In two speeches in as many weeks – one on March 30, 2016 marking a Shi’ite religious holiday and the other on March 20, marking Norooz, the Persian New Year – Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei focused on attacking his main political rivals – Iranian President Hassan Rohani, and Expediency Council chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, the leaders of the Iranian pragmatic camp.
Khamenei’s Holiday Address, March 30
In his March 30 address, Khamenei called his old foe Rafsanjani “a traitor” for his March 24 tweet stating that “the world of tomorrow is a world of talks, and not of missiles.” Khamenei said that Iran cannot give up its missile capabilities, and termed this call to do so a plot by the Western enemy, headed by the U.S., which seeks to destroy Iran’s Islamic regime. Khamenei’s statements were along the same lines as his criticism of Rafsanjani prior to the February 26, 2016 Majlis and Assembly of Experts elections, i.e. that Rafsanjani was trying to sell the U.S. to Iran.
Attacking President Rohani as well, Khamenei rejected the latter’s call to begin now to work towards economic agreements that he referred to as “JCPOA 2” and “JCPOA 3,” as a follow-up to the JCPOA agreed with the U.S. on July 14, 2015. According to Khamenei, the nuclear agreement with the U.S. had failed, and the U.S. administration was still not allowing trade with Iran. He demanded that Rohani not merely use the term “resistance economy” – referring to Khamenei’s economic plan for Iran – but also implement it. It should be noted that this economic vision, which calls for establishing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other domestic elements as an economic force for rehabilitating the country is the opposite of Rohani’s and Rafsanjani’s economic plan, which is based on foreign investment in Iran and on privatization.
Elsewhere in the speech, Khamenei attacked the U.S. for not meeting its commitments under the JCPOA, and clarified that the U.S. administration is the enemy of Iran and is even today working to bring down its Islamic regime.
A possible explanation for the increasing hostility in the top Iranian echelon is the reports in the U.S. that it is time for high-level U.S. officials to visit Tehran. In its April 3, 2016 editorial, the Iranian daily Kayhan wrote harshly about a possible such visit, presumably by President Obama and similar to his Cuba visit: “The elements of [the American] infiltration are finding their place among the [Iranian political] leaders, causing some to speak about a cessation of the [Iranian] hostilities towards the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] and about an Iranian defensive weapons disarmament. This could reach the point where President [Rohani’s] advisor will say, ‘If only Obama will visit Iran too and solve the issue of relations with Iran, like he did with Cuba.”
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Khamenei’s Norooz Address, March 20
In his address to the Iranian people for Norooz, the Persian New Year, on March 20, 2016, Khamenei spoke out against the U.S. and attacked President Rohani and his vision of openness towards the West. This speech reflected the great apprehension in the regime about the West’s alleged failure to meet its obligations under the JCPOA, and about Iran’s distrust of it.
The same day, Khamenei tweeted, in English, a summary of his Norooz address. The main themes, as given in the tweets, were, inter alia:
- The alleged U.S. attempts to instill in Iran the mindset that Iran must either get along with the U.S. or face the consequences, and condemnation of those who adopt this mindset – i.e. the pragmatic camp, led by Rafsanjani and Rohani
- The U.S. desire for Iran to relinquish its defense capabilities, such as its missile program and the IRGC
- The U.S.’s violation of its commitments under the JCPOA
- The U.S. presidential candidates’ “hostility” towards Iran and the uncertainty that the next administration would meet “even its few commitments” under the JCPOA
- The need for Iran to rely on a “resistance economy.”
Khamenei, March 30: If Rafsanjani’s Words “The World Of Tomorrow Is A World Of Talks, And Not Of Missiles” Were “Said Out Of Ignorance, That’s One Thing, But If They Were Said Out Of Cognizance, It Constitutes Treason”
“I am not against political negotiations, of course not with everyone… The enemy is using political negotiations, and therefore we must be wary. The enemies use talks, economic deals, economic sanctions, threats of war and weapons. Against all these, we must equip ourselves with defensive might.
“Some people say that the world of tomorrow is a world of talks, and not of missiles. If this is said out of ignorance, that’s one thing, but if it is said out of cognizance, it constitutes treason.
“How can this be? If the Islamic regime advances [in the areas of] science, technology, political negotiations, and various commercial and economic activities – [yes,] all of these are essential. But if it does not have defensive might, and has no defensive capabilities, anybody at all or any insignificant government can threaten it, saying, if you does not do thus and so, we will strike you with missiles. If you have no way of defending yourself, you will have to retreat.
“If you see the world powers talking in a loud voice, arrogantly, saying unpleasant things in a forceful manner, [you should know that] for the most part they are relying on the same weapons that they have [that they are asking us to give up]. Should we be emptying our hands [of weapons] as we face them?
“The IRGC presents the progress made in its missiles, and this brings pride not only to the Iranians, but to the freedom-seeking countries around us as well. When the IRGC missiles are displayed in tests with such precision and beauty, it pleases many nations, which have suffered at the hands of the Americans and the Zionist regime. Should we depress them by saying that the era of the missiles is over? No, the era of the missiles is not over.
