Iran: Rouhani defies USA on 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini speaks from a balcony in Tehran during Iran's revolution in February 1979

The Jerusalem Post reports that Monday's demonstrations featured hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens - "s$3 oldiers, students, clerics and black-clad women holding small children" alike - and that some burned USA flags.

On Feb 11, 1979, Iran's army declared its neutrality, paving the way for the collapse of the US -backed monarch, the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.

State TV showed crowds defying cold rainy weather and carrying Iranian flags while shouting "Death to Israel, Death to America", trademark chants of the revolution.

"We have not asked, and will never ask for permission in developing our missile arsenal as we continue to pursue our path to military might", he added.

The festivities to mark the Iranian Revolution start every year on February 1, the day that Khomeini returned from exile to become supreme leader of the Islamic republic.

The large turnout came as Iranians face rising prices, food shortages and high inflation that have triggered waves of protests.

The leaders spoke at a rally marking 40 years since the Islamic revolution, a political quake that ended millennia of monarchy and still reverberates around the region. "But it does not mean we support corruption of some officials and their betrayal of the oppressed people".

Life-size replicas of Iranian-made cruise and ballistic missiles stood in a statement of defiance after the USA a year ago reimposed sanctions following its withdrawal from a deal on Tehran´s nuclear programme.

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.

The crowd of demonstrators in the rallies paid tribute to the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, under whose leadership the revolutionary movements triumphed over the despotic regime of Pahlavi on February 11, 1979.

Iranian officials said the move amounted to "economic warfare".

But he remained defiant on Monday as Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who catered to the rich. "Iranian people have and will have some economic difficulties but we will overcome the problems by helping each other".

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the Revolutionary Guards deputy head, said Tehran would not withdraw forces from the region, dismissing United States calls for Iranian clout to be curbed.

"The United States does not have the courage to fire a single bullet at us despite all its defensive and military assets".

But if the USA does attack, he warned, "We will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the threat. As The Times of Israel notes, "t$3 op political and military leaders in Iran regularly call for Israel's annihilation", so Javani's paean to his regime's genocidal ambitions is not at all unprecedented.

"If this regime makes the bad mistake and tries to destroy Tel Aviv or Haifa, it won't be successful and it will be the last anniversary of their revolution they will ever celebrate".

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