Iran’s Supreme Leader at a tribute to “martyrs” at Imam Khomeini’s mausoleum south of Tehran, February 1, 2019
Amid economic uncertainty, Iran’s regime has begun 10-day celebrations of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The regime’s ceremonies in Tehran began on Saturday at 9:33 am local time (0603 GMT), exactly 40 years after Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, returned to the Iranian capital after a 15-year exile in Paris.
Senior regime and military officials are gathering at Imam Khomeini’s mausoleum south of Tehran. The Supreme Leader offered prayers and recited verses from the Qur’an.
Another ceremony is being held at Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, where Khomeini delivered his first speech after exile.
Feb. 1, 1979 is the day of a determining movement that united all voices of a nation, moving an ocean of humans to flow like a single wave towards a divine & humane destination. On this day the world witnessed one of the most amazing popular uprisings of history. 1/31/82
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 1, 2019
The head of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and Guardian Council, Ayatollah Jannati, told an audience in Tehran on Friday that the US and other countries had failed: “In these 40 years, the entire world tried to destroy the Islamic ruling system. All world powers believed the Islamic government would be limited, and would collapse after a couple of years.”
But he said the enemy campaign continued:
Today, the damn US is doing whatever it can to destroy the Islamic system…. It urges other countries not to work with Iran. And those intoxicated by the petrodollars have come to the US’ help in order to break the power of Islam.
State media mocked a 2017 statement by John Bolton, now US National Security Advisor, that “the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday”.
And the Iranian military unveiled a long-range surface-to-surface missile to mark the occasion. Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami proclaimed that it has “a very short time for its preparedness, can fly at a low altitude, has high precision and accuracy and is capable of heavily destroying ground targets”.
Questions Over Europe Economic Link
But as the regime celebrates, questions are already growing around an European link needed to prop up Iran’s economy amid US sanctions.
The European Union announced the launch of a Special Purpose Vehicle on Thursday, after four months of negotiation. The SPV provides for non-dollar trade in oil and other commodities and goods, bypassing the comprehensive sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration on November 5.
But the initial phase of the arrangement, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, is limited to pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and food. Operations will take months to establish, with Iran needing to establish its own mechanism.
And the EU made the SPV conditional on Iran acceding to an international convention against terrorist finance and money laundering, joining the Financial Action Task Force.
Iran’s hardliners have blocked the Rouhani Government for months from completing the accession, fearing that it will affect links with groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Islamic Jihad.
The Expediency Council, which resolves disputes between branches of the regime, again delayed its review on Saturday. It cited the start of the 10-day celebrations.
The Council has deferred a resolution of the dispute three times, despite the Guardian Council twice approving the Government’s revised arrangements.
Iranian officials initially welcomed the launch of the SPV, but on Friday senior judiciary official Mohammad Javad Larijani — the brother of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and incoming Expediency Council head Sadeq Larijani — denounced the arrangement, “The text of INSTEX, compiled by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, is a nonsensical document.”
Amid the US sanctions, which followed the Trump Administration’s withdrawal in May from the nuclear deal, Iran’s oil exports have fallen almost 60% since April and non-oil exports dropped 57% in December.
The International Monetary Fund is projecting a 3.7% fall in Iranian GDP this year.