في ذكرى اغتصاب فلسطين اقتراح للتفكير… ومبادرة سلام القدس عليكم وصباح القدس لكم

ناصر قنديل

بين ذكرى اغتصاب فلسطين، وعيد المقاومة والتحرير عشرة أيام، ليس من الصدفة أن يقطعهما هذا العام يوم القدس، الذي جاء بمبادرة من الإمام الخميني رحمه الله، قبل أربعين عاماً، ليحفظ القدس في الذاكرة، تاركاً مهمة التحرير مهمة منفصلة، تستقوي ببقاء القدس حيّة في الذاكرة الجمعيّة عندما تتوفر ظروف العمل.

عيد المقاومة تذكير بأن الأمل بتحرير فلسطين مؤسس على أسباب ومعطيات واقعية، وكما يقول سيد المقاومة دائماً، إن عظمة النصر في أيار، انه سحب من التداول السؤال حول إمكان التحرير، لأن دليل الإمكان هو الوقوع.

تأتي المناسبات وتحتشد هذه السنة وقد تكفّل إعلان كيان الاحتلال، عن هويته كدولة عنصرية يهودية، بإسقاط فرص الحديث عن أي تساكن مع الاحتلال تحت شعارات مموّهة كالدولة ذات القوميّتين، أو دولة المواطنة. كما تكفلت بالتوازي صفقة القرن، بإقفال كل طرق التسويات ومسارات التفاوض، التي لم تكن يوماً إلا لإلهاء شعوبنا وأمتنا، عن خيار المقاومة كخيار وحيد للتحرير، واسترددنا في طريق سقوط خيار التفاوض والبحث عن التسوية، وحدة نضال الشعب الفلسطيني، فما عاد هناك أربعة شعوب، شعب يقيم شبه دولة في غزة، وشعب يريد بناء نصف دولة في الضفة، وشعب ينتظر ربع عاصمة دولة في القدس، وشعب منسيّ تمت التضحية بحقوقه، كشرط للتسوية والتفاوض، هو أهلنا في المناطق المحتلة عام 48 الذين ترك لهم أن يناضلوا لتحسين شروط العيش في الكيان وتحت الاحتلال والطريق هو الانتخابات التي تشرعن الاحتلال والاغتصاب. فعاد الفلسطينيون اليوم شعباً موحداً وليس واحداً فقط، حيث الحق واحد والقضية واحدة والهوية واحدة والطريق واحد وهو المقاومة.

أن تبقى فلسطين بوصلتنا، هذا هو العهد، لكن أن نسعى نحوها، فذلك هو الطريق الذي يسلكه كل داعم للمقاومة ومساند لصمود سورية، وتعافي مصر، ورفض نظريات ومسارات الانعزال عن فلسطين، تحت عنوان مبتذل للوطنية في الكيانات العربية، مثل لبنان أولاً وسورية أولاً ومصر أولاً والأردن أولاً والعراق أولاً، فوطنية كل عربي لا تصان في بلده، ما بقيت فلسطين تحت الاحتلال، وبقيت يد كيان الاحتلال هي العليا في منطقتنا، ولا أمن وطني لدولنا الوطنية خارج مفهوم الأمن القومي كما صاغه الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد ويواصل تثبيته الرئيس بشار الأسد، وعنوانه مواجهة تغوّل المشروع الصهيوني وعدوانيّته ودعم نضال الشعب الفلسطيني ومقاومته.

السؤال الذي يواجهنا كنخب ثقافية وإعلامية واجتماعية، حول نوع الدعم الذي يمكن تقديمه لفلسطين، يستدعي التفكير بمبادرة واقعية ومؤثرة في آن واحد، وقد استوقفتني قبل سنتين الفكرة العبقرية للإمام الخميني بإعلان يوم القدس، الذي كان يربط استقباله لقادة الدول بمدى قبولهم بتسهيل إحياء يوم القدس، فيما كان تشدّده موضع تساؤل حول جدوى إعلانه بالأصل. وها هو يوم القدس اليوم مناسبة تخرج فيها عشرات الملايين عبر عواصم العالم ترفع الشعارات وتهتف للقدس وفلسطين، وستبقى وتتعاظم وتزداد، حتى يحين موعد العمل العظيم، وتدق ساعة التحرير، ولو جيلاً بعد جيل، لأن الأصل هو الذاكرة، والأجيال، ومعركة الوعي وكي الوعي.

اختبرت خلال هاتين السنتين مبادرة عنوانها، التدرب على استبدال صباحاتنا التقليدية، والبلهاء بلا معنى أحياناً، مثلها مساءاتنا وسلاماتنا، بأن نقول صباح الخير ومساء الخير، أو نلقي السلام التقليديّ للمسلمين السلام عليكم، أو لدى المسيحيين، نهاركم سعيد، بصباح ومساء وسلام، تحمل كل المعاني النبيلة وتختصرها، فيكون سلامنا رمزاً للخير وللسلام والحب والحق، ويرمز لما يجب أن يبقى حياً في الذاكرة، ولا يرتب أعباء على مَن يتبنّاه، فهو ليس منشوراً سياسياً، ولا بندقية، ولا سلاحاً، إنه مجرد سلام وتحية.

صباح القدس عليكم وصباح القدس لكم، ومسّيناكم بأنوار القدس، وسلام القدس لكم ومنكم وعليكم وبكم، كلّها مفردات تصلح، وهي بسيطة وسهلة، وإذا انتشرت بين الملايين وصارت تقليداً شائعاً، فهي خير إسهام في معركة الحق نحو فلسطين، وفي الاختبار اكتشفت أنها ليست بالسهولة التي تبدو عليها، فهي سهلة من زاوية انعدام الخطر والتبعات من اعتمادها، لكنها ليست سهلة بتحويلها إلى عادة، ولا هي سهلة بتحمل بعض السخرية عندما نلقيها على بعض المتفذلكين الذي سيقولون حتى الصباح والسلام تقومون بتسييسه، ولا هي سهلة مع الأهل والأقارب والأصدقاء والأبناء، حتى تصبح عادة، ولا قيمة لها ما لم تصبح عادة، فوجدت أن تحدّي الصعوبة يحول هذا التحدّي إلى فرصة، حيث الشرح والبيان عن سبب الاختيار ومعانيه، وحجم المضمون الذي يختزنه، هو نشر للوعي، وخلال السنتين شاركني المئات من الأصدقاء والمتابعين الاختبار، وقد وجدنا فيه معاً خياراً، يؤكد هويتنا وبوصلتنا، واستنهاضاً لمعاني السمو والرقي في التخاطب، وقد صار أسهل بكثير من البداية وصارت شجاعتنا باعتماده أساساً في سلامنا وتحايانا أعلى بكثير، ولا زلنا نتدرب على المزيد ونسعى لامتلاك الشجاعة لتجاوز الإحراج، فاكتشفنا أنها معركة حقيقية ويومية.

أقترح مناقشة الفكرة، وإن شاركتموني تقدير قيمتها وأهميتها، فإن تعميم اعتماد القدس ركيزة سلاماتنا وصباحاتنا ومساءاتنا وتحايانا، تجسيد لمعنى مسؤوليتنا عن صناعة الوعي، وتجذير الذاكرة في أجيال يجب أن ترث من إلقاء الصباح وتحية المساء معنىً لا يتقادم عليه الزمن، تختصره القدس.

نكتشف كم كان الزعيم أنطون سعاده عبقرياً عندما وضع بنفسه وهو في الثانية والثلاثين من عمره نشيد الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي “سورية لك السلام” وصاغ تحية الحزب “تحيا سورية” قبلها بأعوام، ولا تزال هذه التحيّة وهذا النشيد يحفظان الذاكرة القومية من جيل إلى جيل، وما الضير أن تحيا سورية ويكون سلام القدس عليكم وصباح القدس لكم؟

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Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid

April 03, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

It’s an unusual prediction, but the coronavirus may kill the “neoliberal Trotskyist” projects of the Eurozone and the European Union because the pan-European project has, sadly, always cared more for itself than for the well-being of its constituents.

Briefly: the major theoretical contribution of “Daddy Stalin” (to quote Che) to socialism was to insist that nations can indeed go their own way and implement “socialism in one country”; Trotskyism insists that socialism must sweep universally in a perfectly-coordinated movement. It’s clear who has prevailed – the Trotskyists remain winless. While Stalinists just roll their eyes at the bitter Trotskyist refusal to cooperate with them, the latter attempt to denigrate everyone else’s socialist victories as a victory of “Stalinism”… which is no denigration at all, but it does give fodder to socialism-ignorant capitalist-imperialists. Anyway….

The EU and Eurozone run on both the secular, earthly fervor of Trotskyism as well as the religious fanaticism that neoliberalism actually does work (despite all the lack of factual proof).

Both projects also run on capitalism of course, but the corona shutdown has destroyed modern capitalist ideology: there is no demand-side economics possible (how can there be normal demand in a shutdown?), and there is no supply-side economic solution (deregulation and tax cuts are going to work, LOL?). There is now – as socialists already knew – only the government.

This reality is what the corona crisis is laying bare (and does not logically automatically translate into totalitarianism), and this is also why “capitalism with Western characteristics” is recklessly charging towards Great Depression 2 – their ideology is fundamentally incapable of addressing such a situation.

Europe’s safety net means that they won’t be charging into astronomical unemployment, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t already a hot mess: The Eurozone is into an underreported second Lost Decade; the Yellow Vests were proving weekly that anti-European sentiment is not proof of a far-right ideology; the European Union’s handling of Brexit was showing – as they openly intended – that it was more vengeful and punitive than a wronged woman.

The mega-bailouts which will be required due to the corona economic shutdown: once these are finished the only logical fiscal remedy, per neoliberalism, will be “mega-austerity”, right? But that’s another column….

When a crisis hits and nobody can help, a nation-state can only reap what it has sown; nobody is coming to your lockdowned house to help… except if you are in a socialist-inspired nation. Thus, the corona crisis is going to not just end messianic neoliberal projects but also reveal the dignity, and superior performance of the existing socialist-inspired projects.

However, the West will continue to do all they can to obfuscate this via their propaganda. The New York Times just published Australia Says Goodbye to the World’s Longest Boom, but that is inaccurate: socialist Vietnam has had the world’s best economic growth rate since 1981. Not only has their growth rate been double that of Australia’s, but Vietnam has never had a year of negative growth whereas Australia has had three. Knowing this about Vietnam is about as basic a global, objective economic fact as it gets, but since when did capitalists and their shills ever report honestly about economics?

If the Great Recession does become the Great Depression 2 then government isn’t going to disappear nor became hyper-localised – it will become even more prevalent: it will force the return of the nation-state.

Why on earth should we suppose that Europeans will accept “more Europe” when their big, (neoliberal empire) pan-European government has been so inequality-inducing? Socialists, however, are all on board with this, but with a key twist – big government, not big neoliberal capital.

My upcoming book is called Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism and I explained why it is first Iranian, second Islamic, third socialist and in that precise order. After much public debate, and signed off on by then-Supreme Leader Khomeini, Iran decided that the needs of the nation must come before the dictates of Islam. Don’t like it? Move to Saudi Arabia. Iran’s government controls, according to many estimates, about 90% of the non-Black Market economy – more than Cuba’s government. Don’t like it? Move to the US. I am not being aggressive nor xenophobic – I am pointing out that none of this is going to change without a huge fight from the majority of Iranians.

Maybe the West won’t veer from neoliberalism and capitalism-imperialism without a huge fight either?

If so, that will only ensure ever-deepening inequality: the West’s post-corona economic future looks too bleak to put into words yet, but history shows Westerners should expect years of economic hardship for those nations who continue to sacrifice their well-being at the altar of the free market.

How many busts will it take before capitalists are as market-disillusioned as socialists?

Marx proved that capitalism is an endless cycle of boom to bust; central planning, central ownership of key industries, a vanguard party and repression of fascist speech is what socialist-inspired nations use to provide stability during the tough times and to increase mass prosperity during good times.

The corona economic hysteria – which I recently paralleled with the Y2K and 9/11 panics – is only giving us even more data about “capitalism with Western characteristics”. In short: because inflating Everything Bubble 2 was the West’s solution to Everything Bubble 1 (which popped during the 2008 crisis), we can bookend a new Western economic era without accusations of being overly premature.

Boom 1: 1865-1914 – The formative years of modern capitalism, which included covered-up, denied, and unknown holocausts of famine, epidemics and poverty in non-Western countries/colonial subjects. These were all wilfully created: historians know that “we must allow the rules of the free-market to reign no matter how many die in a famine or epidemic” was the open official justification time after time by ruling colonialists. Socialism had difficulties during its formative years, as well; however, the Late Victorian Holocausts and the Making of the Third World were not provoked by Cold War, and its highest ideal was “the White rich should have the freedoms required to rule unopposed”. Booms for the West during this era, but busts for everyone else that were so terrible that many nations have still not recovered.

Bust 1: 1914-1921 – WWI and aftermath: A war started by Western bankers & imperialists to forestall anti-banker socialism.

Boom 2: 1921-1929 – the “Roaring Twenties”

Bust 2: 1929-1945 – the Great Depression and WWII

Boom 3: 1945 – 1975 -The “30 glorious years” for the West, but not for their imperial-turned-neo-imperial (ending direct rule to replace with local puppets) subjects.

Bust 3: 1976-1991 – Widespread recession: blame the Arabs for finally exerting some control over their natural resources; blame the Japanese for increasing expectations of better quality.

Boom 4: 1991-2001 – Dot.com boom; banker entrapment of Eastern Bloc boom; stupid actions/investments caused by alleged “death of socialism”/TINA; Iranian Islamic Socialists defeat Western puppet Iraq and say, “Hey, where did everyone go?”

Bust 4 – 2001-2008 – War on Terror good for Pentagon’s contractors, not for anyone else. For the 99% this Bust era has continued until 2020.

Boom 5 – 2009-2019 – This boom was limited to the Western 1%. They got “socialising the losses” bailouts, QE Infinity and ZIRP; the 99% got minijobs, austerity and stagnant wages.

Bust 5 – 2020-? – Corona crisis and incredible overreaction by countries which believe in “Capitalism with Western characteristics” launches Great Depression 2. 1% and 99% now on same cycle together. News flash: there will be no quick ‘V’ recovery (see “Boom 5”).

Pretty, pretty bad record for the 99%, eh?

Now compare this with socialist-inspired countries:

China: “Century of Humiliation” ends in 1949: Seventy years later they are the undisputed #2 superpower.

Vietnam: Since the end of the French & American Wars and the victory of socialism: Says Hello to the World’s Longest Boom.

Iran: Since end of Western-forced war with Iraq: second-highest increase in UN Human Development Index from 1990-2014. Inhuman triple sanctions in 2012 (UN, US, EU) go unopposed by fake Western leftists; Washington’s attempt at “$0 in oil sales” force Iran to rely on 25 years of gains as Great Depression 2 starts (although that war-era command economy experience will surely come in handy now).

Cuba: Since 1994 (the “Special Period” – caused by the Soviet elite’s wilful, undemocratic implosion of global socialism) Cuba’s annual growth rate has never been negative and almost always superior to that of US ally Mexico. Cuba is perhaps the most solidly-united socialist nation despite a decades-long, genocidal Western blockade.

North Korea: No nation was more decimated by the West, so they had nowhere to go but up. And they did – up until the late 1960s the West was embarrassed by how much smaller North Korea outshined their southern brothers and sisters. Solid growth continued until the Special Period disaster, which lasted a full decade. Despite the endless and enormous war games, (semi-)genocidal blockade, efforts at provoking starvation (North Korea isn’t Cuba, with its well-organised, lush agricultural fields outside of Havana — it’s 80% mountains and only 17% arable land) North Korea has almost always posted solid economic growth prior to ruthless Trump.

The data couldn’t be clearer: the faith-based system of neoliberalism has obviously been led by false messiahs, whereas despite disasters both natural (corona) and unnatural (sanctions, blockades, Cold War, Hot War) socialism has provided more stable economic growth.

Want stability and progress? It’s the socialist-inspired nation-state, stupid.

Trotskyists, of course, are not a huge problem like neoliberal-neoimperial capitalists but a minor part of the obvious solutions.

China was blockaded for decades, but they are a continent – just imagine what the smaller nations could do if the West called off their Cold Wars and didn’t need so spend so much preparing/cleaning up Hot Wars? The answer is obvious: widespread emulation would ensue, spelling the end of Western capitalism-imperialism.

Many smart (semi-)dissidents in the West just can’t break free to get to that point above, sadly – they insist that reformism of capitalism-imperialism is all that is necessary. Nonsense, and unproven.

Similarly: In my lifetime I will wait for the revealing of the Mahdi before I wait for the arrival of Trotskyism’s universal victory – the needs of the nation-state simply cannot wait.

What socialist-inspired politics has always concluded is that a drastic change to the perpetually-busted system I briefly outlined is needed, not yet another bailout for that system’s rich profiteers.

The West’s corona panic led to an immediate rush to bail out their parasitic class with the money of the victims of economic parasitism, yet again. Will the corona bailouts permanently bust the Western system?

Or will the West actually sufficiently bail out their debt-slave citizenry this time? To use a lazy journalistic phrase which I detest: it remains to be seen.

Socialists (of all the different varieties) however, have seen enough.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for?

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire)

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for The Saker log

So when did you become an epidemiologist? You seem quite willing to shame anyone not sterilising every square inch of every square inch.

And when did you become an economist? “The economy is not important now” must have been a pretty unusual PhD thesis.

We have likely all heard of “internet tough guys” – people who make bold claims or threats online, yet would flee at the sight of conflict – but who knew social media had so many people qualified to tell entire nations what to do regarding Corona?

How much of the Corona crisis has been caused by social media virtue-signallers, hypochondriacs, communications degree-holding intellectuals, helicopter Dads, bossy cows, and sheep who generally follow whatever the herd, management or pop stars tell them to do? That’s an interesting question: would we all be in lockdown prior to the internet and Facebook?

A practical follow-up question is: which nations have leadership which are perhaps even steered by social media, and which nations have leaders who can steer the national boat through choppy waters?

As socialists know and accept, a vanguard party is essential precisely because there are so many choppy waters in life. Choppy waters are doubled for socialist-inspired countries due to imposed wars, sanctions, blockades and endless cold war.

Capitalists and libertarians once again use Orwell against us – the same old, facile “some pigs are more equal than others” of Animal Farm – conflating totalitarianism with socialism, even though the two have entirely different ends and means.

Despite their absurd claims, the vanguard party concept is not anti-democratic. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had truly universal support from every Cuban (in Cuba) I asked because he rose level by level by repeatedly showing his competence as a civil servant. The same goes for Xi of China (as I will soon remind). Nobody expected a low-ranking cleric like Khamenei to take over for Khomeini, but he has repeatedly showed his competence and abilities; go tell the tens of millions shouting “Khamenei rahbar” (Khamenei the leader) that socialist-inspired democracy, with both direct and indirect, hasn’t worked out well. In post-1917 countries one rises to the 1% via actual competence, and not just by buying elections, as in the West.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton married the governor of Arkansas, who became president, and then America was stuck with her. Emmanuel Macron did… I don’t even know how he got so far so fast, and I really don’t want to know what went on behind closed doors with him.

Regardless, are some pigs more equal than others, to pose their question?

Certainly, what you won’t hear from such socialist detractors is that China’s President Xi spent years doing hard rural work during the days of the Cultural Revolution, and then teaching illiterate farmers how to read during his Cultural Revolution nights. Now, I suppose it is technically a possibility: none of that was earnestly heartfelt on Xi’s part, and he is secretly amassing a personal fortune because the recesses of his heart are nothing but pure bitterness and hate for the socialist ideal of equality which he was forced to display and teach; he has also spent decades duping everyone in China that he is a competent public servant; Xi has zero warm sentiment for those rural citizens he worked with, and wants only revenge; any moment now Xi will launch a surprise attack of totalitarianism designed solely for his personal benefit and revenge.

These are the very real – yet ALWAYS unsaid – logical extensions of Western arguments made against vanguard parties in general, as well as against Xi. Westerners insist that socialist vanguard parties are corrupt not just at the core but all the way to the periphery.

Another unsaid logical extension is that no vanguard parties informally exist in the West. If, however, there are, it is because such people have risen to the 1% solely on merit. Xi’s supposed “merit”, is not merit at all… unlike theirs. Don’t push Westerners to explain these points – they have no answers.

Much of this applies to Iran as well – their system is based on the idea of the “guardianship of the Islamic jurist”. “Down with those opposed to the guardianship of the Islamic jurist” is always included in the “down withs”, and even before “down with the MKO, England, the US and Israel”. The vanguard party in Iran is obviously the clergy; I have written extensively and objectively about how I believe this is being bureaucratically formalised into the “Basij”, and I have discussed how the structure of the Basij has been clearly modelled on the Chinese Communist Party.

How can that be, Ramin, when Communists are atheists? Firstly, they are not. Maybe Marx was, but to hell with him on this point. Cuba is full of Catholics, but even more prevalent are those who practice Santeria; Vietnam has always constitutionally protected religion; Confucianism and Taoism, it is rarely recognised, are two sides of the same East Asian cosmological coin, and China’s intolerance on this point is being remedied. The USSR never reconciled religion and socialism, and this is a huge reason explaining why they are no more; a reason as big as Krushchevian corruption and capitalist-roading.

However, the structural and political similarities between the Basij and the CCP arise not from cosmological agreement but from the natural similarities of two countries who have had post-1917, socialist-inspired revolutions. The similarities are not “coincidental” at all, though those who misunderstand and reject socialism would surely explain away my comparisons with such sweeping, facile, pseudo-explanations. I’m not sure that you can have a vanguard party without the structures, policies and protections – as well as many of the aims and demands – which are greatly dissimilar from the CCP and the Basij? Few examples exist, sadly, for me to study and compare. Never say never, I suppose.

The idea of a formalised vanguard party – as in Iranian Islamic Socialism and other forms of socialism – does not mean totalitarianism. I suppose it could, but why can it not also mean elite governance performance? Why must we look only at the negative aspects, and not the positive? What are we – capitalist-imperialists?

The Corona crisis is not going to validate the support of formal, socialist-inspired vanguard parties in China, Iran, Cuba and elsewhere – they need no validation among their people; their bones are made.

What it will certainly do is discredit the Western model of “non-vanguardism”, “hidden-vanguardism”, “technocratic vanguardism”, “1%er-vanguardism” or whatever else you want to term their bankocratic, aristocratic, bourgeois oligarchies which govern.

The incredible spanner Western politicians have suicidally thrown into their economies will prove this: they have none of the unity, foresight, determination and especially the political modernity of countries like China and Iran, yet they are adopting similar Corona responses. It simply can’t be done without causing Great Depressions in the Lost Decade II-embarking Eurozone for certain, and also for the US economy, which disastrously combines a finance & service & consumer-based economy with non-Trumpian evangelism for self-harming globalisation.

It will take great pain, but this is what humans often require to make serious change, sadly. It will split apart families, but that is what civil war does.

I don’t know which nation will be the first to see their lower class starting to attack their neoliberal/neoliberal-client systems – and attacking as well the reactionary selfishness of the “first responders” whom they are repeatedly told to adulate – but they will all reach the same place as China and Iran: who is in charge? Who is the vanguard party to lead and staff the bureaucracy, which organises and decides on the logistics, and who needs to spread the night soil so we all can eat?

All workers are valid and equal, of course, but a vanguard party is needed to run a government. The alleged path goes capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism – the idea that no vanguard parties are needed is anarchism, and Cubans will also correct you when you call them communist: they know they are not that far. The amount of self-empowerment espoused in anarchism may not even be possible on a billions-level? These are questions for a later date….

Allow me to disqualify myself from the vanguard party: I have been passed up for management over and over (of course everyone claims this), so maybe they are right? I am used to being a powerless cog in a machine, and I quite like it now!

The people who deserve to be in vanguard parties are those who evince both the capability for selflessness as well as the capability for superior political thought. After all, some have capabilities for great artistic thought, or great engineering thought, or have great social skills – political policy certainly requires input from all sectors and classes but their bureaucrats do need to have a masterful grasp of modern political ideology, as well as a grasp of what not to do: i.e., the ideologies held by the enemies of modern political ideologies. These qualifications are evinced by people like Xi, Khamenei, Diaz-Canel and France’s Yellow Vests.

The roar that the Yellow Vests will make when France’s lockdown in over… that’s another article.

I don’t think you can find a journalist writing in any Western language who has stood shoulder to shoulder with them more often, and I can promise France: put the Yellow Vests in charge and you’ll have exceptional national governance immediately. Unlike the Iranian clergy, Chinese commies and Cuban socialist-Santeriaists, the Yellow Vests’ actual support is hard to gauge: polls constantly showed over 50% support, yet the Animal Rights Party won 2.2% in the 2019 European Parliament elections, double the Yellow Vests parties combined.

Who is the vanguard party in the US? That I cannot say – I do not think one is apparent. I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and their few public comrades are interesting given the limitations of the US political context, but they are still far from what’s necessary now, and especially far from what will be necessary given the trajectory of Great Depression 2.

The times make the man, as they say.

The West’s vanguard parties seem intent on making times as difficult for the lower classes as they possibly can. Time well spent would be turning of Western MSM, as well as social media, and reflecting on who you think should really be in charge.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

إيران وتركيا وفلسطين

شوقي عواضة

لم يكن الإسلام ديناً عربياً اختصّ الله فيه العرب، بل كان رسالة سماوية خصّ بها ربّ العالمين أصدق الناس وأمينهم على أداء الرسالة محمد، وقد حسم القرآن الكريم هذه الجدلية في الآية 107 من سورة الأنبياء (وما أرسلناك إلا رحمة للعالمين).

بعد وفاة الرسول بدأت الفتوحات الإسلامية في عهد الخلفاء فوصلت إلى بلاد الشام والأندلس وبلاد فارس والأناضول وغيرها حيث سجل فيها المسلمون انتصارات وفتوحات في تلك البلاد ومنها بلاد فارس التي شهدت عدة معارك خاضها المسلمون أهمّها معركة اليس المعروفة باسم معركة نهر الدم، وصولاً إلى معركة القادسية التي يتغنّى بها العرب على أنها من معارك الأمجاد العربية وما تلاها من حملات وغزوات وفتوحات لبلاد فارس لم تكن تحت أيّ مسمّى عربي بل كانت تحت عنوان الفتوحات الإسلامي، وسجلت انتصارات للإسلام وليس للعرب لأنها لم تكن حرباً قومية أو عشائرية أو إثنية، إنما كانت حروباً وفتوحات إسلامية انتصر فيها الإسلام على الوثنية عند الفرس حينها مثلما انتصر على الجاهلية والوثنية عند العرب.

استمرت الفتوحات ما بعد الخلفاء مروراً بالدولة الأموية والفاطمية والعباسية وصولاً إلى الدولة العثمانية ومؤسّسها عثمان بن سليمان شاه التركماني، المعروف بعثمان الأول، أول سلاطين السلالة العثمانية التي حكمت البلقان، والأناضول، والمشرق العربي، وشمال أفريقيا طيلة 600 عام عانى خلالها العرب والمسلمون أبشع أنواع الظلم والقتل وسفك الدماء وسرقة خيرات بلادهم طيلة فترة حكم العثمانيين الذين كانوا شركاء في تسليم فلسطين لليهود ونشوء الكيان الصهيوني الغاصب.

تحت راية الإسلام وباسم الفاتحين والمدافعين عنه كان العثمانيون أكثر المتآمرين على فلسطين والمنطقة من خلال تقاسمهم خيرات البلاد واستعمارها بالتعاون مع البريطانيين والفرنسيين والايطاليين.

سياسة أقرّها عثمان الأول ولم تسقط بسقوط دولتهم عام 1922 بعد إعلان قيام الجمهورية التركية، بل رسخها الأتراك واعتمدوها وطوّروها وأصبحت من صلب السياسات التركية التي تتجلى اليوم في أردوغان الذي يتستّر براية الإسلام فاتحاً ومدافعاً عن الإسلام والسنة، وهو الذي لم يشهر سيفه إلا في وجه أهل السنة، وكأنّ التاريخ يعيد نفسه، ففي فترة حكم العثمانيين كان اليهود يغزون فلسطين ويمعنون في ارتكاب المجازر بحق شعبها واغتصاب أراضيهم كان السلطان العثماني منشغلاً في فتوحاته لمصر وبلاد الشام لإسقاط نظام محمد علي، الذي كان من أولويات الدولة العثمانية، التي يؤكدها عملياً أردوغان الذي يرى أنّ إسقاط الرئيس بشار الأسد وشنّ عدوان على سورية قلعة المقاومة هو أولوية قبل فلسطين.

يرسل مقاتليه لتحرير ليبيا من أبنائها ولا وجود لفلسطين في أجندة فتوحاته وكأنه لم يقرأ تاريخ أجداده جيداً أو لعله لم يفهم أنّ التاريخ لا يخطه إلا الشرفاء والمقاومون وأنّ المستبدّين إلى زوال.

التاريخ القريب يشهد على المواقف التركية الإيرانية منذ احتلال فلسطين حيث كانت إيران الشاه وتركيا أول وأكبر دولتين إسلاميتين تعترفان بشرعية الكيان الغاصب لفلسطين منذ نشوئه، وأقامتا علاقات معه وفتحتا سفارات، حتى أنّ الشاه كان أكثر تقرّباً للصهاينة من خلال مواقفه ودعمه لهم في عدوان أكتوبر عام 1973.

أُسقط موقف إيران بسقوط الشاه بعد انتصار الثورة الإسلامية بقيادة الإمام الخميني الذي أقفل السفارة الصهيونية وكان أول من فتح سفارة فلسطينية في خطوة لم يجرؤ على الإقدام عليها أيّ زعيم عربي أو إسلامي. وكأنّ انتصار الثورة الإسلامية عام 1979 جاء تعويضاً لفلسطين وللمقاومة عن خروج مصر من معسكر المواجهة بعد توقيع مصر السادات معاهدة الذلّ في كامب ديفيد.

وبالرغم من ذلك لا يزال أغلب المتغنّين بالفتوحات الإسلامية التي لم يعرفوا منها إلا اسمها يتسابقون نحو نيل الرضا الأميركي والتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني لم يشهروا سيفاً ولا قرطاساً في مواجهة الكيان الصهيوني، أو في نصرة الشعب الفلسطيني، في حين يستشرسون في مؤامراتهم لتفتيت الأمة وإضعاف قوّتها لأنهم لم يدركوا بأنّ فلسطين ستجلد كلّ سجانيها وستحاكم وتسقط كلّ متآمر عليها أيّاً كان… والقادم سيثبت ذلك.

*كاتب وإعلامي

IS IRAN ILL-ADVISED TO FINANCE ITS REGIONAL ALLIES WHILE UNDER SANCTIONS?

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier:@ejmalrai

Many Iranians question the benefits of arming and financing Iran’s many allies in the Middle East while Iran is suffering the harshest ever US “maximum pressure”. Iran’s allies are spread over Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Is Iranian support for these allies the main cause of the US’s aggressive attitude towards the Iranian people and their state, or there are other factors? What makes Iran finance these allies and strengthen them with the most advanced warfare equipment, and be ready to fight and die on their territory?

Since Iran’s “Islamic Revolution” prevailed in 1979 under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, the country has been heavily sanctioned, sanctions increasing with the advent of almost every new US President. In 1979, Iran had no allies but was surrounded by enemies.  Its regional neighbours joined western countries in supporting Saddam Hussein’s war (1980-1988) on the “Islamic Republic”. The US war on Iran has its origin in the fall of its proxy the Pahlavi Shah. It was disclosed how the CIA brought Pahlavi to power in an organised Coup d’état against the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohamad Musaddeq in 1953 in order to keep Iranian oil under US-UK control. Democracy has never been the real issue: western-provoked wars can be understood as motivated by self-interest and the quest for dominance. But attempts to overthrow regimes are always publicly justified by the West in the name of freedom and democracy.

In 1979, the US set a trap to drag the Soviets into invading Afghanistan by supporting the mujahedeen from whom al-Qaeda was born. This catastrophic result and similar destructive phenomena are habitually described as “unintended consequences” in order to rationalise the devastating costs of these savage interventions into other people’s lives and in world affairs. However, in 2001 the US fell back into exactly the same type of quagmire and invaded Afghanistan with tens of thousands of US troops. The US plan was to block the path of a possible return by Russia to Eurasia; to weaken the Russians and to encircle Iran with a chain of hostile elements; to bully all countries concerned into submission, particularly the oil-rich states, thus preventing any possible alliance with Russia and China. This is still the US objective in the Middle East. History has never been a good guide to powerful leaders and their administrations because they apparently consider themselves not subject to its lessons.

Iran found itself deprived of allies. With the consent of the Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to remove and subdue the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) led by Yasser Arafat, who had rejected King Fahd’s peace initiative. However, the “unintended consequences” of the invasion and the occupation of the first Arab capital by Israel (Beirut) offered Iran an excellent opportunity to respond to the demands of a group of Lebanese asking for help to stand against the Israeli aggressor. Imam Khomeini replied to his Lebanese visitors (who described the horror and the killing committed by the Israeli war machine): “al-kheir fima waqaa”, meaning “What has happened is a blessing”. His visitors did not understand the meaning of Khomeini’s words until many years later. 

Iran found in the Lebanese Shia fertile ground to plant seeds for its ideology. The ground was already prepared in 1978. Lebanese Islamist followers of Sayyed Mohamad Baqer al-Sadr were already receiving training in various Palestinian camps, including the Zabadani training boot camp (Syria), and had embraced the Palestinian cause. When Imam Khomeini took power in Iran, Sayyed Mohammad Baqer al-Sadr asked his followers in Iraq and Lebanon to declare loyalty to Imam Khomeini and “melt into him as he has melted into Islam” (which means “adopt Imam Khomeini as your Imam and Marja’ al-Taqleed”). Iran established great ideological compatibility with the Lebanese Shia, who had historically been considered second-class citizens in Lebanon. Their territories in the south of Lebanon were considered disposable and were put on offer to Israel by Lebanese leaders (Maronite President Emile Eddé suggested to detach South of Lebanon and offer it to Israel to reduce the number of Muslim Shia) , elites and governments.

The Iranian constitution (articles 2 and 3) stipulates that the Iranian government will support any group or country suffering from an oppressor. Its outlook fit perfectly with the oppressed Lebanese Shia. 

The Iranian IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) travelled to Lebanon and shipped their weapons via Syria to strengthen the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, known later as Hezbollah, and defend their country from the occupier. It was, therefore, necessary to establish a strategic relationship with the Syrian President because most shipments arrived via Syria. 

The Iranian-Syrian relationship went through various ups and downs. It had reached its high point in the last years of President Hafez al-Assad’s rule when his son Bashar was responsible for the relationship with Lebanon and Hezbollah in particular. 

The destinies of Lebanon, Syria and Iran became linked. President Bashar al-Assad was struggling to keep his country out of the conflict when the US-occupied Iraq in 2003. The circle around Iran became tighter, and US forces occupied neighbouring Iraq. Even though getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a blessing for the Iranian regime, Saddam was so weak that he did not represent any real danger to Iran. The US embargo had weakened him, and he had no friends in the Gulf countries after his invasion of Kuwait and his bombing of Saudi Arabia.

The US prevented Iran from moving forward to support the Iraqi resistance to overthrow Saddam Hussein, instead of establishing its own control over Baghdad. The next US objective was Syria and Lebanon. Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President Assad that he was next on the list of presidents to be taken down if he continued offering support to Hamas and Hezbollah. The US declared itself an occupying power, and the Iraqi right to defend their country was acknowledged by the United Nations resolutions. Assad, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, supported the insurgency against the US occupation forces in Iraq. The Saudis rejected Shia-dominated governance over Iraq. The Iranians were next on the US list. So, Iran chose to fight the US on Iraqi ground, which was much less costly than fighting on Iranian ground. Strengthening Iraqi allies was, therefore, an essential component of Iranian national security and an important line of defence. 

In 2006, the Bush administration pushed an unprepared Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to agree to destroy Hezbollah and was expecting the war to be expanded to Syria. This was an opportunity to conquer Syria and cut the supply of Iranian arms. The US and its allies were aiming to close the circle around Iran by eliminating its strong ally in Lebanon. Hezbollah was an impediment to the US-Israeli project of bringing all the Arabs to the negotiating table, eliminating the Palestinian cause and its defenders, and weakening Iran as a prelude to overthrowing its government.

When Israel bombed and invaded Lebanon in 2006 with the goal of defeating Hezbollah, President Assad opened his warehouses and offered dozens of game-changing anti-tank missiles and anything Hezbollah needed to fight back, regardless of Israeli air force superiority. Assad became an essential partner in the successful defeat of Israel in Lebanon. The fall of Hezbollah would have had devastating consequences for Syria and Iran. Joining the destinies and alliances of the Lebanese-Syrian-Iraqi-Iranian front was necessary for the survival of each.

In 2011, the world declared war on Syria. It took President Assad two years before he realised the plot was both regional and international, aiming to create chaos in the Levant and to produce a failed state dominated by jihadists. The same ideological jihadists first planted in Afghanistan were expanding and offered a perfect tool for the US to destroy Iran and its allies. The regional and world intelligence services infiltrated the jihadists, and well understood their strengths and weaknesses. They were well suited to fighting the Iranian ideology and Iran’s ally. Wahhabi jihadism was perfect cancer to destroy Iran on many fronts.

Jihadists were growing in Iraq and expanding in Syria under the eyes of the US, as US intelligence sources themselves revealed. The Levant was the perfect and most desirable ancient place for jihadists to mushroom and expand. This was when President Assad asked his allies for support. Iran’s IRGC forces came to Damascus and the journey to liberate Syria started. Syria, like Iraq, offered a vital defence line to Iran. It was another platform to fight – on non-Iranian soil – an enemy that was about to migrate to Iran (had Syrian been defeated). An opportunity that Iran could not miss because of Syria’s strategic importance.

It took Russia until September 2015 to wake up and intervene in the Middle Eastern arena, in Syria in particular. All these years, the US was planning to leave no place for Russia to create alliances, preparing to vanquish Iran and its allies, the “Axis of the Resistance” standing against US hegemony in the Middle East. All Gulf countries succumbed to US power, and today they are hosting the largest US military bases in the region. The US had deployed tens of thousands of troops to these bases and through them enjoyed superior firepower to any country in the world. Still, Iran and the Levant (Syria and Lebanon) remained impervious to the US attempt at complete dominance.

Without Iran’s allies, all US military efforts would have been concentrated on Iran alone. The US would have moved from sanctions to military attack with little fear of the dire consequences. Today, the US needs to consider the now unquestioned fact that if Iran is attacked, its allies in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq will open hell for the US and its allies in the Middle East. Forty years of Iranian support for its allies have created a wall of protection around it and a bond whereby the allies join their fate to that of Iran. There are no allies in the world any country could count on to sacrifice their men more readily and stand for a common ideological motivation and shared objectives.  Iran is not only investing in its partners, but it is also investing in its own security and well-being. Iran is prepared to offer the same sacrifices provided by its allies to support them when needed. 

