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Two of the biggest events of President Jimmy Carter’s term in office had to do with the Middle East. One was an achievement and the other was a failure. These two are, respectively, the Camp David Accords and the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Carter’s biggest achievement came when he got the Egyptian and Israeli to make peace in 1978. This event is known as the Camp David Accords because the negotiations occurred at the presidential retreat known as Camp David in Maryland. Prior to Camp David, Egypt had never recognized the existence of Israel as a country. The Egyptians and the Israelis had gone to war a number of times in the 30 years of Israel’s existence to that point. By getting Israel and Egypt to make peace, Carter (it seemed) had helped to calm tensions in the Middle East. This was a major achievement.
Carter’s biggest failure came with respect to Iran. In November of 1979, Iranians stormed the US embassy in Teheran and took 52 Americans hostage. The Iranians did this, for the most part, because they were angry at the US for its role in keeping the repressive Shah of Iran in power for so long. The hostage takers wanted to strike back at the US for its meddling and “imperialism.” Many Americans felt that President Carter was too weak in his response to the crisis. Carter did make one attempt to use military force to free the hostages, but that failed for a variety of reasons. The Iranians held the hostages until shortly after President Reagan was inaugurated in 1981.
These two events, then, marked President Carter’s greatest achievement and failure in the Middle East.
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