Iran celebrates 40th anniversary of revolution

Official events will take place today across Iran to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution.

A nationwide rally, called the Ten-Day Dawn is a commemoration of the period of violent protests which culminated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returning from France on 1 February 1979. Thousands of marchers are set to gather at Azadi Square (Freedom Square) in Tehran, one of the capital’s most iconic monuments. Demonstrators were seen carrying anti-US and anti-Saudi banners and signs. Originally built by the US-backed Shah, the square was renamed after the victory of forces loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini.

In an article for The Times, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev writes that he: “Can’t celebrate 40 years of brutal and repressive Iran.” Regev reflects on “the Iranian people’s exceptional contribution to civilisation” but notes that: “All of this changed in 1979 when Iran embraced animosity and antisemitism towards my country, and brutality towards its own people.”

Last Monday, the EU said it was gravely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile tests and called on it to stop activity that deepened mistrust and destabilised the region. In a statement, the EU said it was “gravely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile activity” and “deeply concerned by the hostile activities that Iran has conducted on the territory of several Member States”.

The Middle East conference in Warsaw, due to begin on 14 February, was originally described as focusing primarily on Iran, but organisers said the conference’s objective is to promote peace and stability in the Middle East. Iran’s military activity in the region, its recent attempts to upgrade its ballistic missile arsenal and its nuclear ambitions are expected to take centre stage at the summit. Iranian Foreign Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The summit is doomed to failure from the start”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the event.