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Revolution hits 29

The revolution which swept away a dynasty and altered political Islam for the rest of our lives turned 29 today, marked by celebrations in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Revolution hits 29

(Ahmadinejad speaks in front of a giant mural. ABACA via Middle East Times)

During the celebrations, Ahmadinejad struck what will inevitably be called “a defiant note.”

Addressing thousands of his supporters in Tehran, Ahmadinejad considered the nuclear crisis with the West as “closed” and that the “enemies of the Iranian Revolution can only play with pieces of paper, nothing more.”

He warned the Western world against issuing a third set of U.N. sanctions on his country because the “Iranian people will not back down an inch over their right to nuclear energy. They should not make another mistake by voting a new resolution against Iran.”

This is the kind of statement that can be parsed over and over, Sovietology-style, with endless interpretations of intent, but I think it can also be dismissed as nothing out of the ordinary, and, indeed, very predictable for a national/nationalist ceremony in a tired and wary country.   Ahmadinejad was pumping up the base, if you will. 

It strikes me, on a personal note, that the revolution is just slightly younger than I am, having just turned 29 myself.   As much as a precocious genius as I was, according to my mom, I obviously don't have any recollection of a world before the mullahs.   As the Cold War ended, and eventually fears of and wars with radical Islam became part of daily life, it was easy to forget how much those grainy videos of packed and sweaty streets, mobbing a man seemingly straight out of an ancient, austere desert, changed the world.

The battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan was hugely important.   But the Iranian revolution, even though it was a Shi’ite movement, showed young radicals that the world didn't have to be a binary America-or-Soviet place, that their fervor and drive could allow them to create a state they wanted, to overthrow what they saw as corrupt and degenerate regimes.

 Clearly, no two revolutions are alike, and the “success” of Iran hasn't been replicated in any Sunni state (The Taliban took power in a very uniqu circumstance).   So we tend to discount the impact that Iran had, partly because it has been with us for so long.   But it is an interesting quirk of history, that Iran, the first eruption of political Islam, has carried itself through the Wahabbi irruption, and continues to be the single most important country in the Middle East.

On that note, I will print perhaps the finest picture of all time.


 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Iran's new space center. (Photo: Agence France Presse,Getty Images



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.