Many Lebanese and Iraqis fought in the Iraq-Iran war. Thousands of Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese Hezbollah (and other allies) lost their lives in Syria protecting the well-being of the Syrian ally and preventing the country from falling into the jihadists’ hands.

Many Iranians and Lebanese were killed in Iraq to support the Iraqis against the terror of ISIS. Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah are today in Yemen, supporting it against the Saudi-led genocidal massacres. Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah took the risk of supporting the Palestinians and their cause to free their land, to have their own state and the right to return home. No US allies anywhere in the world are ready to offer comparable solidarity to the US. Iran has created deep alliances whereas the US has failed to do so.

Iran openly attacked the US Ayn al-Assad military base following the unlawful assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani. No other country in the world has dared to attack the US face-to-face and inflict over a hundred casualties on US service members while continuing to challenge US hegemony. There was no need for Iran to ask its allies to act on its behalf. Iran and its partners on the battlefield are united against their enemies. The US wants Iran without missiles, without armed drones, and without access to intelligence warfare. These vital programs have proved crucial to protecting the country and preventing it from becoming vulnerable. If Iran did not have the allies it has today and the missiles it has manufactured, the US would already have retaliated without hesitation.

The war is far from over. Iran and its allies are still in the heart of the struggle, and the US and Israel are not sitting idly by. Solidarity between Iran and its allies is needed more than ever. The question of how much of its annual budget Iran is spending on its partners is less than relevant, though ordinary Iranians may complain and even challenge its benefits. The spirit of sacrifice that unites allies in mutual protection cannot be limited to monetary considerations. It is priceless.

Proofread by: Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

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The Transnational Hezbollah Commander: Sayyed Abbas Mousawi

Israa al-Fass and Marwa Haidar

“This resistance is our source of pride. It taught us everything. The resistance taught us that we can make strength out of our weakness,” said Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi, former Hezbollah Secretary General who was assassinated by Israeli occupation on February 16, 1992.

Sayyed Abbas was known for his resistance movement that knew no boundaries. Starting by Lebanon and Palestine, and not ending by Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Sayyed Abbas considered Palestine as the primary cause of the Muslim nation. He saw the resistance as a transnational movement that can’t only operate in one battlefield.

Palestine Was the Spark

Sayyed Abbas AlMousawi

Inspired by a youth who was the first Lebanese to be martyred in a battle with Israeli occupation in 1968 in Jordan, Sayyed Abbas, who was 15 years old back then, went to Syria’s Zabadani to take part in a training camp established by Fatah Palestinian resistance movement.

The senior commander then decided to apply himself to Hawza studies. He affiliated with leading Lebanese Shia cleric Imam Sayyed Mousa Al-Sadr in the southern town of Tyre. After that, he joined Hawza of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Baqer Al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf. Sayyed Mohammad Baqer Al-Sadr was an influential Shia cleric, philosopher, political leader, and founder of the Daawa Party of Iraq.

Upon his arrival to Lebanon in 1978, when the Baathist regime expelled all non Iraqi clerics, Sayyed Abbas founded Al-Muntathar Hawza in Baalbeck. He believed that the role of this Hawza was not limited to the Shiite arena in Lebanon. In March 1978, the Israeli enemy launched an aggression on Lebanon in which it managed to occupy areas located to the south of Litani River. At time, Sayyed Abbas played pivotal role in mobilizing the Lebanese people for resistance.

Sayyed Abbas was highly inspired by the victory of the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Sayyed Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. The revolution in Iran represented for the former Hezbollah S.G. a glimpse of hope in face of the US hegemony and Israeli oppression.

Establishing Hezbollah

Following the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in June 1982, Sayyed Abbas returned to Lebanon from Tehran along with Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Lebanese cleric who was well-known for his anti-Israel stances and then was a senior Hezbollah commander. The two men worked at the end of that year on establishing the resistance movement, Hezbollah.

“The Islamic Resistance in south Lebanon. We called it Islamic because its ideology ad spirit is Islam. However, it is for all the oppressed people across the world,” Sayyed Abbas said about Hezbollah, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.

In that year (1982), Sayyed Abbas headed a delegation representing Hezbollah to Iran, where they met Imam Khomeini who blessed their efforts, telling them that “he sees victory on their foreheads,” according to “Jihad and Martyrdom Leader” documentary which explores the life of Sayyed Abbas.

Sacred Defense in Ahvaz

Later in 1983, Sayyed Abbad headed for Iran’s Ahvaz to take part in the sacred defense during the war launched by the Baathist regime in Iraq.  Imam Khomeini dispatched his personal delegate Sheikh Abbas Al-Kaabi who urged Sayyed Abbas to go back to Lebanon, stressing that the Lebanese battlefield needed him more.

When he returned to Lebanon, Sayyed Abbas tried to strengthen ties with other Muslim clerics from outside the Shiite arena in a bid to boost Islamic unity and unify resistance movements allover Lebanon.

He coordinated resistance efforts with both Sheikh Said Shaaban in the northern city of Tripoli and Sheikh Maher Hammoud in the southern city of Sidon.

Resistance Path of Victory

ormer Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi with resistance fighters (photo from archive)

“Sayyed Abbas presented the resistance as a path of victory not only as a path of martyrdom,” Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah described his predecessor in the documentary which was aired on Al-Manar TV.

Sayyed Abbas was the military commander of the Islamic Resistance in south Lebanon. He personally oversaw resistance operations which forced the Israeli enemy to withdraw from Beirut and then from Sidon to the southern villages and towns.

Visits to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir

In March 1990, Sayyed Abbas went to Pakistan, to take part in a pro-Palestine conference. In that visit he toured 17 Pakistani villages, where he tackled Israeli oppression, importance of resistance and US schemes in the region. After that, Sayyed Abbas visited Afghanistan, where he met with fighters against Soviet troops, and then he went to Kashmir.

Hezbollah S.G.

In April 1991, and following years of hard work in ranks of the Islamic Resistance, Sayyed Abbas was elected to be Hezbollah Secretary General. Sayyed Nasrallah narrates in the “Jihad and Martyrdom” documentary how long it took to convince Sayyed Abbas that he has to accept this post.

“After ten days of attempts to convince him, Sayyed Abbas accepted to assume his duties as the Secretary General of Hezbollah,” according to Sayyed Nasrallah.

Upon his election, Sayyed Abbas was maintained strong relation with resistance fighters as well as with Lebanese people whom was keen to serve them. He raised the slogan of “We Are All at Your Service,” referring to securing basic needs of the people in light of the state’s absence in several areas especially in south, Bekaa and Beirut southern suburb.

Martyrdom and Will

Sayyed Abbas was assassinated in February 16 1992, when he was returning from south Lebanon where there was a ceremony marking the martyrdom anniversary of Sheikh Ragheb Harb. Israeli Apache helicopters fired missiles at his motorcade, killing him, his wife, his five-year-old son, and four others.

Following his martyrdom, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah succeeded Sayyed Abbas, whose primary will was to “preserve the Islamic Resistance.”

Source: Al-Manar Website

Voice Message from Former Hezbollah SG Martyr Sayyed Abbas al-Mousawi to His Family in 1983: Preserve Faith & Education (Video) 

العربي الذي هزّ عرش الشاه

 

شوقي عواضة*

بعد إعلان دولة الكيان الصهيوني على أرض فلسطين بدعم بريطاني وغربي ولدت ثورة 23 يوليو/ تموز عام 1952 بقيادة جمال عبد الناصر والضباط الأحرار، وكان ذلك تحولاً مفصلياً على مستوى المنطقة. تلك الثورة التي أرعبت الأنظمة الملكية وعلى رأسها شاه إيران ومملكة آل سعود اللتين كانتا متحالفتين في وجه تلك الثورة الوليدة والتي كانت أولويتها تحرير فلسطين من الاحتلال الصهيوني.

وقد شكلت ثورة عبد الناصر بارقة أمل كبيرة لكلّ أحرار العالم لا سيما بعدما عمد عبد الناصر إلى دعم كلّ الحركات التحررية ونجح في دعم حركات التحرر من الاستعمار في الجزائر وليبيا والسودان واليمن، وإيران حيث كان الشاه محمد رضا بهلوي حليف الغرب والمعترف الأول بالكيان الصهيوني وأحد أقطاب حلف بغداد الذي شكلته الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وضمّ بريطانيا وتركيا وإيران وأفغانستان وباكستان والعراق.

ذلك الحلف الذي رأى فيه عبد الناصر خطراً حقيقياً على الأمة قامت الثورة الأولى بقيادة الإمام الخميني في 15 حزيران – يونيو 1963، وبعد فشلها اتهم شاه إيران جمال عبد الناصر بأنه كان يموّلها ضدّه، وتمّ اعتقال الإمام الخميني وحكم عليه الشاه بالإعدام لكن تغطية الحوزة العلمية له في قم وكبار المراجع فيها أنقذ الإمام من الإعدام فتمّ نفيه إلى تركيا ومنها عاد الى العراق حيث استقرّ في النجف 1964 حتى نفاه صدام حسين عام 1978 فجاء إلى (نوفل لوشاتو)، وكان الإمام الخميني قد وجه رسائل عديدة إلى الرؤساء العرب شارحاً مأساة ومظلومية الشعب الإيراني وما يعانيه من نظام الشاه القمعي، لم يستجب أحد لتلك الرسائل باستثناء الرئيس عبد الناصر الذي كلّف رجل المهام الخاصة لديه ومهندس حركات التحرر وأحد مؤسّسي جهاز المخابرات العامة فتحي الديب وكمال الدين رفعت، وبدأ العمل وتمّ افتتاح إذاعة للمعارضة الإيرانية وكانت ناطقة باللغة الفارسية في قلب القاهرة موجهة للشعب الإيراني مع إعطاء الثورة الإيرانية حيّزاً كبيراً في الإعلام المصري إضافة إلى فتح معسكرات تدريب وتأهيل الإيرانيين عسكرياً وأمنياً وإعداد كوادر إعلامية من أجل فضح نظام الشاه.

رحل عبد الناصر قبل أن يشهد سقوط الشاه الطاغية وشهدت مصر بعده تحوّلاً قياسياً في سياستها لا سيما بعد استلام السادات الحكم وتوقيع اتفاق الذلّ في كامب ديفيد في 17 أيلول/ سبتمبر 1978. بعد عام من توقيع الاتفاق وخروج مصر من دول المواجهة انتصرت الثورة الإسلامية في إيران بقيادة الإمام الخميني الذي عاد الى طهران قادماً من نوفيل لوشاتو ليعلن شعار الثورة وهدفها الأسمى اليوم إيران وغداً فلسطين، كاشفاً أنّ الرئيس جمال عبد الناصر هو الرئيس العربي الوحيد الذي دعم الثورة ليهدي الانتصار له ولكلّ أحرار العالم لينتصر عبد الناصر في تربته ضدّ طاغية العصر بإنتصار الإمام الخميني.

ثمة أسئلة كثيرة تطرح اليوم بوجه كلّ من يتحدّثون عن العداء التاريخي الإيراني ـ العربي وعن الأطماع الإيرانية في المنطقة العربية، لا سيما في ظلّ رحيل الرئيس عبد الناصر. ألم يكن انتصار الثورة الإسلامية بقيادة الإمام الخميني تعويضاً للعرب عن خسارة مصر عبد الناصر وخروجها من معسكر المواجهة مع الكيان الصهيوني؟ وماذا قدّم العرب بعد عبد الناصر لفلسطين باستثناء سورية الأسد؟ وهل ما قدّمته طهران للقضايا العربية وعلى رأسها فلسطين انتقص من كرامة العرب والمسلمين أم زادها عزة وشموخاً؟

*كاتب وإعلامي

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Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council to Al-Ahed: “The Americans Will Be Expelled from the Region”

Mohsen Rezaee

By Mokhtar Haddad

Tehran – Forty days have passed since the martyrdom of the commander of the Quds Force, Lieutenant General Hajj Qassem Soleimani, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units [PMU] in Iraq, martyr Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their companions.

The occasion coincides with the 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran led by Grand Ayatollah His Eminence Imam Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini. The timing is not a coincidence. Martyr Soleimani was a soldier in the march of this revolution, and the birth of the resistance front was the result of the Islamic Revolution that thwarted the Zionist-American project in the region.

The blessed Islamic Revolution once again directed the nation toward Palestine. Since February 11, 1979, the course of history changed when the American project was thwarted. The sons of the resistance front have managed in recent years to defeat the great fateful plans that aimed to divide the region and restore American hegemony over the Middle East.

On this occasion, Mohsen Rezaee, the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council in the Islamic Republic of Iran, sent a message to the sons of the resistance front.

“The martyrdom of our brother Hajj Qassem Soleimani and his companions created an international renaissance to fight American arrogance,” Rezaee said in an exclusive statement to Al-Ahed news website.

“The supporters of this renaissance are not only in the countries of the region, but a lot of free people in the world know that the US presence in this region is aimed at controlling and stealing global energy sources as well as putting trade in the world under the control of American colonialism.”

Rezaee concluded his statement by saying, “Today we need an international renaissance against the American presence in the region. It will, alongside this renaissance, lead to the mobilization of countries from outside this region. In the end, the Americans and their military presence will be expelled from this region.”

To read the article in Arabic, click here

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Iran Votes: Rouhani Urges Attending February 11 Rallies As another Strike on Enemies

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the presence of the people on the stage of the country’s upcoming elections as a key to victory, saying “the key to resolving our society’s problems and resisting hostilities is unity and trust and confidence between the establishment and the people.”

Speaking on Wednesday at a cabinet session, Rouhani said, “Today, we need to stand together on February 11 more than ever and tell our enemies that we have stood by our revolution for 41 years and that we will be in the path of the revolution, Imam [Khomeini] and Iranian Leader until the end of our life.”

We are glad that our great nation is preparing again for the great, glorious celebration of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, which will be celebrated after 41 years of effort, self-sacrifice, and devotion that this nation had made for the aspirations of the Revolution.

The climax of our Islamic Movement was since the beginning of the year 1962 when our dear people stepped on the stage, Rouhani added.

He further stressed that any day that people came to the stage, that day was the climax of the Revolution and weakening dictatorship and defeating the ill willing against the Iranian people.

People’s presence is a big social capital, Rouhani stated. “That is, the day when the people took to the streets with the 100% trust they had on the leaders of the Islamic Movement and especially our dear Imam [Khomeini] and stood up to the then regime that was armed to the teeth and achieved victory, Imam relied on people.

He did not let any division happen between people and the armed forces of that regime, but with the attraction he had, he attracted all of the other side’s forces and –except a few specific ones- he forgave them.

If it were not for Imam Khomeini’s moderation and attraction, radical groups and hardliners would have torn the country and people apart, Rouhani stressed.

لماذا إيران معادلة ضروريّة في الشرق الأوسط؟

د.وفيق إبراهيم

تتضاعف الأسباب التي تجعل من إيران جزءاً أساسياً من معادلة الدفاع عن الشرق الأوسط. وتؤكد على دورها المحوري والمركزي فيه.

هذا استنتاج واقعيّ بعد زمن عاصف تجتازه الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران منذ انتصار ثورتها في 1979، متواصلاً حتى الآن على شكل صراع إيرانيّ مع كل من الأميركيين والإسرائيليين في سورية والعراق ولبنان، والخليج وسط حصار أميركي مضروب عليها، اقتصادياً وسياسياً، تنتابه اعتداءات عسكرية أميركية وإسرائيلية ومحاولات خنق باستعمال النفوذ الأميركي العالمي لمنع معظم الدول من إقامة علاقات اقتصادية معها، وكل أنواع العلاقات.

ابتدأ هذا الصراع الإيراني ـ الأميركي بعد نجاح الإمام الخميني بإسقاط شاه إيران رأس المعادلة الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط وشرطي الخليج في 1979 .

لقد كان واضحاً أن برنامج عمل هذه الثورة يستهدف النفوذ الأميركي في إيران على قاعدة إسلامية، وبما ان الإسلام دين أممي، فكان طبيعياً ان ينتقل صدى النجاح الإيراني الى الإقليم العربي المجاور وآسيا الوسطى..

وهذه معاقل أميركية اساسية خصوصاً في انحائها التركية والإسرائيلية والمصرية والسعودية ـ الخليجية، وهي كبرى المعاقل في المنطقة.

هناك نقطتان اضافيتان تجب الإشارة اليهما، وهما تزامن الثورة الإيرانية، مع استسلام السادات الرئيس المصري السابق لـ”إسرائيل” في اتفاقية كمب ـ دايفيد 1979، وما أدت إليه من انسحاب مصر من الصراع العربي ـ الإسرائيلي وتحوّلها حليفاً كاملاً لـ”إسرائيل” وآلية أميركية.

أما النقطة الثانية فهي تراجع أهمية الاتحاد السوفياتي بسبب خسارة حرب افغانستان وإصابته بإرهاق بنيوي في حروب الايديولوجيا والتسلح بمواجهة الأميركيين والأوروبيين، ما جعل إيران وحيدة في صراعها مع الأميركيين واعوانهم الشرق الأوسطيين، هؤلاء الذين استعملوا ضدها كل قواهم لإسقاط دولتها، من تحشيد طائفي ومذهبي الى تمويل وتدريب لبعض المجموعات الإيرانية الداخلية وصولاً إلى شنّ حرب عليها بلبوس عراقي من صدام حسين مدعوم أميركياً وخليجياً وأوروبياً وإسرائيلياً، كان المطلوب استئصال إيران الإسلامية للاستفراد بعملية تفتيت الشرق الأوسط على نحو يبقى فيه تحت النفوذ الأميركي ـ الغربي قروناً طويلة.

إن انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي في 1989 وتفرّغ الصين لتطوير امبراطوريتها الاقتصادية جعلا الأميركيين يستعجلون في عملية الأطباق على الشرق الاوسط، مدمّرين العراق منذ تسعينيات القرن الماضي الى أن احتلوه في 2003 بعد سيطرتهم على افغانستان في 2001، فركبوا على عجل مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد الذي يهدف إلى إعادة تقسيم دوله إلى كانتونات مذهبية وعرقية تسحب حيويتها ومصادر قواها.

لتنفيذ الخطة، استعمل الأميركيون طريقة الاحتلال المباشر والتدخلات العسكرية ومئات آلاف الإرهابيين، مكلفين بإدارتهم وتأمين ما يحتاجون اليه من سلاح وتدريب واعمال لوجيستية، كلاً من قطر والسعودية وتركيا والإمارات باعتراف وزير قطر السابق حمد بن تميم.

هنا، كانت إيران بمفردها بالمرصاد وسط غياب روسي، وصل إلى حدود التواطؤ في مرحلة الرئيس الروسي السابق يلتسين، فعملت على رعاية حزب الله تسليحاً وتدريباً وتمويلاً وربما أكثر، حتى نجح في تحرير جنوب لبنان رادعاً “إسرائيل” في أكثر من مرحلة.

كما جابهت الثورة الإيرانية المشروع الأميركي في سورية والعراق بدعم مفتوح للدولة السورية والحشد الشعبي في العراق اللذين انتصرا على المنظمات الإرهابية المحشدة لمئات ألاف العناصر.

هؤلاء استعملوا الحدود التركية والأردنية لاحتلال ثلاثة أرباع سورية والعراق، ولولا التحالف الذي جمع حزب الله والحشد الشعبي العراقي والدولة السورية مع إيران، لكان معظم الشرق الاوسط تحت سيطرة داعش والنصرة. هناك ثلاث نقاط اضافية أسهمت بنيوياً في حماية الشرق الاوسط وأولها الدعم الإيراني للقضية الفلسطينية في الداخل المحتل وبين اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في الدول المحيطة.

ها هو قائد منظمة حماس إسماعيل هنية يعترف بأن دعم إيران لمنظمته في غزة أدّى إلى صمود القطاع ومنع انهيار القضية، خصوصاً بعد انهيار سلطة محمود عباس في الضفة الغربية المحتلة، وتخليها عن تحرير فلسطين مقابل كانتون صغير.

أما الثانية فهي اليمن الذي تسانده إيران تسليحاً وتدريباً وتمويلاً في وجه حرب مستمرّة تشنها عليه السعودية والإمارات والاخوان المسلمون بتأييد أميركي ـ غربي إسرائيلي تركي منذ خمس سنوات متواصلة ومستمرة.

هذا اليمن اليوم يسجل النصر تلو الآخر ساحقاً القوات المهاجمة المغطاة بمقاتلات أميركية وإسرائيلية، بما يؤكد هزيمة المشروع الأميركي في اليمن والعراق.

أما النقطة الثالثة فهي في آسيا الوسطى حيث حاول الأميركيون استخدامها للنيل من إيران، فعلى جبهة البلوتش تلك الأقلية الموجودة على الحدود الباكستانية الإيرانية، فقد تمكّن الإيرانيون من إجهاض الاستعمال الأميركي ـ الخليجي لأدوار تخريبية لها داخل إيران بالصدام المباشر معها أو بالتنسيق مع باكستان.

كما أجهضت إيران المشروع السعودي ـ الإماراتي بتحريض طالبان الأفغانية عليها، وتمكنت من بناء خطوط اتصال وتأثير على القيادة الأفغانية، حتى أصبح لطهران نفوذ في باكستان أقوى من الاحتلال الأميركي فيها.

وهو نفوذ يجمع بين علاقات مع قيادات في الدولة الأفغانية ومنظمة طالبان والهزارة الأفغان المقيمين غرب حدودها.

بذلك تكون إيران قد تمكنت من تأمين حدودها مع العراق وتركيا وباكستان وأفغانستان بشكل كامل، ونجحت في دعم الخط اللبناني السوري العراقي اليمني، ما أدّى إلى فشل المشروع الأميركي بشرق أوسط كبير يواليها لقرون مقبلة.

ألا تكفي هذه الأدوار لاعتبار إيران قوة شرق أوسطية أولى، مقابل تراجع وظائف “إسرائيل” ومصر وتركيا والسعودية؟

لذلك فإن تطور الدور الإيراني أنما يتأسس على حساب تراجع النفوذ الأميركي عبر انحسار ادوار وكلائها وحروبها المباشرة.

وهذا يفسر اسباب الجنون الأميركي الذي يريد تفجير الدولية الإيرانية بأي وسيلة ممكنة.

فهل هذا ممكن؟ لم تتمكن أميركا من تحقيق هذه الأمنية في ال41 سنة الماضية، ما يؤكد أن حلف المقاومة ذاهب نحو المزيد من محاصرة النفوذ الأميركي حتى تحرير كامل الشرق الأوسط لمصلحة شعوبه وتاريخه وحضاراته.

Reaffirming the Revolution: The Islamic Republic of Iran at 41

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Source

Qasem Soleimani in 2017 rally b3707

In number theory, 41 is a prime number meaning it is not divisible by any number except itself and one.  Similarly, the Islamic Revolution in Iran so far has been unique in its success and indivisible unity of purpose, despite numerous attempts at sabotage by external and internal actors.  At this prime age of 41, Iran is fully capable of charting an assertive leadership path to recapture the spirit and reaffirm the original goals of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, among which is the propagation of Islam to bring about social change for the welfare of all humanity.[2]

It is no minor accomplishment for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have maintained an independent geopolitical course for a period of forty one years in spite of the overwhelming diplomatic, economic and military pressure employed by the United States to force Tehran to cave in to the diktats of the Washington regime. Even before the erstwhile shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had fled the country on January 17, 1979, U.S. air force general Robert E. “Dutch” Huyser had arrived on January 3rd on a mission to test the waters for a rerun of the August 1953 coup, which had originally placed the U.S.-backed dictator in power in the first place.[3]

With the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini (r) went on to found an Islamic Republic, whose constitution (Article 154) explicitly states that Iran “is concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty and sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the world over.”  Imam Khomeini was very clear in his view that “Islam is revealed for mankind,” and, therefore, the revolution must be exported.[4] This concept, which raised fears of popular uprisings toppling the U.S.-abetted tyrants in the region and beyond, put the nascent Islamic Republic on a collision course with the Washington regime.  Among the despotic leaders shaken by Iran’s Islamic Revolution was the U.S.-supported Iraqi dictator, Saddam, who denounced Imam Khomeini and called upon Iranian Arabs to revolt.[5]

If external threats to the newly-established Islamic Republic weren’t enough, others arose internally. Massoumeh Ebtekar, who witnessed the revolution firsthand and is currently Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, recalled that “we were sure that foreign elements were actively involved in attempts to weaken and undermine the young republic.” To avert the suspected foreign plot to overthrow the Iranian government, a group of students, including now Vice President Ebtekar, decided to act, and on November 4, 1979 occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran and detained the staff.[6]  U.S. president Jimmy Carter responded ten days later by freezing US $12 billion’s worth of Iran’s assets in the U.S., and later banned all trade with and travel to Iran.[7] Also affected were Iranian assets in U.S. banks in Britain, much of which were in Bank of America’s London branch.[8]  The following year on April 7, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Iran, and has never reinstated them.[9]  If Carter had not allowed the deposed shah entry to the U.S., the embassy takeover most likely would not have occurred.[10]

Another internal threat, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), was openly unhappy over the constitution, which, according to them, did not address their demands.  After a humiliating defeat in the March and May 1980 parliamentary elections (no MeK candidates were elected),[11] the MeK became increasingly belligerent over their lack of position in the new government, directing their frustration ever more violently towards members of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), which had won a decisive victory in the elections.  Despite the electoral defeat, the MeK openly backed Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Bani Sadr, however, following his removal from office for incompetency in June 1981, the MeK declared an armed struggle against the standing government. On June 28, 1981 and again on August 30, the MeK carried out terror bombing attacks against the IRP and government leaders.  In 1986, the MeK moved its operations to Iraq and aligned itself with Saddam, who backed the terrorist group until being ousted by the U.S. invasion in 2003. To date, the Washington regime views the MeK as a viable means by which to overthrow the legitimate government of Iran.[12]

Following the student takeover of the U.S. embassy, which was later shown to be a nerve center for CIA espionage in the region,[13] U.S. president Carter ordered a desperate mission on April 24, 1980 to invade Iran and free the hostages despite negotiations for their release still being in progress.[14] The so-called hostage crisis and the U.S. president’s failed interventionist response provided a perpetual pretext for Washington’s vehemently vindictive view against reestablishing any level of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The 444-day crisis, according to sworn testimony by Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben-Menashe, was a joint effort by the CIA and Mossad to delay the release of the 52 hostages and thereby ensure an electoral victory for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 U.S. presidential race.[15]

In the midst of the post-revolutionary struggle to establish a fully functioning Islamic government, Iraqi dictator Saddam, with U.S. blessing, attacked the fledgling Islamic Republic on September 22, 1980, imposing a costly 8-year-long war that consumed some 60 to 70 percent of Iran’s national budget, not to mention the suffering of the Iranian people and their sacrifices in defense of Iran and Islam.[16]  The economic impact of the war on Iran itself was enormous with estimated direct costs in the range of US $600 billion and total cost of US $1 trillion.[17]  In the course of this U.S.-supported war, chemical agents were used extensively for the first time since the First World War, resulting in the deaths of some 4,700 Iranians in a single attack.  The U.S. also provided Saddam with biological agents such as anthrax and E. coli.[18]

Howard Teicher, director of political-military affairs for the U.S. National Security Council from 1982 to 1987, in an affidavit stated, “CIA Director [William] Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war.” Teicher also testified that U.S. president Reagan had sent a secret message to Saddam advising him that “Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran.”  Teicher’s sworn testimony provides strong evidence that the U.S. intent was for Saddam to bomb Iranian cities, thereby unavoidably targeting civilians.[19]

Saddam followed Reagan’s advice to the letter by launching eleven SCUD B missiles at Tehran on February 29, 1988.  Over the next two weeks, more than 100 of Saddam’s missiles rained down upon the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan along with bombing raids conducted against a total of 37 Iranian cities. Earlier in October 1987 and again in April 1988, the U.S. as part of its overt but undeclared war against the Islamic Republic, attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms under expanded rules of engagement.[20]  As a result of Washington’s designation of the Persian Gulf as essentially a free-fire zone for Iranian targets, the commander of the USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers, fired two missiles (after twenty-three failed attempts)[21] at what he claimed was a military target but in fact was Iran Air Flight 655 carrying 290 civilian passengers from Bandar Abbas to Dubai.  For downing the civilian airliner and killing all on board, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious service” for this appalling atrocity.[22]

Yet in spite of the near universal support given by the U.S. and its western minions to Saddam, the people of Iran rose up to defend their newly liberated land in what were termed “human wave attacks” in the western press. Giving their lives selflessly in the cause of defending Islam and Iran, these martyrs, whose numbers reached to half a million,[23] struck fear in the black heart of Saddam and presented a conundrum to the materialistic west.  Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains that martyrdom, while clearly understood in the Islamic world, “is incomprehensible and even pointless in materialist and atheistic cultures.”[24]

The incomprehensibility to most westerners of the spiritual basis of Iran’s Islamic Revolution leads to some interesting “anti-explanations.”  Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Charles Kurzman wrote, “After the Iranian Revolution, those who had considered the upheaval unthinkable became preoccupied with understanding how they could have been so mistaken.” After pointing out the shortcomings of the various political, economic, cultural and other explanations, Kurzman notes, “The more I learned about the Iranian Revolution, the more theoretical anomalies I discovered.” Yet this author acknowledges that 55 percent of educated, middle-class Iranians and 71 percent of others he interviewed spoke of Islam as being involved in their decision to participate in the revolution.[25]

Apparently, for secular-leaning western scholars, Islam cannot be accepted as the basis for an explanation of a successful revolution. For example, even Iranian expatriate scholar Ervand Abrahamian blames the Islamic Revolution on “overwhelming pressures” in Iranian society due to the shah, who “was sitting on such a volcano, having alienated almost every sector of society.”[26]  Downplaying the role of Islam in Iran’s revolution, Iranian expatriate scholar Asef Bayat insists that there was a “strong secular tendency,” which peaked in the 1970s.  Bayat incredulously claims, “In Iran, an Islamic movement was in the making when it was interrupted by the Islamic revolution.”[27]  Other scholars date the origin of the Islamic movement in Iran to the tobacco crisis of 1890-1891, while Farhang Rejaee, a professor at the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam in Ottawa, Canada, points to the assassination of Nasr al-Din Shah in 1896.[28]

The current Islamic movement in Iran had begun on the 15th of Khordad, 1342 (June 5, 1963), predating the Islamic Revolution by some 15 years.  In a June 1979 speech marking the anniversary of the 15th of Khordad uprising, Imam Khomeini specifically referred to the Islamic movement and its creation in the mosque network.  “Who are they that wish to divert our Islamic movement from Islam?” asked the Imam. “It was the mosques that created this revolution,” he emphasized, adding. “It was the mosques that brought this [Islamic] movement into being.”[29]  Likewise refuting the theories of the western and westernized scholars, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains, “The secret of success of the Islamic Revolution of Iran also is naught but this: valuing the high ideals of Islam and of the Islamic humanities.”  As to the failure of other revolutions, he blames “want of a sufficient depth in its spiritual dimension.”  Finally, he affirms, “The revolutionary experience of Iran should indeed become a model for others to emulate.”[30]

By basing economics and social change on the solid foundation of Islam, Iran has achieved greater progress in many areas, such as reducing poverty, improving health care, eliminating illiteracy, increasing access to education and expanding opportunities for women, than had been the case during the shah’s regime.   As a result, despite the unending U.S. hostility against Iran through ruthless imposed wars, covert and overt aggressions, punitive economic sanctions and continuous diplomatic isolation, the Islamic Republic has managed to amass an impressive list of accomplishments.  U.S. economic sanctions have had the effect of causing Iran to seek self-sufficiency in a number of areas, including weaponry and other military hardware, food production, steel, paper and paper products, cement, heavy industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. In particular, the domestic production of armaments has helped to ensure the country’s independence and security, as has the highly developed military strategy of the “fast boat swarm” for naval defense in the Persian Gulf.[31]

Moreover, in the field of health care, Iran has made laudable strides, increasing life expectancy from 56 years in the 1970s to over 70, and reducing the infant mortality rate from 104 per 1,000 births to 25.[32]  The Islamic Republic has created, and continuously expanded, a system of hospitals and health clinics, concentrating on areas impacted by economic hardship.  The results have been sufficiently impressive for some universities and NGOs in the U.S. state of Mississippi to introduce Iranian-style health care into the impoverished areas of the Mississippi Delta region.[33] Rural areas also benefitted from the revolution in other ways besides access to health care.  By 2002, rural literacy had risen to 70 percent, each village had an average of two college graduates, and 99 percent of rural households had electricity. In 1976 only ten percent of the rural work force was employed in the industrial, construction and service sectors, whereas 51 percent was employed therein by 1996.[34] Land was redistributed among peasants, who formed numerous cooperatives, which assisted in raising prices for agricultural products.  Even the poorest of Iranians were able to have at least some level of access to modern consumer goods.[35]

“The biggest advances in the educational, professional and social standing of women in Iran’s history have come since the revolution,” wrote scholars Hillary Mann and Flynt Leverett.[36] After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, female literacy rates skyrocketed from 36 percent in 1976 to 74 percent in 1996, with urban women toping 82 percent.[37] Women were provided with the same educational opportunities as men, and were employed in both the public and private sectors.  Not only were women allowed to drive (unlike other “Islamic” countries), but also participated in political, commercial and civil activities, as well as in the security sector.  Health care in the Islamic Republic included women’s clinics, where progressive family planning and other services were available.[38]

“This united gathering which took place in Iran, and this great change which happened, must be taken as an example to be followed and never forgotten,” said Imam Khomeini (r) on 7th of Esfand 1359 (26 February 1981). [39] Despite that to date, no other Muslim-majority nation has yet to emulate successfully the revolutionary path taken by the valiant people of Iran, the paradigm remains as does the potential for Iran’s leadership to bring about a united Islamic Ummah.

Iran Marks 41st Anniversary of Islamic Revolution

February 1, 2020

Iranians have started the 10-Day Dawn celebrations to mark the 41st anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which overthrew the monarchy of the US-backed Pahlavi regime in Iran.

The nationwide ceremonies started at 9:33 a.m. local time (0603 GMT), the time when the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini returned to the Iranian capital on February 1, 1979 after a 15-year exile in Paris.

Every year, Iranians mark the anniversary of their Islamic Revolution from February 1 to 11, known as the Ten-Day Fajr ceremonies.

Imam Khomeini spent more than 14 years in exile, mostly in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf. He also spent some time in Turkey and France before his return to Iran.

Millions of people converged on the capital from across the country on the day of his return. His arrival gave considerable momentum to popular protests against the US-backed Pahlavi regime, which eventually led to its overthrow ten days later.

SourceMehr News Agency

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Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

January 17, 2020 – 13:2

Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

Willfully and Consciously Demonizing Shia: the Leadership of the Pious

Mansoureh Tajik for The Saker Blog

January 23, 2020

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” This essay may be billed as a companion to, or a rebuttal of, or a commentary on Pepe Escobar’s article titled, “The Roots of American Demonization of Shia Islam” posted here. I am uncertain about a suitable label. Perhaps the readers could formulate a mental tag & file as they deem appropriate.

The core thesis of Pepe Escobar’s article relates to “Shia Islam and the failure of the West to understand it.” It is stated, “the congenital incapacity of so-called US elites to even attempt to understand Shi’ism – thus 24/7 demonization, demeaning not only Shias by also Shia-led governments.” Let’s suppose we know what is meant by “US elites” here. Let us suppose it means a network of formal and informal financial, military, and political entities that have the power and the means to influence and control the ultimate decisions and the actions of the United States as a collective. The statement, as structured, appears to suggest that “demonization and demeaning Shias and Shia-led governments” is a consequence, a product, an effect, if you will, of an “incapacity” by those elites “to attempt to understand Shi’ism”. In other words, they bash it because they do not have the capacity to understand it. No evidence was provided to support this causal link.

In the essay before you, I assert precisely the opposite and provide empirical as well as logical evidence that demonstrate the demonization and demeaning of Shia and Shia-led governments is because those elites understand EXACTLY what Shia is all about. I would go even further and explain, with evidence, what core elements about Shia make those so-called elites so scared and horrified that they have little choice but to continue their demonization campaign against Shia. Before filling these two very tall orders, however, it would be useful to first discuss and respond to several key points raised in Pepe Escobar’s article as a prelude to the essay itself.

Firstly, the article upholds there is a “congenital incapacity of US elites to attempt to understand Shi’ism.”  To the best of our knowledge, there is no congenital (present at birth) defects that adversely predisposes anyone to be incapable of understanding Shia. Nor is there any evidence of any genetic disorder or hereditary predisposition in the world and among people (elite or non-elite) that bars anyone from understanding Shia people and/or governments established based on the principles of Shia school of thought. If there is, we, the Shia, would like to see it.

Of course, this is not to disregard freedom and rights afforded by poetic license and/or to show that effectiveness of caricatured expressions to drive a point home are not appreciated. Rather, we do not wish to help corner anyone, not even figuratively, into any sort of inescapable trap of imagined incapacitation to understand Shia.

Secondly and with respect to “some serious academic research about the appeal of Shi’ism,” there is already a large body of serious academic research that explores and examines not only the appeal of Shia school of thought but also the essential features that make it an effective force. Indeed, these are the very evidence that when we look into and examine, we realize the animosity of the “Western elites” (with the US being its current façade and flag bearer) is not out of some misunderstanding or a random and/or institutionalized ignorance but a calculated, deliberate, and conscious malevolence. A few of these research is addressed in the essay as well.

Thirdly, regarding the suggestion for “visits to selected sacred sites across Southwest Asia: Najaf, Karbala, Mashhad, Qom and the Sayyida Zeinab shrine near Damascus,” by all means, this is an excellent advice. But those who visit should do so with an open heart in order to truly experience how it feels like to be welcomed with open arms by true patrons of those holy sites. Knowing who they are, how they lived, and what they did is paramount to gaining a better understanding about why they are so revered and avidly guarded by the Shia.

Fourthly, with respect to the statement by Dr. Marandi quoted in the article, “The American irrational hatred of Shi’ism stems from its strong sense of resisting injustice,” more needs to be said. It is true that resisting oppression and aggression, fighting against injustice, and defending those who are oppressed in the world are all core beliefs in Shia school of thought. Also, it is true that we have living examples of martyrs who sacrificed everything they had for their belief. However, that is neither the whole story nor unique only to Shia. There are other schools of thought that might be engaged in similar efforts but are not demonized as Shia is. Not only that, some of those ideologies are even propped up, by these very elites, as examples to follow in Shia’s stead and to even fight Shia. Since I am familiar with Dr. Marandi’s work, I presume the above statement may have been extracted from a much larger and more comprehensive context and explanation.

