Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Waiting for Khomeini: Tehran, 1979. Photo: Alain Dejean/Sygma via Getty
Crowds filled the streets of Tehran today to mark the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, with President Hassan Rouhani declaring Iran would survive the economic “difficulties” ahead and would never “let America become victorious.”
A country transformed: Iranian society has changed dramatically over the past four decades, the New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink writes from Tehran:
Shadows of 1979: Wright, also a fellow at the Wilson Center, noted a palpable sense that “the revolution is fraying” as the revolutionary generation ages and Iran’s leaders show a “lack of imagination in solving the problems” facing the people.
What to watch: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor, will celebrate two milestones of his own in the coming months — his 80th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his rule.
The bottom line: “There is an enormous amount at stake in defining the next step of the revolution,” Wright said. “We keep waiting for that moment that the revolution returns to normalcy or it collapses as the Soviet Union did. And we’re not at either juncture yet.”
Go deeper: Iran nuclear deal could crumble in 2019
Skopje, North Macedonia. Photo: Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images
Signs referring to the government of Macedonia came down today in Skopje as the country transitions to its new name: North Macedonia.
Driving the news: Following bruising political battles on both sides of the border, the Greek parliament upheld its end of the bargain on Friday by backing North Macedonia’s NATO accession. As the Greek parliament was debating, Bujar Osmani, North Macedonia’s deputy prime minister in charge of European integration, was in Washington at the German Marshall Fund.
“I think that we got the last train,” Osmani told reporters, referring to the deal. “The region and the world geopolitically is becoming very dynamic. And I think it was the last momentum for us to define the geopolitics in the region — that the region belongs to NATO, belongs to the Euro-Atlantic family of values.”
Background: Macedonia is also a province in Greece, and a proud piece of the country's history. Osmani said the dispute hardened over Macedonia’s 27-year history, but negotiators came to realize a deal was possible because the Greeks were more concerned with the name of the country, while Macedonians were more worried about the Macedonian language and identity.
What’s next: North Macedonia also hopes to join the EU. It could face opposition on that front from a future Greek government, or leaders across Europe who reject the idea of further EU expansion. Osmani, meanwhile, said the lesson here should be that “the European idea is still alive. It is powerful. It can transform regions and societies.”
Obama with MBZ in 2011. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Axios contributor Barak Ravid reports that two years of tension between Israel and the UAE, 2010-2012, began when the proposed sale of sophisticated drones to the kingdom by a private Israeli company broke down.
Between the lines: The deal was only possible because of a secret anti-Iran alliance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefed on it after taking office, and he approved. The UAE even made a down payment of tens of millions of dollars. But then trouble started.
Go deeper: Read the full report.
Princess Ubolratana in 2010. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Thailand’s princess shocked the country Friday by announcing a prime ministerial bid, but her candidacy quickly crumbled after her brother, King Vajiralongkorn, called it “inappropriate.”
The big picture: This will be the first election since current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha overthrew the democratically elected government in 2014.
"So... long flight?" Turkey's Erdogan (L) and China's Xi in Beijing. Photo: Jason Lee - Pool/Getty Images
Turkey denounced China's mass incarceration of Muslims as “a great shame for humanity” on Saturday, a rare rebuke "from a government in the Muslim world," per WSJ.
The big picture: Assuming Heyit is alive, he's still being held against his will along with hundreds of thousands of other Uighurs. Turkey's statement seems less out of place than the general silence on this issue from much of the world.
Here's a quick look at smartphone ownership in selected countries, according to Pew:
The indigenous people of Mah Meri in Malaysia celebrate the New Year as they offer a ritual prayer and 'Main Jo-oh' dance to appease the spirits of the seas. Photo: Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images
"We don't know."— Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, when asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" where Jamal Khashoggi's body is. Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents 133 days ago.
Thanks for reading — see you Thursday evening!