On this date in 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was infamously stormed by a mob of Iranian students. Over 50 Americans inside were held hostage for 444 days. Though the accompanying hostage crisis was not thought to be in the original plans, the tide quickly turned as popular support grew and Ayatollah Khomeini gave the operation his endorsement.
Thirty-five years later, crowds gathered in Tehran and other Iranian cities to mark the anniversary. And not in a somber way. According to Iran's semi-official FARS news agency, tens of thousands of Iranians participated in the "National Day of Campaign against Global Arrogance," which involved chants of "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Death to Britain," along with the burning of American, Israeli, and British flags.
The crowds, as the Associated Press noted, were "smaller compared to last year's event, which drew tens of thousands—a sign of improved Iran-U.S. relations since moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office last year."
Not to temper what could be seen as good news, but over the weekend, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a statement to remind the world that Iran and America are still not cool: “The U.S. is still the great Satan and the number one enemy of the (Islamic) revolution and the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation.”
As many have noted, the celebrations come ahead of the looming November 24 deadline to resolve the ongoing crisis over Iran's nuclear program. According to a report, earlier today Iran tentatively agreed to "agreed to ship much of its huge stockpile of uranium to Russia" should a nuclear deal be struck. This is being seen as a generally positive development in a negotiation process that has been limited by too few positive developments.
Later this week, Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Oman to continue negotiations with the Iranian foreign minister. With plenty of gaps remaining between the sides, it's fair to guess that they won't discuss Tuesday's protests in Iran, which marked the event that officially severed ties between the two countries back in 1979.
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