Fifthly, with regard to Blake Archer Williams’ argument titled, A Reaction from Tehran to the Martyrdom of General Qāsem Soleymānī,” it is evident that he provided his real-time reaction to the news of the martyrdom of Shahid Sardar Soleymani in that essay. An analytical response to the question posed to him at a time when he is not in the midst of grieving will certainly produce a more cogent and focused response. Nevertheless, he wrote, “So the role of the politician in democracies seems not to be to try to understand anything but simply carry out the agenda of the elites who own them.” This is a fair assessment of the referenced politicians. However, it does not directly answer the reasons behind a serious aversion of their elite handlers and the barrage of sustained multi-pronged attacks against Shia. The answer is somewhat hidden within layers elsewhere in the article in a reference to the history of the West and Muslim interactions in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Furthermore, martyrdom is cited as a key deciding factor. Yes, martyrdom, by its very nature and design, makes things easier for Shia to fight and resist earnestly and robustly. At the same time, it makes it costlier for the oppressors to regress further into their corrupt and criminal ways. But martyrdom explains only one part, albeit a critical part, of Shia’s effectiveness. It does not explain the full picture. And it does not explain it as cause for adamant aversion demonstrated by US elites against Shia.

Lastly, regarding Princess Vittoria who “would rather frame the debate around the unquestioning American attitude towards Wahhabism” and stating she does not think “this has anything to do with hating Shi’ism or ignoring it,” for the sake of clarity, I must first state that Wahhabism to Islam is what homosexuality is to nature: an anomaly and a deviance. Full stop. Without sustained propaganda and active support by the West to shove either of them as anything legitimate down people’s throat, neither will see the light of the day and neither will amount to anything more than arbitrary aberrations meant to be expelled.

Therefore I found it odd that real origin of Wahhabism, both as an ideological tool and as a movement, which was adopted and perfected by Western elites, particularly Britain, to counter Islam and Muslims is overlooked. Given that Shia is (and has been) on the top of the Wahhabies’ hit list, based on what logic it could then be deducted that this has nothing to do with Shia? Here, too, I imagine extraction of a few lines out of a much larger context might have made the statement a curious one.

As for “Iranian revolution and Shia groups in the Middle East are today the only successful force of resistance to the US, and that causes them to be hated more than others. But only after all other Sunni opponents had been disposed of, killed, terrified (just think of Algeria, but there are dozens of other examples) or corrupted.” The point is well taken but it raises two more serious questions: 1) What made Shia the only successful force of resistance (thus the target of severe hatred. as asserted)? 2) What made the other Sunni opponents so disposable, terrified, and corrupt? The answer to these two questions, too, are addressed in this essay.

With this brief forward, we attend to main aims of the essay. One is to show so-called US elites demonize and demean Shia and Shia-led governments because they understand EXACTLY what Shia is. And the second is to answer the question of what the absolute essential elements of Shia are that make those so-called elites so horrified that they have no other choice but to continue their demonization campaign against Shia. We begin attending to the two aims using a few relevant examples in recent history.

In November 1891, Seyyed Mohammad Hassan Husayni Nouri Shirazi, better known as Mirzaye Shirazi, issued a short fatwa which simply read:

“Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, On this day, use of tobacco and tobacco products in any way and shape is equivalent to a war with Imam-e Zaman (May God Hasten his return).”[1]

Handwritten Fatwa by Mirzaye Shirazi regarding Tobacco Prohibition

This seemingly simple line began what is now known as “Tobacco Movement” in Iran. Immediately following the distribution of that fatwa among the public, the people of Iran burnt and destroyed any and all tobacco products and any related paraphernalia. The fatwa, in effect, made null and void a series of concessions made in secret by then corrupt king, Naseriddin Shah Ghajar, to the British company, Talbot. The concessions had given Britain the exclusive rights to everything that had anything to do with tobacco in Iran for a period of fifty years. In exchange, Naseriddin Shah would receive an insignificant sum which itself was to be used to pay back for an extortionate loan the king had received from Britain for his decadence and wasteful indulgences. All these at the expense of the Iranian nation.

Plenty of archived documents, books, and articles are produced in English around this movement.[2,3,4] A simple search in the literature using relevant key words produces hundreds of documents dating back to the beginning of the movement in 19th Century. Everything including the roles played by the clergy, the merchants, the devout Shia population, the women of the royal court, westoxicated[5] intellectuals[6], and more is studied by academic and not-so-academic centers in Britain, France, US, and others in the West. It would take a unique form of tenacity to flip through page after pages of these documents and not admit that the West knows what Shia is all about.

From our side of the hedge, it is evident that Iranians, especially the clergy, knew what challenges would follow. In his memoires, Ayatullah Seyyed Hasan Modarres (1871-1937), revered scholar and Mujtahid, wrote,[7]

“When I went to Najaf, I visited Mirzaye Shirazi who was in Samerah. I told him the story of our triumph over the tobacco event. I saw signs of worry appeared on his face. He remained silent and tears began rolling down his face. I was surprised by his reaction. I had expected to make him happy with that news. When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Now, the malevolent powers and enemies of Islam realize where the main power of this nation and the focal point of Shia movements’ strength is. I am now seriously worried about the future of the Islamic nation.” [Page 138]

Ayatullah Modarres further wrote about the dynamic interplay between the role of the people and the role of ulama (pious and learned scholars of Islam and Quran) and in bringing about an effective outcome,

“Mirza’s fatwa was a flame that was set in caches of gunpowder hidden deeply within the hearts of the Iranian people. If these hearts were not filled with such gunpowder, a piece of paper with a few broken lines written with a faded ink could not have possibly produced such blazing flames.”[8]

Elsewhere he wrote,

“The tobacco event was like a canon fired at dawn. It awakened an astute nation from its slumber and informed people that a relentless quake must follow. The masses of people had not been informed of the depth of the matter but they felt the danger since they trusted their ulama. So, they mobilized and followed them.”[9]

Tobacco movement, or Nehzat_e Tanbakoo as it is called in Iran, and what transpired thereafter were only an exercise and a practice run for the next nehzat (movement), Nehzat_e Mashrooteh, or Constitutional Movement[10] of 1906. The pivotal role ulama played in this movement, too, is well studied —indubitably more by the outsiders than by the insiders. Those interested could do a literature search and find plenty of sources to keep them busy for months. A note of caution though, the framing of various research in this area to examine the role various groups played (like any other research in the world) often betrays the hidden agenda of those who financed the research for exploitative purposes. Therefore, it is important to “follow the money” as part of your overall assessment of any document. Beware, as well, that they often pull “a Harvard”[11] or “a Reuters”[12] and the actual sources of funding may be kept hidden for decades.

Notable clerical figures[13] in the constitutional movement included Sheykh Fazullah Nouri, Akhound Khorasani, Seyyed Abdullah Behbahani, Hasan Modarres, and Seyyed Muhammad Tabatabei. The clergy, again, played a critical role in informing, mobilizing, and leading the masses in support of the constitutional movement. The basic rationale was that anything that limits the power of corrupt kings and cuts off the hands of foreign powers is a positive step forward.

However, once the clergy and believing people realized the influence of Western agents and their operatives, secular and westoxicated intellectuals in drafting the constitution, they began their open defiance.[14] Every single one of the cleric directly involved in the constitutional were killed.

Late Imam Khomeini (God rest his soul) in a couple of his speeches dissected this tragedy as follows,

“In the constitutional [movement] they saw one or a few mulla in Najaf, a few turban-headed mulla in Tehran turned the foundation of tyrannical and despotic rulers upside down and established constitutional limits. Here, those who opposed did not sit still. They were active, too. If we were to tell the story, it gets really long. But about this very constitutional limits, Sheykh Fazullah Nouri (God rest his soul) stood up and said, ‘the constitution must be based on the rule of God. The rules must agree with Islamic rules.’ At the same time as he was saying these things, he also worked on the addendum to the constitution. That was his efforts, too. His opponents and the foreigners, when they saw such power in the clergy they pulled such tricks that, in Iran, Sheykh Fazlullah who was a Mujahid and high status Mujtahid, they fabricated a show trial and they put a deviant cleric look-alike to try and convict him. Then they hanged him in the middle of Tupkhaneh and in the presence of a large crowd.”[15]

“You gentlemen have all heard about the constitutional period. A bunch of people did not want Islam to have any power in this country. And they were after turning the situation to their own advantage. They poisoned the atmosphere so much that someone like late Agha Sheykh Fazlullah who was a notable figure in Iran then, and was favored, they made such a poisonous atmosphere that they hanged him in the middle of a square and some stood around and clapped. This was a plot to cast aside Islam. And they did. After that, the constitution was not the sort of constitution that the ulama in Najaf wanted. Even the subject of late Agha Sheykh Fazlullah was portrayed in such a distorted way that not even a peep came out of there [Najaf]. This climate they created in Iran and elsewhere, this climate facilitated Agha Sheykh Fazullah’s conviction in the hands of some of these very clerics of Iran itself. Then they brought him into the middle of the square and hanged him. Then, they stood and clapped. They struck a blow against Islam at that time. And people were heedless. And even the ulama were heedless.”[16]

A series of similar movements that followed could be presented, dissected, and examined at length. The Iranian oil nationalization movement in 1951 to cut off the British hand[17, 18], for example, in which Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, then elected prime minister, was able to bring about (though it was very short lived) again with the help of very influential clerics such as Ayatullah Seyyed Abulghasem Kashani, Ayatullah Vaez-Zadeh Khorasani, Ayatullah Mohammad Taqi Khansari, and more who rallied the masses of people behind him. Once Mossadegh succeeded, however, he and his secular cabinet became too trusting of and too lenient toward another foreign power, the US. The coup d’etat of 1953 (Operation Ajax) by the US, followed by the Iranian Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954[19] gave foreign companies 40% of Iranian oil, effectively replaced Britain by the US as the master of the Pahlavi regime followed by decades of killing, imprisonment, torture, and sending to exile of thousands of people.

Imam Khomeini’s speeches in June 1963 and the uprisings that followed, his powerful speech in 1964 and the movement by the religious scholars, his exile that year and unrelenting struggles that led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, have all been well examined and documented.

Finally, a fully functioning Islamic Republic based on tenets of Shia Islam was established thanks to two significant factors: 1) An active, aware, fearless, and devout Shia community ready to receive the message of its believing, pious, wise, and brave religious leaders; 2) An active, aware, fearless, and pious imam and leader. Article 1 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran confirms the establishment of an Islamic system of government based on “Iranian Nations’ long lasting belief in Quran’s authority in Truth and Justice following a victorious revolution under the leadership of eminent source of emulation, Grand Ayatullah Imam Khomeini.”[20]

Article 2 of the constitution clearly spells out the 5 pillars (primary principles) of Shia Islam and the responsibility of the Shia community as follows,

“Islamic Republic is a system based on a belief in:

  1. The Oneness of God (there is no god but God), the Governance and Laws belong to Him, the necessity to submit to God’s laws [Tawhid];
  2. The revelations and the essential role they play in describing the laws [Nubuwwah, or Prophethood];
  3. Mi’ad [The Hereafter, the Day of Judgment, Return of everything to God] and its constructive role in propelling human evolution toward God;
  4. God’s Justice [Adl] in all creations and rules;
  5. Imammat (the guardianship of infallible Imams) and uninterrupted leadership of the pious and their role in the continuation of the Islamic Revolution;
  6. Human dignity, human excellence, and liberty integrated with responsibility before God by means of: a) ongoing scholarship by the learned and fully qualified Faqih based on the Book and the tradition of the infallibles (God’s Peace be upon them all); b) use of science, technology, and progressive human experiences and struggle to move them forward; c) defiance of all oppressors, tyrants, and any form of oppression, and establishment of justice, equity, and independence in political, economic, social, cultural, and that which ensures national unity.”[21]

On March 21, 1979, nearly 98.2% of eligible voters in Iran said “yes” to an Islamic Republic. After 40 years, 9 months, and 13 days of sustained, relentless, and unparalleled multifaceted military, economic, and media attacks by so-called elites of the West, tens of millions of people poured into streets to mourn one of their most beloved soldiers of God. Why? Because he heard the commands of his wise and pious leader, his devoted wali, Seyyed Ali, and he obeyed in upholding the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the end. We congratulate and envy his martyrdom.

So, what is so special about this constitution? A lot but we will focus on what is more relevant to this essay. It contains the answer to the question why “24/7 demonization, demeaning not only Shias by also Shia-led governments by so-called US elites” that was posed by Pepe Escobar.

The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran says the leadership, the governance, the imamat, if you will, the guardianship of the people and nations of the world and their affairs cannot be and must not be entrusted to anyone other than pious, righteous, non-corrupt, just, wise, learned, fearless, and selfless leaders. For Shia, it would be an Imam. In his absence, his rightful Nayib or vice-Imam, the one who most closely resembles him in piety of thoughts, words, and deeds.

The so-called elites would have had nothing to fear if Shia, too, accepted any corrupt, depraved, and sinful jester as their leader and the guardian of their affairs. Only if Shia could have been a normal community and satisfied with the choice between bad, worse, ugly, or the lesser evils. أَعـوذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْـطانِ الرَّجيـم (I seek refuge in God from the accursed Satan).

References

[1] Najafi M (1398). “Andisheh-ye Siasi dar Nehzat-haye Islami Tariq Mo’aser Iran” (Political Thoughts in Islamic Movements of Contemporary History of Iran). Special Collection No. 12On the Occasion of the 1st of Jamadi ul-Awal, the Anniversary of the Issuance of Fatwa in Prohibition of Tobacco. Available online at: http://moaser.iki.ac.ir/book/export/html/339

[2] Gillard D, Bourne K, Watt DC (1985). Great Britain Foreign Office. British documents on foreign affairs. Reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. Part I, From the mid-nineteenth century to the First World War. Series B, The Near and Middle East, 1856-1914. Vol. 13: Persia, Britain and Russia, 1886-1907. Vol. 14: Persia, Britain and Russia, 1907-1914. University Publications of America.

[3] Keddie NR (1966). Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-1892. Frank Cass & CO Ltd. Publisher. ISBN:071461971X, 9780714619712.

[4] Oxford Dictionary of Islam (2020). “Tobacco Protest (Iran): 1891 – 92.” Available online at: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e2389

[5] Westoxification is a term used as a translation of the term “Gharbzadegi” coined by Iranian scholar, Jalal Al-e Ahmad in his well know book by the same name.

[6] Mahmoodi K & Jelodar ES (2011). “Orientalized from Within: Modernity and Modern Anti-Imperial Iranian Intellectual Gharbzadegi and the Roots of Mental Wretchedness.” Canadian Center for Science and Education. doi:10.5539/ach.v3n2p19. Available online at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272693398_Orientalized_from_Within_Modernity_and_Modern_Anti-Imperial_Iranian_Intellectual_Gharbzadegi_and_the_Roots_of_Mental_Wretchedness

[7] Najafi M, Isfahani Karbalaei H, and Ja’afarian R (1373 HS), Sade-ye Tahrim-e Tanbakoo (The Century of the Prohibition of Tobacco), In Persian. 1st Edition. Amir Kabir Publishing. Tehran, Iran.

[8] Ibid. Page 130.

[9] Ibid. Page 139.

[10] Oxford Islamic Studies Online (2020). “Constitutional Revolution (Iran).” Available online at: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e450

[11] Camila Domonoske (2016). “50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat.” National Public Radio, September 13, 2016. Available online at: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat

[12] Guy Falconbridge (2020). “Britain secretly funded Reuters in 1960s and 1970s: documents.” Reuters, January 13, 2020. Available online at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-media/britain-secretly-funded-reuters-in-1960s-and-1970s-documents-idUSKBN1ZC20H

[13] Hermann D (2012). “Akhund Khurasani and the Iranian Constitutional Movement.” Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 49(3): 430-453.

[14] Shirkhani A & Rezaei M (1390 HS). Naqsh_e Rohaniat dar Enghelab Mashrouteh (The Role of the Clergy in the Constitutional Movement). Islamic Revolution Studies, Summer 1390. In Persian. Available online at: http://ensani.ir/file/download/article/20120419195128-8054-21.pdf

[15] Sahifeye Noor, Collection of speeches, messages, interviews, decrees, religious permits, and letters by Imam Khomeini. Vol. 13, Page 175.

[16] Sahifeye Noor, Collection of speeches, messages, interviews, decrees, religious permits, and letters by Imam Khomeini. Vol. 18, Page 181.

[17] Keesing’s Record of World Events (formerly Keesing’s Contemporary Archives), Volume VIII, July, 1951 Persia, Iranian, Page 11569 © 1931-2006 Keesing’s Worldwide, LLC -All Rights Reserved. Available online at: http://web.stanford.edu/group/tomzgroup/pmwiki/uploads/3195-1951-07-Keesings-a-OEP.pdf

[18] International Court of Justice Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Case (United Kingdom v. Iran) Preliminary Objection judgment of Jul 22nd, 1952. Available online at: https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/16/016-19520722-JUD-01-00-EN.pdf

[19] Heiss MA (1994). “The United States, Great Britain, and the Creation of the Iranian Oil Consortium, 1953-1954.” The International History Review, 16(3): 511-535. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Publishing.

[20] Fathi M & Koohi Isfehani K (Editors.). Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran with Commentaries and Interpretation by Guardian Council (1359-1396). Guardian Council Research Center, Tehran. 1397. Article 1, Page 14. Available online at: https://www.shora-gc.ir/files/fa/news/1398/9/21/4354_236.pdf

[21] Ibid. Article 2, Page 14.

“Death to the Islamic Republic” they chant now- and they call themselves Iranians

January 18, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog

Nobody has escaped the news of the so called “popular demonstrations” in Iran during the recent days. Hundreds of thousands of articles, updates and tweets have been made on this matter, and many have talked about what the reasons behind these protests have been. Many videos show groups so called Iranians tearing down the pictures of Martyr Qassem Soleimani, while others chant “death to the Islamic Republic” and “death to Khamenei”. Thousands of such people have appeared across Iran and many of those Iranians outside of Iran cheer on them while the Empire takes every chance to attack Iran as these protests are used by the Western Media to wage psychological warfare on the Islamic Republic.

This marks a new stage in the audacity of dissent in the Islamic Republic. In order to understand what I’m talking about; we should take a trip back in history to recognize the sworn enemies of the Islamic Republic. The Islamic Republic has since the beginning of its existence had two mortal, existential enemies – the MEK cult and the Monarchists. For a while, the Communists were a force too to be reckoned, especially in the 1980’s.

The MEK cultists, advocating “Islamic Marxism”, seek to replace the Islamic Republic’s old and conservative policies with their “modern interpretation”. In their quest for power, they’ve committed heinous acts, such as terrorism and treason, to the point where even the US, Canada and the European Union, enemies of Iran, had listed them as a terrorist organization. They have since lifted the designation and have been grooming them into becoming a “viable opposition group”.

After the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic had managed to drive away or execute most Monarchists and many of their supporters went into exile in the West, mostly the US, where they continued their opposition. With most of Iran’s wealth taken away by the monarchists in exile, the Islamic Republic defended by a group of ill-trained and poorly equipped group of men calling themselves “Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution”, fought against internal and external enemies during most of the 1980’s. The invading Iraqi Army, Communist guerrilla groups, MEK cultists armed by the Saddam regime, and separatist groups were fought vigilantly during the entire war with neighboring Iraq.

One by one, they were defeated and driven out of the country, into exile and the Islamic Republic won the battle for its survival. The communists were all but destroyed and driven into exile and the once powerful Tudeh party was split into several factions. The war ended when the MEK terrorist group were defeated in 1988, after they had been armed by the Saddam regime and launched an invasion into their own country. Saddam, who had been armed and supported by Western countries, including the US, was driven back from Iranian land and the war with Iraq resulted with a status quo ante bellum, and over a million dead Iranians. With the MEK driven back into Iraq, the Islamic Republic had survived this tremendous test and stood its ground and yet many more challenges stood in its way in the coming years. Only a year after the end of the war, the founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini passed away, leaving what many believed would be a vacuum for his successor to fill. The morning after Khomeini’s death, on June 4, 1989, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was elected as the new Leader of the Islamic Revolution despite not belonging to the rank of Marja (Grand Ayatollah), as required by the constitution, although this requirement was later removed through amendments to the constitution.

Throughout Khamenei’s rule, several rounds of rather large and widespread protests have struck Iran. The first significant one occurred in 1999, when students in Tehran protested against the closure of a reformist newspaper. The next challenge was the 2009 presidential elections and the aftermath of widespread protests due to the alleged election fraud in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president for a second term. Both of these incidents were marked by violence and disaffection among the protesters, yet they never chanted against the Islamic Republic, they never rioted and attacked security forces in the ways that we have seen recently. In both of those protests, the protestors were pro-reformist and chanted in support for ex-president Mohammad Khatami and the presidential candidate of the 2008 elections – Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Yes, the 2009 protests were foreign backed, but not in the same obvious ways that we see today. For the first time in November 2019, I witnessed slogans calling for the death of Khamenei and outright regime change. The heinous act of tearing down Martyr Qassem Soleimani’s show these people’s absolute contempt for the Islamic Republic, but it also shows something else: that they are not protesting due to poor living standards or lack of freedom. It would make absolutely no sense to tear down the poster of Martyr Soleimani if they were poor or feeling oppressed since Martyr Soleimani’s struggle was mainly conducted abroad in an effort to liberate the region from the hands of tyrants. In fact, Iranians have Martyr Soleimani and the Quds Force to thank for their own safety from terrorism, as Imam Khamenei once said: “If we were not fighting Daesh in Aleppo or Mosul, we would be fighting them in the streets of Kermanshah and Tehran.”

If poverty was an issue, then the government reform to the gas subsidies should be welcomed by the poor since that money will now go to the poorest families in Iran. Yet the same “protestors” instead turned to rioting and set fire on banks and government buildings, rather strange isn’t it?

One should also take note of some curious things this time around. We all know that Iran announced that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian airliner. On that same day, small anti-government began to spring up in Tehran, mainly led by university students, chanting “death to the liars”, the only problem is that nobody lied. Iran admitted to have accidentally downed that plane. Yes. it took a few days, because there had to be an investigation first before drawing any conclusions, despite whatever evidence other countries supposedly had. It’s not like these countries, allies of the Terrorist Empire, haven’t lied and pinned incidents on Iran before…

In any case, the media have been very anxious for this news. Barely any mention on the Yellow vests and the violent protests in Chile, instead they focus on a couple of thousands of protestors, with rather shady agendas, compared to the 25 million Iranians that mourned for Qassem Soleimani, and portray it as if three poster-tearing “free Iranians” represent the true Iranian sentiment for Martyr Soleimani.

Interestingly, the calls for foreign intervention among these protestors and their supporters abroad is on the rise. The so called protestors and their Twitter fans also deliberately spread videos of these “proud Iranians” who refused to step on the US and Israeli flags, as a way to bait US public support for “American help” while chanting that “the US and Israel aren’t our enemies, our enemy is right here”. There is no question as to who and what these so-called protestors represent. On some videos one can hear pro-Monarchist and pro-MEK chants. MEK communiques such as their social media platforms are filled with active propaganda and calls for regime change. Threats are constantly issued to the Islamic Republic along with instructions and encouragement to attack security forces and military bases. These people openly stand with the Terrorist Empire against their own country – and they dare to call themselves Iranians.

The Monarchists, MEK and the Terrorist Empire want people to believe that Monarchist Iran was a modern and prosperous country. In truth, Iran was a country in decline during the monarchy era, starting from the era of the Qajar dynasty in the late 1700s to the early 1900s, and continuing with the Pahlavi era to 1979. It was a country were up until 1978, 60% of the population were illiterate, where large parts of the population lived without electricity or running water, and a large majority of the country’s oil belonged to foreign powers, with a leader who had come to power through a foreign backed coup. Only the Islamic Republic has successfully ended 200 years of humiliation in the face of foreigners. Only the Islamic Republic can defend Iran from US colonialism. Only the Islamic Republic can lead the region into a rebellion with the aim of kicking the US out of West Asia. They have done more for Iran than any king has since the fall of the Great Safavid dynasty. True Iranian Patriots would wish for an independent Iran where she has retained her culture, instead of having switched it out for Western culture.

This is the Islamic Awakening. For the first time in more than a century, the Islamic world can regain its long lost honor and free itself from the shackles of colonialism and imperialism. But only with the Islamic Republic..

Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict

Iraq is home to thousands of US troops and is also home to powerful Iranian-backed militias. The fear is that Iraq could become the battleground of a war between the United States and Iran.

By Dirk Adriaensens

Global Research, January 03, 2020

The revolts that have swept over Iraq since 1 October 2019 come at a critical moment of increasing tensions between Iran and the United States, both allies of the Iraqi government.

Rivalry between the US and Iran increases

On August 29, 2019, the International Crisis Group published a report calling for the US-Iran conflict not to be settled in Iraq.

“In June, various rockets were fired at American installations in Iraq, and in July-August, explosions destroyed the storage sites for weapons and a convoy of Iraqi paramilitary groups associated with Iran. These incidents helped push US-Iranian tensions to the brink of confrontation and underlined the danger of the situation in Iraq and the Gulf.

Although the US and Iran have not so far collided directly with each other, they are forcing the Iraqi government to take sides. Iraqi leaders are working hard to maintain the country’s neutrality. But increasing external pressure and internal polarization threaten the survival of the government.

What needs to be done? The US and Iran must refrain from engaging Iraq in their rivalry, as this would undermine Iraq’s weak stability after the fight against ISIS. With the help of international actors, Iraq should maintain its diplomatic and domestic political efforts to remain neutral. ”

For geographical and historical reasons, Iraq is in the eye of the storm. Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran and Tehran’s response put heavy pressure on the Iraqi government, a partner for both. The US expects Baghdad to resist Iran, and Iran expects Baghdad to resist the US. An almost impossible position.

Relations between the US and Iran have always had a dual character in Iraq. There has been cooperation between the two countries since the 2003 invasion to pacify Iraq, and at the same time, relations are very conflicting. The two countries are fighting each other for influence in the Middle East. The withdrawal of the Trump government in May 2018 from the nuclear deal and the reintroduction of US economic sanctions against Iran in November 2018 have created an explosive situation. Halfway through 2019, following Washington’s decision to tighten sanctions, a series of incidents opened the door to a new war that could engulf the entire Middle East.

Iran has used the power vacuum after 2003 to invest heavily in Iraq’s political system, economy and security system. Several Shiite militias and notorious death squads, allied to Iran, such as the Badr Brigades, were integrated into the brutal and sectarian National Police, created by the US. Together with the US, they fought the National resistance movement, while also resisting the presence of the US. The US and Iran also worked closely together during the four-year battle to defeat ISIS (2014-2017). Iranian-affiliated Iraqi Shiite militias formed the core of the Hashd al-Shaabi (popular mobilization forces – PMF), an amalgam of paramilitary forces that responded to Great Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s 2014 call to fight ISIS.

In the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion and the subsequent fight against ISIS, Baghdad has the largest US embassy in the Middle East and the largest number of US troops (more than 5,000) in six currently operating military bases:

  • Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib is one of the first military bases to be established in Iraq by the United States of America. The base is in Abu Ghraib, in the province of Anbar. It is just 32 km from the center of Baghdad and only 15 km from the international airport of the Iraqi capital.
  • Justice Camp Base Base in Kadhimiya, Iraq. Camp Justice, formerly known as Camp Banzai.
  • Forward Operating Base (FOB) Sykes is located in the northern Iraqi province of Nineve, a few miles outside of Tal Afar. The base was used as an established outpost for combat and tactical operations of the United States during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Camp Taji, Iraq – also known as Camp Cooke – is in the immediate vicinity, just 30 km from Baghdad. The base is used by coalition forces in Iraq and not just by the United States.
  • Joint Base Balad was one of the many military installations that are maintained and used by the US in Iraq. It was known by multiple names, including Balad Air Base, Al Bakr Air Base, Camp Anaconda or LSA Anaconda. The base is one of the largest of the Americans.
  • Victory Base Complex – also called VBC – is a combination of military installations around Baghdad International Airport. The complex includes 10 bases – Victory Fuel Point, Slayer, Striker, Cropper, Liberty, Radwaniyah Palace, Dublin, Sather Air Base, Logistics Base Seitz and Victory. The most important is Camp Victory. It houses the headquarters for all American operations in Iraq. The camp also includes the Al Faw Palace.

The end of US-Iran detente

The defeat of ISIS and the inauguration of President Donald Trump have put an end to the silent American-Iranian detente in Iraq and this has led to a period of escalating rivalry. In the aftermath of the Iraqi parliamentary elections of May 2018, that rivalry became very clear. Both Washington and Tehran tried to exert influence through their favorite actors. Their disputes over the formation of the government lasted thirteen months and yielded a list of acceptable, but weak figures, who, even within the political parties to which they belong, lack strong support. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih, two somewhat isolated politicians, were appointed in October 2018.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi (image on the right) is the personification of the bankrupt and corrupt political regime imposed by US imperialism. He started his career as a member of the Ba’ath party, then became a leading member of the Iraqi Communist Party and then went into exile in Iran as a loyalist to Ayatollah Khomeini. He returned to Iraq on the back of American tanks and joined the puppet government in 2004 as finance minister. He was described by the US Council on Foreign Relations as “a moderate technocrat who is helpful to American interests.” Like his predecessors since 2004, he helped organize the looting of Iraq’s oil wealth to enrich foreign companies, the local ruling oligarchy, and corrupt politicians and their supporters.

The function of the Minister of the Interior, Defense and Justice remained open for eight months, largely as a result of constant rivalry between Iran and the US. The tug-of-war between the two countries has been going on since 2003, because both the US and Iran must approve the composition of a government after every election. This shows that sovereignty for Iraq is still a distant dream.

US policy towards Iran has put strong pressure on the Abdul-Mahdi government. When Washington reactivated the sanctions against Iran in November 2018, the US called on the Iraqi government to stop payments to Tehran for natural gas and electricity and to diversify its energy imports, including through contracts with US companies. Baghdad asked Washington for more time to pursue alternatives for fear of reprisals from Iran and electricity shortages. Temporary respite from the Trump government allowed Baghdad to continue importing gas and electricity from Iran, but the US continued to urge Baghdad to sign energy infrastructure contracts with US companies.

However, Abdel Mahdi concluded a $ 284 million electricity deal with a German rather than an American company. The Iraqi prime minister refuses to abide by US sanctions and still buys electricity from Iran and allows extensive trade between the two countries. This trade produces large amounts of foreign currency that stimulates the Iranian economy. Abdel Mahdi is willing to buy the S-400 and other military hardware from Russia. He has signed an agreement with China to rebuild essential infrastructure in exchange for oil. And finally he tried to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia and showed his intention to distance himself from US policies in the Middle East. All these decisions made Abdul Mahdi extremely unpopular with the US.

Israel also interferes openly in Iraq. The country used its F-35i stealth fighter jets to attack Iranian targets in Iraq in July and August, seriously damaging four Iraqi bases used by Iranian troops and proxies as a supposed repository of Iranian ballistic missiles. The Iraqi government minimized this issue, first attempted to ignore it, and even attempted to let Israel off the hook. It took weeks before Abdul Mahdi announced in a television interview that there were “references” to Israel’s responsibility.

This reluctant position of the regime in Iraq is evidence of the loyalty to the US. There was not even a trace of indignation from the Iraqi government when Netanyahu bragged about bombing Iraq during his election campaign. The US denied any involvement in these attacks, but it is very doubtful that Israel would hit Iraqi targets without at least the consent of Washington. As a result, US military and coalition forces in Iraq must now request official approval before launching air operations, including in the campaign against ISIS.

Another requirement of the Trump administration is for the Iraqi government to dissolve the Iranian-related militias (PMF). Since the defeat of ISIS, these militias have taken control of various regions in Iraq and have also participated in the recent elections. No unit of the public militias was dissolved, on the contrary: In 2016, the government formally integrated the PMF into the security forces and has no effective control over their actions. The Fatah front, a collection of various militias from the PMF, became the second largest formation after the recent elections.

Endemic corruption

Despite the enormous oil wealth in Iraq, 32,9% or 13 million Iraqis live below the poverty line and youth unemployment is 40 percent according to recent figures from the IMF, while young people under 25 make up 60 percent of Iraq’s 40 million inhabitants. Half of all Iraqis are under the age of 18. The overall unemployment rate is estimated at around 23 percent, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics in Baghdad. The Iraqi organization “Al-Nama” estimates the percentage of unemployed women at more than 80%. Employment Rate in Iraq decreased to 28,20 percent in 2018 from 43,20 percent in 2016. Electricity is supplied for 5 to 8 hours a day, water is polluted, there is a failing medical system, education levels are very low, corruption is endemic. These are just a few of the problems that frustrate Iraqis. Politicians never keep their promises. Restoration and improvement projects are promised, but scrapped before the ink has dried up and the money being allocated disappears into corrupt pockets. The oil, which accounts for more than 90% of government revenues, is also the most important commodity on the black market. Criminal networks, including oil ministry staff, senior political and religious figures, are allegedly involved in corruption, in collaboration with Mafia networks and criminal gangs that smuggle oil and generate large profits. The three most disturbing problems for Iraqis are corruption (47%), unemployment (32%) and safety (21%).

Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the Arab world, according to Transparency International reports. The country occupies the 168th of the 180 countries in the corruption index. Deep-rooted corruption in Iraq is one of the factors that has been hampering reconstruction efforts for more than a decade. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has “lost” $ 500 billion during his term of office (2006-2014), according to the Iraqi Integrity Committee (CPI). “Nearly half of the government’s revenues during the eight-year period were “stolen” or “disappeared”, said Adil Nouri, spokesperson for the CPl in October 2015. He called this “the biggest political corruption scandal in the history”. Iraq’s oil revenues amounted to 800 billion dollars between 2006 and 2014, and the Maliki government also received support of 250 billion dollars from various countries, including the US, during that period.

The World Bank ranks Iraq as one of the worst-governed states in the world, and the Iraqi government remains one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. The Iraqi government has so far made little effort to restoring the destroyed cities of its largely Sunni population after the fight against ISIS. It has done little to establish any form of ethnic or sectarian conciliation, and far too much of  the ‘oil wealth’ is consumed by its politicians, officials and a government sector that is one of the best paid and least productive in developing countries.

Corruption, waste of government resources and the purchase of military equipment have increased Iraq’s budget deficit from $ 16.7 billion in 2013, $ 20 billion in 2016 to $ 23 billion for fiscal year 2019. MiddleEastMonitor quoted the head of the parliamentary finance committee Haitham Al-Jubouri on 18 December: “Iraq’s foreign debt amounted to more than $50 billion. More than $20 billion was paid back over the last period”. According to the official, Iraq still owes $27 billion to foreign countries, in addition to $41 billion to Saudi Arabia given as a grant to the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraqi lawmaker Majida Al-Tamimi confirmed that Iraq borrowed $1.2 billion in 2005 and $1.4 billion in 2006 from the World Bank and external parties to support investment and bridge the budget deficit. Also the IMF came to the rescue with billion dollar loans that make the country even more dependent on the US and other foreign creditors. It’s not surprising that 78% of the Iraqi people consider the Iraqi economy as “bad” or “very bad”, according to IIACSS polling firm.

The constitution allows Iraqis to have two nationalities, but stipulates that the person appointed to a higher or security position must renounce the other nationality (Article 18, 4). However, no Iraqi official has complied with this Regulation.

Many senior Iraqi officials have dual nationality, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (France), former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (UK) and Parliament President Saleem al-Jibouri (Qatar). Of the 66 Iraqi ambassadors, 32 have dual nationality, as well as an estimated 70 to 100 MPs.

Then there are the ministers in the current Iraqi government with a Western background: Mohamed Ali Al hakim – Minister of Foreign Affairs (UK and US), Fuad Hussein – Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister (the Netherlands and France), Thamir Ghadhban – Minister of Oil and Deputy Prime Minister (UK).

Many officials accused of corruption by the Iraqi authorities have fled the country to escape persecution thanks to their foreign passport, including former ministers Abdul Falah al-Sudani (trade), Hazim Shaalan (national defense) and Ayham al-Samarrai (electricity).

Najah al-Shammari serves as the current defense minister from 2019 onwards in the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi. He is a Swedish citizen who is part of the Mahdi cabinet. The minister is under investigation for benefit fraud for claiming housing and child benefits from Sweden, according to the online news site Nyheter Idag and the Swedish newspaper Expressen. He is charged with “crimes against humanity” in Sweden.

President Barham Salih is a British citizen. A complaint was made against him by “Defending Christian Arabs”, who asked the Advocate General in Scotland to open an investigation against him for “crimes against humanity by giving permission or being complicit in the widespread attack on civilian demonstrations in Iraq that resulted in mass killings, injuries, illegal arrests and kidnapping of people. ”

Civil servants are known to demand bribes up to tens of thousands of dollars to give government contracts or even only to put a signature on a public document; also to arrange a lucrative function for a friend or family member. “Political parties are refusing to leave the cabinet because they will no longer be able to grab hold of the treasury”, a senior member of the ruling coalition told AFP.

Many appointments in the Cabinet, Directors General in Ministries and embassy staff are family members of Moqtada Sadr and Hadi Al-Ameri, the head of the Badr organization, the military wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the two largest parties in the Iraqi Parliament.

Amid the expected rescheduling of the cabinet, positions are already ‘bought’, according to a senior Iraqi official. “A political party is assigned a certain ministry and then sells that ministerial position to the highest bidder”. He described a transaction worth $ 20 million. It is a well-known script: the candidate pays the party for the position and then tries to appropriate as much public money as possible, with which the debt can be paid off. The system is so deeply rooted, observers say, that there is little that Abdel Mahdi can do to stop it.

Iraqi Prime Minister receives many visitors

Donald Trump said in February 2019 that US soldiers must remain in Iraq “to guard Iran.” Two months later, on April 7, Iran’s chief, Ali Khamenei (image on the left), called on Iraqi leaders to ensure that the US military leaves “as quickly as possible.” Meanwhile, a procession of US and Iranian officials came to Iraq to defend their respective interests, including Trump himself during an unannounced visit in December 2018 and, four months later, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with the Iraqi Prime Minister on 17 September to discuss a new military training mission to Iraq. Amid the current uprising, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also arrived in Baghdad on 8 October to discuss escalating tensions between the United States and Iran in the Gulf region.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on December 13 for a “decisive” reaction if US interests are endangered in Iraq, following a series of rocket attacks on bases where US forces are housed. The military base at Baghdad International Airport became the target of two missiles on December 12. It was already the 10th attack on that basis since October. “We use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attack by them or their proxies, which harm Americans, our allies or our interests, will be answered with a decisive response from the US,” Pompeo said in his statement.

