urge resistance to Bakhtiar government.

Jan. 20: Millions demonstrate for Khomeini in Tehran.

Jan. 24: House Select Intelligence Committee issues report criticizing US intelligence Community for poor analysis of depth of Iran's problems, failure to maintain contact with all elements of Iranian people, and reliance on information supplied by Savak.

Feb. 1: Khomeini returns to Iran, names Mehdi Bazargan to succeed Bakhtiar, aims to form Islamic republic.

Feb. 10-12: Revolution: Islamic and Marxist guerrilla organizations attack Shah's Army. Shah's forces collapse.

Feb. 14: Mob storms US Embassy, Americans freed by Khomeini.

Feb. 16-September: Revolutionary courts (some associated with Ayatollah Khomeini, some not) execute estimated 500 of Shah's supporters accused of murder , torture, or violation of Islamic law.

March 8-12: Thousands of working university women in Western dress march in Tehran, demand dress freedom, political participation.

March 30-31: A popular referendum held by Ayatollah Khomeini to gain support for establishing Islamic republic is overwhelmingly backed. Kurdish and Turkomen tribesmen revolt against Khomeini rule.

May 13: Former Shah and family in exile are condemned to death in absentia by Iranian authorities.

Aug. 2: National Front and 15 other dissident groups boycott what they believe are rigged elections for 73-member assembly charged with approving Khomeini's new constitution for Islamic state.

Oct. 19: US reportedly agrees to Shah's admission to US. Informs Iranian government it is temporary and for medical reasons.

Oct. 20: Iran's Prime Minister warns US Charge d'Affaires Bruce Laingen that Shah's admission to US would result in problems for Americans in Tehran.

Oct. 22: Shah flies to New York for medical treatment.

Oct. 26-Nov. 1: Bazargan government makes four separate complaints concerning Shah's arrival in US.

Nov. 1: Khomeini denounces Shah's admission to US, orders Iranian students "to expand with all their might their attacks to force the US to return the deposed and cruel Shah."

Nov. 4: Militant Muslim students storm US Embassy, seizing 90 hostages, 63 of them Americans.

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