Happy Birthday, Islamic Republic
On Thursday, Iran celebrated the 37th anniversary of its Islamic revolution with great fanfare. To mark the success of the reign of the mullahs, which began in 1979 with the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from exile, Iranians took to the streets to chant “Death to America, Death to Israel,” while waving banners hailing the current despot-cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Normally, this occasion involves a march to the defunct US Embassy, the site of the hostage-taking of American diplomats, to bask in the defeat of the Great Satan at the hands of students loyal to Khomeini.
This year, however, the regime in Tehran had additional and more recent reasons to gloat. The first was the lifting of international sanctions, made possible by Iran’s intransigence during nuclear negotiations. Understanding full well that US President Barack Obama would stoop to any low necessary to achieve a deal with the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian hegemons got what they didn’t even have to bargain for.
The second was the January 12 detaining of US sailors, whose boats had gone off course in the Persian Gulf. Letting Washington grovel and beg to have the 10 Americans released unharmed — and then thank the Iranians for being merciful — merely added honey to the baklava Khamenei was nibbling with his afternoon tea at the time.
The latter event has provided much amusement for the supreme leader and his henchmen. It has been the subject of speeches by top brass and the impetus for awards bestowed upon Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval officers. Indeed, it is a story that Iran has been milking for all its worth over the past month. Not a day has gone by without some new piece of “information” about the incident.
One minute there was an announcement that sensitive intelligence was retrieved from the cellphones and laptops of the abducted servicemen; the next there was a previously unseen photo of one of the sailors weeping.
It was to be expected, then, that the Islamic Revolution Day parade would feature a re-enactment of the event. And members of Iran’s Basij militia, along with other willing participants, staged a street performance to depict it in all its glory.
Some played the U.S. sailors, dressed in military fatigues, their hands shackled and their heads covered in burlap sacks. Others acted as their proud captors, forcing them to their knees at gunpoint. Dozens of extras simply held their arms behind their necks, mimicking the surrender of the sailors broadcast on Iran’s state-run TV.
Cheerful crowds surrounded the mass mockery of America, as was fitting for the illustrious annual hate-fest.
Meanwhile, the harshest response from the State Department on the repeated flaunting of the humiliated sailors has been to express “disgust,” whining that if the situation had been reversed, the U.S. would never have behaved that way to Iran.
But nobody is as keenly aware of this as Iranian Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif, who frequently screamed at Secretary of State John Kerry at summits in Europe with utter impunity, at least from the Obama administration. It was actually Khamenei who purportedly told Zarif to tone it down a notch. “After all,” the supreme leader must have said to his underling, “we can bring America down just as easily by speaking softly.”
He was right, of course, which ought to serve his fundamentalist successors in good stead ahead of the Feb. 26 elections for the Majlis (parliament) and Assembly of Experts, the body that selects the supreme leader for a lifetime appointment.
Khamenei is 76, so in a speech he gave encouraging the public to vote — a joke in and of itself, because Iranians who don’t support Khamenei’s candidates find themselves jailed, tortured or killed — he pointed out that the next Assembly of Experts could end up having to appoint the next mullah-in-chief.
”This committee should choose a leader who holds the key to the movement of this revolution,” he said, making it clear what he expected at the ballot box.
A year from now, on the 38th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, a new president will be in the White House. Whoever that person is, it is safe to say that his or her effigy will be burned in Iran as part of the festivities. But if it is a Republican, the United States will at least attempt to stand tall, douse the flames and hold Iran accountable. This is why Khamenei is praying to Allah that a Democrat wins.
Ruthie Blum is the web editor of The Algemeiner (algemeiner.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.