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Despite Nuclear Talks, U.S. Seen As 'Great Satan' In Iran

A woman steps on a U.S. flag outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran.
A woman steps on a U.S. flag outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran.

The United States remains "the Great Satan" despite nuclear negotiations between Iran and Washington, Iranian hard-liners conveyed in a November 4 message marking the 35th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in the Islamic republic.

The statement was issued by anti-U.S. demonstrators who gathered outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran -- dubbed the "Nest of Spies" -- and called for resistance against the United States, which they decried as an oppressor.

The Iranian people still consider the United States their main enemy, the demonstrators said in the statement issued at the annual rally, which coincided with the religious Ashura holiday that commemorates the killing of the venerated Shi'ite spiritual leader Imam Hussein in 680 C.E.

They called for the removal of all "unilateral" and "unjust" sanctions against the Islamic republic, while also expressing support for the Iranian nuclear negotiators and emphasizing the need to follow the guidelines set by Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, to defend Iran’s "inalienable rights."

Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament should also be vigilant regarding any potential nuclear agreement, according to the statement.

The rally’s main speaker, cleric Alireza Panahian, said that even if November 4 were not the anniversary of the hostage-taking by radical students in 1979, the slogan "Death to America" would have been chanted in the sermons.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the government’s nuclear negotiators should receive a pay raise because they negotiate with "savages," Panahian added.

"When someone is dispatched for a mission to a region with an unpleasant climate, they provide them with a special allowance due to the bad climate they have to suffer from," Panahian was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

"Therefore, our nuclear negotiators should receive a pay rise due to the toughness of their work and for negotiating with wild individuals," he continued. "And we hereby tell the arrogant [power] that if you do not come to your senses, then we will make you come to your senses."

Meanwhile, in a November 4 article headlined "The Ethos Of U.S. Embassy Takeover," the hard-line Fars news agency, which is close to the powerful Revolutionary Guards, listed reasons why Tehran opposes the United States.

These include the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran which saw Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadegh overthrown, as well as the 2002 designation of Iran as part of an "Axis of Evil" by former U.S. President George W. Bush.

The Fars article argued that it is understandable that Tehran is "hesitant" about the results of the nuclear talks with Washington.

"Tehran has legitimate questions that need to be addressed before it could even start contemplating trusting Washington ever again," the news agency said in its report.

Another hard-line media outlet, the Tasnim news agency, reported over the weekend that according to a new poll, distrust toward the United States among citizens in Tehran has slightly increased during the past year.

Tasnim claimed that the number of Teheranis who agree with the idea that "America is not trustworthy at all" has increased to 63 percent, up from 61 percent a year ago.

The poll was conducted by the social science alumni society of Tehran University, Tasnim reported without providing details on the methodology used or the number of respondents.

Fars reported that 54 percent of the respondents in the poll said U.S. policies toward Iran have not changed since Iranian President Hassan Rohani came to power last year.

"Twenty percent believe U.S. stances have 'improved,' and 23 percent consider it 'worse' compared to before," Tasnim reported.

Polls conducted in Iran are widely regarded as unreliable.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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