The US military leadership has also made it clear that the death or injury of an American citizen is a red line that will lead to retaliation. “My fear is that the Iraqi government is not willing to take action, and if there is no willingness to stop this, then we will come to a point where we are pushed into a corner,” said a US military official. “We will not eat rockets all day and keep quietly watching when some of us are killed.” The US has sent between 5,000 and 7,000 extra troops to Iraq.

ISIS is no longer a big problem for Iraq

Iraq has changed so much because of the protest movement, that ISIS may no longer be an important challenge. The sectarian polarization from which ISIS benefited has faded. Moreover, now that many Sunnis have experienced a double trauma due to the draconian control of ISIS and the subsequent military campaign to recapture their territories, most of them no longer want to have anything to do with the terror group. The Iraqi security forces, in turn, have somewhat curtailed their sectarian excesses and forged a better relationship with the Sunnis.

Despite these reasons for optimism, securing peripheral areas where ISIS is still active remains necessary. But that is a task that should be entrusted to the Iraqi armed forces. The government still needs to rebuild the economies and public services of the areas devastated by the war against ISIS so that displaced persons can return. Healing the wounds of this conflict remains difficult. The judicial approach of the Iraqi government after ISIS threatens to deepen the contradictions in the country. “ISIS Families”: Citizens with alleged family ties to ISIS militants, who have been expelled from their homes, are in danger of becoming a permanently stigmatized underclass.

And as if there are not enough problems already, the Iraqi government must also provide an answer to reports that predict bleak economic prospects and a financial crisis in 2020. The military fight against ISIS was expensive and has exhausted the state treasury. The reconstruction of affected areas such as Nineve, Anbar and Salahaddin and the housing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced by the fighting will be even more expensive.

The “lost youth” of Iraq take the future into their own hands

On October 1, young protesters appeared on Tahrir Square in Baghdad to express their dissatisfaction with the unlivable situation in their country. “No future”, “Iraq is done”, “Iraq is finished”, were often heard statements by young Iraqi people, who fled en masse from the country in search of a safe haven where they could build a meaningful future. According to a recent poll, the number of young people who absolutely wanted to leave the country had risen from 17% to 33% between 2012 and 2019. Since the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011, there have been continuous peaceful protests against what the Iraqi anti-occupation movement calls “the second face of the occupation”: the neoliberal economic structures and the sectarian corrupt political structures, a country which remained under control of imperialism. Those protest actions have had no effect so far. But that could soon change.

In the months prior to the October mass demonstrations, university graduates organized sit-ins at various ministries in Baghdad, often together with graduates from other cities. Security forces unleashed hot-water cannons on the sit-ins that were held from June to September.

Instead of giving in to the demands of the young people, the authorities launched a campaign to demolish homes and shops of unemployed and poor workers built on state-owned property in the southern cities of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes, including some who had bought their land from militias or corrupt government officials. Most of them had used up all their savings, had incurred debts or relied on the help of their social network.

On 22 September, a small group of civilian activists in Iraq called to demonstrate on 1 October. They had no idea that their call would result in a general uprising.

The call, which insisted on the need to get out on the street against “the poorly functioning government”, was spread through various social media and was supported by the Al-Hikma Islamic Current, an Islamic Shiite political organization.

The established parties responded differently to the call. The Ba’athists announced that they could seize the opportunity to regain power. Muqtada al-Sadr noted that the end of the current government was near. The Workers Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) warned the masses against participation in what they saw as protests organized by the Islamic parties. On the eve of October 1, there was a lot of confusion about who exactly was behind the call.

The protest would take place on Tuesday at 10 a.m. – a deliberate choice to distinguish the action from the Friday meetings organized by the Sadrists as well as to disrupt a working day (Friday is Iraq’s closing day). In the first hours of the demonstration on Tahrir Square in Baghdad, there were only a few hundred demonstrators. Most were supporters of the popular former commander of counterterrorism forces, General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who were angry with the government’s decision to degrade him.

Soon other demonstrators filled the square. Around noon, the government started using violence against the protesters, first in the form of water cannons and tear gas, and later they used live ammunition. When at least 10 protesters were killed after the first day of protest, the uprising spread to all southern Shiite provinces, including the important oil port of Umm Qasr near Basra, reducing economic activity by more than 50 percent. Since the uprising in October, protesters have blocked access to oil fields in the southern cities of Basra, Nasiriyah and Missan and closed the main roads to ports to paralyze the oil trade. On November 2, the blockade of the Umm Qasr port, the most important access to Iraq, had already cost the government nearly $ 6 billion.

Iranian-sponsored Arab Shiite militias joined the government’s security forces and shot the protesters at random. Death squads faced unarmed demonstrators and every day protesters were shot. The government blacked out social media, shut down the internet, and announced a curfew in various cities. The demonstrators erected barricades and burned tires to prevent militia and government forces from entering their neighborhoods. The fight went on. An Iranian-sponsored militia, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, controlled the main access to Tahrir Square, the central square in Baghdad, and shot at demonstrators who were trying to reach the square. A new militia supported by Iran, Saraya al-Khorasani, attacked the al-Ghazaliya district in Baghdad, bombed a hospital and killed people in their homes.

On October 6, dozens of women and children were killed in Sadr City, the poorest district of Baghdad. Other cities also turned into a battlefield. Protesters set fire to the Islamic Shiite party offices in Nasiriyah and Missan and proclaimed Nasiriyah a city free of government parties. The deterrent effect of the government’s violent repression – along with its allegations of foreign influence – could not stop the protests, on the contrary, more and more people came to the streets. Protesters decided on October 25 to launch a new wave of demonstrations to honor the victims.

In Baghdad, the mobilization was initially motivated by socio-economic motives. The first demonstrators were unemployed youth from the Shiite east side of the city. Many have gone on a general strike to support the protesters and Iraqi unions are organizing events on Tahrir Square to support the protests. In southern Shiite Iraq, teachers’ unions have led a general strike movement in most schools and universities. Civil society students and organizations have also joined the second wave of protest that began on 25 October. Resistance to the political elite includes all social classes. It has become the largest grassroots movement in the modern history of Iraq. Millions of demonstrators take part in the daily actions and demonstrations.

On October 25, protesters and government forces faced each other on the Al-Jumhuriya bridge in Baghdad and two other bridges over the Tigris River that lead to the Green Zone. The demonstrators succeeded in occupying these strategic bridges, where government buildings, villas of top officials, embassies and offices of military mercenaries and other foreign agencies are located. Protesters attempting to move from Tahrir Square to the Green Zone were confronted with extreme violence: government forces used skull-piercing tear gas canisters, sound bombs and live ammunition. The Green Zone covers an area of ​​142 hectares and houses the US embassy of 750 million dollars, which was formally opened in January 2009 with a staff of over 16,000 people, mostly contractors, but including 2,000 diplomats.

The courage and creativity of the mass demonstrators are remarkable. Drivers of tuk-tuks – motorized three-wheeled rickshaws – have transported injured people from Tahrir Square to nearby hospitals. Civil society organizations, trade unions and political groups have set up tents on the square to provide logistical support, medical services, food and water supplies, helmet distribution, educational sessions and more. Doctors, nurses and medical students offer treatment to wounded and sick people on the square day and night. When protesters made a call to bring food to the square, families, restaurant owners, shopkeepers and others outside the camp flooded the protesters with food. The unemployed, the handicapped, members of Baghdad tribes and surrounding areas, academics, the Workers Communist Party of Iraq, the current Al-Sadr party, women’s organizations, opposition members of Parliament, the Iraqi Communist Party – all are involved in the mass demonstrations.

The majority of demonstrators grew up during the US invasion and occupation and the ongoing violence that followed. A banner from a young demonstrator reads: “We are a generation born in your wars, we spent our youth in your terrorism, our adolescence in your sectarianism and our youth in your corruption. We are the generation of stolen dreams and premature aging”. To the question: “How often have you felt so depressed in the past six months that nothing could encourage you?”, 43.7% of Iraqi respondents in the 2019 poll answered: “often” and 39.3% “sometimes” . This says something about the desperation of the Iraqi youth.

Absent in the current protests are the established political parties. These youth protests came as a surprise for them. The influence of well-known clergymen on the course of the protests, such as Great Ayatollah al Sistani and Moqtada al Sadr, has decreased considerably.

Moqtada al Sadr’s attempt to calm down the protesters by announcing that his followers would leave the parliament in solidarity with the protesters did not change the situation much. Protesters criticized the lack of solidarity by the two most important religious institutions in Iraq. They asked: “where is your duty to the Iraqi people, your dedication to piety and faith? Is the anthem played by a lady on the violin worse than killing hundreds of Iraqis?” They referred to an event a few months ago in which both Sunni and Shiite institutions protested against a woman playing the violin during the opening of a sports event in Najaf, because they felt that this was against the “true faith.”Iraq Gives the US Its Marching Orders. What Part of “Go Home” Don’t You Understand?

Repression

The protest escalated within a few days with hundreds of deaths and thousands wounded. Party and government offices were set on fire in various cities.

General Qasem Soleimani (image on the right), commander of the forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and architect of the Iranian regional policy visited Baghdad several times since 1 October to discuss the strategy against the uprising with the Iraqi leaders, including Haidi Al Amiri, who heads one of the largest parliamentary blocs in Iraq and the Badr organization supported by Iran.

Most of the deaths are caused by machine gun fire and snipers, randomly in the crowd and on identified protest leaders. Amnesty International stated that security forces in Baghdad had deployed military-grade tear gas shells “to kill demonstrators instead of dispersing them.” These 40 mm shells are, according to Amnesty’s analysis, Serbian Sloboda Ĉaĉak M99 shells, but also M651- tear gas shells and M713 smoke shells produced by the Defense Industries Organization (DIO) of Iran Commissioner Yousra Rajab of the Iraqi parliamentary human rights commission said government forces used CF gas bombs containing poisons that cause blindness, miscarriages in pregnant women, strokes and burns that can lead to death.

The Iraqi army admitted on Monday 7 October that it had shot at demonstrators in Baghdad. “Excessive violence was used and we have begun to hold the commanding officers who have committed these crimes responsible,” the statement said. It was the first time since the outbreak of protests that security forces acknowledged that they had used excessive force.

The government sent the military anti-terrorism troops to Nasiriyah and the situation was initially resolved without further violence. But then came November 28. The security forces raided the demonstrators in Nasiriyah at night, killing at least 46 people and injuring many more.

An eyewitness: “They opened fire non-stop. They recaptured the bridge within five minutes … because they didn’t stop shooting, people ran away. I saw at least five people die before me. Everyone who was shot and killed was left on the street and the troops beat everyone they had captured. I saw them beating people as if they wanted to kill them. It was a catastrophe.

“We ran into houses to hide. The armed forces said through their loudspeakers: “If someone is hiding in a house, come outside or we will blow up the houses”. We had to come out. They were still shooting. They arrested and chased the remaining protesters to al-Habboobi square, the traditional place for the protests. But many residents of the city had gathered there to protect the protesters: men, women and children. The shooting went on until 7 a.m. ”

“The scenes from Nasiriyah this morning look more like a war zone than a city with streets and bridges. This brutal attack is only the last in a long series of fatal events in which Iraqi security forces have acted terribly violently against largely peaceful demonstrators,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East director at Amnesty International.

Security forces have launched a widespread campaign of night-time raids, arresting protesters. While some have vanished without a trace, others were subjected to torture and only released after being forced to sign pledges promising to stop participating in protests.

The security forces also resort to enforced disappearances as a way of creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia among demonstrators. They have targeted medics, lawyers and journalists in particular. In addition, activists and journalists have received warnings that their names would be added to blacklists if they did not stop criticizing the authorities. Security forces have also infiltrated demonstrations, deliberately inciting violence and surveilling activists.

The authorities have systematically prevented information about human rights violations in the context of protests from getting out, including through sustained internet blackouts and the muzzling of government institutions. Paramilitary groups sent their militants to television channels that reported on the protests to destroy their equipment and studios. They attacked wounded protesters in hospitals and kidnapped and threatened journalists, doctors and everyone who supported the demonstrations. The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission issued warnings to five TV channels and decided to close nine others, as a direct result of their coverage of demonstrations. Despite constant reports of kidnappings, arrests and killings, definitive figures and exact information are not available.

Iraqi professor Kamel Abdul Rahim:

“I have never been convinced that Iranian General Qasim Soleimani played a major role in Iraqi politics, but the slaughter committed yesterday (November 28) in al-Nasiriya and Najaf (where at least 69 people were killed) ), a massacre that will no doubt spread to Tahrir Square in Baghdad, is a blatant expression of the way Soleimani views Iraq as an Iranian province. The Iranian ruling administration will never accept its loss in Iraq. They could possibly accept the loss of Yemen or Lebanon and even Syria … but Iraq is the red line.”

“Adel Abdul Mahdi, the generals and the other warlords, the entire political class … they all chose the deadly recipe of Soleimani. We are on the threshold of a bloody phase. The Trump government opted for silence and perhaps approved Soleimani’s plan. After all, there is a great consensus between the two “enemies” America and Iran. The theater for their conflict is Iraq ”.

“Iraqi citizens are the new threat to their common agenda because they oppose this imposed system. The Iraqi citizen has become a burden and the Iraqi people can only count on themselves to bring about change.”

Washington’s silence

Ironically, both Washington and Tehran oppose the protesters’ demand for the abolition of the regime. The position of the US is clear in support of the regime, as evidenced by the telephone conversation that US Foreign Minister Pompeo had with Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, on the sixth day of the protests, in which he spoke about “the power and depth of the strategic relations between the two countries”, while the blood of the killed protesters had not yet dried up.

The US Department of Foreign Affairs, which is largely concerned with securing the US bases, had initially not commented on the bloody repression of the demonstrators. However, at the end of October, after it was reported that Iran had concluded an agreement with the major Iraqi political parties to keep Mahdi in power and suppress the protests even harder, Washington began to talk about “respecting the demands of the protesters.”

The Atlantic Council, a pro-American think tank on international relations, explains precisely why the US remains so silent about the uprisings in Iraq: “Should the government decide to undertake real reform, it will need support from the international community. On this point, the United States needs to be careful. While calls from the US Embassy to avoid violence are certainly appropriate, it is important to remember that Iraqis are not just tired of Iranian meddling, but anyone’s. While the United States, so far, does not seem to be the focus of the protests, a recent Iraqi opinion poll showed a favorability rating for the United States at 22 percent, which at least was higher than the Iranians, who were at 16 percent. The poll also noted, however, that nearly 43 percent of Iraqis believe the United States influences Iraq in a significant way and that 53 percent believe the 2003 invasion’s purpose was to “occupy Iraq and plunder its wealth.” These numbers suggest that a strong, visible response from the United States could just make things worse.”

An Iraqi uprising initiated by the Shia population

Protests against the Shiite-led government originated in the central and southern provinces of Iraq, which have traditionally been the backbone of Iranian influence in the country. But this is not a Shiite uprising. This is an Iraqi uprising. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq tried to put an end to this system, but failed. Their protests in 2013 led to the emergence of ISIS and the destruction of their cities.

In the capital, sit-ins and strikes by students symbolizes the hope of a young generation that yearns for a non-sectarian policy. But in the south, where militia-backed militias are stronger than the state or the state itself, and where a party or militia can dominate the security apparatus, the anger of the people is even greater.

In Amara, for example, a crowd burned the headquarters of a powerful Iranian-backed militia. Guards opened fire, and during subsequent collisions, demonstrators pulled the wounded commander of the militia out of an ambulance and killed him.

Protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in Najaf, the seat of the powerful Shiite clergy of Iraq. They accused the Iraqi authorities of turning against their own people to defend Iran.

The Guardian reported on 29 November: “In the beginning, only a few dozen people protested,” says a 22-year-old demonstrator in al-Shatrah. “But when the locals heard the bullets and saw that their boys were killed, they left their homes. It became a matter of honor. We decided to free our cities from these parties.”

Many of the most powerful Iraqi politicians and militia commanders come from the south. The youth in the region formed the backbone of the Shiite militias who fought against the Islamic State (ISIS). Anger towards the militias and political parties began, activists say, with the defeat of ISIS, when young men returned from the front lines and discovered that their commanders had become warlords and had accumulated wealth and business contracts.

“So many politicians and officials come from this region, and yet this is a very poor province,” said Mohamed, a human rights activist and anti-corruption campaigner. “During the elections, politicians give people blankets and a few phone cards, give a few men a job with the police, repair a road … that’s how they win votes. After 16 years of Shiite rule, the children now say it was better under Saddam. ”

“Who are the Hashd al Shaabi? Our children were the Hashd. These politicians and commanders climbed on their backs to achieve their goal and gain power and wealth. ”

For Mohamed, “the status of the Shiite clergy has collapsed. If a militia commander now would come to the square, he would be beaten with shoes.” In the south, some of the most bloody incidents have occurred since the uprising began.

Iraq is governed by power sharing between religious and ethnic parties. Each party has their own militias, which are also internally divided and who want to obtain as much economic and political power as possible. Militia leaders who belong to these groups sit on administrative boards and control the ports, borders, oil fields, trade, etc.

The city of Basra is a good example, where the Shi’a Muslim Al-Dawa party controls the Al-Burjisiya oil field, the Sheeba and Al-Muthanna gas fields, the Basra International Airport and the Umm Qasr seaport. Another group, consisting of Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr militia, controls the port of Abu Flous and the railway line. The Sadrist militia controls the stadium of the city and the Al-Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran. Al-Hikma, a Shiite Islamic block, guards the North Al-Rumaila oil field, the port of Al-Maqal and the border crossing with Safwan with Kuwait. Other areas such as the port of Khor Al-Zubair and the rectorate of Basra University are controlled by clans such as the Al-Battat.

Business contracts only go to people or companies that are affiliated with the ruling parties and their militias. Corruption is widespread, law enforcement is completely absent. Political parties and their militias flourish by using state revenues to enrich themselves, ranging from factories and agriculture to tourism, Islamic banking and private schools. Bribes for state contracts with foreign companies are channeled through the parties and militias that control the ministries.

In the predominantly northern Sunni areas of the province of Anbar and Mosul, which were bombed during the war against ISIS, people are not yet en masse on the streets. This is not because of a lack of support, but because of the repressive action against any sign of opposition. Even those in the region who have expressed their solidarity on Facebook are being arrested by security forces, while the authorities have made it clear that anyone who opposes the government will be treated as “terrorist” and ISIS sympathizer.

Regarding the position of the Kurds, the Kurdish leaders fear that they will be on the losing side if any change would occur in the current political system because an amendment to the Iraqi constitution would affect their guaranteed rights. They are therefore not opposed to the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Mahdi.

An uprising of the Iraqi youth

The current uprising was initially dominated by young people between the ages of 17 and 23. The younger generations no longer believe in political parties and the country’s leaders. At Tahrir Square in Baghdad, protesters have set up a “wall of wishes”, Reuters reported on 26 November. “I hated Iraq before October 25, now I am proud of it,” said 16-year-old Fatima Awad. “We used to have no future and no one would protest because everyone was scared. Now we are all gathered in Tahrir Square,” she added.

Unemployment is particularly high among graduates, the vast majority of whom are looking for work in the public sector because the private sector is so weak. Pathogenic factors associated with unemployment are increasing, including suicide, drug addiction and depression. Unemployment has boosted organized crime and has encouraged many young men to join militias.

In addition to the economic slump, the social fabric of Iraq has crumbled since the US-led invasion in 2003. The occupation exacerbated the destruction Iraq had already suffered as a result of the Gulf War of 1991, the bombing campaigns of the 1990s by the United States and the UK , and the murderous economic embargo since 1990. But despite this bleak reality, it is the youth of Iraq who are the driving force behind the ongoing protests.

The hope for a better future not only lives within Iraq, but also among the Iraqis in the diaspora. From Sydney to Toronto and also in Belgium, solidarity campaigns are being organized with the revolts. Sundus Abdul Hadi, an Iraqi-Canadian artist and author wrote in Medium.com on 1 November: “I would say that most of us in the diaspora have been completely seized or even obsessed with what is happening in our motherland. We are with heart and soul with the people in Iraq. Without social media I don’t know what I would do. It gives us the opportunity to make direct contact with people in Iraq, to ​​share their vision and experiences. This I’d say that most of us in the diaspora have been completely absorbed, if not obsessed, with what is going on in our motherland. We are living it, body and soul, with the people in Iraq. If it wasn’t for social media, I don’t know what I’d do. It is giving us an opportunity to connect directly with people in Iraq, to share their vision and experiences. This is in complete contrast to the one-dimensional and one-sided images that came out of the Iraq war in 2003 from embedded journalists. (…) This revolution is also for those of us outside of Iraq, who are displaced or exiled, always longing to return, living in our nostalgias and traumas. It is for the Iraqis that have been robbed of a land to return to, of a homebound future to lay claim to. It is for the Iraqis, like me, who gave birth to children in faraway countries, whispering into their ears that they are Iraqi despite the fact that Iraq is an illusory, mythical place plagued by war and instability.”

At the front of the square, on the edge of the Jumhuriya Bridge, is the 14-storey “Turkish restaurant building” that overlooks Tahrir Square and the Jumhuriya Bridge (which leads to the Green Zone) and is the beating heart of the revolution. It has now been taken over by the young demonstrators who vowed not to leave the building. There are checkpoints at all entrances to the building and Tahrir Square where young volunteers check the possession of weapons that are prohibited at all times on the square. Each floor has a different function: one for the artists and the painters, one for the musicians, one for a library, one for security, etc. The building has been abandoned since 2003 after it was bombed in 2003 and never rebuilt. On all floors there are sleeping places, toilets are built and there is a cleaning service.

A demand for system change and restoration of national identity

Iraq suffers under the capitalist privatization process that pro-consul Bremer introduced after 2003 and was not abolished by successive Iraqi governments. The demonstrators demand – perhaps unknowingly – a return to the welfare state created by the Ba’ath regime, where the Iraqi population had a much higher standard of living than today. The polarization between the elite and the people is caused by the neoliberal economic policy (privatization, job crisis, etc.) and the militarization of the economy.

The most radical demand on Tahrir Square is the dismantling of this entire sectarian, political, Islamic system and an end to the country’s foreign control. This is the first and most important demand. The people want to change the constitution, expel the ruling political parties, abolish sectarian election rules, cancel all treaties with the World Bank. The people want to regain their sovereignty, expel the US army and its bases, expel the Iranian presence, expel the Turkish army, internationalize the issue of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The protesters want a separation of religion and politics. The young Iraqis use words such as citizenship, social justice, as opposed to the religious or ethnic identity that the influential clergy and rulers have imposed on the Iraqi people. The US occupation has done everything to erase the national Iraqi identity and to keep the country ethnically and religiously divided, which has given rise to bloody sectarian conflicts. But that tactic no longer works.

In a piece originally published in German by Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation, Ansar Jasim and Schluwa Sama reported from Tahrir Square. “This is a movement of all of us, your origin does not play a role here, we are all suppressed by one political class,” an activist explains. Posters that prohibit any sectarian language are everywhere. Instead, people make references to elements that have played a unifying role in history, and Islamic and Christian symbols and drawings adorn Tahrir square.

Cuneiform script and figures from the Mesopotamian heritage of the region are also visible. Protesters do not have an exclusive Arab-Islamic identity as before, but want an identity that reflects the diversity of the country. Time and again they talk about all the different social, ethnic and religious groups that are present on the Square.

The demonstrations are supported by all religious and ethnic groups. The Mandaeans support the demands of the protesters and hand out food, the Chaldean Catholic church patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako canceled a planned interview in Hungary and chose to “stay in Baghdad during this difficult time.” In a joint statement, Sako and other leaders of Christian communities thanked “the young men and women, the future of Iraq, for their peaceful protests and for breaking the country’s sectarian barriers and emphasizing the Iraqi national identity.”

Arabic next to Kurdish slogans are everywhere on the square. A Kurdish-Arabic tent invites demonstrators for free tea. There is also great solidarity from the Yezidi community, which sends money, but also brings food and water to the square. Even if they do not have a direct, visible presence on the square, they express their support for change that could lead to a renewed Iraqi identity.

But the religious leaders who run the country are not welcome in the square, with some even denouncing Moqtada al Sadr and others who are held co-responsible for the looting of the country. “Don’t ride the wave, Moqtada” is therefore a popular slogan, as well as “In the name of religion, politicians act like thieves!”

the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, an apparent concession to the demonstrators, has not paralyzed the movement. It was too little and too late, they claim. Their demand is an entirely new political system, not the removal of one person.

No to “Muhasasa”

The Iraqi constitution has caused anger among the Iraqi people since 2005 and has given rise to continuous protests. “No to Muhasasa, no to political sectarianism,” protesters in Tahrir Square sang after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at the end of November 2019. The divisive constitution has anchored “Muhasasa” in Iraqi society. Muhasasa is the system for distributing public offices, political positions and state resources along ethnic-sectarian lines between parties that are part of the ruling elite of the country.

One of the biggest ailments of the Muhasasa, according to Iraqi demonstrators and experts, is that it has driven the sectarian tensions and broke down the social fabric by putting ethnic-sectarian identities in the foreground.

Although the muhasasa was introduced by the United States after the 2003 invasion, the foundations of the system were laid in the early 1990s by Iraqi opposition groups, which worked out a system for proportionate representation of Sunni, Shiites, Kurds and other ethnic sectarian groups in Iraq.

Prof. Saad Naji Jawad has written extensively about the disastrous Iraqi Constitution. I draw from his analysis. When US pro-consul Paul Bremer ​​arrived in Baghdad in May 2003, he had no prior knowledge of Iraqi politics, but immediately began issuing his 100 orders, many of which are still in force today. Bremer also formed a governing body, the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), consisting of people selected on the basis of sect, ethnic background and, most importantly, their loyalty to the US. It was the first time in Iraq’s history that agreements were made on a sectarian and ethnic basis. 65% of the IGC members had dual nationality.

The IGC appointed a committee to review the draft for a new constitution. This draft was strongly influenced by American political interests and written by American advisers, in particular the Jewish professor Noah Feldman and Peter Galbraith, assisted by two emigrated Iraqis who had the American and British nationality and had not lived in Iraq since childhood. None of the authors was an expert in constitutional law. The document itself was written in English and was poorly translated into Arabic.

The committee lacked representatives of civil society organizations and the committee’s discussions were not made public. The committee appointed advisers, mostly foreigners, whose names were never disclosed. A few days after their appointment, two Sunni members of the editorial committee and an adviser who objected to the proposed draft were murdered. A few days later, another Sunni committee member was kidnapped and killed. The result was that the Sunni representatives stopped their participation and demanded an investigation into the murder of their colleagues.

The important items in the document were not even discussed. However, the Kurdish members had clear ideas about what they wanted and had a team of American and European experts who advised them.

The IGC was asked to approve the constitution and did so with only minor changes. The Council’s main objection was that the new law did not refer to Islam as the state’s official religion, and Article 7 was included at their insistence.

“Sect” is mentioned a number of times in the Constitution (for example, Articles 12 and 20). This divisive word was never included in earlier Iraqi constitutions and its use was rejected by a large number of Iraqis. The only Iraqis who agreed to use the term were those who participated in the political process.

Iraqis were not aware of the details of the document because no public version was available. Some Iraqi constitutional law experts and academics pointed out the dangers of divisive clauses, based on the very few press releases, but these critics were threatened by police and unknown militias.

The constitution stipulates that in the event of inconsistencies between central laws and laws of a regional government, priority is given to the laws of the local government. This is perhaps the only time in modern constitutional history that such a hierarchy has been established. Immediately after the adoption of the constitution, the Kurdish federal region issued its own local constitution, which contained many clauses that contradicted those of the central government, especially regarding the exploitation of national and regional wealth, such as the oil.

Iraqi women were dissatisfied with the Constitution because the 1959 Progressive Personal Status with all its advanced amendments was canceled (Article 41).

In October 2005, Iraqis voted on a permanent constitution that they had not seen, read, studied, discussed or drafted. Even worse is that they voted for an incomplete document. They followed the instructions of their political and religious leaders and the majority did not realize that this document would become a major source of misery.

The provision in the Constitution to keep the central government weaker than the regional authorities has caused a chronic problem for the state. The Iraqi political discourse has centered on ethnicity and religion instead of Iraqi citizenship. The various components within Iraq have great autonomy and pursue an independent foreign policy. For example, there is no objection to the declared alliance policy between the leaders of the Barzani tribes and Israel. An Iraqi politician, such as Al-Alusi, can visit occupied Palestine – at the invitation of the occupying government – and speak and openly call for an alliance with Israel. Al-Alusi was himself one of those responsible for the de-Ba’athification, a decision that blew up the Iraqi state.

No wonder that for the Iraqis this constitution remains controversial. The debate continues about the ambiguity of most articles. The constitution has undermined the unity and survival of the Iraqi state.

The role of the trade unions in the uprising

Trade unions are present in the protests, but not in the forefront. Months before the uprising broke out, public sector employees in Central and Southern Iraq, including textile workers in Diwaniyah, municipal workers in Muthanna and leather workers in Baghdad, formulated demands for better wages and safe working conditions, decent housing and permanent jobs. But these demands have faded into the background since the protests began.

At a meeting in Basra on October 28, trade unions of lawyers, teachers and employees formed a committee that urged other trade unions to support the demonstrator’s demands rather than their own sectoral demands. According to them, the role of the trade unions would be more effective if they would show their solidarity with the demonstrators instead of playing a leading role in the historical uprising.

Most, if not all, trade unions have issued press releases to support the protest movement. The General Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions (GFITU, the only official federation in present-day Iraq, dominated by the Sadrists) called for “solidarity” with the insurrection without asking the workers to participate in the demonstrations. The GFITU advised the demonstrators to “protect public property and maintain good contact with security forces”. The General Federation of Workers’ Unions in Iraq (GFWUI) condemned the government’s violent action and organized pickets outside oil companies and refineries in Basra, Nasiriyah, and Misan, and also held demonstrations in Baghdad and Babel. The GFWUI also set up tents in Nasiriyah and militants brought food and drink for the demonstrators.

In a mass meeting at the Basra Oil Company, the unions demanded an end to the repression. However, the local section promised to continue production and remove the demonstrators who blocked access. The most militant action is done by the unemployed and the poor workers, not by oilworkers, who are severely punished when they strike.

So far, the most precarious demonstrators have received the hardest blows. The poor, the unemployed, the people who have nothing to lose, are the ones who occupy the front lines and defy riot police, militias and even Iranian paramilitary forces. But to bring about real change, the organized working class will have to play a greater role in the movement if the Iraqi people want a state that actually defends their interests.

All social classes participate in demonstrations

On Tahrir Square, bakers, restaurateurs, doctors and nurses, hairdressers, etc., all offer their services free of charge. Families from all classes and neighborhoods are demonstrating together under the hashtag نازل_اخذ_حقي# (I am demonstrating to claim my rights). Hordes of students leave high schools and universities to participate in the protests. Trade unions have joined the uprising. According to a poll conducted last year, 77% of the Iraqi people supported the uprising of 2018 (in Iraqi Kurdistan it was 53%). The support for the current revolution will be probably higher.

But especially the Tuk Tuk drivers have become the symbol of the revolution par excellence. The Tuktuk is a three-wheeled vehicle that serves as a taxi for the poor, but is now a symbol of the revolution itself. Tuktuks are not only depicted on the walls around the square, songs are written about them and even the newspaper of the revolution, which reports on all activities in the square, is called Tuktuk. Tuktuk drivers were previously socially marginalized and discriminated against. They are mostly young, underage drivers who have no other choice than to do this job, given the high unemployment and widespread poverty.

Now they transport wounded demonstrators and also have a logistical function. They are the only vehicles that are allowed on Tahrir square. The increased social recognition is reflected in more and more donations from other protesters, mainly from other social classes. This is necessary, because these young drivers often offer their services free of charge.

Another group on which the Iraqis have changed their opinion since 1 October are the residents of the southern province of Dhi Qar. Some of the most aggressive protests have taken place here, where protesters have set fire to political party offices and have gained a degree of control over the provincial capital Nasiriyah. In the meantime, the demonstrators of Dhi Qar have gained heroic status among their countrymen. This is despite the fact that the inhabitants of the city have had a bad reputation for decades. They are often described as “bad” fruits that have fallen from the “cursed tree.” If someone did something bad somewhere, it was often said that the person “probably comes from Nasiriyah”.

Since the demonstrations started, the people of Nasiriyah were praised for their courage. “We, the Baghdad demonstrators, have been trying to cross the bridge to the Green Zone for weeks,” is a slogan in Tahrir Square. “We are now asking our fellow demonstrators in Nasiriyah to help us do that faster.”

Women are prominently present in the revolution

Women have long been marginalized and silenced by conservative Islamists and now they have decided to finally make themselves heard. They joined the protest movement en masse. In a society where sexes do not normally mix, protesting alongside men means that a taboo has been broken. This is also a revolution against outdated traditions and norms. Men and women walk hand in hand, hug each other and people even kiss. This is unseen. There is no doubt that the uprising is a turning point for women, but the road to their freedom and rights is still full of obstacles. Breaking the artificial barrier between men and women is one of the most beautiful and significant outcomes of this historic uprising. The women come from all sectors of society, with or without headscarves, Muslims, Christians, young people, the elderly, middle-class and working-class women, housewives … they all participate, in the front lines or as logistical supporters. This is a hopeful evolution and no power will be able to reverse it, despite all the efforts and money that political Islam has spent to impose its feudal culture.

The women who demonstrate, offer help and even spend the night on Tahrir Square also feel completely safe. The office of the Iraqi Human Rights Commissioner stated on November 6 that “since the beginning of demonstrations in the various Iraqi provinces, there has been no case of women being harassed despite the participation of thousands of women”.

Iran, the big enemy?

Although Iran itself is threatened by the US and Israel and suffers from a criminal sanctions regime, the country has worked with the US since 2003 to pacify the country and shape the sectarian system. Iranian and American ambassadors have very actively tried to stop any Iraqi attempt at independence. Both the US and Iran must approve the composition of a government after each election in the secure Green Zone. At the same time, the relationships are very conflicting. Both Washington and Tehran fight each other for complete control of Iraq.

It has also become clear that the American mission in Iraq, set up to create a pro-American model for the region and a stronghold against anti-American militantism, has achieved the exact opposite. The defeat of Iraq was intended to illustrate how much the US firepower could intimidate the region and scare off the so-called “rogue states”. Instead, the policy outlined by the neoconservatives, Israel and the oil companies has ironically strengthened Iran’s power, the only regional power to withstand all that pressure, and is now the new “rogue state.” Iran’s regional status has risen in a way that was impossible without this background of failed imperial politics. Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the Iranian Deputy Chairman for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – at the Conference The Gulf and Future Challenges, held in Abu Dhabi, January 2004 by the Emirate Center for Strategic Research and Studies – clearly explained Iran’s role in the occupation of Iraq. “The fall of Kabul and Baghdad would not have been easy without the assistance of Iran,” Abtahi said about the role of Iranian militias and intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranian threat is now imminent and pro-American authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have helped to achieve this.

At the beginning of March 2015, several Arab newspapers reported that Ali Younesi, a senior adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, had declared that Baghdad is the capital of “a new Persian Empire”. “Iran has today become an empire as it has been throughout history and the capital is now Baghdad in Iraq, which reflects the center of our civilization and our culture and identity today, as it was in the past”.

The “ISNA” news agency reported on his intervention in a forum in Tehran entitled “The Iranian Identity”. Younesi said that “Iran and Iraq are geographically indivisible. Younesi, who was the minister of information in President Mohammad Khatami’s ‘reform’ government, denounced anyone opposed to Iranian influence in the Middle East :”We will defend all peoples of the region because we consider them to be part of Iran. We will fight Islamic extremism, fight Takfiri, atheists, neo-Ottomans, Wahhabists, the West and Zionism.”

He emphasized the continuation of Tehran’s support for the Iraqi government and sent a clear message to Turkey: “Our competitors, the historical heirs of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Ottomans, resent our support for Iraq.” Younesi also stated in his speech that his country is planning to establish an “Iranian Federation” in the region: “by Iranian Federation, we do not mean to remove borders but that all nations neighboring the Iranian plateau should be close. I do not mean that we want to conquer the world all over again, but that we must regain our historical position to globally think and act Iranian

To understand the ambiguous position of Iran, we must go back to the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978-79, initially welcomed by the Iraqi government, because for the two countries the Shah was a common enemy. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, however, saw Saddam Hussein’s secular, Arab-nationalist Ba’ath regime as un-Islamic and “an envoy of Satan”. The call by Khomeini in June 1979 to the Iraqi Shiites to overthrow the Ba’ath regime was therefore badly received in Baghdad. In 1979-1980 there were anti-Ba’ath riots in the Shiite areas of Iraq, and the Iranian government provided extensive support to the Iraqi Shiite militants to unleash an Islamic revolution. The repeated calls for the overthrow of the Ba’ath regime and support for Iraqi Shiite groups by the new regime in Iran was increasingly seen as an existential threat in Baghdad. Iranian pan-Islamism and revolutionary Shia Islamism, against secular Iraqi Arab nationalism were therefore central to the conflict between the two countries. Many of the current rulers in Iraq, including former Prime Minister al-Maliki, returned from Iran to Iraq on the back of the American tanks. Revanchist motifs played a major role. Officers from the former Iraqi army were systematically killed on the basis of death lists. Militias like the BADR Brigades, supported by Iran, sometimes worked together with the US to combat armed resistance, in a particularly brutal way. At other times they turned against the US. The US had no choice but to accept this option so as not to sink further into the Iraqi quagmire.

The Iranian discourse reflects ignorance about the reality of the Arab national identity. It is more important to the Iraqi Shiites than their religious identity. For example, in 1980 Khomeini wrongly thought that the Shiites in the Iraqi army would not fight against Iran and that they would choose Iran’s side because of their religious affiliation. But that didn’t happen. Iran does not seem to realize that the socio-religious rules in Iran are incompatible with the less strict religious behavior of Arab Shiites. This is an element of alienation for Shiite Arabs. The various Iranian statements have also angered the Shiites. 24 “battalions” consisting of 7,500 special police units accompanied more than 3 million Iranians arriving in Karbala province in Iraq to participate in the Arbaeen pilgrimage. Most Iraqi Shiites didn’t like that either..

But the Saudi alternative cannot appeal to the Iraqi Shiites either. The expression of Arab identity or Iraqi identity is the opposite of the reactionary definition of Saudi Wahhabism.

The inhabitants of the Shiite provinces also suffered little from the Anglo/American military campaign that befell the Sunni provinces. No Shiite city has undergone the destruction of Falluja, Ramadi, Mosul, Tikrit and other cities.

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, stated in October 2019 that the uprisings and demonstrations in Iraq and Lebanon were fueled by foreign powers, a vision also adopted by the Iraqi government and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Khamenei described the demonstrations in a tweet as “a conspiracy that will have no effect!” According to him, this “conspiracy” was led by the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and remnants of the Ba’ath party, to overthrow the government and install a regime under Washington control. Even the highest Shiite religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, indicated a possible plot in a statement, although he also condemned the violence against the demonstrators.

