Teheran's Airport opened for the first time in six days on Tuesday (30 January) and foreigners flocked there in a desperate attempt to get out of the country.
Teheran's Airport opened for the first time in six days on Tuesday (30 January) and foreigners flocked there in a desperate attempt to get out of the country. Demonstrators anticipating the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny's return were staged in the streets of Teheran and in reaction the Army staged what one officer called "a show of strength" parading military hardware and personnel through the city.
SYNOPSIS: Teheran's airport was closed last Thursday (25 January) by Dr. Shapur Bakhtiar's government to delay the return of the Ayatollah Khomeiny. With news that it had been reopened thousands of foreign nationals streamed to the airport to leave the country. But they waited in vain as only one commercial flight arrived to pick up passengers. Many were told by military officials "to try their luck tomorrow".
On Wednesday (31 January) as news of the Ayatollah's imminent return became known in the country, Iran's armed forces staged a major show of strength trough the streets of Teheran. Columns of tanks and troops wound through the city in an exercise apparently designed to demonstrate the power, still at the military's disposal.
Thousands of the Ayatollah's supporters arrived in the capital planning to be part of the celebrations to commemorate his return after fifteen years in exile. Many groups concentrated on clearing the city of debris left from last week's anti-government demonstrations. Prime Minister Bakhtiar issued a statement later broadcast by Radio Iran saying
Ammunition workers have gone on strike, refusing to supply the government's military with bullets. And on Wednesday night (31 January) Iran announced the suspension of agreements with Britain for the import of a thousand million pounds worth of arms sales.
Women massing in the streets in their traditional chaderi was another sign of the Ayatollah's expected return. He has called for an end to the cultural westernisation of Iran, which had included a more liberal attitude to women's fashion.
There were reports of violence at some spots along the route of the Army's parades. Thirty-three people were reportedly killed in the weekend before the Ayatollah's return.