Hundreds of thousands across Iran marked the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution on 11 February 2020 amid some of the highest tensions ever between Tehran and the US in the past four decades. While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech in Tehran's iconic Azadi Square denouncing the US, he also focused on encouraging the country to vote in upcoming parliamentary elections, even after officials disqualified thousands from running, including 90 current lawmakers.
 
What
  1. Iran views high turnout as a vote of confidence in the country's Shia theocracy, something it wants to show as public anger still simmers over the country accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner in January that killed all 176 people onboard. 
  2. Tehran for days denied its forces shot down the passenger plane before admitting to it in the face of mounting Western pressure.
  3. The shootdown also marred funeral processions that drew millions of mourners for Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Solemani, killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
  4. This year's anniversary celebrations come amid ever-increasing bitterness between Tehran and Washington. Tensions have spiked since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018
  5. A series of attacks across the Mideast culminated with the US launching the drone strike that killed Soleimani in January. Iran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack targeting US forces in Iraq, injuring over 100 US troops.
Flashback
  1. Iran's Islamic Revolution began with widespread unrest over the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
  2. The shah, fatally and secretly ill with cancer, fled Iran in January 1979. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini then returned from exile and the government fell Feb. 11, 1979, after days of mass demonstrations and confrontations between protesters and security forces.
  3. Iran later would vote to become an Islamic Republic, a Shia theocracy with Khomeini as its first supreme leader with final say over all matters of state. 
  4. Anger over America allowing the shah into the country to receive cancer treatment in New York would later spark the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran by student militants and the subsequent hostage crisis, which kindled decades of enmity.