For months there had been rumors of a US-initiated coup in Iraq. More than two months before the uprising, Qays Khaz’ali, leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia and political party operating in Iraq, said: “There are plans to change the Baghdad government in November, with protests that will break out in October. Protests will not be spontaneous, but organized by factions in Iraq. Pay attention to my words ”

Sharmine Narwani on October 5, 2019: “Al Akhbar newspaper says the Iraqi government heard 3 months ago about of a planned US-backed coup by military officers, followed by street action. Time to be skeptical about events in Iraq? ”

“Protesters confirm the use of snipers in buildings aimed at demonstrators approaching Tahrir Square. During the US coup in Ukraine in 2014, the same method was used to bring about regime change.” So it was insinuated that the snipers shooting at the demonstrators were allied to the US, while the Iraqi army leadership itself admitted that its armed forces are responsible for the death of the demonstrators.

The claim that some Iraqi officers planned a coup has not been proven. Similarly, there are claims that Iran is planning a takeover of power through its militias. That claim cannot be substantiated either.

The story goes that General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, commander of anti-terrorism forces, would have visited various embassies to receive support for large-scale demonstrations that would lead to a military coup. He was dismissed from office based on those rumors. However, this story lacks credibility.

General Al-Saadi, who became an Iraqi national symbol in 2015 after leading his troops to decisive victories in the fight against ISIS, received the respect of the Iraqi people for impartiality in the war between Iran and the United States in the military campaign against IS. While Iran was arming, financing, and training many of the militias that formed the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), al-Saadi had no problem refusing Iranian support during his successful attempt to recapture territories on ISIS. At the same time, the General did not hesitate to express his frustration with the American patrons of Iraq and openly stated in the media: “Sometimes they carried out airstrikes that I had never asked for, and at other times I begged them for airstrikes that never came”. In a country where loyalty to foreign powers could make or break military and political careers, al-Saadi’s refusal to take sides made him unique in the eyes of Iraqis. His resignation was one of the reasons for the current protests.

Moreover, al-Saadi was only the number two in the command structure of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), which is led by General Talib Shaghati. Organizations such as CTS form the core of American strategies in the Middle East to keep the region under control. American forces created and trained and armed CTS during the first years of occupation and General Talib Shaghati has been the head of the CTS since 2007. Shagati’s entire family is housed in the US “for security reasons.” The only possible explanation for the removal of al-Saadi from his position is not that he was planning a coup, but that he placed Iraqi interests above foreign interests.

According to some commentators, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are funding the protests in Iraq, because where else would the funds come from to distribute free food and drink daily to the thousands of men and women who permanently occupy Tahrir Square? This claim ignores the massive support of the people for the revolts and the enormous solidarity that this revolution generates.

PMF Militias in Iraq were created after the fatwa of the high Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani to fight ISIS terrorists, but after the fighting ended, they shifted their focus to politics and control various government institutions and major parts of the country. They became the second largest formation in the Iraqi government after the 2018 elections, the party of Moqtada al Sadr being the largest.

These “people’s militias” have violently imposed their rule all over Iraq in the areas they control. They enrich themselves in every possible way. Bribes are demanded at checkpoints, especially on roads to areas conquered by ISIS. According to a report from the London School of Economics, militias in only one city generated an estimated $ 300,000 a day in illegal taxes. There are also reports of militias organizing a scrap trade around Mosul and carrying material away to sell instead of supporting the reconstruction of the city.

The militias control the seaport of Umm Qasr and the oil industry has not been spared either. In 2015, militias plundered the Baiji oil refinery, formerly the largest in Iraq. More recently there have been allegations of organized smuggling from oil fields around Mosul and Kirkuk. Militias have been smuggling oil in Basra for a long time and some have signed lucrative contracts with international oil companies.

When asked: “Do you have a positive or negative image of the following countries?”, In a 2019 poll, only 38% of the Iraqi Shiite population had a positive perception of Iran, compared to 86% in 2014. It is impossible to blame US propaganda for this sharp fall in Iran’s perception. The same poll mentions the 3 main reasons for this negative perception: 1) Dumping Iraq with cheap products; 2) Dumping Iraq with Drugs; 3) Supporting different non efficient and corrupt governments.

Of course, the US is the main culprit for the current chaos in Iraq, but Tehran also bears a great responsibility for the damage done to the relations between the Iraqi and Iranian people. The current hostility to Iran does not come out of the blue, but is the result of years of discontent because of Iran’s cooperation with the US occupation forces who together helped to protect government leaders and protect the sectarian quota system, and directly intervened on various occasions to cancel parliamentary decisions. Now that IS has been defeated, the Shiites notice that their reward is a country where the population has fallen even deeper into poverty, while the political and religious elites are pampering themselves with dazzling mansions and spacious country houses abroad, a country where some militias are involved in lucrative smuggling of oil, drugs and human trafficking, where dress codes and religious fatwas are forcefully enforced, a population in poverty while the country floats on a sea of ​​oil.

The US and Saudi Arabia will naturally want to use the current uprising to try to push through their own agenda and insist on regime change. America and Israel are engaged in a total war in the region against all areas under Iranian influence. America does not really have control over the thousands of demonstrators, but it exploits every event and every political development when it serves its interests. However, what we do not read in the Western media is that the protests are also directed against the American presence and also against the interference of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Adel Abdul Mahdi offered his resignation on November 29 after the massacre in Nassiriyah, Najaf and Baghdad.

Western media versus social media

The US and Saudi Arabia do naturally want to use the current revolution to try to push through their own agenda. America and Israel are engaged in a total war in the region against all areas under Iranian influence. America does not really have control over the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, but it exploits every event and every political development when it serves its interests. We only read anti-Iranian rhetoric in Western media. However, what we do not read in the press is that the protests are equally directed against the American presence and against the interference of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

Fortunately, there are social media that bring powerful stories and a human face to the struggle, in a way that has never been done before. There have been desperate attempts by the government to stop the spread of eyewitness accounts on social media by shutting down the internet. However, that did not work.

Banners on Tahrir Square read: “No to America, No to Erdogan, No to Iran, No to Barzani, No to Israeli NGOs”.

Iraqi poet, novelist, translator and scholar Sinan Antoon was born and raised in Baghdad and his most recent novel is entitled “The Book of Collateral Damage”. He said on November 26, “What is really important is the restoration of Iraqi identity and a new sense of Iraqi nationalism that transcends sectarian discourse institutionalized by the United States in 2003”.

“Iran has a lot of influence in Iraq and has infiltrated many of the institutions and supported many of the Iraqi militias, but all of that is a product of the US occupation and invasion of Iraq. While Iran is one of the targets of these demonstrators, it’s important to remember that many of the banners and posters on the Tahrir square say “no” to any foreign intervention. So they say no to Iran, no to Turkey, no to Israel, no to the United States.

But of course the mass media in the United States, because of their geopolitical interests and their continued interference in the region, write only about Iran, and no one denies that Iran supports many of the parties in Iraq financially and otherwise and infiltrates Iraqi society in so many ways. But there are all those other dimensions and, unfortunately, the regular media in the US and also in Europe are very short-sighted and only focus on the influence that Iran exerts on the Iraqi regime.

And that’s correct. But Iraqis want their country back and they want sovereignty and they are against all kinds of interventions. And the Iraqi state, since 2003, is very weak. We have Turkish troops in Iraq, in the north, we have American troops. The demonstrators are really aware of all this and they understand very well – at least based on what they say when they appear in the media – that the interests of Iraq and Iraqis come first and that sovereignty is very important. Of course it will not be taken back in one day, but they realize that the Iranian regime is not the only threat and not the only sponsor of certain forces in Iraq. ”

The Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who became famous after throwing two shoes at Bush while shouting, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog”, told Euronews that protesters are calling for the fall of the political regime. He also said that they do not want other countries to interfere in Iraq. “The government of the American occupation is rejected. This government has brought disaster to the country … today we want the fall of this political regime and the end of this government”, he explained. “We don’t hate Iran, we don’t hate Saudi Arabia, we don’t hate Turkey. But our message is simple: they must stop interfering with our country. The Iraqi people are a free people”, he said.

“All these human losses, the robbery, the crimes of the Green Zone government are the total responsibility of the US government. They have been protecting that gang of thieves since 2003 with their mercenaries and military bases, just to allow multinational corporations to control Iraq’s oil and other resources”, Souad al-Azzawi, an Iraqi environmental scientist, wrote.

Another comment:” Dear Iraqi sisters and brothers, Americans are working very hard to hijack your demonstrations and use them as an excuse to install an American puppet regime in place of the current regime. Please be vigilant and do not allow Iraq to become a battlefield of world and regional powers.”

Following the revelations in the New York Times and the intercept on November 18, the so-called “control” of Iran over Iraq, an authoritative Iraqi opinion maker wrote:

Some questions …

what are those important secrets that America has unveiled and published in the New York Times, which are not known by the Iraqis ??

  • Is it not America that occupied Iraq and destroyed its national institutions, killed, arrested and displaced millions of people?
  • Is it not the US that created the corrupt sectarian political process and wants to protect and continue it?
  • Is it not the US that has worked for years with Iran and its criminal terrorist militias? The US knows exactly how these gangs came to power; after all they stole billions of dollars together, plundered the wealth of the country, kidnapped innocent people and killed them.
  • Is it not America that controls the space, land, air, security and communication with their spies and knows exactly what is going on, even in the living rooms ???
  • Yes, the US knows all the small and big crimes that Iran and its agents have committed against the people of Iraq since 2003 until now. After all, they were deeply involved and pulled Iran into the Iraqi quagmire.

The rebellious people of Iraq do not need such “revelations” because they rebelled for themselves, their homeland and humanity, after their patience was exhausted and they saw no light at the end of the dark tunnel created by America by its brutal occupation of this country.

Maybe these documents cause a scandal in America, and then they can keep silent about their own role in killing a people and the rape of the country over the years. So these documents should not only be a condemnation of Iran, because Iran is only a partner in the crimes against humanity committed by the US. ”

These are just a few examples to disprove the story of the mass media that the uprising would be aimed primarily at Iran, quod non. The US, but also the Iranian leadership, are terrified of an escalation of this conflict and a possible overthrow of the existing regime, from which they both benefit.

Conclusion

A revolt against the government does not require external conspiracy: all domestic factors for protest, revolt and revolution are present. The Iraqi people have a thousand reasons to revolt against the existing regime. The stigmatization of the uprisings in Iraq as a Zionist-American conspiracy or a Ba’athist uprising is unfair to the hundreds of thousands who want to take their future into their own hands and want to get rid of the political system.

The Iraqi people continue to be a pawn in the game of geopolitical power politics, victims of the hunger for profit of the oil companies and corrupt politicians in an occupied country. Iraqis continue to bear the full burden of 29 years of sanctions, wars, misery, death, destruction, chaos and extreme neoliberalism. The people, however, have always remained alert, have constantly opposed the inhumane situation in which they were forced and want a fairer redistribution of the available resources. The past and present protests also have repeatedly opposed the division of the country, foreign interference and the sectarian structures imposed on them.

There is a continuity in Iraq’s popular resistance since 2003. Iraq is not Ukraine, is not Hong Kong. This is yet another uprising against the Green Zone, the fortified castle where the US, but also Iran, determine the rules of the game through the puppet government they have appointed. Any attempt to turn Iraq into the arena of a US war against Iran must be resisted. The people of Iraq cannot cope with another war.

A new Iraq may be coming, but that will not be welcomed by the American occupier, nor by Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi authorities, Europe and Iran. The people of Iraq will continue to oppose any foreign occupation and foreign interference and strive for a sovereign Iraq. The first condition is that all foreign troops, mercenaries and foreign counselors leave Iraq.

On a personal note: there is a strong “anti-organization” attitude, a general rejection of political structures and a focus on spontaneity. This attitude is understandable given the demonstrators’ fear of being co-opted by dominant political parties. The slogan “no to political parties” is very popular. The Left and trade unionists in the movement should emphasize that workers should organize themselves politically with a clear program to withstand the pressure of the neoliberal state, the economic elites and the dominant political parties and to remain independent. The lack of organization, the lack of clear alternatives, the political division among the demonstrators, have ensured that the protest movements since 2011 have not led to tangible results, with an absolute low point being the support that some Sunni groups have given to the terror group ISIS. Many demonstrators are young and inexperienced, reject everything, even early elections. They think that the political class will easily give up power, and that afterwards Iraqis will be able to rule themselves freely. Iraq is not a sovereign state, but is dominated by well-organized foreign powers, so the demonstrators should be even better organized if they want this revolution to succeed.

Victory for the demonstrators is not inevitable, perhaps not even likely. But it would be the only just outcome. What happens after a popular uprising is never a certainty, but that should not prevent the peace movement from giving its support to the just demands of the Iraqi people. If this rebellion does not produce the desired results, further rebellions will follow. The Iraqi people want to put an end to foreign interference and the corrupt system that has plunged millions into poverty. These protests are the only guarantee for a long-awaited peace in Iraq. Our solidarity with the justified demands of the Iraqi demonstrators is therefore more than necessary.

“Stay on the streets, never go home, because that is the secret of your success”.

*

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Dirk Adriaensens is a member of the executive committee of the BRussells Tribunal. Between 1992 and 2003 he led several delegations to Iraq to observe the devastating effects of  UN sanctions. He was a member of the International Organising Committee of the World Tribunal on Iraq (2003-2005). He is also co-coordinator of the Global Campaign Against the Assassination of Iraqi Academics. He is co-author of Rendez-Vous in Baghdad, EPO (1994), Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, Pluto Press, London (2010), Beyond Educide, Academia Press, Ghent (2012), Global Research’s Online Interactive I-Book ‘The Iraq War Reader, Global Research (2012), Het Midden Oosten, The Times They are a-changin ‘, EPO (2013) and is a frequent contributor to Global Research, Truthout, Al Araby, The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and other media.

Featured image: Demonstrators are seen in Basra, Iraq, on July 19, 2019. During the protest, demonstrators assaulted journalist Ayman al-Sheikh. (Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani)The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Dirk Adriaensens, Global Research, 2020

IRAN’S QODS FORCE AND MODERN PROXY WARS

Source

On January 3, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units were killed by US strikes on the Iraqi capital of Bahdad. The US strike caused a new regional crisis and put the entire Middle East on the edge of a new open military conflict.

In this light, it’s especially interesting to recall what the Qods Force is and how the unit provides the Iranian interests all around the world. The analysis below was originally released by SouthFront in July 2019:

The Qods Force is the irregular warfare unit of Iran’s Corps of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami).  Created during the Holy Defense to augment the capabilities of the Sepah to include irregular warfare, it has since become one of the chief means of expanding Iranian ‘soft power’ within the Middle East and throughout the world.  Carrying the Persian name for Jerusalem, it is emblematic of the eschatological significance of the Islamic Republic’s regional military strategy.  More has come to light about this secretive organization since its inception, but precious little of its organization, personnel, weaponry and operations is known, and comes to light only in the wake of its suspected activities.

The close of the Holy Defense in 1988 saw the completion of the first chapter of the history of the Islamic Republic – conventional war.  The peace which followed left the new government intact but the population war-weary; the government needed to turn its attention to rebuilding the infrastructure and bringing orderliness to the disrupted lives of its people. The armed forces – both the Artesh and the Sepah – though rich with battle experience, had been worn down and desperately need this peace.

If this war taught the Iranian leadership anything, the lesson was: prevent another conventional attack by pushing the frontier for possible conflict as far as possible from the border.  To safeguard the home of the Revolution – which Khomeini and his followers viewed, and still view, as the only legitimate Islamic government, and the one which is meant to prepare the way for the return of the Mahdi – a sizeable buffer had to be constructed to allow for its endurance.  While Iran had not been defeated in the Holy Defense, it had been severely wounded by Saddam’s army with Western backing. At end of the war, Iran was in shortage in key resources and finance. The war clearly exposed the weaknesses of both the Iranian economy and the armed forces. The mujtahid rulers needed to create and perfect a national defense based upon self-reliance in order to turn Iran into a fortress for Islam from which calls for Islamic unity in the face of Zionist and Western imperialist influence could issue.  Having survived this baptism of fire intact, and with geopolitics still centered around the bipolar contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, the time for such a reconstruction appeared optimal.

The Sepah was created immediately after the Revolution in order to counter threats from armed opposition groups inside Iran such as the MKO (the Mojahedin-e Khalq or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran) and to protect the ideological integrity of the new political system. Originally a paramilitary formation, during the Holy Defense it necessarily took on a military character while shouldering with the Artesh the burden of fighting.  During the war, in addition to the many conventional battles fought against the Iraqis, the Iranians also deployed special forces to the front line in the mountainous terrain of the north, and behind the lines to support the Kurdish struggle in northern Iraq against Saddam Hussein regime. To mirror this unit within the Artesh, the Sepah created the Qods Force to engage in all aspects of irregular warfare. Thus, the role of Quds force in the establishment of Hezbollah’s Islamic Resistance (al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya) in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War was inevitable; following this it was used to support the operations of the Hezbe Wahdat Shia mujahedin in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

By supporting Hezbollah and the Hezbe Wahdat, Iran was able to counter, respectively, the American/Zionist coalition and the Soviets, thereby keeping these two groups from threatening the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic.  When Khomeini died in 1989 and was succeeded by Ali Khamenei, who oversaw the transition from a war to a peace economy, Qods was able, along with its parent Sepah, to maintain its level of funding and even to increase its relative importance within the military strategy of Iran.

Having discussed the ideological and strategic origins and purposes of the Qods Force, let us look at its structure and methods of warfare.  Apart from its three senior commanders, no names can be attributed to either its leadership or the remainder of the force.  Major General Pasdar Qassem Soleimani, presently the most well-known Iranian soldier, has commanded the Qods Force since 1997, and his two deputies are Brigadier General Pasdar Ismail Qaani and Brigadier General Pasdar Ahmad Sabouri.  Because all members of Qods are taken from the larger Sepah, one can presume that it retains the same rank structure as its parent, although it is impossible to verify or deny this.  Similarly, although the size of the Qods Force can be approximated, its small-level tactical organization can only be guessed at based upon the arrangement of other comparable military units.  As indicated previously, Qods has two missions: advising and training of foreign military and police, and clandestine operations.  Teams of men for either type of mission may be formed ad hoc out of the service pools of each of the eight directorates suspected to exist.  According to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Qods is divided into the following eight directorates:

  • Iraq
  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen (Persian Gulf)
  • Israel, Lebanon, Jordan (Middle East)
  • Afghanistan, Pakistan, India
  • Turkey
  • Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldovia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (former-Soviet Union)
  • Central and Western Europe and the United States and Canada
  • North Africa

Further, US military intelligence suggests that Qods is divided into several branches of specialization:

  • Intelligence
  • Finance
  • Politics
  • Sabotage
  • Special operations

Because however its operations are unconventional, there is no reason to think that the Qods Force has an organization remarkably different from other secret services.  For its clandestine operations, something approaching a commando team of varying size (anywhere from 5 to 15 men led by one or two officers) seems reasonable.  Also, there could be organic, permanent units of Qods assigned to each directorate, each with a different operational specialty, and these would invariably be combined-arms units but with the component men varying depending upon what needs to be accomplished.  For the advisory and training missions, arguably what constitutes the greatest percentage of Qods assignments, one can imagine an officer/NCO structure corresponding to the level of the ranks needing training; e.g. so many officers of such a rank to train their peers or lower ranking officers, and likewise so many NCOs to train their peers or enlisted men.  As a side note, it has been suggested that Qods trains most of its clients in either the Sudan or in Iran itself.

For all of these missions, the officer/NCO ratio is necessarily higher than in the rest of the Sepah.  For this reason, it can be argued that officers and NCOs comprise a large majority of the Qods Force personnel, seeing that enlisted men would not be used to train or advise their superiors.

Where does the Qods Force carry out its clandestine operations?  From reasonable conjecture regarding the structure, the reach of Qods is world-wide.  It has been suspected of involvement in South America (e.g. in supporting the government of Venezuela), of continuing to intervene in Afghanistan against the American presence, of constituting a permanent training and advisory role to the Islamic Resistance of Hezbollah, of supporting the Syrian government since the conflict of 2011, and most of all of involvement in Iraq since 2003. Since 2008, the Qods Force has been given control of all military operations in Iraq, and it formed and currently oversees the three primary Shi’ite paramilitary organizations which work in conjunction with the Iraqi military: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (“League of the Righteous”) with 10,000 members, Kata’ib Hizb Allah (“Brigades of the Party of God”) with 30,000+ members, and the Saraya al-Salam (“Peace Companies”) with anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 members.  This theatre of operations, provided indirectly to Qods by the Americans, gives the most continual experience to its members through the training and directing of these militias.  In the theatre of the Persian Gulf, the recent attacks against oil tankers bear the mark of what Qods is capable of, but the Iranian Government has consistently denied responsibility.  Conversely, American and Israeli special forces possess the capability to carry out such false-flag attacks and their histories give plenty of examples.  Currently, the most important missions which Qods directly or in which it participates are:

  • Missile shipments to Hezbollah
  • Arming and directing of Shi’ite militias in Iraq
  • Support of Syrian Government
  • Support of Houthis

As to types of weapons, the Qods Force probably uses the same species as other special forces (e.g. United States Green Berets, Russian Spetsnaz, British SAS), that is:

  • Handguns (e.g. PC-9 ZOAF)
  • submachine guns (e.g. MPT-9, KL-7.62mm)
  • heavy machine guns (e.g. MGA3)
  • portable MANPADs (e.g. Soheil)
  • rocket-propelled grenade launcher (e.g. Raad, RPG-29)
  • anti-tank weapons (e.g. Saeghe 1/2)
  • portable mortars (e.g. 37mm Marsh mortar)
  • plastic explosives (e.g. C4, Semtex)

The use of heavy equipment does not correspond to its missions.

In terms of size, the active personnel of Qods has been estimated to be anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000, although the most common number given is 15,000.  Globalsecurity.org asserts that in 2008, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council authorized an increase in the size of the group to 15,000, but this cannot be presently confirmed.  By comparison, the Russian Spetsnaz has a strength of roughly 5,000, the United States Green Berets 7,000, the British SAS 400 to 600.

Moving to consider its place in the Iranian political ideology of Twelve Shiism, Qods Force bears great eschatological significance.  A fact which receives barely any coverage in the Western press, the founding of the Islamic Republic was clearly stated by Ayatollah Khomeini to coincide with the approach of the end of the world.  As Twelver Shias, Khomeini and his successors are convinced that the maintenance of velayat-e faqih is critical to the return of the Twelfth Imam, Mohammad al-Mahdi.  The eschatology of the Jafari School of Jurisprudence (the official legal teaching in Iran, named after the Sixth Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq) names Jerusalem as central to the return of the Mahdi and to the establishment of Islamic government throughout the world; i.e. the golden age of Islamic rule as promised by the Prophet Mohammed. According to Sunni and Shia prophecies, the army foreordained to conquer Jerusalem is to be comprised of mostly people from the region of Iran with Iranians having a great and important role in the event. Thus, the naming of the special operations subset of the Sepah after the Persian name for the Holy City of Jerusalem should show the rest of the world just how important to the Iranians is the maintenance of their system of government by all means possible.  Currently, the use of Qods to engage in asymmetrical warfare against the American-Israeli alliance is the best means to ensure this end.  Presently, Qods can be seen as forming a ‘shield-forward’ for the Islamic Republic from a strategic point of view; this gives eschatological importance to their continued support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and to their great commitment in men and material to ensure the continuance of the Syrian government. They believe that when Imam Mahdi returns, Zionism, which Shia regard as one of the main tools in the struggle between Good and Evil, will be defeated in the final great battle for Jerusalem. Therefore they are approaching as close as possible to Israel, serving at the front line. They have succeeded in giving Iran a reasonable amount of protection, if at the expense of their allies who are physically closer to Israel.  The American Navy remains a threat in the Persian Gulf, but the wider Sepah, to whose vigilance this theatre is committed, are confident they can close the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.  The strategic balance is currently in favor of Iran and they have thus fulfilled what they believe to be their role in preparing for the Mahdi’s return.

Of those who believe in the eschatological purpose of the Islamic Republic, the Qods Force is unquestionably the vanguard of the coming march on Jerusalem, and the Western press ignores this to their own peril and the continued ignorance of their audiences.

From military and political standpoints, Qods has been very effective.  Iranian strategy has, since the 1979 Revolution, been to keep the American-Israeli alliance and its proxies at bay.  As stated previously, due to Iran’s inability to wage a full-scale war against both countries, the use of unconventional warfare has made the Qods Force come into prominence within Iran’s national defensive strategy.  Through both its advisory/training roles and its clandestine operations, Qods is used to prevent Iran’s two chief enemies from realizing strategic objectives in the Middle East and Persian Gulf and to make their continued presence within Iran’s immediate zone of security as costly and unpleasant as possible.

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The Instability of the East: Between Western Arrogance and Iranian Influence

January 1, 2020

Maaz

Any observer, biased or not, can clearly notice that the east was always unstable throughout history, however, what puts someone in awe is the relative stability in the west and the insusceptible regimes there.

After the Middle East’s borders were drawn relatively randomly between weird zigzags in the deserts and strange lines in mountains, the years of peace there can be counted to a number less than 10. East Europe and South East Asia are no different, with proxy wars and regime changes every now and then.

However, the thing is that these countries, from Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq to Yugoslavia, Romania, and Ukraine, to Vietnam and such, is that they lack a national identity and common conscious causing them to shift from a camp to another with every regime change. These countries with time proved to be no more than puppet states where the supreme leader, king, or dictator can dictate the foreign policy and type of governance then get scratched and set on different grounds and political camps by the successor.

Modern Middle Eastern politics, or to be more precise and free this area from this dehumanizing phrase by calling it southwest Asia, was shaped after Egypt signed the peace treaty with Israel and Iran emerged as a counterbalance in the Arab – Israeli conflict after the 1979 revolution. During those days, the central and most agonizing political and military crisis was the ongoing tug of war between Israel, an irregular entity in the east, and the homogenous Muslim Arab nations.

With Egypt out of this war along with Jordan and Lebanon sinking deeper in its own political sectarian war, the Palestinian nation and resistance groups found themselves vulnerable to a final attack by the Israel army, IDF, strong enough to end the core of this struggle and finally integrate Gaza and the west bank into the so-called ‘state of Israel.’ And as events unfolded, the IDF triumphed through its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and laid the foundation of the day of victory against what it called ‘terrorist Palestinian groups’ that threatened the security and well being of the citizens in the Galilee. Yet what no one expected is the emerge of non-state actors that one day with the help of a new emerging regional power to challenge Israel and not only the Galilee with few unguided and ineffective M-21OF 122mm missiles launched from southern Lebanon.

When SL Khomeini’s long fought for revolution overthrew the US assigned and backed dictator of Iran, kings of the kings “Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi”, Iran like almost every eastern nation not only shifted political camps but changed its Persian identity to an Islamic identity. Yet Khomeini did not lead an Islamic revolution to end it at the borders of Iran, his ideology was a region-wide anti-oppression anti-imperialist Islamic movement aimed to aspire the Muslims in the east.

And regardless of how the post events of the revolution happened, between unfair excluding of several political parties and the exile after intimidation of thousands connected to the murderous dictatorship of the shah, the new regime in Iran was not established by force but rather with a national referendum with a 98% turnout and 99% support. Yet for a first glance, these numbers might look odd, but their genuineness was demonstrated by the internal unity and cooperation during the Iraq – Iran war. Khomeini set the foundation of a democratic state supervised by an Islamic constitution written by the elite from Iran, Iraq and even Lebanon. Add to that anyone can argue that Iran is a dictatorship, but why bother with biased prejudiced DC-based think tanks that never studied law or understood the power limitation of each official in the republic.

The foundation of the current work of the current IRI foreign policy started in the late 1960s-1970s before the establishment of the republic itself by educating the masses and building up a conscious. It started with the work and words of the unjustly killed Shia scholars Sayid Mohamamd Baqr al-Sadr and Sayid Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim by the then supported USA president Saddam Hussein and with the work of the prominent scientific and military figure Mustafa Chimran in Lebanon. Mohammad Baqr was laying the foundation of an Iraq free from the Baathist regime who not only oppressed a whole religious sect in Iraq but rather genocided a race and forcefully created a refugee crisis in northern Iraq by Arabizing Kurdish cities.

While in Lebanon, the Lebanese Resistance movement Amal, was founded by Lebanese, born in Iran, scholar Sayid Moussa al Sadr, who arrived in Lebanon in 1959 to lead a civil revolution in the favor of the marginalized and poor Shia citizens of south and north Lebanon. Although these two causes might be different in detail, they were related in one thing: “Western-backed regimes”. Saddam enjoyed a healthy relationship with the USA, France, and the USSR who assisted him with weapons and experts from Europe to fortify his rule. Germany had its fair share of experts in Saddam’s MOD too.

Similarly in Lebanon, the USA initiated for the first time its Eisenhower Doctrine in which the U.S. announced that it would intervene to protect regimes it considered threatened by international communism on the 17th of July 1958 and later in assisting against the SSNP led coup. And thinking about it, it was the 1950’s the decade when the USA became a hated nation for Iranians when it led a coup against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh. The USA in this decade took UK’s rule and became the new world police deciding who is fit for democracy and who is not.

Therefore, throughout the ME and Asia, several nations were being nourished on the hate of the United States of America whom they considered a force that is willing to battle every movement and government it considered unfit to its ‘standards of democracy.’ And so it was, and events started to unfold with coups orchestrated by the CIA in more than 15 nations and invasions that went deep even into the jungles of Vietnam.

However, what sets the atrocities and brutality of what the USA did from those done by China or Russia or any other regime in modern times is that they were done under the banner of democracy and free rights and free speech.

It’s the hypocrisy and lies of the West that made it impossible to feel warm-hearted toward them again. Add to that, it’s the selectivity of how Americans deals with state and non-state groups and the unjust naming of groups on the terror list that made things worse. For example, it seems that the USA is fond of the Gulf states that have a very bad human rights record, no elections, and a long list of minority persecution and murder, while it seems to be going against Iran and Syria with maximum pressure through sanctions and limited confrontations although both have elections and remarkable minority coexistence.

Moreover, the USA labels Hezb Allah on its terror list way back from 1996-1997, although Hezb Allah was formed as a reaction to the USA backed IDF invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Hezb Allah kept resisting up to the year 2000 when IDF left Lebanon on the 25th of May. Hezb Allah, unlike the IDF, never deliberately killed civilians during its wars with Israel.

On the other hand, USA labels Kataeb Hezb Allah, Asaeb Ahl Al haq, and other Iraqi groups as terrorist although they were created only as a response to USA’s invasion to Iraq in 2003. The Invasion led by USA and its allies that not only killed and injured up to a million Iraqi, but devastated Iraq and crippled the state till today. Kataeb and Asaeb, Hezb Allah, and the likes did turn to Iran for help in military aid, but does this mean that Hezb Allah, Asaeb, and the likes are Iranian proxies?

Generally speaking, a proxy is a group of pawns doing the work on the behalf of another. However, it seems that the word proxy in Middle Eastern politics has taken a more dehumanizing and mercenary vibe to it aimed to underestimate and devalue the effort and work of a certain group and shorthand it into a sectarian maniac tier groups used by Iran to spread its ‘terror’ in the middle east. Yet this term that sounds childish to use in international circles, became the dominant word used by American foreign policymakers today. Although if anyone read the 2019 American MOD report about Iran, they’d notice that the term partner is used to describe Hezb Allah and other groups in the middle east that are aligned with Iran ideologically. Thus we can conclude without any doubt that the USA has chosen to put its political interest and bias ahead of any reasonable and fair understanding of events in a show of arrogance and childish understanding of the complexity of the Middle East. USA is failing in the exact way the UK failed to understand the Middle East when it tried to shape its boundaries and future.

What happened today in Iraq and the march on the American embassy by the families of the 30 Kataeb Hezb Allah members killed by USAF ‘in retaliation’ is another example of how dangerous things can escalate to. Kataeb Hezb Allah and Asaeb Ahl Al Haq have more than 60,000 veteran soldiers who are ready to storm every single American base in Iraq and massacre the soldiers in retaliation of the unjust killing of Iraqi and PMF soldiers but chose not to. They even refrained from entering the embassy compound and chose to pressure a parliamentary resolution that forces USA forces to leave. If the USA was wiser they would have asked the Iraqi security forces to investigate the 107mm missile launches and capture the people responsible.

Not only would they have respected Iraq’s sovereignty, but rather actually knew who is really after these attacks and presented them as the criminals for attacking an Iraqi base and killing Iraqi and American soldiers.

Things kept evolving and events unfolding to a day when the USA is being challenged by Russia and China over world power, and its ally KSA in Yemen over influence, and its ally Israel by Hezb Allah over existence. The Anti-American axis today massed power and strength enough to challenge the existence of Israel and USA in the Middle East, with only time that will show how the limited attacks by both sides will lead to the war that will end one of the two combatants once and for all.

إيران على رأس لائحة القوى الإقليمية !

أكتوبر 5, 2019

د. وفيق ابراهيم

أربعة عقود بدت كافية لتنتقل إيران من جمهورية اسلامية تتعرض لحروب ومقاطعات وحصار وبشكل متواصل الى دولة إقليمية وازنة تجيد الدفاع عن مسألتين: أراضيها وتحالفاتها وبالتالي إقليميتها.

لم تصل إيران الى هذا النجاح إلا بعد صراع مفتوح ومستمر مع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية التي استهدفتها منذ اعلان جمهوريتها الإسلامية في 1979، حتى استنفدت كامل آلياتها بدءاً من العراق في مرحلة 1980 1988 ومصر والسعودية و»إسرائيل» وتركيا وباكستان.

اليوم بعد 40 عاماً على ولادة جمهوريتها الإسلامية تشارك إيران اواخر هذا الشهر مع روسيا والصين في مناورات بحرية في المحيط الهندي المتصل ببحري الأحمر والخليج بما يشبه رسالة حادة لمن يهمه الأمر بولادة ائتلاف بين القطبين الروسي والصيني اللذين دخلا في نظام القوة الاساسية في العالم في اطار معادلة متعددة الرؤوس وبين إيران التي تمكنت من التربع على أعلى الدرجات في لائحة الدول الإقليمية في الشرق الاوسط.

كيف احتلت الجمهورية هذا الموقع؟

التأكيد على تميّزها، ليس مديحاً انشائياً ليس له ما يعادله، والدليل بدأ مع الحرب العراقية التي شنها الرئيس العراقي السابق صدام حسين عليها لثماني سنوات متتالية 1980 1988 مستغلاً حالة الضعف والإرباك التي عاشها بعد سقوط دولة الشاه في 1979.

اما خصائص هذه الحرب فعراقيتها عسكرياً وتغطيتها الأميركية وتمويلها الخليجي الكامل والتأييد العربي الإسرائيلي لها. سورية بمفردها وقفت ضد هذه الحرب، لكن إيران نجت بدفاع مستميت استلزم أعواماً ثمانية حتى دحرت العراقيين الى بلادهم في معارك عنيفة أوقفها الخميني عند حدود بلاده مع العراق.

وهكذا أسقطت إيران مشروعاً صدامياً كان يريد دوراً لبلاده في الإقليم.

كما منعت إيران مصر من نشر ثقافة الاستسلام باتفاق كمب ديفيد الذي عقدته مع «إسرائيل» 1979 فمولت وسلحت قوى فلسطينية ولبنانية مقاومة. ودخلت بشكل مباشر للدفاع عن عراق ما بعد صدام في وجه إرهاب مدعوم من تركيا وعالمياً وأميركياً فنجحت مع القوى العراقية المتحالفة معها في دحره وتحقيق توازن لمصلحتها في عراق لا يزال قسمٌ منه محتلاً من الأميركيين.

بذلك أعادت التوازن الى القضية الفلسطينية وحالت دون القضاء عليها، هذا بالإضافة الى دعمها المباشر لسورية تمويلياً وعسكرياً واستشارياً في وجه إرهاب دولي بمئات آلاف المسلحين 2001 2019.

لقد تمكنت إيران الإسلامية في الحروب على الارهاب من القضاء على ادوار قوتين إقليميتين هما تركيا و»إسرائيل» كما اصابت الدور الإقليمي السعودي في لبنان وسورية والعراق ومنعته من التمدد نحو الداخل الإيراني، كما كان يخطط ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان.

هناك اذاً دولٌ كانت تتمتع بأدوار إقليمية اساسية في الشرق الاوسط، وهي مصر والعراق والسعودية وتركيا تراجعت لمصلحة تقدم الدور الإيراني.

هذا الى جانب المجابهة الإيرانية الإسرائيلية في ميادين سورية والعراق والتي انتهت بدورها او على وشك ان تنتهي بعجز إسرائيلي عن إحداث اي تغيير في معادلة المنطقة.

لجهة تركيا فتحاول إيران استيعابها بتنظيم التباين في وجهات نظريهما في سورية والعراق، مقابل التعاون في وجه الحصار الأميركي المستهدف للبلدين معاً.

فلا يتبقى إلا باكستان من الدول القادرة على أداء دور إقليمي في الشرق الاوسط، لكنها تجنح تاريخياً لأداء هذه الادوار في آسيا الوسطى وتخشى من تحالف إيراني مع الهند العدو اللدود لباكستان.

لذلك اعتمدت إيران لتحييد باكستان النووية الخاضعة للنفوذ الأميركي وذات العلاقة المميّزة بالسعودية على عناصر عدة لمنع استغلال باكستان في حصارها.

أول هذه العناصر هو الغاز الإيراني الذي تستورد باكستان منه كميات كبيرة، الى جانب التبادل الاقتصادي بينهما الذي يصل الى 15 مليار دولار، أما العناصر الأخرى فتعرضهما المشترك لأخطار قومية «البلوش» الموجودين في مناطق حدودية بين البلدين ويريدون الانفصال عن إيران وباكستان. هذا بالاضافة الى ان 30 في المئة من الباكستانيين هم من الشيعة.

لذلك فضلت باكستان عدم الانجرار في إطار الخطة الأميركية السعودية لمهاجمة إيران. واكتفت بحياد دقيق حرصاً على أمنها الخارجي والداخلي.

بذلك تكون الجمهورية الإسلامية استهلكت بالكامل معظم الآليات الشرق اوسطية العاملة في اطار الخطة الأميركية، وهي مصر والسعودية وعراق صدام وتركيا و»إسرائيل» وباكستان. وهذا لا يعني انها انهتها كافة في المنطقة، لكنها استوعبت خطرها بوسائل عسكرية وسياسية واقتصادية واسهمت بتشكل حلف كبير يساندها من افغانستان الى اليمن فالعراق وسورية ولبنان.

