Iran Islamic Revolution anniversary
February 11, 2019 -- Four decades ago, on February 11, 1979, the United States-backed Shah of Iran’s government fell, ten days after the triumphant return from exile of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Islamic Republic was proclaimed on April 1.
On November 4, 1979, the 15th anniversary of Khomeini’s exile from Iran, students chanting “Marg bar Āmrikā” -- “Death to America!” -- stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The assailants took 90 people hostage, including 52 Americans.
The impact of the revolution that saw the end of Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the instalment of Khomeini as the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic continues to shape the world forty years later.
The creation of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Syrian civil war are a direct consequence of Tehran’s influence, as is the regional cold war against Saudi Arabia and Israel and anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.
Iran’s revolution also triggered conflicts in the region, starting with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980 and leading to the current proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen.
When Saddam invaded invade Kuwait in 1989, he drew the U.S. troops into the region and set the path for President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003.
A new era seemed possible when U.S. President Barack Obama offered to “extend a hand” if Iran would “unclench its fist”. In 2015, newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to end Iran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.
Last year President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and renewed sanctions citing Iran’s continued development of non-nuclear ballistic missiles. Crowds still chant the revolutionary mantra “Death to America!” in Tehran every Friday.