Before the hostage situation there was an Islamic Revolution taking place (1978-1979). Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic leader, was trying his hardest to destroy all western influences. It began when he overthrew the American backed ruler Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi. This began a steady deterioration of the relationship of the US and Iran. Iranians seized the embassy when the former Shah was allowed into the US for medical purposes. They feared that America was trying to put the Shah back in power.
Grand Ayatollah Sayid Ruhullah Musawi Khomeini Sayid Ruhullah Musawi Khomeini was the religious and political leader behind the Iranian hostage situation. Khomeini had a lot of political power. He was a Grand Ayatollah. A spiritual reference. He was the man that Iranians looked for to spiritual guidance. Khomeini did not like the West and disliked the ruler of Iran. In fact he refused to enter Iran until the king left. When the king left in 1979 Khomeini wasted no time taking over the government. Khomeini helped create a new constitution for the Islamic Republic of Iran. He elected himself Supreme Leader. His followers were the ones that seized the Embassy. Khomeini backed the action and used it as a bargaining chip against the US on many occasions. He even went as far as to say “America can’t do a thing.”