فهل يمكن نسيان إسقاطها طائرة مسيرة أميركية واحتجازها بارجة بريطانية ونجاح حلفائها اليمنيين في تفجير مصافي أرامكو وتحرير 500 كيلومتر مربع في أعالي الحدود اليمنية، وسيطرة حلفائها في العراق وسورية ولبنان على السياسة في بلدانهم.

في إطار هذه المعطيات التي تؤكد على الدور الإقليمي الكبير لإيران وتفوقها على المنافسين، يمكن استيعاب اسباب الإصرار الروسي الصيني على التحالف مع إيران وتنظيم مناورات عسكرية معها في المحيط الهندي.

وهذا اعتراف واضح بنجاح الجمهورية الإسلامية في تثبيت دور إقليمي كبير يقف غير بعيد عن أبواب القوى العالمية المتعددة القطب، في معظم القارات التي أصبحت متيقنة من أن إيران باب رئيسي وازن للشرق الأوسط الجديد

The full text of Khamenei.ir’s interview with Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah

sayyed hassan

Source

October 03, 2019

Nasrallah

Masseer Especial Journal, which belongs to Khamenei.ir, has conducted an interview with Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is published for the first time. The following is part one of the interview:

I would like to start the interview by asking you how the situation in the region was, at the time when the Islamic Revolution became victorious. How was the situation in the West Asian region? Particularly given that one of the important dimensions of the Islamic Revolution is its regional and international implications, what changes occurred in the regional equations following the Islamic Revolution and what events have we witnessed? With the Islamic Revolution gaining victory, what took place in the region in general and in Lebanon in particular?

In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful. First, I would like to welcome you. If we go back to the past and observe the developments, we will find that, very shortly before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, a very significant incident took place in the region, namely the withdrawal of the Arab Republic of Egypt from the Arab-Israeli conflict and the signing of the Camp David Treaty. This event—due to the important and effective role of Egypt in the aforementioned conflict—had a very dangerous impact on the region as well as on the Arab-Israeli confrontation over the issue of Palestine and the future of Palestine.

After that incident, in the first place, it seemed that the confrontation was going on largely in favor of Israel. This was mainly because other Arab countries and Palestinian resistance groups were not able to confront major powers without the help of Egypt at that time. So, firstly, the occurrence of such an incident led to the emergence of a deep division among Arab countries.

Secondly, you remember that at the time, there was a US-led Western bloc opposing the USSR. Therefore, there existed a split in our region: the gap between the countries associated with the Soviet Union—that is, the Eastern bloc—and the countries depending on the United States, the Western bloc. Accordingly, we could see a deep divide among the Arab countries in the region, and this gap had devastating consequences for the nations and of course, also had an impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the time, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States essentially affected our region and its developments.

In the case of Lebanon, it should be said that Lebanon is also part of this region, and thus, it has been severely affected by its developments, including Israeli actions, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the divisions in the region. At that time, Lebanon faced domestic problems as well, and was suffering from the civil war. The Israeli enemy occupied parts of southern Lebanon in 1978, that is one year before the Islamic Revolution, and then created a security zone called the “border strip” on the Lebanese-Palestinian borders. The Israeli enemy, through this security zone, continued its daily aggression against Lebanon, its cities, villages and people. Indeed, we faced a very serious problem: the Israeli occupation in parts of southern Lebanon and its daily aggressions. Israeli warplanes and their artillery bombed southern Lebanon; abduction operations and multiple explosions by the Zionist regime continued in its worst form, and people were displaced following these brutal acts. These events also took place between 1977 and 1979; that is, not long before the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Did they use the Palestinian presence in Lebanon as the pretext?

Yes; the Israelis objected the existence of Palestinian resistance and operations carried out by Palestinians. However, this was just an excuse because Israeli’s runs of aggressions in southern Lebanon began in 1948, when Palestinian resistance was not present in southern Lebanon. Palestinian resistance set base in southern Lebanon in the late 60s and early 1970s, especially after the events in Jordan and the arrival of Palestinian groups from Jordan in Lebanon.

It was in those circumstances that the Islamic Revolution of Iran gained victory. This victory came at a time when an atmosphere of despair was dominant in the Arab and Muslim world and concern for the future was widespread. Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab-Israeli conflict and the signature of the Camp David Treaty, the imposition of a humiliating political process on the Palestinians and Arabs, as well as the weakness of the rulers of the Arab countries all provoked the despair, grief, hopelessness, disappointment, and worry for the future at that time. Therefore, the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in such an environment, revived the lost hopes in the region and among the nations to begin with, particularly the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

This victory (the victory of the Islamic Revolution) also brought about the resurgence of the hopes of a nation that had been cornered by the existence of Israel. Because the position of Imam Khomeini (Q.S. – May his spirit be blessed) regarding the Zionist project, the necessity of the liberation of Palestine, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian resistance groups was clear from the beginning. Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed in supporting the people of Palestine, liberating every inch of the land, and obliteration of the Israeli entity as a usurping regime in the region. Therefore, the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran created a growing hope for the future and increased a hundred fold the moral and motivation of the supporters of the resistance as well as the resistance groups in the region.

The victory of the Islamic Revolution also created a balance of power in the region. Egypt fled the fight against Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran entered. Therefore, the balance of power in the Arab-Israeli conflict was restored, and for this reason, the resistance project in the region entered a new historical phase. This was the starting point for the Islamic movement and jihad in the Arab and Muslim world and among Shi’as and Sunnis alike.

Imam Khomeini (Q.S.) introduced several mottos regarding various subjects such as the question of Palestine, Islamic unity, Resistance, facing and confronting the United States of America, stability and sustainability, trust and confidence of nations in God and in themselves, revival of faith in one’s own power when confronting the arrogant powers and towards the realization of victory. Undoubtedly, these mottos had a very positive and direct impact on the situation in the region at that time.

In addition to the general atmosphere created by the Islamic Revolution and the new spirit that Imam [Khomeini (r.a)] inspired in the hearts of the people of the region, resurrecting the resistance, what memory do you specifically have of Imam Khomeini and his stances regarding the resistance in Lebanon and by Hezbollah?

Yes, in the year 1982. If we want to talk about it, we should consider the liberation of Khorramshahr in Iran. The Israelis were deeply concerned about the war between Iran and Iraq, or Saddam’s imposed war against Iran. For this reason, after the liberation of Khorramshahr, the Israelis decided to attack Lebanon. Of course, this action had its own root causes, and there was a profound connection between the victories in the Iranian front and the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. This was how the Israelis entered Lebanon, Beqaa region, Mount Lebanon Governorate, and Beirut suburbs. At that time, a group of scholars, brothers and fighters had decided to form the Islamic Resistance and establish the Islamic-Jihadi foundation of [the movement of] Resistance, corresponding to the aftermath of Israeli invasion.

By then, Israel had not penetrated in all of Lebanon and had only reached about half of Lebanon—that is 40% of Lebanon’s total area. 100,000 Israeli soldiers entered Lebanon. They brought with them American, French, English and Italian multinational forces on the pretext of maintaining peace. Meanwhile, there were militias in Lebanon who were involved with and collaborated with the Israelis. By pointing to these facts, I mean to picture how very, very bad the situation was at that time.

Subsequently, a group of scholars (ulema), believers, and Mujahid brothers decided to launch a new movement for Jihad in the name of Islamic Resistance, which shortly afterwards was renamed “Hezbollah.” The formation of this front coincided with the decision of Imam Khomeini (Q.S.) to send Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces to Syria and Lebanon to oppose and confront Israeli aggression. Initially, the intention was for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops to fight alongside Syrian forces as well as Lebanese and Palestinian resistance groups. But after some time the scope of Israeli attacks became limited, so this was no longer a classic battlefield, and the need for resistance operations by popular groups was felt more than ever.

It was at that time that Imam Khomeini (QS) replaced the mission of direct confrontation by the IRGC and Iranian forces, who had come to Syria and Lebanon, by offering help and providing military training to Lebanese youth, so that they—i.e. the Lebanese youth themselves—would be able to deal with the occupiers and carry out resistance operations. This is the first [of Imam Khomeini’s positions].

Therefore, the mission of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces in Syria, as well as the Lebanese Beqaa region—in Baalbek, Hermel and Janta, that is, where there were training bases—was changed to providing military training to the Lebanese youth. They taught the Lebanese youths the methods of warfare and provided them with logistic support. The mere presence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Lebanon at that time gave the Lebanese youth and Resistance groups a purpose and a high spirit to stand up to Israel.

As I said earlier, it was decided that a large group would be formed and nine representatives were selected on behalf of the pro-resistance brothers, including the martyr Sayyid Abbas al Moussawi (r.a), to pursue this important issue. Naturally, I was not among these nine people, because at that time I was young, about 22 or 23 years old. These 9 people travelled to Iran and met with the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They also had a meeting with Imam Khomeini (QS). During their meeting with Imam Khomeini (r.a), while offering him a report on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, they presented their proposal for the formation of an Islamic resistance front. They said to Imam Khomeini (r.a): “We believe in your guidance, your authority (wilayah) and your leadership. Tell us what we need to do.”

In return, Imam Khomeini (r.a) insisted that their duty was to resist and stand against the enemy in full force, even if you have limited means and are in smaller numbers. This is while Hezbollah had a smaller number of members then. He said: “Start from scratch: trust in the Almighty God, and do not wait for anyone in the world to help you. Rely on yourself and know that God helps you. I see you victorious.” It was an amazing thing. Imam Khomeini (r.a) regarded this path as auspicious, and thus, the meeting during which our brothers met with him, laid the foundation stone for the formation of the Islamic resistance front, under the auspicious title of ‘Hezbollah’, in Lebanon.

At that time, our brothers told Imam: “We believe in your guidance, authority and leadership, but in any case, you are very busy, and you are at an old age, and we cannot allow ourselves to continuously disturb you about different issues and problems. For this reason, we are asking you to name a representative to whom we can refer on various issues.” Then he introduced Imam Khamenei (May God continue his oversight), who was the president at the time, and said: “Mr. Khamenei is my representative.” Consequently, the relationship between Hezbollah and Ayatollah Khamenei (May God protect him) began from the very early hours of the establishment and foundation of this group; we were always in contact with him in different times, we met with him frequently and gave him reports on the latest developments and he always praised the resistance.

I remember the issue of several Hezbollah martyrdom-seeking members. You know that the first experience of a martyrdom-seeking operation took place in Lebanon, and was conducted by our brothers. The brothers sent a video file—before publicizing it in the media—containing oral testaments of those fighters seeking martyrdom, who had carried out a major martyrdom operation in Lebanon, and had shaken the invaders to their core. This video was played for Imam Khomeini, and he watched it and discussed it. The testaments were very beautiful and full of enthusiasm, mysticism and love. After watching the testaments, Imam Khomeini (r.a) said: “These are young [chivalrous] people. All of them were young.” He then said: “These are the true mystics.” The fact is that the Imam was strongly affected by the testaments.

Imam Khomeini’s collaboration, support for, and attention to the resistance and Hezbollah of Lebanon continued until the very last day of his auspicious life. I remember about one or two months before the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a), when he was ill and rarely met with domestic officials and even less with foreign officials, I went to Iran as a member and an executive official of the Hezbollah council and met with Ayatollah Khamenei, late Ayatollah Rafsanjani and other Iranian officials, and asked if I could have a meeting with Imam Khomeini. I was told that he is ill and does not meet with anyone. I asked them to try and they agreed to do their best. Then I went to the office of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and put in a request for an appointment. At the time, one of our friends among Imam Khomeini’s household, Sheikh Rahimian (May God protect him)—who paid particular attention to the Lebanese—shared the matter with the late Sayed Ahmad Khomeini (r.a), and I was informed on the second day to get ready for a meeting. Naturally, we were all surprised. I went to meet Imam Khomeini (r.a) and nobody else was there, not even Sayed Ahmad; not even any of the Foreign Ministry’s officials or IRGC staff, who would usually attend the meetings, were there. Sheikh Rahimian accompanied me to Imam’s room but then went and left me alone with Imam. I was overwhelmed and awed by his presence.

Imam Khomeini was sitting on a high chair and I sat down on the floor. Awestruck by his grandeur, I could not say a word. Imam asked me to get closer. I went closer and sat next to him. We spoke and I handed to him a letter I had brought with me. Imam answered the questions I had shared with him regarding the developments of that time in Lebanon, then smiled and said: “Tell all our brothers not to worry. My brothers and I in the Islamic Republic of Iran are all with you. We will always be with you “. This was my last meeting with Imam Khomeini (r.a).

 I wish we had time to hear more extensively from you about that time. Thanks again for the opportunity you gave us. You said that, Hezbollah was formed and began its activities during a very difficult time. You correctly mentioned that Iran itself was dealing with an invasion of its borders. In Lebanon, the Zionist regime periodically attacked the people and committed murder and plunder, and in any case, Hezbollah began its work in such a difficult situation. You also said that Imam Khomeini referred you to Ayatollah Khamenei to be in touch with him. I would like to ask you to point out some of the important pieces of advice that Ayatollah Khamenei (May God continue his oversight) gave you after the passing of Imam Khomeini, and let us know the measures that he guided you to take during his presidency. What we mean to make clear, when we reach the time of Imam Khamenei’s leadership, is the history of why Hezbollah was very pleased and reassured with his election as the leader of the Islamic Republic. What has happened that made you feel that way?

From the very first moment of our relationship with Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, I call him, in my own words, Mr. Leader (السید القائد). So let me use the same word, the Leader, to refer to him. My brothers had a Hezbollah Council within Hezbollah, with 7-10 members—changing at each stage. The members of this council always met with the Leader during his presidency. What I wish to say about that time, almost 7 years of Ayatollah Khamenei’s presidency before the passing of Imam Khomeini…

Was there a specific person to go between Hezbollah and Ayatollah Khamenei?

I get back to this point. The fact is that the Leader particularly valued Lebanese groups and provided them with sufficient time. I remember meetings that sometimes lasted for 2, 3 or even 4 hours. He listened carefully to what we had to say. Our friends and brothers also described the issues for him in details. As you know, at the time, they were not all on the same wavelength, and our brothers had different views. The Leader listened to all the comments, views, and opinions. Naturally, there was no Arabic language problem either, because he was fluent in Arabic and spoke it well. He spoke Arabic beautifully.

Nonetheless, he preferred to be accompanied by an Arabic translator; He usually spoke in Persian, but had no need for translation when the Lebanese spoke in Arabic. His full mastery of Arabic language contributed greatly to his deep understanding of the problems and the views of our Lebanese brothers. The important point is that, despite having full authority from Imam Khomeini, the Leader tried to play the role of a guide, and helped us make the decisions ourselves. I always remember that in every meeting, at that time and after being appointed as the Leader, whenever he wanted to comment, he would indicate ‘my suggestion is’. For example, he had reached a conclusion, but he would ask us to “sit down, consult with each other, and make the correct decision.

Indeed, the Leader at that critical stage managed to play an important role guiding the group in cultivating Hezbollah leaders and commanders intellectually, scientifically, and mentally, so that our brothers could make decisions confidently and by relying on their own capabilities even during the most difficult situations. He would make comments but he would refer to a Persian proverb that said: the expediency of a country is recognized by its owners. His Eminence would say: you are from Lebanon and thus have a better command of your affairs. We can only make a few comments and you can apply them, but it is you who will make the final decision. Do not wait for anyone to make decisions on your behalf. Therefore, the role of the Leader in the training, growth and swift development of Hezbollah was very significant.

In the first years, our brothers went to Iran two or three times a year—that is, they would travel to Iran about every 6 months—to learn about the Iranian officials’ viewpoints regarding the developments in the region, as at that time, developments in the region were taking place very rapidly. Naturally, at that time there was also the war; the 8-year imposed war against Iran and its implications for the region. Therefore, our brothers constantly needed to exchange information, consult with and get support from Iran. At that time, if our brothers were faced with an immediate and urgent problem, they would send me to Iran. Because I was younger than the others, and there was no systematic protection, or anything similar in place for me. I was alone, carrying a bag with me. This means that my trips to Iran, since I was not well known, were not complicated and there was no security threat around me.

On the other hand, I was acquainted with Persian language more than my other brothers in Hezbollah, and for this reason, they preferred me to travel to Iran. From the very beginning, there was compassion and affection between me and my Iranian brothers. My brothers in Hezbollah would tell me: you like Iranians and the Iranians like you too. So you should travel to Iran. On behalf of my brothers in Lebanon, I met with the Leader for one to two hours. Even when all issues had been discussed and I was prepared to leave, he would say: “Why are you in a hurry? Stay, and if there’s anything left, let’s discuss it”. That stage was very important for Hezbollah, because Hezbollah had focused on fundamental issues, fundamental approaches and fundamental goals. They made a collection of varying opinions, but we eventually managed to compile a single united book. Now I can say that we have a unified viewpoint in Hezbollah. Different perspectives have been unified and consolidated due to the events and experiences that we have gone through, and thanks to the guidance, advice, and leadership of Imam Khomeini (r.a) while he was alive and of the Leader after the passing of Imam Khomeini.

I wish there was more time to listen to your memories at length…

You will at some point say ‘I wish’… [laughs]

Anyways, our time is very limited. Putting that period a side, now let’s talk about 1989, when Imam Khomeini passed away to the mercy of Allah, and our people and every devotee of the Islamic Revolution were mourning. Those moments were naturally critical moments for both our country and the devotees of the Islamic Revolution. Please explain briefly what the state of your affairs was, at the time when Ayatollah Khamenei was chosen as the successor to Imam Khomeini? Also tell us more about the events that you encountered at that time, after Imam Khomeini’s passing away, in the regional and international arena.

We had a very critical period at that time, because that era coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the beginning of American unilateralism and the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we saw that the Zionist regime started talking about peace negotiations, and on the other hand, the Islamic Revolution was in a particular situation. Obviously, the Americans had plans for the post-Imam Khomeini (r.a) era. We would like you to talk about those circumstances and describe them to us, and about how the Leader responded to the important developments that took place at regional and international levels?

As you know, during the lifetime of Imam Khomeini, members of Hezbollah of Lebanon and the supporters of the resistance, had close ties with him, both intellectually and culturally. However, Hezbollah members were also emotionally and passionately dependent on Imam Khomeini. Like many Iranians who fought against Saddam’s war on Iran, they really loved Imam Khomeini (r.a). Members of Hezbollah of Lebanon regarded him as an Imam, a leader, a guide, a Marja’, and a father. I have never seen the Lebanese love anyone so much. Consequently, the demise of Imam Khomeini on that day brought about a mountain of sadness and grief to the Lebanese; a feeling definitely not less intense than the sadness and grief of the Iranians. This was the emotional connection between the Lebanese and Imam Khomeini (r.a).

But on the other hand, there was a major concern at that time, and it was that the Western media were constantly talking about the post-Imam Khomeini era (r.a), claiming that the main problem was this man and that Iran would collapse after him and a civil war would break out; that there would be no substitute for the leadership of the country. In this regard, a very intense psychological warfare had started in those years, in the last year of the glorious life of Imam Khomeini (r.a), [particularly in the light of other incidents including the dismissal of Late Ayatollah Montazeri and other issues]. For this reason, there were concerns. At that time, we were being told that your source of support—i.e. the Islamic Republic of Iran, upon which you rely and in which have faith—will start a downfall and collapse after the passing of Imam Khomeini. That was for the second issue.

The third issue, regardless of the psychological warfare, was our lack of information about the situation after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a). We did not know what was going to happen after him, and what turn the events were going to take; so we were worried. We were following up on the events after the death of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on television, and when we saw national security and the calm in Iran as well as the glorious presence of the Iranian people at his funeral, we regained some confidence and peace of mind.

We were reassured that Iran would not go towards a civil war, nor would it collapse, and eventually the Iranians would choose a suitable leader in a reasonable and sincere atmosphere. We, like all Iranians, were waiting for the decision of the Assembly of Experts on this matter. The fact is that the election of Ayatollah Khamenei as the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Assembly of Experts was unpredictable for the Lebanese. Because we did not know Iranian figures properly and we did not know if there was a better, more knowledgably and more competent person to replace the Leadership. We only knew the Iranian officials that we were in touch with. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei for this responsibility, surprisingly and unusually, made us feel happy, fortunate and confident.

In any case, we passed through this stage. We started our relationship and this relationship continued. After a short time, we traveled to Iran and offered our condolences for the passing away of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and we met with the Leader. He was still at the Presidential office and received people there. We pledged allegiance to him in person and directly. Our brothers told him: “During the lifetime of Imam Khomeini (r.a) you were his representative in the affairs of Lebanon, Palestine and the region as well as the President of Iran, so you had time [for us]. But now you are the leader of the Islamic Republic and all Muslims, and therefore, perhaps you do not have enough time as before. So, we would like to ask you to appoint a representative, so that we do not disturb you continuously.” At this moment, the Leader smiled and said: “I am still young and I have time, God willing. I pay special attention to the issues of the region and the resistance and therefore we will remain in direct contact with each other. “

Since then, unlike Imam Khomeini (r.a), he has not appointed any representative to refer to about our issues. Naturally, we did not want to bother much, and did not require much of his time. Especially because in the first years, the early years of the establishment of the movement, he was involved in everything. The principles, goals, foundations, criteria, and guidelines that we had, provided a solution to every issue. All of this was a divine blessing; the blessing of guidance was quite clear and we did not need to constantly refer to him. So, we continued to do the same as the Leader had told. This should answer that part of your question about our relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei after his election as the Leader and the authority for Muslims [wali amr al muslimin] after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a).

But regarding the events that happened, it should be noted that the events after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a) were, naturally, very critical and dangerous. At that time, the important issue for us was to continue the path of resistance in Lebanon, an issue that the Leader had emphasized from the outset. The Leader provided the officials of the Islamic Republic with many recommendations and words of advice, to attend to the Resistance in Lebanon and the region, saying that, just as during the lifetime of Imam Khomeini (r.a), when we followed this path with the thoughts, methods, principles and culture of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on our agenda; today I persist on this path and insist on the need for it to continue.

Therefore, as a blessing from the Almighty God, there was no change in the position of the Islamic Republic in its support for the resistance in the region, especially in Lebanon, not even in the face of changes within ministries and official entities in Iran as well as some differences in their political policies. Therefore, not only such a change did not happened, rather things went on in a better way; because these stances were strengthened after each president’s and each official’s term and this happened as a result of direct attention by the Leader to Hezbollah of Lebanon and the resistance in the region.

Now we can enter the discussion on the events that took place. Where would you like me to start from? I am ready. I mean, we can now address the political events; because we have already elaborated on our relationship with the Leader and how we kept working with him after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

The most important issue for us at that time, i.e. during the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, was the issue of domestic problems of Lebanon. At that stage, as you know well, there were some problems between Hezbollah and the Amal movement, and the Leader paid special attention to this matter. Hence, the most important thing that happened to us during the early years of Ayatollah Khamenei’s leadership was the resolution of discords between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. This blessed resolution, was brought about as a result of special guidance and advice by the Leader, as well as contacts between the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leaders of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, including the current chairman of the Lebanese parliament Mr. Nabih Berri and Syrian officials. Subsequently, Resistance groups in Lebanon got united and this was accomplished thanks to the Leader and his strong emphasis [on unity].

The Leader opposed any issue, any conflict or dispute among Lebanese groups and constantly stressed the need for extensive relations between them as well as achieving peace by any means necessary among them. These efforts took years to bear fruit. That is to say, it took 2 or 3 years for us to pass through that stage. The foundation of the close relations between Hezbollah and Amal that we see today were laid by the guidelines of the Leader, and today the relationship between Hezbollah and Amal is not strategic, but beyond strategic. Through the resolving of the problems between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement and the cooperation between the two, we were able to continue the resistance and attend to defending Lebanon and the south of Lebanon. The achievement and the great victory of 2000 against the Zionist regime were realized as a result of this unity. In 2006 and during the 33-day war of the Zionist regime on southern Lebanon, this unity helped us again, and we were able to resist during the “Tammūz War” and impose a defeat on the enemy. Today, political victories in Lebanon and the region continue to be achieved. One of the fundamental factors of Hezbollah’s political, national, and military power is this coherence, unity and friendly relations.

I recall that at that time, after the martyrdom of Sayyid Abbas al-Musawi (r.a), our brothers chose me as the secretary-general. Later, we met with the Leader. He brought up some issues, saying: “If you want to make the heart of Imam Mahdi (May Almighty Allah Speed His Reappearance) and also the hearts of all the believers happy, you have to work hard to preserve the calm in your country. You have work with each other, especially Hezbollah, Amal, Allama [scholar] Fadlallah and Sheikh Shams al-Din.” At that time, Sheikh Fadlallah and Sheikh Shams al-Din were both alive and the Leader strongly stressed reinforcing internal unity in Lebanon. His emphasis was on maintaining unity among the Shi’as, as well as between Shi’as and Sunnis and other Muslims. He also emphasized on the necessity of unity among Muslims and Christians and would insist on it during internal meetings; that is [he promoted] an open door policy for all Lebanese. This was the second issue. The primary issue was the relationship between Hezbollah, Amal and the domestic situation of the Shias. Another important issue that he emphasized was the open door strategy of Hezbollah towards other Lebanese political groups, despite religious, political, and ideological differences. The realization of this important project was also on account of his wise leadership.

There was an emphasis on continuing the resistance, confronting belligerence and determination to liberate southern Lebanon. That’s why the Leader also focused on the issue of resistance and its progress. He always insisted that resistance should progress, grow, and ultimately take back occupied lands. Hence, he always diligently encouraged the Resistance to persist on the path it had taken. You know that at that time there was a problem that some resistance groups, other than Hezbollah, had got entangled with internal political affairs, and thus, they had been gradually distracted from the mission of resistance. This would make the resistance limited to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement—chiefly Hezbollah. Even inside Hezbollah, there were some of our brothers who were inclined to get involved with domestic politics. But the Leader always emphasized the need to give priority to the mission of resistance and Jihadi tasks.

Part 2

Imam Khamenei’s prediction of Oslo Accord and Netanyahu’s error

One of the important events that took place in the region at that time was the formation of a process of reconciliation through Arab-Israeli negotiations, which is referred to as the “peace process”. This trend was shaped after Arab-Israeli negotiations. Recall that in 1993 an agreement was reached between Mr. Yasser Arafat and the Israelis, represented by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres; an agreement that was finalized under the auspices of the United States. This agreement was eventually named the “Oslo Accords”. This was naturally a very dangerous issue, and had a negative impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The danger was that, according to the agreement, the PLO recognized Israel and thus effectively a Palestinian group—not an Egyptian one like Anwar Sadat—abandoned the lands of 1948, the lands occupied by the Zionist regime during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Also, in that agreement it was mentioned that the topic of the negotiations would be East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the issue of other parts of Palestine is already done. This was a major fault.

On the other hand, the agreement opened the way for many other Arab countries to begin negotiations and reach an agreement with Israel, eventually normalizing relations with Tel Aviv. This was a very dangerous issue. At that time, the Leader, and the Palestinian resistance groups including Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine opposed the Oslo Accords. The Commander in Chief and some Palestinian groups opposed the deal. So did Hezbollah and the Lebanese groups. We rallied against this agreement, but were shot, and we had martyrs for the cause in Beirut’s Southern Dahieh.

In any case, it was a turning point and a very dangerous period. We pondered over what reaction to adopt against the Oslo accord. Should we deal with it politically and through the media, and call on the Palestinians to resist and insist on their rights? The emergence of this issue (the Oslo Accords and the ensuing phase) led to the expansion and consolidation of relations between Hezbollah and Palestinian groups, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, and also strengthened the path of resistance in the occupied territories of Palestine. Remember that at that time, a major martyrdom-seeking operation was carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in the heart of Tel Aviv and Quds, and shook the Zionist authorities to their core. It was after that operation, that an extraordinary meeting took place in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh with Clinton and Yeltsin, the then Russian president in attendance. Many countries in the world also attended this meeting. Meanwhile, the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad rejected participating in the meeting.

The fact is that the meeting finally declared war on three groups: first Hezbollah, second Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, and third Islamic Republic of Iran due to its support for resistance in the region. Despite its large sphere, the meeting did not manage to introduce fear in the ranks of Hezbollah and other resistance groups in the region, especially since at that time, the position of the Leader regarding the resistance—that is continuing the Resistance and persisting on the path— was absolutely straightforward and resolute. Therefore the Oslo accord brought about a series of events; events that were very crucial and hazardous for this procedure.

We also had the Madrid conference.

The Madrid conference was before the Oslo Accord. It was then that the talks started. The important point here is that the Leader has a deep insight and exact understanding of the future. I believe that his accurate perception of the future is part of his unique abilities, derived from his deep faith in, submission to, and relationship with the Almighty God, rather than having an only rational aspect.

At that time, certain talks started called the Israeli-Syrian negotiations. The Syrian President of the time was Hafez al-Assad and the Israeli Prime Minister was Yitzhak Rabin. The talks between them were initially secret and later made public. They would meet in the United States and under Clinton’s supervision. Representatives of President Assad and Rabin’s cabinet met with each other in the United States, and they were about to come to an agreement. At that time, it was said that Yitzhak Rabin had agreed to return the occupied Golan to Hafez al-Assad.

Accordingly, there was an assumption in the region that Israel and Syria were coming to an agreement. This atmosphere existed in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and the entire region. I remember that at that time some would ask us “if an Israeli-Syrian agreement is reached, what will you—that is Hezbollah—do? If Syria and Israel come to an agreement, what stance will Hezbollah take? If such an agreement is made, what will be the fate of Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance groups?” We organized several meetings to discuss the matter, and plan for the future. We thought then that an agreement was already made between Assad and Rabin. It was not only Hezbollah but all Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians assumed that the agreement had been finalized. We organized internal meetings to discuss the future. We talked about political, military, artillery issues and even the name of the group. Some raised the question whether or not to keep the name “Hezbollah”? Or if we should adopt a new name to fit the new phase? Some of our brothers were on the U.S.’s black list and there was this debate whether to keep them in Lebanon or make it for them to leave Lebanon? For example, Martyr Hajj Imad Mughniyah was on that list.  So we compiled a collection of various suggestions.

Did Hezbollah not have a communication channel with Hafez al-Assad to be informed of his decision?

The point is that all the available data and information assured us that the Israeli-Syrian negotiations would result in an agreement. At that time, Hafez al-Assad’s main demand was to take back the Golan, and that would withdraw from the June 4, 1967 borders; and Rabin had agreed to meet those demands. Eventually we went to see the Leader. He was very patient with us, because during this visit, we mentioned all the issues raised and the suggestions offered by different people. He listened to all of our words in that meeting which was held with some Iranian officials in attendance, and while all Iranian officials—and all officials unanimously and with no exception—believed that the Syrian-Israeli talks were over, His Eminence said: “It is good that you consider the worst-case scenarios and probabilities and plan to face them; but I tell you this will not happen, and there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel, so discard whatever you have written and prepared. You should continue to resist, and double your efforts to increase your weapons, facilities and human resources. Do not worry; because there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel.” All those present in the meeting, including the Iranians and the Lebanese, were astonished by the firm remarks of Ayatollah Khamenei. His Eminence did not say that, “I consider it unlikely” or that, “there might be other possibilities”. Not at all. He resolutely declared this will not happen. He said strongly and firmly: “Forget it and put it away; continue to do what you were doing in a better and stronger way than before.”

Anyway, we were surprised. We returned to Lebanon, and we continued to work based on the Leader’s point of view. Only two weeks after our visit to the Leader, a big ceremony with more than 100,000 people was held in Tel Aviv, wherein Yitzhak Rabin was giving a speech, when someone from among extremist Jews opened fire at and murdered Rabin. After Rabin, Shimon Peres was elected prime minister of the Zionist Regime. He had a weak personality, because he was not perceived by Israelis, in terms of historical and military background as well as trustworthiness, as competent as Rabin.

Subsequently, large operations were carried out inside occupied territories, namely Tel Aviv and occupied Quds, which shook the foundations of the Zionist Regime’s power. After that, the Sharm El-Sheikh summit—that I mentioned—was held. Then, in 1996, Israel attacked Lebanon in an operation called Operation Grapes of Wrath and marked the unprecedented genocide in Qana—a tragedy later known as Qana Massacre. In response, we resisted against the Israelis and became victorious. Shortly thereafter, that is in 2 or 3 weeks, elections were held in the Zionist Regime, during which Shimon Peres was defeated and the Likud party replaced the Labor party as the dominant party, and Benjamin Netanyahu became the Prime Minister of Israel. After coming to power, he said “I do not adhere to any of Yitzhak Rabin’s and Shimon Peres’s commitments with regard to Syria and the negotiations with Hafez al-Assad”. Therefore, the Israeli-Syrian negotiations ended. We are talking about the year 1996 and now in 2019, where does the peace process stand? It is in its worst status.

As you pointed out, in that atmosphere, there was a feeling that an impending compromise was going on, and meanwhile, the Palestinian people were being slaughtered. Did other countries contact you to encourage Hezbollah to follow the movement? Did the countries which favored this compromise contact you in this regard? Did they send a message to encourage you to accept to compromise with Israel?

There was no direct contact with Hezbollah. They had no hopes in us; because they knew about our wisdom, willpower, faith and determination. But in general, some Arab countries pressured Lebanon. They pressured the Lebanese government and people to compromise with Israel. They threatened that Israel would destroy Lebanon if they did not accept to compromise, and the Arab world would turn away from Beirut. There were such pressures, but there was no significant contact; because they knew what our stance was and we saw how they have absolutely no hopes in us. This was God’s blessing for us.

Some raise the question why the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon cannot accept any of the projects offered by the US and the Zionist Regime for compromise–from Oslo to the Deal of Century? The question is raised why Iran and Hezbollah do not provide the prerequisites to end these conflicts? Another point about Palestine is that some imply that the Palestinians themselves are interested in some form of compromise. What is your opinion about these questions? On the other hand, we see that some Arab rulers and figures are pretentious in their support for the Palestinian cause and standing for the Palestinian aspirations. What are the indicators for identifying the true representatives of this movement and thinking?

Regarding the first part of the question, I would say all the offered projects for the Palestinian cause violated the rights and the interests of the Palestinians. They say, according to the Oslo Accord, the lands usurped in 1948 are not included in the negotiations. That means two-third of Palestine is to be regarded outside the negotiations. Well, this is a major act of oppression; that is, in its basis and foundation, it is a major form of oppression. Then, they do not even give them the remaining one-third of Palestine. They do not even say that they would give the West Bank to the Palestinians and only negotiate on East Quds. At that time, even as for the Gaza Strip, the Zionists acted passively on the issue of Gaza. Shimon Peres said “I dream of a day when I wake up and I am told that Gaza has gone under water”. This was their territorial viewpoint.

In the case of Quds, in all the offered proposals, the Americans and Israelis never agreed to give back East Quds to the Palestinians. Even during the last negotiations in Camp David between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, the matter of Quds [Jerusalem] was brought up, and the Israelis said: “Of Jerusalem, whatever is on the ground, for you; but what remains underground of Jerusalem is for us”. As for the Palestinians who were expelled from their homes, the Israelis have explicitly stated that they would not allow them to return to their lands. This is while millions of displaced Palestinians were living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other countries of the world dispersedly. Would any wise man accept such a thing?

Even if we accept the above-mentioned proposals which are based on the two-state solution, a question is raised: which Palestinian state? A state with no national sovereignty, no borders, no sky or coast, no airport, etc. What kind of a state is this? Thus, the proposals that have been presented on the question of Palestine since long ago—from the Madrid negotiations to the bilateral talks and the Deal of the Century—indicate that the situation has become worse day after day. Let’s talk about the Deal of the Century. Recently, Jared Kushner spoke about the Deal of the Century, and explicitly said that according to this plan, Jerusalem (Quds) is for Israel. He announced that major Zionist settlements in the West Bank would be part of the occupied territories. Therefore, there is basically no discussion of a two-state solution; that is, one that includes a true Palestinian state. Even the Palestinians themselves do not accept such plans.

Accordingly, we gradually come to the conclusion that, firstly, if you see that the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah of Lebanon and other resistance groups do not agree with the proposals on the Palestinian question, it is because all these proposals are very oppressive to the Palestinian nation as well as to the Islamic Ummah, overall. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people won’t accept these plans. Today, it is absolutely clear that there is a complete consensus among the various Palestinian groups and parties in response to the Deal of the Century. It is not that some of them accept and others reject the proposal. The Fatah and Hamas as well as other movements, despite their disagreements, have no doubts about rejecting the Deal of the Century, and are on the same page with this regard. The Palestinian nation, both inside and outside the borders of the country, reject the Deal of the Century. Thus, opposition to this plan is not confined to Iran and the resistance groups in the region. Rather, Palestinians themselves oppose the Deal of the Century.

On the other hand, we must have a thorough understanding of the positions of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and the resistance groups against the Zionist regime. The fact is that Israel is not a problem only for the Palestinians; rather, the stabilization of the sovereignty of Israel is a threat not only to the Palestinians, but also to all Arab and Islamic countries. The stabilization of this regime is a big threat to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and even the Islamic Republic of Iran. Israel has nuclear weapons and more than 200 nuclear warheads. The regime has always sought to expand its dominance over the whole region. There is another important point that we have learned from Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and also Ayatollah Khamenei, which is the fact that Israel is not a regime independent from the US; rather, it is regarded as a U.S. arm in the region. Who is after warmongering in the region? Who conducts invasion and aggression? Who meddles into other countries’ affairs? Hence, the existence, survival, power and promotion of Israel—either through peaceful or non-peaceful means— is a major security threat for all the countries in the region, from Iran to Pakistan, and even for the countries of Central Asia and Turkey.

Therefore, those resisting Israel today, are in fact defending the Palestinian people and their rights, of which they have been divested, and they are also defending themselves, the sanctities and defending Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and other countries. Israel will not withdraw from the ‘Nile-to-Euphrates’ goal and this goal has always been presented as a Torah dream Israel has been trying to realize. Israel is a military base in the region that serves the interests of the United States. We all know that the United States wants Iran to return to the pre-revolutionary times, i.e. a monarchy, just like Saudi Arabia, so that whenever it demands oil, Iran would give oil and whenever it demands oil prices be dropped, it gets realized. You saw that Trump personally declared that he took $450 billion from Riyadh. Trump openly announced that receiving this $450 billion was much easier for him than receiving $100 from an illegitimate booth somewhere in New York. He wants Iran to be like Saudi Arabia; in fact he wants all countries in the region to be just like Saudi Arabia. Who is Saudi Arabia relying on? On the monarchists in the region as well as the Israeli entity that possesses nuclear weapons and threatens countries of the region.

Accordingly, the important strategy emphasized by Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was that if we want to have a safe region, live in permanent peace, defend our national sovereignty and integrity of lands, and if we want all countries of the region to enjoy national sovereignty and true freedom, none of them is possible to achieve as long as there is an Israeli entity. They seek to fixate the Israeli entity by means of peace treaties.

Today, who is the vanguard of supporting the aspiration of a Palestinian government and leading it?

