A day before US sanctions took effect against Tehran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commemorated on Sunday the 39th anniversary of the US hostage crisis in Tehran.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Guards, addressed the crowd from the grounds of the former embassy, now known as the “den of spies”.

He said “economic warfare” was a final bid by Washington to overthrow Iran after decades of failed attempts.

“With God’s help and the resistance and perseverance of the pious and revolutionary people of Iran, this last weapon of the enemy — the economic war — which is accompanied by America’s widespread media operation against the nation of Iran, will be defeated,” Jafari said.

“Never threaten Iran,” he warned US President Donald Trump, describing him as America’s “strange president”.

“America has launched an economic and psychological war as a last resort … But America’s plots and its plans for sanctions will be defeated through continued resistance,” said Jafari.

He described as “madness” any US attempt to change the Iranian regime, adding that Washington was not seeking a military confrontation with Iran because it fears Hezbollah and Tehran’s deterrent force.

In addition, he said that Iran scored a victory against the US in the latest Iraq elections in an indirect reference to the election of a new president, speaker and prime minister. He signaled that these central positions were now within Iran’s influence.

On Washington’s goal to curb Iran’s influence in the Middle East, including its role in Syria, he remarked that Syria could not achieve stability without Tehran.

Guards deputy commander Hossein Salami threatened to target US interests “if necessary”, saying that Tehran has the power to take the Middle East out of American influence.

He made light of the newly imposed US sanctions, asking: “Has Washington curbed Iran and its forces’ influence in the region? Has it managed to alter our political behavior through its economic embargo? Has it convinced us to sit with it at the negotiations table again?”

Iranians chanting “Death to America” rallied to mark both the anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy during the 1979 Revolution and the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran’s key oil sector.

Thousands of students in the government-organized rally in the capital Tehran, broadcast live by state television, burned the Stars and Stripes, an effigy of Uncle Sam and pictures of Trump outside the leafy downtown compound that once housed the US mission.

Hardline students stormed the embassy on November 4, 1979 soon after the fall of the US-backed Shah, and 52 Americans were held hostage there for 444 days. The two countries have been enemies, on opposite sides of Middle East conflict, ever since.

Iranian state media said millions turned out for rallies in most cities and towns around the country, swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment.

The Guards avoided parading ballistic missiles during the rallies as was their habit. Images showed plastic rockets in display instead of the actual ones.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis. Its rial currency now trades at 145,000 to one US dollar, down from when it traded 40,500 to $1 a year ago. The economic chaos sparked mass anti-government protests at the end of last year which resulted in nearly 5,000 reported arrests and at least 25 people being killed. Sporadic demonstrations still continue.

The restoration of US sanctions on Monday targeting Iran’s oil sales and banking sectors is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs outright as well as support for proxy forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

Source » aawsat