DUBAI (Reuters) - Forty years after its revolution, Iran has no fear of a “declining” America, a senior cleric said on Friday at the start of official commemorations of the uprising that made the country a permanent enemy of the United States.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a famously hardline cleric who is the secretary of the Guardian Council, a body with huge influence over the way Iran is run, used his speech to mock the leadership of President Donald Trump.
“Even many of America’s allies don’t listen to it anymore and they are not afraid of it,” Jannati said at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who returned from exile in France to lead the revolution exactly 40 years ago.
“America cannot manage its own affairs now,” Jannati said in remarks carried by state television, adding that “millions of people are hungry there and America’s power is in decline.” He did not say what he was basing that assertion on.
The 1979 uprising deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a secular king allied to the West. Later that year, Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and held 52 Americans for 444 days - an affront to U.S. pride that still colors how Iran is viewed from Washington.
Trump last year pulled out of an international agreement under which Iran curbed its nuclear work in exchange for a sanctions relief. The re-imposed sanctions caused a currency crash, rampant inflation and added to investors’ hesitancy about doing business there.
Jannati, who opposed President Hassan Rouhani’s decision to negotiate away some of Iran’s nuclear rights, said:
“Unfortunately, some of our officials believe that we cannot manage the country without America’s help. May such wrong thoughts be damned!”
Among many programs on state TV featuring achievements since the revolution, was a short animation showing an Iranian-made Ghadir navy submarine surfacing near a U.S. aircraft carrier and other vessels which then inexplicably sink without any sign of an attack or explosion.
In December, the USS John C. Stennis entered the Gulf, ending a long absence of U.S. aircraft carriers.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Robin Pomeroy