Today, there is no question that Ayatollah Khamenei (May God Continue His Oversight) bears the flag of the Palestinian cause. Today, no one doubts that the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its determination, will and power, is the vanguard and the main nucleus and main pivot that steers the Resistance movement.

Israel and its authorities announced in 2000 that they would leave southern Lebanon and tried to pretend it was voluntary. Did they voluntarily leave or were they forced to leave Southern Lebanon?

The Israelis wanted to retreat from southern Lebanon due to the significant financial and human forces’ damage imposed on them by the Resistance. There is no doubt that it was the Resistance and their operations that forced Israel to leave southern Lebanon. In Lebanon, no one has any doubt about it; that is to say, everyone acknowledges it. Had it not been for the Resistance’s daily operations, Israel would have remained in southern Lebanon; there is no doubt about it. Of course, the Israelis, even when they were under the most extreme pressure from the Resistance, tried to gain a concession from the opponents and to impose their prerequisites on Syria and Lebanon. At that time, Lebanon as well as Syria—whose president was Hafez Al-Assad—rejected granting any concession to Israel. This helped the Lebanese government a lot, since Syria had a significant influence on the Lebanese government and helped it to reject Israel’s conditions. Here, I would like to add a point about the talks between Yitzhak Rabin and Hafez Al-Assad: one of the factors contributing to the discontinuation of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations process at that time was the stance Hafez al-Assad’s took; because when the Israelis came to the June 4 borders, Hafez Assad insisted to take back the Lake Tiberia. He said that it belonged to Syria and had to be returned to Syria. This was one of the factors that led to the discontinuation of Syrian-Israeli negotiations after the death of Yitzhak Rabin and under the rule of Shimon Peres.

Now let’s go back to the issue of southern Lebanon. We were saying that the Israelis tried to receive concessions from Syria and Lebanon and impose their prerequisites on them. The Syrian and Lebanese governments also expressed their opposition to this issue. Hezbollah and the Resistance in Lebanon also rejected it. On the other hand, Hezbollah Resistance continued its operations until the Israelis came to the conclusion that their remaining in Lebanon was costly and they could not gain any concessions from Lebanon. So they decided to leave Southern Lebanon without any prerequisites. Also note that at that time, there were domestic pressures in the occupied lands on the part of settlers on the Israeli regime to leave Syria, especially because the families of the Israeli military and the families of the dead were demanding Israel not to stay in Lebanon. More interestingly, they had set July 2000 as the date for leaving Lebanon, but the intensity of the operations of the Resistance forced Tel Aviv to withdraw from Lebanon and thus, with complete humiliation and precipitation, the regime’s military forces left southern Lebanon. This occurred by God’s grace.

I’d like to ask another question and I’m willing to close this discussion here. Ayatollah Khamenei said a few years ago, that Israel won’t survive to see the next 25 years.

Before coming to that, we need to finish the topic of the year 2000 victory. I remember a very important memory of Ayatollah Khamenei. You remember I said that in 1996 his Eminence had said no peace treaty would be achieved between Syria and Israel. In 2000, a few months before Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, and in accordance with our plans, we traveled to Tehran to meet with Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian officials. We—that is the Hezbollah council—traveled to Iran. On that trip, we also were accompanied by the military commanders of the Resistance for the first time. Nearly 50 commanders of the Resistance traveled with us.

At that time, we thought that Israel would not retreat from Lebanon in 2000. We were not sure, but we assumed it was unlikely that Israel would retreat in 2000, because we believed that Israel would not accept to retreat without imposing some prerequisites. We said to the Leader: “It is unlikely that Israel will withdraw from southern Lebanon. It seems that Israel will stay longer in Lebanon and we will need more time and more operations to make Israel withdraw with no preconditions.” Then he asked: “Why do you think this is unlikely?” We responded: “Because this measure would be a major threat to Israel. Israel withdrawing from south Lebanon with no preconditions represents obvious resistance and this will be considered the first obvious victory of Resistance, naturally affecting Palestine and Palestinian nation’s domestic developments; something that would pose a strategic threat to Israel and would signal to Palestinians the message that the main path is that of resistance and not negotiations. A message that told them: negotiations took your lands and sanctities away from you, but resistance liberated Lebanon and south Lebanon.” It was then that the Leader stated: “I recommend you to seriously assume that Israel will leave Lebanon and you will be victorious. You continue your activities and plan for the future based on this assumption. Plan on how to face Israel’s retreat from Lebanon on military, field work, media and political aspects.” We were surprised to hear these words, because we all believed that Ehud Barak—who had just won the election— would not act on his promise of retreat, because his conditions had not been met and particularly that he had not achieved security commitments either. That is to say, neither the Lebanese government, nor the Syrian government and nor Hezbollah of Lebanon had made security commitments to Israel. Thus the question was that, how would it be possible that Israel would retreat? This seemed unwise and illogical.

Even more important than that, following the meeting, in the evening, we went to the Leader’s home with our brothers from the Resistance, including the late Hajj Imad Mughniyah. Our brothers were those from the resistance, fighting on the front lines of the battle and could be martyred at any moment. After entering the Leader’s house, we and our brothers went to a great hall where prayers were performed. At the time, our brothers were wearing military uniforms, with keffiyehs worn around their necks, and looked a lot like the Basijis on the Iranian fronts. We were only supposed to perform congregational prayers with the Leader, and to offer our greetings before ending the ceremony. The Leader performed the prayers and after finishing Isha, he rose to greet his Lebanese brothers.

Then the Leader told his companions to move away. Then he said to me: “I am here to listen to you”. At this moment, one of our brothers came and kissed the Leader’s hand. Some of the brothers began to cry, and some of them were so impressed that could no longer stand on their feet. They slowly came forward. One of the brothers kissed the Leader’s hand, and when the second one bent down to kiss his feet, he did not allow it. He went back and told me: “Tell them to sit down and calm down so we can talk.” A speech was not planned for that ceremony. I asked my brothers to keep calm and I started translating the Leader’s speech for them. Among the issues he addressed—which I believe emerged from his spiritual vision and not simply from political analysis, rather from something deeper— was that he said: “You will be victorious by the grace of God. Your victory is much closer than what some people think. “He pointed to me because we had said that Israel’s withdrawal in such manner was unlikely. Pointing with his left hand, like this, he said: “Each and every one of you will see with your own eyes that you will be victorious.”

After that we returned to Lebanon. At that time, we carried out large operations and, of course, many members of the Resistance were martyred. May 25 came, and Israel’s surprising, unexpected and undignified retreat from southern Lebanon began. Also several were martyred during our progress towards the border. It was here that both predictions of the Leader of the Revolution were realized. First, the victory of the Resistance happened very soon, only a few months after that meeting; and second, all the people who were present at the meeting with the Leader and participated in the frontline operations, lived on to witness the great victory with their own eyes.

The question I wanted to ask before was that Ayatollah Khamenei said a few years ago that Israel would not see 25 years from now. [Meaning, there will be no Zionist Regime in 25 years.] There were interpretations of this sentence. Some people considered it to be definitive, and they started counting the days until it comes true. On the other hand, the front of Arrogance began to scoff at some of the interpretations of the statement. You have stood against the Zionist regime at different times and experienced various battles against this regime. Given your experiences, when you heard this statement from Ayatollah Khamenei, what was your perception and feelings about it?

First, I was not personally surprised by the remarks made by Ayatollah Khamenei, because we had heard similar statements in our private meetings in the previous years, especially in 2000, after the victory over the Zionist regime. We paid a visit to Ayatollah Khamenei a few months after the victory, and he was very delighted of the victory. We spoke about the future. At that time, he said: “If the Palestinian people, the Resistance in Lebanon, and the nations of the region perform their duties appropriately, and we continue this path, then certainly Israel cannot last for a long time in the region.” At that time, he mentioned something less than 25 years.

So when I heard the Leader’s 25 years remark, I concluded that he has given Israel extra time. That’s why I was not surprised. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that the Leader’s statement on Israel is absolutely serious. According to our experiences, some of which I already mentioned, we believe that the Leader is a person endorsed by Allah, the Almighty, and that what His Eminence states sometimes emerge from some other source–as it happened in the 33-day war. It should be noted that all data, investigations and information show that such an event (the elimination of Israel) will occur, but the realization of this matter is not unconditional, and it would happen under certain conditions. Therefore, if we resist and continue on the path we have taken, factual and field conditions indicate that Israel will not be able to remain in the region in the next 25 years.

We have done a lot of research and studies on the Israeli regime; trying to find answers for the following questions: what are the foundations of this regime? What are the hidden factors that have led to the existence of this regime? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this regime? Therefore, this shows that the Resistance has always exploited research as well as the power of logic and thinking based on existing facts.

Although there has been a revolutionary spirit in the fight against Zionism, this does not mean that the fight lacked research and rationality. I do not know the hidden dimensions of the Leader’s words. Based on field studies and real investigations, we can clearly say that Israel cannot survive, because the existence of Israel in the region is not a natural existence; rather, its existence does not match the nature of the region. This entity has been imposed on the region cannot and hence cannot become normalized and turn into a normal issue.

Moreover, even if the Arab monarchs, emirs and rulers want it, all the nations of the region oppose the existence of Israel and firmly reject this illegitimate entity [against their rulers’ will]. The elements of weakness are ample in the Israeli entity, so the likelihood of the collapse of this regime is very high. I refer to two examples of Israel’s apparent weakness: first, Israel’s power is now heavily dependent on the power of the United States. Consequently, if anything happens to the United States of America—like what happened to the USSR, from the collapse of its economy to internal problems and discords and natural disasters or any other incident that might get the U.S. busy dealing with its problems and lead to a reduction of Washington’s influence in the region, you will see that the Israelis will get their stuff and evacuate in the shortest possible time. Therefore, their destruction does not necessarily entail a war.

Israeli regime’s existence in Palestine depends on the U.S.’s spiritual, psychological, military and economic support. If the U.S. gets busy with its own problems, Israel will have no chance to survive and there would be no need for a war with that regime. This is just one example, truly foreseeable.

Everyone knows that the United States allocates an annual amount of $3 billion to Israel. Meanwhile, Israelis enjoy US $10 billion worth of US banking facilities per year. A part of U.S. taxpayers’ money is spent on Israel. Moreover, the most advanced technologies are transferred to Israel; Washington’s support for Israel is completely obvious. One of the most important reasons behind the humiliated stances taken by Arab regimes towards Israel is their fear of the United States, not fear of Israel itself. If a day comes when some Arab regimes and Arab armies free themselves from pressures by the U.S., their stances towards Israel will be different. Even the armies and the regimes themselves [will take a different stance].

Let me make another example: the governments of the world usually build armies for themselves, but it is said that Israel is an army made for the regime. In the world, a country’s army might collapse, but that country will stand. For example, after the U.S. war on Iraq, the Americans dissolved the Iraqi army, but Iraq remained and did not disappear. There are countries in the world that do not have an army or have a weak army; however, Israel is a regime that cannot survive without a strong army; if its army is defeated, or if the truth of the Israeli army—that is its weakness and instability—is disclosed to the settlers and they realize that this army is incapable of supporting them, you will see the Israelis will get their stuff and flee.

My dear brothers! Israel has many lethal weaknesses. That is why I believe that in the shade of a national will power against the survival of this regime, regional and international events will take place in this regard. I am among those who strongly believe in the new generation and God willing, this generation will enter Palestine and perform prayers in Quds, and there will be no Israel.

Sayyed Nasrallah p3

Imam Khamenei’s secret letter delivered to Hezbollah by General Soleimani

The 33-day war was a good test to see how powerful Israel is and how powerful Hezbollah and the axis of Resistance are as opposed to it. At some point, the Israeli army attacked several Arab countries and defeated them in a 6-day war. In the 33-day war, the Zionist army’s attacks on Hezbollah’s sites as well as on the innocent people in southern Lebanon were severe, but these attacks ultimately failed, and it seems that this war and the resulting victory became a turning point in the history of the region. What is your analysis of this war, and the defeat that Israel suffered as it failed to achieve its goals. In other words, what directions will it lead Tel Aviv to?

We can discuss it more broadly and refer to the aftermath of the 9/11 and the emergence of Neo-Conservatives in the U.S., i.e. the George Bush era; because the war on Lebanon was part of the same project and a bigger plan. It was at this point where the importance of the leadership role of Ayatollah Khamenei in the region became increasingly evident. George Bush and his associates used the 9/11 incident as the excuse to attack the countries of the region; fir they had the intention of conducting such attacks even prior to the 9/11. They chose to target Iraq on the pretext of possessing weapons of mass destruction. However, after the 9/11, they had to go to Afghanistan first and then move to Iraq.

So an American project opened in the years 2000 and 2001. Washington believe that the peace process in the region between Arabs and Israel had declined. The Resistance achieved a major victory in Lebanon, and consequently Israel retreated from southern Lebanon. Iran also became more and more powerful both in terms of its domestic affairs and in the whole region. This was a great victory for Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and even Palestinian resistance groups. Iran was also becoming more power day after day both domestically and regionally. After seeing these events, the U.S. decided to have an extensive military presence in the region so that, firstly they could pursue their interests, by gaining dominance over the oil resources and natural resources of the countries; secondly, they could impose a solution on the region that would benefit Israel and fixate its existence.

To achieve this goal, they needed to eliminate any obstacle. These obstacles Resistance in Palestine, Resistance in Lebanon, the Syrian government, and Iran. This was the project they were pursuing. All documents and evidence prove that. Well, after the 9/11, they had to go to Afghanistan, because the determining part of the neo-cons and George Bush’s project included encircling Iran and isolating it. The U.S. troops based in Pakistan, their forces in the Persian Gulf countries and the Persian Gulf waters as well as their forces based in Syria and the some neighboring countries were deployed to Afghanistan and then Iraq to complete the encircling of Iran.

Naturally, before isolating Iran and attacking it, the Americans would need to completely dominate over Iraq, destroy the Resistance in Palestine and Lebanon, and then put an end to the life of the Damascus government; that is, [destroy] Iran’s friends in the region and those countries the U.S. regarded as Iran’s strong allies and arms in the region. They also sought to annihilate those who would resist humiliating peace with Israel, because peace with Israel was one of the conditions for isolating Iran and attacking it. That is to say, the first goal was to expand the direct military presence, and then to overthrow the countries, to destroy the resistance groups, to establish an Arab-Israeli peace, and to form a single Arab-Israeli front led by Washington to attack Iran and overthrow the Islamic Republic and take over the country. This was the U.S. project.

Thus, the first step was the war in Afghanistan, and the second step entailed the war in Iraq. I will tell you about the third phase and what happened. After the occupation of Iraq, if you remember, Colin Powell, who was the U.S. secretary of state at that time, went to Damascus with a long list of U.S. conditions, and met with Bashar al-Assad. He wanted to exploit the environment of fear that had been created following the U.S. attack on the region to impose his conditions on Assad regarding the Golan Heights, Palestine, Palestinian Resistance, Hezbollah of Lebanon, etc. Anyway, it was a long list [of conditions]. Despite the U.S.’s threats, Bashar Assad refused to surrender to them.

So the Americans failed and moved to the next phase. At that time, the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council were scheduled. The U.S. assumed that the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, would win the election, and that Hamas and other resistance groups would be defeated. Washington presumed that the PA would win and then begin to disarm the Palestinian Resistance and commence the process of reconciliation with Israel. But what happened? A major surprise; Hamas took to the Legislative Council by winning the vast majority of the votes. After that, the U.S. took their next step, which entailed a military strike on Lebanon. At that point, the 33-day war and the Resistance of Hezbollah took place.

The goal of the United States was to eliminate Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and then to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon. For after achieving their goal, they had plans to go to Syria after in order to overthrow the government of Damascus, and after that make peace with Israel and normalize relations between Israel and the Arabs; and afterwards to encircle Iran and isolate it. Naturally at that time, the victory over the Palestinian Resistance and Israel’s victory over Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad’s government could have been a major achievement for George W. Bush by which he could attain more victories at congress as well as presidential elections.

In late 2006, when mid-term congress elections were around and George Bush needed to win two third of the seats, an imminent American writer told me—and of course late he wrote it—: In order to succeed in congressional elections and even presidential elections, George W. Bush desperately needed to enter the electoral campaign like a cowboy, carrying three bloody severed heads: the head of the Resistance in Palestine, the head of Hezbollah’s Resistance and Bashar al-Assad’s head. If Bush succeeded in winning these three heads, he could win two-thirds of congressional votes for his party and, at the same time, he could guarantee a war against Iran.” The main purpose of what would happen was, in fact, to end the Palestinian issue and provide the preliminaries for a war against Iran. I am going to elaborate on this topic and I hope a there will be an opportunity to explain this matter to the Iranian nation so that they will properly realize the fact that the ultimate goal of the conflicts and disputes in the region is not only Palestine, but the ultimate goal is to restore the U.S.’s domination over Iran, over its resources and facilities and to bring it back to what it was during the reign of the Shah.

Well, at this stage of history of the developments in the region, Iran’s position, and the positions held by the Leader were of high importance. First, in the spiritual sense. Well, the U.S. entered the region. Obviously, there is neither the Soviet Union, nor the socialist front,; rather there is only one domineering, arrogant, and merciless power in the world called the United States. This power decided to launch a military war in the region and entered the region with its armies and military equipment. All but a few were frightened and startled. Here, we remember the stances taken by the Leader regarding the U.S.’s invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq. Ayatollah Khamenei travelled to different provinces of Iran and reassured the Iranian people, the nations of the region as well as resistance groups, and delivered speeches wherein he strengthened the spirit of resistance and never surrendering to the U.S.’s historic and severe attack on the region. This was indeed a very difficult mission. I remember that after the invasion of Afghanistan and prior to the occupation of Iraq, I traveled to Iran to meet with the Leader.

I told him that some concerns had risen in the region. See what outlook he adopted. He turned to me and said: “Tell all our brothers not to fear; rather, the coming of the Americans to the region signals achieving freedom in the future.” I was surprised to hear this statement. He pointed with his finger this way and asserted: “The Americans have reached the peak but with their invasion of Afghanistan, their decline has started. If the Americans truly believed that Israel and other Arab regimes and their mercenaries in the region were capable of supporting the interests of Washington, they would have never deployed their armies and navies to the region. Thus, this military act taken by them is a sign of their defeat and the failure of their policies in the region. Had they not failed, they would not need to take such measured.  When the Americans come to the conclusion that they must act directly in order to achieve their interests in the region, this is a sign of weakness, not power. When any army, no matter how big and powerful, moves thousands of miles and goes to an area where there are living nations, such an army will surely be defeated and collapse. Therefore, the U.S. coming to the region marks the beginning of their fall and decline, not the beginning of a new era for them.”

Ayatollah Khamenei recurrently reiterated this point, putting it in different words on different occasions. However, he told me this very clearly and obviously, and I quoted him and we discussed this issue together. Anyway, it was the year 2006 when we took up the path of resistance. If you remember, on the very first day of the war, the Leader issued a statement wherein he endorsed the Resistance and stressed the need to resist and fight against invaders. This measure on his part was very valuable for us, our nation, and our combatants; because we are talking of a tough battle wherein we witnessed bloodshed, martyrs, and wounds.

When we saw that our wali e-amr, our leader, our frontrunner, and our marja’ encouraged us to resist, our spirit and motivation increased manifold and we powerfully engaged in a war against the invaders. After a short time and only within 4 or 5 days—that is when Israel had bombed all places it knew, the Americans assumed that we were in a weak position, we were scared and it was our time to surrender. At that time, the Americans spoke with Sa’d al-Hariri, who is now the Lebanese Prime Minister. A-Hariri was not the prime minister then, he was the head of a parliamentary fraction to which the prime minister of the time, Fouad Siniora, was inclined. Al-Hariri contacted us and reported that the Americans—that is the negotiator was the U.S. government—are ready to stop the war on southern Lebanon if three conditions are met.

The first condition was that Hezbollah releases two Israeli prisoners it had captivated. The second condition was that Hezbollah becomes completely disarmed and turns into a [merely] political party. The third condition was that Hezbollah agrees with the deployment of multinational forces to the south of Lebanon. That is, neither the international forces affiliated with the U.N., as you call international organizations of the United Nations. At that time multinational forces had already entered Iraq. These forces were not afflicted with the U.S. Security Council, rather they belong to the U.S.

The goal was to make us  accept that multinational forces be deployed to Lebanon, to the Lebanon-Palestine border, the Lebanon-Syria borders s well as in airports, coasts, and the Lebanese entrance and exit gates. That is, an international occupation and an American occupation. Naturally, we rejected these three conditions and continued to fight. At that time, Condoleezza Rice visited Lebanon. What did she tell the Lebanese? She talked of the determining battle and that Hezbollah would definitely be defeated and destroyed, and made the famous remark that “the region was going through the pain of giving birth to a new Middle East”. This is the “New Middle East” we were talking about.

Despite all this, the resistance stood and became victorious. Therefore, the first round of the U.S. project failed in light of the results of the Palestinian elections. The second round failed in Lebanon; that is the plot to destroy Hezbollah miscarried. Consequently, the third round also miscarried; because it was planned that after the destruction of Hezbollah, the war would go to Syria, and Israel and the U.S. would attack the ruling government in Syria. This did not happen, either. These were the first, second, and third failures that the United States faced.

With regard to Iraq, the Leader’s position was absolutely clear. He insisted that the United States should be recognized as an occupier in Iraq. All official stances taken by the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran also indicated the occupation of Iraq by the United States. After a while, public resistance began in Iraq. While it was assumed that the U.S. would stay in Iraq, dominate it and take control of it, in the end, Washington had no option but to leave Iraq as a result of the armed and sincere resistance in Iraq—not a resistance like that of the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda or takfiries— as well as a mighty political stance and the emergence of a national willpower in that country. Henceforth, the United States left Iraq, albeit in the light of an agreement. When the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, I explicitly stated that this was a great achievement and victory for the Iraqi resistance, but unfortunately nobody celebrated this great victory of the Iraqi people. This great victory of Iraqis during which the United States was forced to leave Iraq in 2011 should have been celebrated.

Eventually, all U.S. projects in the region miscarried at this stage: all-American projects from 2001 to 2011, or the “New Middle East” project failed. The United States failed to win control of the region in order to bring about a disgraceful peace deal with Israel, normalize the Arab-Israeli relations to eradicate the Palestinian question, destroy resistance movements, dominate over countries, and isolate and invade Iran. How did this happen? Here we see the role of the Leader, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as its allies and friends in the region. They were the ones who foiled these plots.

Naturally, the Al-Saud and the rulers of many Arab and Persian Gulf countries were an integral part of the United States’ plan in the region and they were in some way a means for implementing the American plots. Israel was the U.S.’s most important means for realizing its plans in the region. However, those who stood up to the U.S.’s plots and conspiracies were the Islamic Republic of Iran led by Ayatollah Khamenei, Syria led by President Assad, the Resistance in Lebanon and their allies, the Resistance in Palestine and their allies, sincere political and national leaders in Iraq—headed by the religious clergy in holy Najaf—, and Islamic and national groups in the region.

But who played the most important role, empowered others, and supported them? The Islamic Republic of Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei’s position, stances and determination. We were at the heart of the events that took place between 2001 and 2011—that is during a decade—and their obvious outcome was the defeat of the U.S.

I will close this part of my speech with a memory of Ayatollah Khamenei (May Allah protect him). In the 33-day war—which actually lasted 34 days, but is called the 33-day war—the Lebanese people were naturally very worried, at the beginning of the war, about what they was going to happen. What happened? Even some Lebanese officials contacted Saudi authorities, asking Riyadh to intervene as a mediator and end the war in southern Lebanon. The Saudis replied to the Lebanese officials by saying: “No one will interfere. There is a U.S., international and regional consensus that Hezbollah should be eradicated and crushed. Hezbollah has no way but to surrender or be destroyed.” Obviously, our decision was to fight back and there was a strong willpower for fighting and a spirit of Karbala ruling the whole of Hezbollah. This quote by Imam Hussain (a.s.) was always in front of our eyes that: “Beware that the humiliated man, son of the humiliated, has pressured me between the sword and surrender in humiliation. Never to humiliation!

We were faced with the two options of war or a humiliated surrender, and we chose war over the other. In the early days of the war, our dear friend and brother, Hajj Qasim Soleimani, contacted us. He came to Damascus, contacted Beirut and said that he needed to meet with us. We asked him: How do you want to do it? We said to Hajj Qasim Soleimani: “The Israelis are bombarding all the bridges, roads, and cars, and you cannot reach us.”

This dear friend of ours told us that he needed to get to us, because he had an important message from Ayatollah Khamenei to deliver to us. We arranged the situation, so eventually Hajj Qasim came to Beirut’s southern suburbs during the early days of the war. He said that when the Leader (May Allah protect him) was in Mashhad, he called on all the officials of the Islamic Republic—including the current and former presidents, the current and former foreign ministers, the current and former defense ministers, the current and the former IRGC commanders, and other officials to hold a meeting together.

Hajj Qasim explained to me that during the meeting, the war against Lebanon and its objectives as well as the question as what the war would lead to were examined. From the outset, the Islamic Republic of Iran considered the war on Lebanon to be part of the United States’ plan in the region and not an issue separate from that plot. Hajj Qasim said that all of the participants in the meeting unanimously agreed that the Islamic Republic of Iran had to stand alongside the Lebanese resistance, Lebanese government and people, as well as alongside Syria; because there was the threat that the war would be spread to Syria and therefore, Iran needed to use all its political, financial and military capabilities to help the front of Resistance win. Hajj Qasim further said that once the meeting was over and Maghrib and Isha prayers were performed, the audience were about to leave when the Leader asked them to stay longer, saying: “I have words with you.”  This happened after the first meeting; that is, the first formal meeting.

Afterwards, Ayatollah Khamenei turned to Hajj Qasim and said: “You write what I say, then go to Beirut and give it to that [particular] person. He will discuss the matters with his friends and brothers, if he deems it proper.” After describing the events, Hajj Qasim started reading the Leader’s words for me. Among his words, the Leader had said: “The captivity of Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese Resistance was a hidden divine grace; because the operation forced Israel to enter Lebanon, in respond to your action. The Israelis and the Americans were preparing themselves to attack Lebanon and Hezbollah late summer or early fall 2006, and so you would have been caught by surprise, while you were not ready for a war. Therefore, the captivity of the Israeli military forces by you was a divine blessing that brought about progress in time; so the war did not happen when the United States and Israel had planned it; it happened when they were not ready for it and they were just getting prepared, while you were already prepared for it. That is to say, it happened at a time when there was no source of being caught by surprise.

This statement of the Leader was later confirmed and verified great figures. For example, when I referred to it in the media, the eminent professor Mohamed Hassanein Heikal acknowledged it in separate programs on Al Jazeera channel at that time. Meanwhile, one of the great American writers, Seymour Hersh, confirmed the matter. I should point out that when I raised the issue in the media, I did not attribute it to the Leader.

Another point that Ayatollah Khamenei had referred to in that message was that he had said: “This war is very similar to the Battle of the Confederates, which happened during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.). This war will be very difficult and frustrating, it will threaten your existence; you are obliged to be patient in this war.” In this part of his message he had quoted the Quranic verse “and hearts almost reached the throat … you started to think of God with suspicion; [the Quran; 33:10].” The Leader had also said: “you should place your trust completely in God.” Also, the third part of his message read: “You will be victorious in this war.” I had heard a similar sentence before—I do not exactly remember if it was before or after that—but someone narrated Ayatollah Behjat (Allah’s mercy be upon him), as telling us: “Be sure, and be certain that you will win the war, God willing.”

But the interesting and important point in the Leader’s message was that he had said: “you will win the war, and after that you will become a regional power to the point that no other power will be able to confront you.” At that time, I laughed and said to Hajj Qasim: “We will turn into a regional power? If we manage to survive the current battle and maintain our existence, we have made a great achievement.” Then, I commented jokingly: “My dear brother! We do not want to become a regional power.” But anyway, Ayatollah Khamenei’s letter on that day created some sort of assurance in me. From that day on, I was sure that we were going to win the war and after that, we were going to become a regional power; which actually happened.

Did his Eminence recommend any duas and supplications during the 33-day war?

During the early days of the war, I received a letter from the Leader, which I still keep. At that time, I also received a letter from my brother and friend, Mr. Hejazi. Mr. Hejazi advised us in his letter to recite some supplications, but I do not exactly remember if he had attributed the recommendations to Ayatollah Khamenei. I do not remember that very well, but I remember that the supplication “Jowshan” was recommended by the Leader—as far as I recall now.

The supplications “Jowshan Saghir” and “Appeal to Imam Mahdi (God’s greetings be upon him and may God hasten his reappearance)” as well as “Ziarat Ashura”, besides that well-known supplication were among the recommendations in this regard. But in general, I would like to refer to my experience on knowing the leader.

We would naturally recommend the same to our brothers. These are among the sources of strength for Hezbollah in the wars. Supplicating to God and relying on Him has always been part of our schedule, and the Leader always emphasized it. Ever since we knew the Leader, he always insisted on spiritual matters: that is, the need for trust in and reliance on God, the Almighty. He recited in all meetings: “If you help God, He will help you and make you steadfast (in your faith); [the Quran; 47:7].” He always stressed that what the Almighty God says is no joke; His words are explicit and this is God’s promise. God will surely fulfill His promise. He has always insisted on trust in God’s promises. Even now, at times, he specifically focuses on this matter in his statements. He particularly emphasizes on reciting Duas, supplicating to God, and asking for His assistance.

I remember at times we felt exhausted, because we faced very difficult phases and the situation was frustrating. In one of the meetings, His Eminence told me: “whenever you feel exhausted, in face of threats and difficulties, find a quite a place, get in and close the door. So for a short while—a few minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes—speak with God with your own words; there is no need to recite a supplication. With the same language you use to speak with others, speak with God; talk to Him about your sorrows and pains, and ask Him to help you. Don’t all of us believe that the Almighty God is always present, witnessing everything, and capable of doing anything? The Almighty God knows all our needs and there is no barrier between Him and us. He will welcome us at any time, and He will hear us, by any language we speak. If you do so, you will see that the Almighty God will grant you power, will and energy, and He will open all His doors to you.” Since then, we have acted based on the Leader’s recommendation and we have seen its fabulous results.

Several questions remain, and we don’t have much time left. There are two issues that we won’t discuss here: the enemy’s efforts to create divisions between the Shias and Sunnis, and the issue of Islamic awakening. In addition, during the last seven to eight years, we have witnessed the emergence of an important event in the region:  an event that has had very strategic effects in the region; and that is the events and crisis in Syria. In your opinion, why was Syria chosen for the implementation of the plots in this region, and what were the dimensions of this crisis? Another question I’ like to ask is why, despite the heavy costs, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah got involved in the Syrian crisis? What would have happened if they hadn’t engaged in this affair? What were the presumed repercussions that led Iran and Hezbollah to assume their engagement in Syria as essential?

This is related to our discussion about regional transformations from 2001 to 2011. We said that the end was marked by the U.S.’s withdrawal from Iraq, their defeat in Lebanon, their failure in Syria, their defeat in Palestine, and therefore, the miscarriage of the U.S.’s plans in the region. After 2011, this situation—failures of the U.S.’s plans—is still ongoing. This is an important and historic phase in the life of the region, the life of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei (May Allah protect him); for in the early 2011 the Leader referred to it as the phase of “the Islamic awakening”; which is called the “Arab Spring” in the region.

I would like to speak about the Islamic awakening in the region before starting the debate on Syria. The Arab Spring, the Islamic Awakening, or massive popular uprisings in the region first erupted in Tunisia, later took place in Libya and Egypt, and then happened in Yemen. These incidents were followed by conflicts in Syria. Briefly, based on what was happening at that time we concluded that after the U.S.’s plans and attacks miscarried, Obama tried to compensate for the defeat.

The nations of the region became awakened and began to take action in hope of making changes. It was in this context that the Arab regimes found themselves at a disadvantage. A great opportunity was provided for the nations to overturn the regimes. My inference and many others’ conclusion was the same as what the Leader had suggested since the very beginning. He had said that “these national movements are genuine national movements.” The Tunisian movement represented the Tunisian people and their national will, the Egyptian movement represented the will of the Egyptian people, the Libyan movement represented the will of the Libyans, and the Yemeni movement was the same. All the slogans that these movements were chanting and the goals they were trying to accomplish rose from their popular and national views and interests.

Thus, we saw the true impact of Islam and the Islamist movements in this great movement and the awakening of the nations. That’s precisely why the Leader called it the “Islamic awakening.” But what was the main problem with this Islamic awakening? The problem lied in the lack of a leadership and unity. You see, the Islamic Revolution in Iran was a massive popular revolution, but what made this revolution successful and strengthened it after the victory was the existence of a leader, Imam Khomeini (r.a.). Another factor that led to the victory of this revolution was unity among all the people, authorities, and scholars who unanimously supported Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

Therefore, at that time there was a unified nation and a leader who outlined the policies and strategies for the orderly progress of the affairs. So the problem that existed in these countries (revolutions)—except in Syria which I will discuss later—was the lack of a reliable and united leadership. There existed many leaders and many parties with no unity among them: they had disagreements. When they wanted to negotiate with each other, their disagreements emerged. This also affected the people, so the people were divided, too. It even led to civil wars in certain regions.

The Americans and some countries of the region entered the scene to take possession of and defeat the national movements in different countries. Here, the U.S. played an important role. France also got involved in North Africa. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined in fiercely to eliminate the Islamic Awakening—the Arab Spring—and eliminate popular uprisings. They were trying to achieve their goals by mobilizing their media power and supporting military coups in the region. We all know how the situation unfolded in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. But in Yemen, the situation is different. They tried to take possession of the popular uprising in Yemen for their profit, but a large part of the Yemeni nation, with national and political resistance, continued to support dear the brother Al-Sayyid Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and the Ansar Allah movement, and stood against the foreigners until an unjust war was imposed on them: the war which continues to this day.

Now we get to the case of Syria. What happened in Syria had nothing to do with the “Arab Spring” or “the Islamic Awakening”. What happened in Syria was the implementation of the plot of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and some countries in the region to block the achievement of the movement of Resistance; particularly, because at that time the popular revolution in Egypt had made Israel very worried about its future in the region.

At that time, the Israelis held big conferences in which they spoke of the strategic atmosphere. They were even considering re-establishing some military battalions and sending them to the Sinai borders. This shows how worried and frightened Israel was about the changes in Egypt.

After they lost hope in turning the Syrian government into their ally, their desirable goal to pursue in Syria was to overthrow the government and the ruling system. What many do not know is that before taking actions to overthrow the Damascus government, much effort was made so that President Bashar al-Assad would lead the Syrian movement to another direction. The Saudis worked on this issue so hard that even “Malik Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz” personally went to Damascus, despite the fact that he had boycotted Syria. The Qatari government also worked hard to achieve this goal. Turkey and a number of other Arab countries, including Egypt, during the ruling of Hosni Mubarak, also tried to push Syria into joining the opposing front. By giving political and enticing financial promises to Assad, the U.S. and their allies tried to push Syria to another direction, the so-called “Arab moderation”, which we actually call “Arab surrender.”

Nevertheless, President Bashar al-Assad and other Syrian leaders consistently emphasized their firm support for the Resistance, believing that the Arab-Israeli conflict persisted. Bashar al-Assad believed that there would be no peace in the region without resolving the issue of the occupied Golan, and compensating for the unaccomplished rights of the Palestinians.

=All in all, what happened was that the Americans failed to make Damascus comply with them; Washington knew well that Syria had a pivotal status within the framework of the Resistance. If we want to explain the precise role of Syria with regard to the Resistance, we should mention the Leader’s description of the country. He stated: “Syria is the pillar of Resistance”. Today, without Syria, Lebanon’s resistance will be marginalized. Without Syria, Palestinian resistance will be marginalized, because Syria is one of the main components of the body of Resistance in the region. Some believe that Syria is like a bridge for the Resistance, but I believe that this country is more than a bridge, because Syria is one of the main components of the body, intellect and culture as well as the thinking and will of the Resistance in the region. This fact was proved especially after the 33-day war. Syria’s position, Syria’s support, and Syria’s stability were threatened during the 33-day war: [the plot was that] while the United States is present in Iraq and the borders of Syria, Israel would expand the scope of the war and attack Syria and launch a massive war against Syria. But Bashar al-Assad did not back down, and resolutely and sovereignly continued to support the Resistance during the 33-day war.

After the end of the 33-day war, the Israelis did some research and eventually concluded that in order to end the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, they first needed to abolish Syria and they planned to do so. Since they could not take over Syria through their policies, they opted for a military option. If they had been able to create a military coup by penetrating the Syrian army, they would have done so, but they could not. After this failure, the Americans and Israelis abused the freedom of expression in media and political space of Syria and pushed the transformations to a direction which created chaos and internal conflicts in Syria. Since the very early days of the anti-government protests in Syria, I saw first-hand that President Bashar al-Assad organized meetings with the leaders of opposition leaders and tried to meet their demands.

But, afterwards, the demonstrations turned into military operations, just like what happened during the occupation of Daraa. The Americans, Saudis and some other countries in the region sent al-Qaeda, ISIS and Al-Nusra Front Takfiris from all over the world to Syria so they dominate over Syria and put an end to the Syrian state. To serve the interests of whom? To serve the interests of the US and Israel. To serve the interests of the powers who look forward to extinguishing the Palestinian issue; to serve the interests of the powers who want to encircle, isolate and attack Iran. This is the truth. Therefore, the Syrian issue was by no means a problem of people seeking a certain type of election or reform, because Bashar al-Assad was ready to discuss any option that the people wanted. But others quickly took actions to occupy the areas and hit the Syrian army, security forces and Syrian institutions to overthrow Bashar al-Assad through a military solution.

They opened the borders and many ships came carrying loads of military weapons. Joe Biden himself says that tens of thousands tons of weapons and ammunition were delivered to Syria. The U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars in this country. What for? To realize democracy in Syria?! ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra were seeking to establish democracy in Syria? Were those who regarded the elections as the worst sin, considered voters in the elections as pagans, and killing them as legitimate, seeking to organize elections for Syrians? The answer was clear; and today, it has been proved that what happened in Syria did not have anything to do with elections, reforms or democracy-related matters; because Bashar al-Assad was willing to negotiate these issues. But they [the West] were in a hurry to overthrow the Syrian government and dominate the country.

What hastens the collapse of the Saudi regime is its officials’ actions

As I’ve mentioned in some media outlets, one and a half years after the start of the Syrian crisis, around 2012 or 2013, Malik Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz sent a special envoy to Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia sent a message to Assad, declaring that if he withdrew from the Resistance and ended his ties with Iran, the war on Syria would be stopped and a solution to the takfiri groups would be found, and Assad would be recognized as President, forever. The Saudis told Assad, “we are demanding neither reform nor anything else, and we are willing to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to reconstruct Syria”. Therefore, the goal was completely different from the demands of the nations in the Arab Spring. The goal was to rob Syria off its historical status, to rob off its rights and to draw it out of the Resistance movement, to prepare the grounds for the obliteration of the Palestinian cause, for the stabilization of U.S.’s position in Iraq, and the isolation and encirclement of Iran. Well, since day one, our understanding of the war was this. I hope that the brothers in Iran will help disperse the information on these facts. Some U.S. officials and Syrian opponents said that if they could dominate Syria, they would immediately enter Lebanon to get rid of Hezbollah. Others said they would go to Iraq. So, the issue was not just Syria.

