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Defiant Iran taunts U.S. as revolution turns 40



DUBAI (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched and some burned the flags of the United States to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the revolution on Monday while Iranian leaders showed a newly developed ballistic missile, challenging the efforts of United States to curb their military power.

Soldiers, students, clerics and black-clad women holding small children thronged streets through Iran, many with portraits of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shia religious who overthrew the Shah in an Islamic uprising that still haunts the West.

On February 11, 1979, the Iranian army declared its neutrality, paving the way for the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.

State TV showed crowds defying the cold rainy weather and carrying Iranian flags as they shouted "Death in Israel, death in America", the brand songs of the revolution that expelled the most important ally of the United States in the Middle East.

"With great regret of America, the revolution has reached its 40th year", read a banner.

After decades of hostilities with the United States, Tehran said he was determined to expand his program of military missiles and ballistic missiles despite growing pressure from hostile countries to curb his defensive work.

Iran showed its ballistic missile capabilities during the march, including the Zolfaqar, a ground-to-ground missile with a range of 700 km (435 miles) and the Qiam, with a reach of 800 km , according to the Tasnim news agency.

"We did not ask and we will not ask permission to develop different types of … missiles and we will continue our path and our military power," President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech in Tehran Square Azadi (Freedom) .

CRACKDOWN ON PROTESTS

In Washington, the US national security adviser Bolton, who in 201

7 expressed the hope that the "revolution will not reach his 40th birthday", tweeted that after 40 years " Islamic Republic of Iran "has failed to fulfill its promises to support and safeguard the rights of its citizens. "

The large turnout at the state-sponsored demonstrations in which US and Israeli flags were burned came when the Iranians faced increasing economic difficulties, many blamed the clerical leaders of the country.

The social media images showed some protestors holding signs, protesting against corruption, unemployment and high prices.

"Our presence on the 40th anniversary of the revolution is to show our support for the Islamic Republic," one said.

"But this does not mean that we support the corruption of some officials and their betrayal of the oppressed peoples. "

Reuters was not able to independently verify the images.

Last year, the 39, Iran repressed protests over poor standards of living that posed the most serious challenge to its ecclesiastical leadership after the 2009 uprising on the controversial issues.

An Iranian woman brings a photo of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a ceremony on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Teheran, Iran, 11 February 2019. Masoud Shahrestani / Tasnim News Agency / via REUTERS

Prices of basic food products, particularly meat, have risen since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear affair last year and reimposed sanctions.

In January, Rouhani said that Iran was facing its worst economic crisis since the Shah was overthrown. But he remained rebellious, while the Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who was in charge of the rich secret police on the dissenters.

Rouhani said that US efforts to isolate Iran would fail.

"We will not let America become victorious … The Iranian people have and will have economic difficulties, but we will overcome problems by helping each other," he said.

U.S .. AND ISRAEL "DOGS"

Marchers carried scraps of cardboard dogs. One had the face of Trump and the other the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Yadollah Javani, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards for Political Affairs, said that Iran would demolish cities in Israel if the United States attacked the Islamic Republic.

"The United States does not dare to shoot a single bullet at us, despite all its defensive and military resources," the IRNA state press agency said.

Khomeini returned from exile in France two weeks after the Shah and his wife flew to Aswan, Egypt. He was welcomed by millions of supporters in Tehran. The revolutionaries later began to deploy Shah supporters including four generals.

Slideshow (8 Images)

Khomeini died in 1989 and was followed by the current supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Washington and the Arab world have seen Iran with great suspicion since the Islamic revolution, fearing that Khomeini's radical ideology would inspire militants across the Middle East.

Today the United States and its Arab allies are trying to counter the growing influence of Tehran in the Middle East, where it has delegates to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Some Iranians criticize their leaders for what they say are foreign adventures that waste funds. Iranian leaders say they are protecting national interests.

Further reports by Bozorgmehr Sharafeddin in London and Babak Dehghanpisheh; Written by Michael Georgy, Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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