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Cold War in the Islamic WorldSaudi Arabia, Iran and the Struggle for Supremacy$
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Dilip Hiro

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190944650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190944650.001.0001

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Iran’s Second Revolution; A Millennial Challenge to the House of Saud

Iran’s Second Revolution; A Millennial Challenge to the House of Saud

(p.71) 5 Iran’s Second Revolution; A Millennial Challenge to the House of Saud
Cold War in the Islamic World

Dilip Hiro

Oxford University Press

Having overthrown the pro-Washington Shah, Khomeini set out to purge the Iranian state and society of American influence. He was aided by the surprise occupation of the United States Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 by militant students. The capture of secret CIA reports on the Middle East by the Iranian occupiers gave credibility to the regime’s description of the Embassy as a “nest of spies,” and created a rationale for taking 52 US diplomats as hostage. The crisis lasted 444 days and ended with Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as president in January 1981 after his defeat of the incumbent Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. Quite independently, Saudi King Khalid faced an unprecedented challenge to the legitimacy of the House of Saud when on the eve of .the Islamic New Year of 1400 – 20 November 1979 – hundreds of armed militant Wahhabis, led by Juheiman al Utaiba seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Utaiba called for the overthrow of the royal family for deviating from Wahhabism. Aided by the American and French intelligence agencies and Pakistani soldiers, the government regained control of the Grand Mosque. It then took remedial action by imposing strict Wahhabi rules on the social-cultural life of citizens.

Keywords:   American hostage crisis, CIA reports, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Grand Mosque Mecca, Militant Wahhabis, Juheiman al Utaiba, French Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistani soldiers

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