Iran is marking the 45th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution which saw the overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi and the arrival in Tehran of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in Paris. Voice of America reports that the capital wore a festive look with banners, balloons and buntings and crowds waving Iranian flags.
Heard loud and clear was the by now familiar slogan, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”. The flags of both countries were also burnt.
This anniversary may have a special significance since it takes place against the backdrop of Iran’s rising tensions with the US given attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on international shipping. The US has even carried out air strikes in Iraq and Syria on what it claims are terrorist targets linked to Tehran.
Iran has denied any role in the Houthi attacks and warned the US that any direct attack on Iran would be met with a forceful response. Until now the US has steered clear of hitting Iran directly but the risk remains.
For Iran’s ruling clerical establishment led by President Raisi, it was therefore, an opportunity to display the country’s military might with parades and showcasing the Simorgh satellite carrier and a range of missiles including the Sejjil and the Qassem Soleimani.
Recall that just a month ago, more than 90 people died in a suicide blast in the city of Kerman where they had gathered to honour Gen Qassem Soleimani, the Revolutionary Guards commander killed in a US drone strike in 2020.
The mood in the streets today seems a far cry from the anti-hijab demonstrations that swept the country last year, with people openly demanding an end to the clerical establishment and an end to Iran’s military adventures in Syria including support for Hamas and Hezbollah.
Those demonstrations were crushed but the establishment may not be blind to the sentiments of many Iranians, concerned with bread-butter issues including of course jobs.