Our taxi driver seems a little confused when he drops us off on the street where once the US embassy was located. We spot the place right away: there are graffiti on the walls, and although most slogans are in Farsi, we recognize the anti-US symbols. We first walk along the walls, where we find Down with the USA slogan, and another with a painting of the statue of liberty, with the face replaced by a skull. Ayatollah Khomeini is represented, as are white doves of peace. We heard conflicting reports about whether visitors would be able to go in, but when we reach the gate, we are happy to find it open. We pay our fee, get a ticket saying "museum-garden of anti-aggression", and proceed. We see the remains of helicopter rotors used in the failed operation Eagle Claw which was supposed to end the crisis, as well as a communication satellite radar, and a completely worn seal of the United States, and walk in.
Before we even reach the museum itself, we stop at the staircase. The walls are completely covered in paintings, with a clear anti-US stance. They must have been made well after the crisis: they include references to the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan among many other things. When you realize that these paintings now adorn the walls of what used to be the embassy of the US, you know that you are in a unique place. Once on the exhibition floor, we explore the rooms, read the explanations, and somehow cannot throw off a sense of excitement. Here we are, in a former embassy, which supposedly is a place where a foreign state is represented in the host country to maintain its relationship there, but it was used as a cover to operate a secret operation against the host country. The proof is undeniable, and it explains why Iranians have renamed the former embassy a den of espionage.
Less than a year before students stormed the embassy and started the hostage crisis, Khomeini came to power in Iran after the increasingly unpopular Shah was ousted in a revolution. The Shah was heavily supported by the US, received medical treatment there, and their refusal to send him back to Iran which wanted to try him for his crimes, made the US a direct enemy of Iran. When the embassy was attacked, employees tried to destroy documents evidencing the spying function of the embassy, but failed. All the equipment in use for forgery of documents, for communication, for destroying documents is on display in these rooms. There are also explanations of the reasons of the hostage taking, the treatment of the hostages, claiming they had better food than the students themselves, and (inevitably) presenting the outcome as a victory for Iran. There are also works clearly made after the crisis, in which the enemies of Iran, Israel and the US, play a vital role, as well as declarations in Farsi about some of the hostage takers. The crisis itself may have long been ended, but the underlying animosities that caused it are still there, to this day.
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