Commentary Magazine


The Supreme Leader’s “State of the Union”

On March 21, the Persian New Year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic gave an address at a shrine in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city. The speech should be a must-read for any American policymaker who believes that now is the time to strike a deal with the Islamic Republic. Ideology can be an insurmountable obstacle, and Khamenei’s speech is simultaneously paranoid and xenophobic, blustering and aggressive, and ranting and fabulist. While many American officials place faith in negotiations, it is clear that Khamenei sees Obama’s letters and outreach as alternately irrelevant and pitiful. While advisers whispering in Obama’s ear suggest that the U.S. must foreswear regime change, Khamenei really doesn’t care. And when it comes to negotiations, Khamenei really doesn’t see any reason to compromise: Either the U.S. agrees with Iran’s position, or Khamenei will refuse to deal.

The whole speech is here, but below are some snippets, organized with sub-headings in bold which I inserted.

On The Media: Today there is a massive propaganda network in the world with thousands of different types of media outlets whose goal is to prove that there are no advances in Iran, to deny the victories that the Iranian has achieved, to magnify the existing weaknesses and attract everybody’s attention to them, and to hide the strengths that exist in different parts of the country and are visible to just and impartial people.

On America: As I said, we have certain enemies. Who are these enemies? Where is the main den of designing machinations against the Iranian nation? It is not difficult to answer this question. It is 34 years that whenever the word “enemy” is mentioned, the Iranian nation immediately thinks of the American government. It would be good if American officials paid attention to this point and tried to understand that over the past 34 years, the Iranian people have witnessed things and gone through stages that whenever the word “enemy” is mentioned, they immediately think of America. This is a very important issue for a government that wants to have pride in the world. This is an issue that deserves careful attention. They should focus on this issue. America is the center of enmity and designing plots against the Iranian nation.

The Enemies List: There is the Zionist enemy, but the Zionist regime is too small to be considered among the first row of the Iranian nation’s enemies… The English government is among the old enemies of the Iranian nation, but in this arena it plays a complementary role as the follower of America. The English government is not independent, so one cannot consider them a separate enemy. It is a follower of America… I would like to take this opportunity to point out that officials of the French government have been openly hostile towards the Iranian nation over the past few years and this is not a clever move by French government officials.

On What Iran Can Do to Israel: I believe even they themselves know – and if they do not, they should know – that if they make a wrong move, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.

On Promised to Bring Iran into the Global Community: The Americans speak about “the global community” in their statements. What they call “the global community” is a few countries, whose main leader is America, followed by the Zionists, the English government and certain other small governments. The global community is not at all determined to oppose Iran, Iranians and Islamic Iran.

On Obama’s Outreach: I should mention that the Americans started their new plans from the beginning of the year 1391. They announced that they were our friends. Sometimes they sent letters, messages and other such things and told us they were our friends and other times they announced in the media that they were friends of the Iranian people, but despite these false claims, in practice they tried to be harsh towards Iran and the Iranian nation…  A few years ago in my speech on the first day of Farvardin, I said here at Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha’s shrine that you [Americans] should be careful, that your proclaimed affection and friendship should not mean that you are wearing a velvet glove over an iron fist, pretending that you are our friends while being hostile in your hearts…

On Nuclear Negotiations: The Americans send messages to us through different channels, asking us to negotiate with them regarding the nuclear issue. They both send messages to us and discuss the proposal in their global propaganda. High- and middle-ranking officials of America repeatedly say that alongside the P5+1 talks regarding the nuclear issue, America and the Islamic Republic should hold one-on-one negotiations over the issue.  I am not optimistic about such negotiations. Why? Because our past experiences show that in the logic of the American gentlemen, negotiation does not mean sitting down together to try to reach a rational solution. This is not what they mean by negotiation. What they mean is that we should sit down together and talk so that Iran accepts their views… The Americans constantly send us messages, telling us that they are sincere in their offers of rational negotiation. They claim that they sincerely want to have rational negotiations with Iran – that is to say, they claim that they do not want imposition. In response, I would say, we have told you many times that we are not after nuclear weapons and you say that you do not believe us. Why would we believe your statements then…? I would like to give a piece of advice to American officials: if they are after a rational solution, the rational solution is that they should rectify their policies. They should rectify the way they act and they should stop being hostile towards the Iranian nation.

On Regime Change: The Americans constantly send messages – sometimes in writing – that they are not after regime change in Iran. This is what they are telling us. The answer is that we are not concerned about whether or not you have intentions of overthrowing the Islamic Republic although you constantly insist that you do not have such intentions. Even the day when you had intentions of overthrowing the Islamic Republic and you announced this openly, you could not do anything, and you will not be able to do anything in the future either.

On Sanctions: Of course, as I said a few months ago, the Americans expressed joy and said that I have confessed to the effect of the sanctions. Yes, the sanctions have not been inconsequential. If they are happy about this, let them be happy. After all, the sanctions have had an effect, which is because of an essential flaw that we are suffering from. The flaw that our economy is suffering from is that it is dependent on oil. We need to distance our economy from oil. Our governments should include this among their basic plans.

On Hamas and Gaza: In the case of the Zionist regime’s invasion of Gaza, the powerful presence of the Islamic Republic behind the scenes caused them to admit that they had been defeated by Palestinian combatants. We did not announce this: it was they themselves who announced and insisted that if it had not been for the presence of the Islamic Republic and its show of power, Palestinian combatants could not have even put up a resistance against Israel, let alone bring Israel to its knees. In the 8-day war, the Palestinians managed to bring Israel to its knees, and this was the first time in the history of the fake and usurping Zionist regime.

On Launching a Monkey into Space: When this living creature was sent into space and was returned safely, international scientists and observers were so surprised that they first denied it. Then when they realized that they had no choice but to accept the truth and after witnessing reality and the evidence, they were forced to acknowledge it.

On Iran’s Medical Progress: We achieved the first rank in the region in the area of biotechnology. Outstanding technical achievements were made in this area which led to the production of different kinds of pharmaceuticals. All these achievements were made in a year in which the enemies were determined to be harsh towards the Iranian nation in order to deprive it from a good life and from all the products of human talent.

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