DUBAI (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched and burned US flags on Monday for the 40th anniversary of the victory of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who plunged the Shah in an Islamic revolution west to today.
On February 11, 1979, the Iranian Army declared its neutrality and paved the way for the collapse of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.
State television has shown that many spectators sat in defiant cold weather and wore Iranian flags while singing "Death to Israel, Death to America". This was the hallmark of the revolution that drove the United States' most important ally in the Middle East.
A banner read: "The revolution has reached its 40th anniversary to the dismay of America."
The large participation in state-sponsored rallies took place when Iranians were faced with rising prices, food shortages, and high inflation waves of protests ,
US. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear agreement with the world powers last year and imposed sanctions on Tehran again, which struck the country's economy. Iranian authorities said the movement was acting as "economic warfare"
In a speech on Tehran's Azadi Square (Freedom), President Hassan Rouhani rejected US efforts to isolate Iran. He said US sanctions could not break the Islamic Republic.
"We will not allow America to become victorious … The Iranian people have and will have some economic difficulties, but we will overcome the problems by helping each other," he said in a speech.
Iranians Carried cardboard cutouts of dogs. One had the face of Trump and the other the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The United States and its Arab allies have viewed Iran with
with great mistrust since the Islamic Revolution seized power from the Shah in 1979, fearing that Khomeini's radical ideology would inspire Islamic militants in the Middle East.
Today, Iran enjoys influence through deputies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. This raises concern in Sunni Saudi Arabia, which accuses its rival of trying to dominate the Middle East. Tehran denies the allegations.
"The world saw that when Iran decided to help people in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen, they were victorious. The enemies are now defending themselves, "Rouhani said.
A commander-in-chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard said that Tehran would not withdraw its forces from the region and reject American calls for restrictions on the Iranian regime's influence.
"The enemy can not ask us to leave the region. You must leave the region, "said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. "We will help every Muslim anywhere in the world."
Iran was determined to expand its military power and its ballistic missile program despite increasing pressure from hostile countries to halt Iran's defense work, Rouhani reported.
Soldiers, students, clerics and black-clad women with small children poured into the streets of towns and villages, many with portraits of Khomeini and Iran's current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Additional coverage by BozorgMore Sharafeddin; Editing by Michael Georgy and William Maclean