Case 134 - The Iranian Hostage Negotiations, November 1979-January 1981
On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran. It would take 444 days of protracted and frustrating attempts at negotiation before the 53 American hostages were finally released. This three-part case study stresses the importance of understanding the background to the crisis and the assumptions made on both sides; illustrates the difficulty of reaching a negotiated agreement when one of the parties has not yet reached its security point; and illuminates some of the issues involved in asymmetrical negotiations. It has been designed for use in classes dealing with the theory and practice of negotiations, but could also be used in courses on U.S. policy in the Middle East, or any class that underscores the critical importance of bridging cross-cultural gaps.