Iran celebrates anniversary of US embassy takeover in 1979
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Thousands of Iranians gathered in the streets of Tehran on Thursday for the anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy in 1979, chanting “Death to America” ââand “Death to Israel” and burning American and Israeli flags. The embassy takeover triggered a 444-day hostage crisis and a breakdown in diplomatic relations that continues to this day.
The government-sponsored commemoration, long a place for the expression of anti-Western sentiment, usually draws angry crowds every year. Authorities canceled the event last year due to the still raging coronavirus pandemic, but state television on Thursday said 800 cities across Iran had staged protests.
Protesters hoisted an effigy of President Joe Biden wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Star of David, drops of red paint dripping from his mouth. It wasn’t clear whether the protesters were trying to make a point or just recycling old props from their 2019 parade, but the character’s orange mop looked like the one on the ex-President Donald Trump image used in the gathering two years ago.
In a long speech to the crowd, General Hossein Salami, leader of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, denounced the United States as a “dictator factory” and targeted what he called American aggression in the region. , declaring that âthe children of this nation (Iran) will courageously stand up against any power that wants to harm its interests.
Long-simmering tensions between the United States and Iran have flared up again in recent months after Iran’s election of ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, which brought extremists to power in all branches of government and blocked Tehran’s negotiations with world powers to revive its now-tattered 2015. nuclear deal.
Iran has stepped up nuclear escalations at the same time, enriching small amounts of uranium closer than ever to military-grade levels. and interfere with international inspections of its nuclear sites.
After months of delay, the European Union, Iran and the United States announced on Wednesday that indirect talks to revive the deal would resume on November 29 in Vienna. In comments broadcast on state television on Thursday, Raisi reiterated that Iran wants nuclear talks “oriented towards results” and “would oppose excessive demands that could harm the interests of our nation.”
In 2018, President Trump withdrew the United States from the landmark deal and imposed crushing sanctions, an escalation that sparked a shadow war between Iran and the West. which targeted commercial shipping and disrupted crucial Middle East waterways. The seas have witnessed a series of hijackings and explosions, including a deadly drone attack earlier this year that the United States blamed on Iran.
On Wednesday, on the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the embassy seizure, US officials revealed that Iran had seized a Vietnamese-flagged tanker. in the Gulf of Oman last month and still has the vessel in its port.
Iran, meanwhile, has presented conflicting accounts of what happened, claiming that Guard commandos foiled a US seizure of an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Gulf of Oman and freed the ship. He aired dramatic footage on state television but did not further explain the incident.
In his speech to the crowd outside the building that once housed the US Embassy, ââSalami praised the Guard for their assault, accusing the Americans of trying to “take our oil” and support the “pirates. “.
“We are serious in defending our homeland,” he said.
Gathered Iranians waved flags and painted portraits of General Qassem Soleimani, the powerful commander killed in early January 2020 in a US drone strike in Baghdad ordered by Trump.
A large American flag was spread across the street, forcing those walking to step on it.
The commemoration marks the dramatic day when die-hard Iranian student protesters stormed the guards and pushed into the embassy compound on November 4, 1979, furious that President Jimmy Carter allowed exiled Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to receive cancer treatment in the United States.
A few embassy staff ran away and hid in the home of the Canadian Ambassador to Iran before escaping the country with the help of the CIA, a story told in the 2012 film ” Argo â.
The fall of the Shah’s ally of the United States stabbed America, as nightly footage of blindfolded hostages was shown on televisions across the country. Ultimately, as Carter left office, the 52 captive American diplomats were freed.