(CNSNews.com) – In what supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called a “crushing response” to Iran’s enemies, hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Sunday to mark the 39th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, and to reaffirm that the United States remains “enemy number one.”
Authorities said there were no security problems across the country, although an opposition group reported on some anti-regime protests and poor turnouts for rallies in some centers, along with allegations of bribery of some participants.
Khamenei had made clear in advance a strong turnout would emphasize national unity and resolve, after President Trump in tweets and his State of the Union voiced support for Iranians whose recent protests against the government met a violent response.
State television claimed that “tens of millions of people” turned out at rallies, marking the anniversary of the overthrow of the Western-backed Shah by supporters of the fundamentalist Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei’s predecessor.
“Dear prideful nation of Iran,” Khamenei said in a statement later, parts of which he also posted on his Twitter accounts. “The greatness of your gatherings today, which, according to precise calculations, was more populated and more passionate than previous years, was a resolute response to the enemies and oath-breakers.”
(For “oath-breakers,” one translation said “those with a weak resolve,” evidently a reference to Iranians regarded as disloyal to the Islamic revolution.)
Khamenei said Iran’s enemies had done their utmost to ensure this year’s anniversary lacked energy and was an anti-revolutionary event.
“The roar of the Iranian nation will force the enemy to retreat, and the nation’s resolute willpower will ruin their calculations,” he said.
Three days before Sunday’s rallies marking “22nd of Bahman” – the Persian calendar date for the annual commemoration – Khamenei predicted this year’s event would be “spectacular,” as Iranians responded to the “the nonsensical statements that some American politicians and others made.”
“By Allah’s favor and grace, this year, the people’s presence will be warmer and more enthusiastic than ever,” he said. “By Allah’s favor, everyone will participate.”
‘The US and Israel are getting weaker’
Addressing rally attendees in Tehran’s Azadi square, President Hasan Rouhani said the U.S. has been “defeated” on various battlefields over the past year.
He said Washington’s attempts to “interfere in the internal affairs of our country” during the recent protests had been “foiled” through the unity and resistance of the Iranian people.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had also been rejected by the world.
“We are witnessing that the region is becoming more stable and the U.S. and Israel are getting weaker,” said Rouhani, who is viewed by some as a “moderate.”
The regime put on public display in central Tehran a ballistic missile boasting a range of some 1,250 miles, potentially threatening an area including Israel, U.S. military bases in the region, the Gulf states, Turkey, parts of Central Asia and south-eastern Europe.
The liquid-fueled Ghadr was flight tested in November 2015, five months after the Iran nuclear deal was endorsed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that called on Tehran not to “undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
Iranian police chief Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari told reporters no security problems had been reported across the country on Sunday.
According to the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), however, a protest was held Sunday in Mashhad, Iran’s second most-populous city and the place where protests first erupted on December 28 before spreading to more than 100 towns and cities.
“A large group of young people participated in an anti-government gathering in Melat Park,” NCRI reported. “They clashed with the security forces, including the state security force who were mobilized. One protester was arrested.”
NCRI also claimed that government-handout images of Khamenei and Khomeini were burned in another city, Kermanshah.
It said rallies “fell flat” in many cities, with fewer than 100 participants in Shahr-e-Kord and Gorgan – where most were government employees – and that rallies were “widely boycotted” in cities including Khorram Abad, Saveh, Bandar Abbas, Langroud and Sari.
The opposition group also reported that government officials offered SIM cards (in Shiraz) and sacks of rice (to auto factory workers in Tehran) in a bid to boost attendance numbers at official rallies.
At least 25 Iranians were killed in the crackdown on the protests last month and almost 4,000 people were detained. Hundreds are reported to remain in custody.