The Main Points Of Khamenei’s Address, In Tweets – March 20, 2016
One main theme in Khamenei’s March 20 Norooz address, as expressed in his tweets, was the alleged U.S. attempts to instill in Iran the mindset that Iran must get along with the U.S. or face the consequences. Those who have adopted this mindset – meaning the pragmatic camp, led by Iranian President Rohani, who called for a second and third JCPOA agreement – were “yielding to the arrogance” – i.e. the U.S. – and were willing to give way on “committed principles”:
- “Currently, policies of the arrogance, particularly US, demands insertion of a dilemmatic mindset among the elites and public opinion. 1/2; That dilemma is either getting along with the US or suffering US pressures and the consequent difficulties forever 2/2.
- “There are of course some inside #Iran who believe in& accept this moving discourse of arrogance system & try to convince others as well 1/2; They believe ME [Middle East] or domestic problems can be solved by JCPOA 2&3; this means giving up principles & red lines & yielding to the arrogance 2/2.
- “Yielding means Iran would ignore committed principles like supporting #Palestine & resistance in region & the oppressed in #Bahrain& #Yemen.
- “Other meaning of yielding is Iran, like some Arab states flagrantly extending friendship hand to Zionist enemy, reconciles with Zionists.”
Khamenei spoke about a U.S. desire for Iran to relinquish its defensive capabilities, such as its missile program, and about the U.S.’s alleged questioning of Iran’s need for the IRGC and its Qods Force and its asking why Iran’s constitution requires that Iranian policies be Islam-compliant:
- “The US desire is that Iran would even give up on its defensive means as well.
- “They constantly blame Iran’s missile program, but US holds joint drills 1000s of miles far from its borders where it has no responsibility.
- “Arrogance will get to question why IRGC & Quds Force ever exist? Why Constitution demands Islamic Republic’s policies to comply with Islam.
- “If you surrender to the enemy while you can #resist, the enemy will step forward and will not stop.
- “Arrogance believes if Iranian nation wants to get rid of US, it must give up content of Islamic Republic & Islamic notions & its security.”
He also enumerated other alleged U.S. demands:
- “Iran is strategically unique in region & has other resources besides gas & oil. Before Revolution US had full grasp on Iran & looted it. 1/2; US hostility against #Iran ends only when it gains the same rule over the country again. 2/2.”
Khamenei also spoke of the triumph over the U.S. “in the region and beyond”:
- “Today many countries in region & beyond say ‘Death to US’. Iranian nation showed resilience is possible & others learned.
- “Those with Great Middle East slogan have now failed in Iraq, Syria, Yemen & Palestine & blame Iran. Their enmity toward Iran is fundamental.”
Khamenei’s Norooz Address – March 20, 2016
“…The reason why I chose an economic slogan for this year is because of a specific analysis and outlook towards the issues of the country. Perhaps some people were thinking that the slogan of this year should be a cultural or a moral slogan. However, considering all the issues of the country, we deemed it necessary, as in recent years, to choose an economic slogan for this year so that it will turn into a discourse among the people and public opinion in the country. I will present this analysis, and I [would] like our dear youth to analyze, dissect, and think about it for themselves.”
“At this point in time, the policies of arrogance – specifically and in particular, the policies of America – deem it necessary to inject a specific thought into the minds of our people: first, among the outstanding personalities of society, and later on, and gradually, among public opinion in the country. They want a specific thought to be injected into public opinion. The policy that they have in mind is that they want to pretend that the people of Iran are in a dilemma and that they have no option other than choosing one out of two options. This dilemma is that they either have to get along with America or they have to tolerate the pressures exerted by America and the problems that follow it. The people of Iran have to choose one of these two options. This is what they want.
“Getting along with America is not like getting along with any other government. This is because the American government enjoys wealth, large propaganda apparatuses, dangerous weapons and many resources. So naturally, getting along with America means accepting the impositions of that government. This is the nature of reaching an agreement with America.
“I will refer to some of these trenches for you. The most important trench for arrogant regimes – first England and later on, America – in our country was the installed taghuti regime itself. The installed taghuti regime was their trench. It was through this regime that they used to do whatever they wanted in this country. They used to do whatever economic, cultural, and political activity that they wanted and they used to conduct any transfer of power and adopt any position that they liked. They swayed our country and the government of our country towards any direction that they liked. So, the taghuti regime was the most important trench for America and England in our country. This was one trench.
“Well, the Revolution came and destroyed this trench. It annihilated and uprooted it. It uprooted the monarchic system in the country and it created a people-based system in place of that monarchic government and tyrannical regime. There was one day in our country when they used to say, ‘The country has an owner. Who is this owner? His Royal Highness!’ This was the case.
“They used to say repeatedly that the country has an owner. Who was that owner? It was the Shah – that is to say, a corrupt, incompetent, and dependent element. Most of those Shahs were empty of national zeal. It was such individuals that owned the country. Well, the Islamic Republic came and put aside this fake and usurping owner and it gave the country to its real owners who are the people! In the present time, the people show their presence, choose, prove, and reject. This was the first trench of the enemy which was destroyed by the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.
“However, the Islamic Revolution came and destroyed this trench of fear. Today, you cannot find one single well-informed individual in the Islamic Republic who is reliant on religious values, but who is afraid of America. The people threw away fear! Not only did the people throw away fear of America, but they also threw away fear of the whole front of arrogance!
“Dear youth! The country belongs to you! The future belongs to you! The present time belongs to you as well! You should know that if you are in the middle of the arena, if you move forward with faith in God and with reliance on Him and if you believe in yourselves, America and those greater than America will not be able to do a damn thing against you!…”
Full article: Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part III: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Speaks Out Against Pragmatic Camp Leaders Rafsanjani, Rohani (MEMRI)