Iran in 2009: A year of social upheaval and international defiance

It was fitting that one of the most tumultuous years in the history of modern Iran coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Three decades on from the uprising that brought down the monarchy and replaced it with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iranians were again out on the streets demanding change. This time however, there was no overthrow and the potential for a second revolution was crushed under the batons of the authorities.

Iran began 2009 much like it had started the majority of the years since the ayatollahs took charge in 1979 – as a foe of the United States. Despite the prospect of a more liberal president in the White House, Iran was still a concern for the US due to its continued reluctance to yield to international pressure over its nuclear program.

But in March, President Barack Obama reached out to Iran, saying that his new administration was committed to pursuing “constructive ties” with the Islamic republic and stressed that “the United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations.”

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