Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Iran vaunts military, taunts United States as revolution turns 40

A big flag of Iran waving in the wind in Tehran A big flag of Iran waving in the wind in Tehran
Melinda Barton | 12 February, 2019, 02:09

President Hassan Rohani blasted a US "conspiracy" against Iran as the country marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that ended the monarchy and heralded the start of four decades of clerical rule.

Soldiers, students, clerics and black-clad women holding small children thronged streets across Iran, many with portraits of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shi'ite cleric who toppled the Shah in an Islamic uprising that still haunts the West.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched and some burned US flags to mark the revolution's 40th anniversary on Monday as Tehran showed off ballistic missiles in defiance of USA efforts to curb its military power.

"We do not and we will not ask permission for producing any type of missiles from anybody", Rouhani said from Tehran Monday, though he stressed that Iran would "continue constructive engagement" with the worldwide community.

Following reports of a second failed space launch by Iran in less than a month, the U.S. State Department last week called for "tougher global restrictions to deter Iran's missile program".

In January, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was facing its worst economic crisis since the Shah was toppled.

It was not clear whether the amnesty would also apply to political prisoners. 40 years of repression.

Although the Iranian government has attempted to establish financial mechanisms that would facilitate its trade relations with European powers, its ability to trade internationally has been badly affected by renewed USA sanctions.

"The Iranian people have and will have some economic difficulties but we will overcome the problems by helping each other", he said.

State television offered blanket coverage of the commemorations, showing marches in cities ranging from Abadan in southwestern Iran to Mashhad in the northeast.

Crowds chanted "Death to America, death to Israel" as hundreds of thousands of Iranians gathered at rallies to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Referring to Iran as "the Mother Land", Rouhani said that during the rule of "the traitor Qajar dynasty 205 years ago", large portions of lands were separated from Northern Iran and the caucuses.

"We are here to support the revolution", the 57-year-old pensioner, who refused to give his first name, told AFP at the event in Tehran.

Seemingly reaching out to his political critics within the country, the president added: "The more we allow different ideas, beliefs and (political) factions the stronger our system will be".

"We will not let America become victorious..."

Extensive fireworks displays were held across Tehran on Sunday night.

Current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is set to publish "a detailed statement explaining the "second step" of the progress of the Islamic revolution", his official website said.