When the president of the United States, Donald Trump, acknowledges that Obama, Clinton and the CIA created the terror group ISIS and sent it to Syria, was the terrorists’ goal to establish democracy in Syria and the election, or they sought to destroy this country? That’s why we clearly knew from the first day that the goal of the war on Syria was not related to such matters. The goal of this war was to overthrow the Syrian government, destroy the Syrian army, and expand dominance over Syria, so that Syria would yield up its rights and grounds would be prepared for the destruction of the Palestinian issue, the normalization of relations with Israel, and the elimination of all the aspirations and dreams of the nations of the region. We agreed on this conclusion in Lebanon, for example in Hezbollah, and there was not even one single different opinion among the members of Hezbollah regarding the goals of the war against Syria. Even Ayatollah Khamenei—who is also approved by God and enjoys great historical insight and awareness, as well as the characteristics of the famous and exceptional leadership—believed in the principle that the Syrian issue was not a matter of democracy, reform, and so on.

I pointed out in some gatherings that there were people suggesting that Iran had ordered us to enter Syria, but this is not true. We decided to enter Syria because we felt seriously threatened by the situation in Syria and Lebanon. There was the risk that the war would soon be drawn into our towns and villages. We were willing to engage in the war, but after all, it required permission and support—and the former, i.e. permission, was more important.

I paid a visit to the Leader, I explained my data and inference about Syria and its transformations, and I presented my own arguments. I learned that his view about the events in Syria was much clearer and deeper than our view. His positions with regard to Syria and its transformations were clear from the very beginning. He said that this was a plot for overthrowing Syria, and it targeted Syria, the status of Syria with relation to the Resistance and the Palestinian issue, the Resistance movement, and also the Islamic Republic of Iran; because after they finish with Syria, they would attack Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. This is what actually happened. They came to Lebanon and occupied a part of Al-Baqaa, and if they had been able, they would have occupied more areas. But we and the Lebanese army stood up to them and besieged them in mountainous areas.

You saw in Iraq, Takfiri terrorists were quickly transported from the east of Euphrates in Syria to Iraq, and they dominated the province of Al Anbar over a very short period of time. This province accounts for over a quarter of Iraq’s total area. They also subjugated Mosul, Saladin, and other parts, reaching an area 20 kilometers from the city of Karbala and 40 kilometers from Baghdad. This means that we actually saw over the past years, what Ayatollah Khamenei had judged at the beginning of the Syrian events. There, the reason for the Leader’s firm position as to side with Syria was revealed. The Islamic Republic of Iran adopted this position, and we, too, taking this position, went to Syria and fought there. The Syrian government, people and army resisted the plots. A large portion of the Syrian population supported the government and resisted. We have always said that after God’s grace, this was the resistance and endurance of the Syrian government, people and leaders that led to the victory of Syria. Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iraqi friends, and Russia were the arms that assisted Syria, and the main task was carried out by the Syrian government, people and army. If the Syrian leaders surrendered, if the Syrian army collapsed, or if the Syrian people stopped supporting the government and the army, we would not have achieved anything in the big war in the Levant. We only assisted them.

So, now we are here. I will finish this part of my talk by mentioning anecdotes of my visit to Ayatollah Khamenei and the spiritual capacity of this dear and honorable Sayyid. After the Syrian crisis began in 2011, a US-led international coalition entered this country, and all the countries of the world believed that Damascus would collapse within only two months. All the Arab countries believed this. Even some of our friends also believed that. So, we also felt a little worried, even though we didn’t really believe that. The dimensions of the matter were not clear for us, and we were very worried. At that time, some countries like Turkey and Qatar, with which we were in contact prior to the Syrian crisis, sent us messages. At that time, Mr. Davutoğlu who had a political responsibility came to Lebanon.

Did this happen before the Istanbul summit or after that?

No, it was after the events and before the Astana meetings. Astana meeting was held after Davutoğlu’s visit. I am currently talking about the transformations in the first and second years of the Syrian crisis, especially in the first year. The Turkish leaders sent us messages that “We are willing to give you a guarantee. You stand back and do not count on Syria, because we guarantee you that Damascus will fall in two or three months.” Many brothers in Iran were also influenced by this atmosphere. At a meeting with the Leader and a number of Iranian officials, we learned that some Iranian authorities were also influenced by the atmosphere formed in the region. But in that meeting, contrary to the views and opinions of all the countries of the world, the experts of the region, and even a number of Iranian officials, the Leader turned to me and said: “We have to make Syria and Bashar al-Assad win, and they will eventually win.”

Meanwhile, all the world said a different thing. After about 2 years, the signs of the realization of this prediction by the Supreme Leader of the Revolution were also revealed. Now that we reached this point, we are possibly witnessing a major and historic victory in Syria. Imagine for a moment that ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front and their American allies had become victorious in Syria and had subjugated this country, what would have happened to Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran? And what would the fate of the nations of the region have been? What would the fate of Palestine and Quds have been? In the case of the victory of the Takfiris, the deal of the century would have come about long ago, and it was enacted by this day. If today Ben Salman told the Palestinians to accept minor things they were given, what would have happened to Quds and Palestine? Therefore, if we want to know the importance of the victory that was achieved in Syria, we must reverse this question and ask: if we had not won and had been defeated in Syria, if they had won, what would be the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, and the whole region? When we answer this question, we understand the importance of what the fighters have accomplished in Syria and the significance of their resistance.

You repeatedly emphasized that the rulers of different countries contacted Bashar al-Assad, giving him various promises of the financial and political kind, and even guaranteed his remaining in power, but he eventually refused to accept these promises. What was the reason for Bashar al-Assad’s persistence and resistance against these promises, and what caused him to endure so much pressure?

It was mainly because Bashar al-Assad did not trust the American and Arab parties. On the other hand, Assad knew their experience; because they all consider granting concessions. Yet, he himself is not a man who would give concessions in exchange for the essential and national principles. Bashar al-Assad believed that offering any concession in exchange for national principles would be risky for Syria’s existence, national sovereignty, and its status in the region.

Before Syria faced this situation and Iran, Hezbollah and Syria itself and the government of Dr. Bashar al-Assad opted for this solution, were other alternatives investigated to see if other options were available or there was basically no other way from the beginning?

Our initial option was negotiation, and a political settlement was our priority. The Syrian government, our brothers in Iran, and we in Hezbollah made numerous contacts with the Syrian opposition and invited them to negotiate for deciding on a political settlement, but the opposition strongly rejected political negotiation and discussion and believed that the Syrian government would fall within two to three months. I remember that some influential parties in the Syrian opposition told us that we intended to revive the dead! They said that the Damascus government was done with and they would not accept to negotiate with such a government. This was their mistake in calculations because they absolutely refused to negotiate a political settlement. But their even bigger calculation mistake was that they engaged in military action too soon, which was their main objective in Syria. As I mentioned earlier, their goal was not to establish democracy in Syria or to implement reforms in this country. Their main goal was to overthrow the Damascus government, hit the Syrian army and, change the equations in the country. Yes, that’s right; there was no other option when the Syrian government and its friends and allies opted for an armed resistance option.

An important matter that has always been emphasized by Ayatollah Khamenei is the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations and that members of different Islamic denominations should be able to coexist peacefully and should by no means be hostile toward each other. Meanwhile, we see some movements that add fuel to the fire of religious disputes, under the influence of the propaganda and policies of the foreigners—who are enemies of both Shias and Sunnis. What is your view about the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations promoted by Ayatollah Khamenei, and also emphasized by Imam Khomeini (r.a.)? What has this policy achieved? And what issues, do you think, can threaten this policy at the moment?

Firstly, this is one of the fundamental principles raised by Ayatollah Khomeini (r.a.) under the title of Islamic unity, solidarity among Muslims, the closeness of Islamic denominations, and the proliferation of the spirit of convergence, cooperation and coordination among all Muslims. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always favored this policy. After taking up the responsibility of leadership, Ayatollah Khamenei, too, continued this policy forcefully, always stressing it. The truth is that this is also the policy of the original Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran. Unity among Muslims, the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations, is an Islamic logic that all Muslims should heed.

Much effort has been made in this regard. Since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, extensive relations were developed among Islamic parties and Muslim scholars across the region and even the world. Moreover, many congresses and conferences were held during these years to promote the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations. Undoubtedly, the attitude of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and also Ayatollah Khamenei toward the Palestinian cause has played an important role in gathering all Muslims under one single flag, i.e. the centrality of the Palestinian cause.

Much effort has been made in this regard. If we look for the good results and the achievements of the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations, we will find them in recent years; because the most dangerous incident since 2011 was the U.S.-Saudi project aimed at creating faith and tribe related sedition and divisions between Shias and Sunnis in the region. This is more dangerous than what happened in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain. I remind you of four years ago; now we are in the fifth year. When the aggressive U.S.-Saudi coalition took military action against Yemen, the Friday Prayers’ Imam of the Great Mosque of Mecca (Masjid ul-Haram) announced during the Friday Prayers sermons that the war on Yemen was a Sunni-Shia war. The Saudis tried to present the Syrian war as a religious and ethnic war, too. A lot of efforts were made in the media and huge amounts of money were spent to make the different wars in the region look like sectarian and tribal conflicts. All these attempts failed. The Shias rejected this rationale. Many Sunni scholars and Sunni figures rejected this rationale. This has been one of the results of this policy pursued over the past 30 years.

Relations between the Shias and Sunnis, the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the positions held by Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and Ayatollah Khamenei created solid relationships in the Muslim World, so that the Islamic world was able to nullify the biggest sedition aimed at creating an internal war between Shias and Sunnis. Naturally, we should continue this policy, although we have successfully passed this stage, and we have overcome many risks so far.

I believe that the United States and Saudi Arabia suffered a tough defeat in their efforts for causing sedition in the region and thus failed to make Iraq’s events seem like a Sunni-Shia battle. We saw that Sunnis, Shias, Iraqi nomads—including Shias and Sunnis—all stood against ISIS, and prior to that, they had resisted the occupation by the United States. In Syria, too, the people, including the Syrian army, the popular forces or the allied forces, who fought against ISIS, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups were mostly Sunnis. That is, those who fought in Syria were mostly Sunnis, fighting alongside Shias and members of other Islamic denominations.

Therefore, based on what has happened so far in Yemen or other countries, I strongly believe that the division-provoking project has miscarried, which means that the Islamic Ummah has been largely spared of the risk of being afflicted with religious sectarian conflicts. We should continue this strategy to strengthen this achievement. Enhanced relations, cooperation, support of the Palestinian cause, resistance to the U.S. and defense of the nations of the region can lead to increased unity and solidarity among Muslims.

Sometimes, the adversaries of the Palestinian nation, the Islamic Revolution, and the Resistance movement propagate the idea that the people of Palestine are Sunnis. They also attribute other characteristics to the Palestinian nation so that under the influence of the propaganda, the Iranian people become skeptical toward the Palestinians. They try to create the ambiguity that ‘why should Iran support a Sunni nation?” But we have always seen that Ayatollah Khamenei has stressed and stresses that the Palestinian cause represents the most important matter of the Muslim world, and he has never adopted a Sunni-Shi’a perspective with regard to Palestine.

This position by the Leader has existed since the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists, and this is the position taken by all scholars, jurists (Faqihs) and religious authorities (marja’s) in Najaf and in the holy city of Qom and among all Shias of the world. Even beyond this, our great scholars and marja’s, who are said to be traditionalists and not revolutionary—if it is appropriate to say this about them—support the Palestinian cause, accuse the usurper Israel and provide assistance to Palestine; all of them have issued written permissions to grant part of the religious donations and Imam’s share to the Palestinian Resistance. This is a great action. You know that our marja’s are generally cautious about spending the Imam’s share, but they allow Imam’s share or some of it to be allocated to the Palestinian Resistance. Now, who were the members of the Palestinian Resistance? The members of the Palestinian resistance are Sunnis, not Shias; many were not even Islamist, for example, they were inclined to nationalist or leftist parties. Our marja’s did not include any prerequisite for assistance and authorized part of the Imam’s share to the Palestinian Resistance so that Palestine would be liberated. This means that there has been a great insight and awareness.

As for the question of Palestine, as Ayatollah Khamenei has pointed out on many occasions, if we search the whole world, looking for a matter that has remained intact, and its legitimacy is completely clear in terms of legal, religious, moral, and humane principles, it is the matter of Palestine. The enemies are trying to distract us from the Palestinian cause, using all the tools at their disposition and various weapons. This is an effort that has been made in previous years, i.e. when they sent Palestinian suicide bombers to Shia areas to carry out terrorist operations. That’s why I said on Quds Day a few years ago: “Why do you send Palestinian people? Why do you hire them to kill our women and children? If you are seeking to distract us from the Palestinian cause, then kill us everywhere: by every door, in every mosque and hussayniyah. We are the Shia of Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam Ali (a.s.), and we won’t let go of Palestine, the Palestinian nation and the holy institutions of the Islamic Ummah in Palestine.” These efforts in theory and practice are known. Undoubtedly, it is a matter of the Truth and Islam, so the Islamic Republic of Iran, we and all Muslims must take actions for this cause, based on their religious and divine duty.

Given the importance of this matter, I would like to ask two questions. First, the general view of Ayatollah Khamenei is clear about the approximation [the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations], and he initiated a movement of approximation at the beginning of his term of leadership. I would like to ask you to give some more concrete examples of his actions and views on the unity of Shia and Sunni and the approximation dialogue. For example, it is indicated that he has announced as forbidden (haram) to disrespect Sunnis sanctities, and so on. Secondly, some pretend that the issues that have occurred in different Islamic countries like Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain over the past years have been based on the disagreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and others have entered into conflict, on their behalf. How much can this be true?

As for the first part of the question, the formation of the “Congress on approximation of denominations”, holding several conferences and gatherings in Iran, the special attention the Leader gave to these gatherings and his insistence on attending them and speaking to the audience and the Muslims of the world are some of his measures for promoting approximation. We also constantly observed during the conferences on Islamic unity in Iran that the Leader presented himself among the Shia and Sunni scholars and met with them, ignoring all the security and non-security considerations. The main reason for this attitude is his emphasis on the necessity of spreading the culture of unity among Islamic communities and Muslim scholars. His Eminence endorsed gatherings that bring about unity among scholars.

We, in Lebanon, have the “gathering of Muslim scholars”, which is one of the good and successful experiences for unifying the Islamic denominations. A large number of Shia scholars and Sunni scholars are present at this Islamic gathering. Whenever our brother organizers traveled to Iran for the gathering of Muslim scholars and met with the Leader, his Eminence praised the formation of such a gathering and emphasized the necessity of promoting it in other Islamic countries. In recent years, he has taken some brave positions. In these years, we have seen that many efforts were made aiming to disunite and divide Shias and Sunnis, and unfortunately, some Wahhabi and Takfiri movements, as well as some Sunni-attributed satellite channels such as Safa and Wesal, have tried to takfir (denote excommunication to) the Shia, attributing big lies to Shias. They attributed certain beliefs to Shi’ism that the Shia do not hold at all.

On the other side of the spectrum, some satellite channels are attributed to the Shia community, figures and groups that have nothing to do with Shi’ism, and none of the current notions, such as ‘the Islamic Ummah’, ‘the global Arrogance’, ‘Autocracy and Tyranny’, ‘freedom’, and ‘defending sanctities’ are important to them. The only mission of these satellite channels is to divide Shias and Sunnis by using insulting words to criticize the opposite community. That is what the Leader referred to as the “London-based Shiism”.

The type of activities of the satellite channels attributed to each community– either Shia or Sunni– shows that they are both conducted by one single force. For instance, we see that some channels attributed to Shias use insulting words for certain wives of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) or his companions. The Wahhabi channels then broadcast some of these cases. This means that each of these channels plays a complementary role in arousing sedition and sectarian conflicts between Shias and the Sunnis. Naturally, this had a dangerous impact on Muslims. I have discussed it with some major Sunni scholars in Lebanon and other countries like Syria and Egypt, who similarly believe that this is very dangerous. We believe that only one person can solve this problem and stand up to this wave. Because it requires bravery and a high position so that a sovereign position can be taken for it, in other words, so that the sedition is completely defeated.

While meeting with the leader some years ago, I mentioned these issues and the names. He also stated: “It is true; what is happening is very dangerous. One of the worst things is insulting the prominent figures of the denominations, and we need to adopt a strong position with regard to this event.”

 I remember that some years ago the Leader traveled to the province of Kurdistan and had a speech in the city of Sanandaj. In that meeting, he emphasized the fact that insulting Sunni figures was haram (forbidden). Nevertheless, shortly after his speech, the so-called Shia satellite channels started disparaging Sayyida Ayesha, and accused her of things that the Shia had never mentioned before. This was an event that could have caused big sedition in the countries of the Muslim World.

Afterwards, some of the religious scholars addressed a letter to the Leader of the Revolution, asking an istifta’ about the law applicable to insulting prominent figures of the Islamic denominations. The Leader’s response was so powerful and explicit that it had a significant impact on Arab and Islamic countries. I assure you that the speech of the Leader in Sanandaj and then his assertive answer to the scholars’ istifta [enquiry] about the actions of the channels attributed to the Shias and the Sunnis blocked the way to sedition and made futile the efforts of those who tried to arouse conflicts. Moreover, by God’s grace, at that time many honorable Marja’s in Qom and in Najaf issued separate declarations, explicitly announcing that the real position of the Shia community is the same as what Ayatollah Khamenei had stated.

As an answer to the second part of the question, I should say, the interpretation that the transformations in the region is indeed a Saudi-Iranian conflict, is a mistake. The conflict existed in the region even before the Islamic Republic was established; when the Soviet Union on one side and the United States of America and the West on the other side were in conflict. In addition, before the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, there existed Arab-Israeli conflicts in the region. The Arab-Israeli conflict existed since 1948, before the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s problem with many countries of the region and many resistance groups in the region dates back to the time before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This is a well-known fact. So when the Islamic Revolution became victorious in Iran, and the Pahlavi regime, as one of the best friends of the U.S., collapsed, the Islamic Republic was established in Iran and started supporting the Palestinian cause, the resistance groups and the underprivileged in the region. From the very first moment, Saudi Arabia declared hostility to the Islamic Republic. Of course, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) extended the hand of friendship to all Arab and Islamic countries from the very early days of the Revolution. Despite this, since day one, Al Saud found that the existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran was a threat to the interests of the United States, Israel, the tyrannies and autocrats, as well as the mercenaries of Washington and Tel Aviv in the region. For this reason, Saudi Arabia became an enemy of the Islamic Republic.

They say, when in the war against Iran, they sided with Saddam, they paid $200 billion to support Saddam. At that time, however, oil was cheap. I remember a few years ago, one of the Saudi princes, Nayef, said that if Saudi Arabia had been able to pay more money to Saddam at that time, it would have done so. Therefore, Saudi Arabia was the initiator of hostility, war, and conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whereas, Iran had extended a hand of friendship to it. Saudi Arabia’s problem with Iran basically derived from the same reasons that had hampered Saudi Arabia’s relations with other countries which supported the Resistance in Palestine and the region. This is a fact. There is no such thing as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the region.

Regardless of the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia always opposed the resistance groups even before the victory of the Islamic Revolution. So our problem with Saudi Arabia is not related to the positions of Iran. Saudi Arabia’s opposition to Palestinian resistance throughout history also has nothing to do with Iran. For example, when there was a great deal of hostility between Saudi Arabia and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, the Islamic Revolution in Iran had not been in place, yet. Therefore, the controversy during the era before the establishment of the Islamic Republic has its own clear reasons. When the Islamic Revolution of Iran became victorious and the Islamic Republic started attending to the affairs of the Islamic and Arab Ummah, then Saudi Arabia started showing enmity to Iran. This is the reality.

 At the end of the discussion on Saudi Arabia, I would like to point out that recently the Supreme Leader, referring to the fact that some are equipping Saudi Arabia with missiles and nuclear weapons, said “we are not upset, because soon this equipment will be at the disposition of the Islamic fighters”. How do you evaluate this statement of the Leader?

The ruling regime in Saudi Arabia is an old regime; very old and aged. Perhaps this regime, for natural reasons, is going through its final era. The Al Saud family has inflicted all kinds of oppression on others during the last 100 years and looted the property of their own nation. Corruption is rooted in every part of this regime, and suppressing freedom in this country has reached its highest level. In addition, the monopoly of power within the members of the Saudi family has peaked in the last 100 years.

But what will precipitate the end of this regime is the performance of its current officials, which is completely different in terms of both appearance and method of action, with that of the former officials of Saudi Arabia. For example, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a war against Yemen, and now we see that he is committing horrible crimes in that country. Undoubtedly, the adoption of such a decision, namely, the war on Yemen and committing crimes against civilians, will have a negative effect on the future of the Saudi regime. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s apparent interference in the affairs of various countries is among other factors that will affect the future of this regime. For example, in the countries of the Arab world, we see that Saudi officials interfere in every country and try to show themselves as sided with the nations.

In the past 40 years, we have seen that Saudi Arabia has tried to present itself as a friend of all countries and all nations, pretending to be a good state which helps others. However, we hear for the first time that the slogan “Down with Al Saud” resonates in many Arab countries. For the first time, we see that political and national groups, as well as governments, are openly opposed to Saudi Arabia’s crimes and interference in Arab countries. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan can be seen. Even in Libya, where there is a military conflict now, at least one of the parties involved says that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are conspiring to destroy Tripoli and Libya.

Today, in many Arab and Islamic countries, many personalities as well as parties, movements, scholars, and governments abhor Saudi Arabia’s attitude and oppose it. Add to this the Saudi stance on the question of Palestine, and in particular the so-called Deal of the Century. Saudi Arabia’s humiliation, indignity, and disgrace before Trump will normally undermine Saudi rulers’ dignity and power. The Saudis have always shown themselves to be independent of others, to be honorable and to be servants of the Holy Shrines. Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia and what he says at celebrations today is worth considering. Look at Trump’s recent remarks on Saudi Arabia. “I called the king of Saudi Arabia and told him I love him,” he says. He says he told the king of Saudi Arabia: “You have a lot of money and we have paid a lot of money to support you. You must pay for the support.” He says he has gained a huge amount from Riyadh, much easier than earning $100 from a New York store. Look at Saudi Arabia, its media, its officials; absolute silence! Even their friends in the world, their media in the world did not speak a word. This is the ultimate humiliation. Trump makes similar remarks to ridicule and humiliate Saudi Arabia. The Americans laugh at the Saudis and ridicule them.

This is while if a person from the Muslim world made similar remarks about the Saudis, they would be furious.

Definitely. They might even cut off diplomatic relations with the leaders of that country and accuse them of disbelief [kufr] and sentence them to capital punishment! I cannot but say that Saudi Arabia has never experienced such humiliation, vanity, weakness, humiliation, and scandal in its history. That’s precisely why I think the current Saudi rulers will not stay in power for a long time. Divine and historical traditions and the nature of affairs indicate that they cannot endure for long.

Sayyed Nasrallah p5

How did we defeat the U.S. in its ISIS project?

Over the past few years, we have witnessed popular uprisings in some Islamic countries, including Yemen, where the people rose up. We also witnessed popular uprising in Bahrain, but in all of these cases, Saudi Arabia, with its interventions, has been trying to suppress these popular uprisings in the region which seek the establishment of Islamic and anti-Zionist governments. As you know, Ayatollah Khamenei has always emphasized the role of the people in creating a general movement to confront Zionism. That is, even if certain measures are taken by the Resistance movement, he still focuses on the people of the region, and he always raises hope that the people will rise up. Even in the case of Palestine, when some of the Palestinian leaders sign inappropriate agreements for a compromise, he says that the Palestinian people are opposed to this. Accordingly, given his emphasis on the role of the people, how do you evaluate and analyze the role of the people in the developments of the Islamic world in the perspective of Ayatollah Khamenei and based on the meetings you have had with him?

What we heard from the Leader (May Allah protect him) on public occasions, in public meetings or private meetings, was that he emphasized on massive popular movements in all matters. He always emphasized that if you had a certain organization, this organization should always be at the heart of its supporters and the people, and no organization or party should be separated from the involved people; the true power is the power of the people’s presence. Of course, this is what we saw during the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. We have also had such an experience in Hezbollah in Lebanon. Our power as Hezbollah in Lebanon is not only due to military capabilities, but also due to the popularity that this group has gained among various grassroots groups.

In Palestine, too, those who are fighting against Israel’s aggression and conspiracies—including the Deal of the Century—are the people of Palestine. The Palestinian resistance movements were able to resist, fight and take strong positions thanks to the support of the Palestinian people. Today in Yemen, without the presence of the people and the popular support of Ansar Allah, could Ansar Allah, under the leadership of dear brother Sayyid Abdulmalek Al Houthi, be able to enter the fifth year of battle and continue to fight? In many Yemeni cities, like “Saada” and “Sana’a”, we see massive popular presence, while there are many problems, including war and the spread of cholera and other diseases and the siege of Yemen. Yet, all the Yemeni people, men and women, old and young, take to the streets in every occasion, and this popular presence has given the Yemeni army and popular committees the power to resist Saudi-American invasion.

Another example is Iraq. Who stood up against ISIS? In Iraq, people stood up against ISIS terrorists. In Iraq, those who were able to resist ISIS, were the Iraqi people and the Popular Mobilization Force, after the fatwa of the Marja’iah [religious leadership] and support of Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Republic of Iran. If the Iraqi people hadn’t supported the Popular Mobilization Forces, the army and the Marjaiyah, resistance against the Takfiri terrorism and defeating it would not have been possible. It’s the same in all arenas. So the matter of the nations is a fundamental matter.

Now what has actually been the main factor that has been able to keep the Palestinian cause alive—after decades of conspiracy and deceiving—and has defeated the U.S.’s plans and plots against the Palestinians, one after the other in the region, has been the popular support and not the positions of the governments. The popular stance, the uprising of the nations, their attention to the issues, their involvement, their sacrifices, and their resistance has always been the cause of victory. We say in Lebanon’s literature: “The nation and resistance are like the sea, that is, like water and fish.” The fish cannot survive out of the water, and this means no resistance movement can resist and win outside the circle of the nation and widespread popular support.

You referred to Iraq; well, we have witnessed very important events in Iraq over the past recent years, and we can say that during this period, two important incidents took place; the first event was the occupation of Iraq by foreigners after the fall of Saddam, and the second was the formation of ISIS terrorist group. After the formation of this terrorist group, Iraq was severely invaded and significant parts of the country were occupied by the members of this group. But, both the American occupiers and ISIS occupiers finally had to leave Iraq. What role did the Islamic Republic of Iran play in the shifts in Iraq? What were the macro-level policies of the Islamic Republic regarding these events and its role in preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq? In recent years, some events also took place in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region that we would like you to talk about, as well.

Firstly, since the start of the occupation of Iraq by the United States of America, the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Leader (May Allah protect him) was quite clear towards the occupiers. The Islamic Republic of Iran rejected the occupation of Iraq by the United States. Even before the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, Iran’s position was clear. After the occupation of Iraq by the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran, with a clear position, called for the withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq so that the Iraqi people can themselves manage their country. This was a great political stance.

Secondly, after the occupation of Iraq by the U.S., the Islamic Republic of Iran made many efforts to unite Iraqi parties, movements and various groups, so that they form a unified position against the occupiers. Meanwhile, the Americans at that time were trying to take advantage of the internal disagreements in Iraq to stabilize their occupation. Therefore, the second attempt (of IRI) was to coordinate the positions of Iraqi leaders, groups and parties, who had  intellectual, political, religious, tribal, and regional differences. In order to achieve this important goal in Iraq—namely to unite different parties—the Islamic Republic of Iran established good relations with all Iraqis, including Arabs, Kurds, Turkmans, Shias and Sunnis.

Thirdly, the Islamic Republic of Iran supported the stance taken by the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Najaf, Ayatollah Sistani (May Allah protect him), the eminent Marja’iah [religious leadership] of the Shias, because the positions of the Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Najaf were very important and had a significant impact on shaping the central and crucial events. For example, after the occupation of Iraq, the U.S. sought to impose a new constitution on the country, to which the Marja’iah [religious leadership] objected and declared that the Iraqis should decide on the constitution and agree on it. This is just one example of the cases when the Marja’iah [religious leadership] intervened.

Among other important factors was that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s support strengthened and inspired the Iraqi resistance groups who resisted the American occupiers. The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran was explicit; they regarded the resistance in Iraq as legitimate and the natural right of the Iraqi people. They believed the Iraqis had the right to engage in armed resistance against those who had occupied their land. Eventually, the U.S. couldn’t achieve its goals in Iraq.

Moreover, in one of the stages, along with the honorable Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran worked hard to prevent conflicts among members of different denominations in Iraq. At that time, the takfiris who had entered Iraq, were seeking to cause conflicts between the Shias and the Sunnis by suicide bombings in Shia community areas, such as their mosques, Hussainiyehs, the shrines of the immaculate Imams (a.s.) including the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s) and the shrines of Imams Askariin (a.s.) in Samarra. Most of the suicide bombers were from Saudi Arabia and their car bombs were also sent to them by Saudi Arabia’s Intelligence services. So although Riyadh endeavored to create religious schism in Iraq, the efforts of the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Najaf and the Islamic Republic of Iran prevented tribal conflicts and a civil war—even if some struggles and contests occurred.

As a result of political resistance and political effort on the one hand, and armed resistance on the other hand, the U.S. found it impossible to stay in Iraq. During the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki, they sought to sign an agreement to withdraw from Iraq, and eventually the signing of an agreement between Baghdad and Washington led to the decision of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Naturally, the U.S. wanted to stay in Iraq for longer. During the negotiations for the agreement, they tried to maintain about 50,000 troops of the total 150,000 U.S. forces in Iraq, but the Iraqis refused to accept. [The Americans were bargaining by diminishing the number]: they accepted to leave 30 thousand, 25 thousand, 20 thousand, and finally, 10 thousand of their forces in Iraq, but still the Iraqis opposed; obviously, not all the Iraqis, but this was the view of the public in general. The Iraqi government rejected the granting of diplomatic immunity to American troops and military forces. Consequently, Washington under President Barack Obama concluded that there was no choice but to leave Iraq.

Yes, the Americans retained their embassy in Iraq and a large number of embassy protection forces, as well as some of their consulates, but their open military presence was over, and the American military bases were closed down and America’s military retreat from Iraq was announced. This was a great victory for Iraq and the Iraqi people. Another incident occurred when ISIS inflicted calamity and pain on the Iraqi people. Everyone knows about ISIS. ISIS took advantage of its presence in Syria, at the east of Euphrates and the Badia (the Syrian Desert). You remember that this group then occupied 40 to 45 percent of the territory of Syria. ISIS’s leaders were Iraqi, indeed, the main leaders were Iraqi, and they paid special attention to Iraq, and therefore they were counted on. The United States of America and some countries in the region, and more than others, Saudi Arabia, were behind-the-scenes players of what ISIS did in Iraq. We all recall that when ISIS arrived in Mosul, Diyala, Anbar and Salah al-Din, many satellite channels affiliated with Saudi Arabia and some Persian Gulf countries reported on the event as a major victory. ISIS dominated a number of Iraqi provinces and facilities in a short time. The Iraqi forces collapsed and ISIS was on the verge of entering Karbala and even Baghdad. The situation was very dangerous. Even ISIS had reached only some hundred meters to Samarra, and it had become a threat to the shrine of Imams Askariin (a.s.).

In the early days, the Islamic Republic of Iran rushed to aid Iraq. Iraq’s religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] decided on certain positions, and Ayatollah Sistani issued the fatwa of jihad kafayee. The Iraqis became prepared to rise up but they needed assistance for managing and commanding, weapons and facilities. At that time, a significant part of the war armaments and facilities of Iraq had been robbed by ISIS. The Iraqis said that many of their firearm warehouses were empty. We remember that in the early days, dear brother Hajj Ghasem Soleimani and the brothers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps went to Baghdad to organize resistance groups rooted in Iraq and coordinate them with Iraqi government forces. Mr. Nouri al-Maliki also cooperated very well. Resistance to ISIS began. After a few days, Hajj Qasem came to Lebanon and met with me. He asked us to send about 120 Hezbollah members to Iraq to command operations. He said that combatants weren’t needed because there were so many combatants in Iraq, but commanders were needed for operations in different areas. So we sent a large number of our brothers to Iraq. The borders between Iran and Iraq were opened so that weapons were provided via the border areas and that there would be no need to send them from Tehran and distant places. Importing armaments started, providing arms for the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Forces set off, and the fight began.

All Iraqis know the reality. We said that the Islamic Republic of Iran rushed to aid Iraq, while taking firm positions. Rejecting ISIS’s dominance, the Islamic Republic started fighting against the Takfiris openly and unhesitatingly, and assisting Iraq. The best commanders in the Guard Corps went to Iraq to help the Iraqis. All of the facilities of the Iranians were provided for the Iraqi people. Everyone knows that the Leader’s stance on helping the Iraqi people and Iraqi forces to impose a defeat on ISIS was that there was no red lines that would prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from offering the aid.

Praise be to God, thanks to the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] of Iraq, the fatwa of jihad Kafayee, the firm positions of the Leader, the valuable aids provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the direct involvement of the Revolutionary Guards’ brothers and especially the Quds Force, the measures taken by the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Iraqi forces as well as the national unity and solidarity of the Iraqis, in particular, among the Shias and Sunnis and Kurds in confronting ISIS, after a few years, a great victory was achieved in face of ISIS. This achievement would not have been made without the historic and great positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Leader, the positions of the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership], the actions of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi forces.

Recently, you warned of the re-emergence and reactivation of ISIS.

I highlighted two issues, which the Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, also referred to. The threat posed by ISIS—which is called the “Caliphate State”—is persisting in Iraq. Of course, there is no government under this name now. They formed a government between Syria and Iraq, which was a large government; that is, at some point, their government was larger than what was left of the Syrian and Iraqi governments. The ISIS government ended. The ISIS army, that is the big military infrastructure of ISIS, ended. However, the group’s major leader is still alive, and there are naturally questions about his fate as well as the role of the United States in this matter.

Many of ISIS leaders are still alive, and have been saved from the east of Euphrates and various battlefields. ISIS has small groups that are based in different parts of Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region. They carry out anti-security activities: they engage in suicide attacks, bombings, they kill people; and these are the threats we have to counter. This means that if the ISIS and its security infrastructure are not completely eliminated, ISIS will remain as a threat to Syria and Iraq, as well as to Iran, Lebanon and the entire region.

Based on our information, the Americans have taken some parts of ISIS to Afghanistan. Now the question is whether the members of this group will act against the Taliban in Afghanistan or against the countries of Central Asia. The case is open. A part of ISIS was transferred to North Africa. In the future, it will not be surprising if ISIS is used to exert pressure on China, Russia and other countries, because the U.S. resorts to such methods. Another issue, I called attentions to, is related to Trump, the U.S. and Iraq. Trump insists on the U.S. forces remaining in Iraq. The warning I gave was that Trump is trying to fulfil his electoral promises, sometimes succeeding, and sometimes not.

He might not succeed, but he is trying to fulfil his promises. For example, during his presidential campaigns, Trump promised to transfer the U.S. embassy from Quds to Tel Aviv, which he did. He promised to recognize Quds as the eternal capital of Israel, which he did. He promised to retreat from the nuclear deal, which he did. He promised to intensify sanctions against Iran, and he did so. Well, he also made some promises that he failed to realize. For example, he could not build a wall between Mexico and the United States because he failed to gain the Congress’s approval and the funding. Yet, he is still striving to fulfill this promise.

So this man strives to fulfill his promises. Well, one of the promises he made, which he insisted frequently, was that the departure of the U.S. from Iraq during Obama’s administration was a mistake, and that the U.S. should stay in Iraq. This means that he does not want to leave Iraq, although this is not what the Iraqis want. The second issue is that he says, “Iraq’s oil belongs to the U.S., because we spent $ 7 trillion to free Iraq from Saddam Hussain,”—in his words—“and this should be paid back to us”.

He says, “we need to exploit Iraq’s oil and sell it to get our money back”. When asked how, he said, “we would send the U.S. Army to dominate the oil fields, encircle the oil fields and prevent Iraqis from exploiting these fields. We would use their oil for years and then we will deliver it to them”. Can Trump do this? Maybe not, but he will try to do so. Therefore, I warned that the Iraqis should be vigilant about the plots and dangers of this man who has focused on their oil. Just as he is focusing on Saudi’s capital and is plundering it, he also seriously considers looting Iraq’s oil. What can prevent Trump is the Iraqis’ vigilance, their willpower and their diligence.

Trump’s overnight trip to Iraq apparently infuriated him.

Exactly. He says ‘we sent our military forces, we had casualties, we spent a lot of money, and now we have to travel to Iraq overnight. That’s right.

Since the early days following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the U.S. officials were angry with Iran. Well, the Shah regime was obliterated, so they lost the regime which was dependent on them, and was their biggest base in the region. Since forty years ago, the U.S. has been faced with resistance on the part of the leader of the Revolution, the Iranian people and the Muslim nations that support the Resistance movement against the Front of Arrogance. Therefore, Americans are very angry with Iran.

You probably remember the famous quote by martyr Beheshti which was derived from a verse of the Holy Qur’an: “The U.S.! be angry with us, and die of this anger.” In this situation, Ayatollah Khamenei states that U.S. is declining in West Asia and Islamic countries, and this power will go away, and the nations of the region will become victorious. I would like to learn about your opinion on this analysis of Ayatollah Khamenei; and what proofs do you think support it?

Firstly, what Ayatollah Khamenei has said about this issue is based on experience, information and concrete realities in the region. One of the hallmarks is the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq, despite the fact that the U.S. had entered Iraq to stay forever, and not to leave it. The United States was unable to stay in Iraq and had to return to the country under the pretext of ISIS. This country cannot remain in Iraq. If the Iraqi authorities and people make the determination to dismiss U.S. forces, they will succeed to do so in a few days. The United States is not strong enough to stay in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people. Well, this was the first sign and example.

The U.S. was also defeated in Syria. Even eight months ago, Trump announced that the U.S. forces settled in east of Euphrates had plans to retreat. But other officials persuaded him to let the forces stay for six more months. He recently wanted to pull the U.S. forces out again, but he was told that this should not be done, because the departure of the United States was like a major defeat for the U.S., and it would disappoint Washington’s friends in the region. So he decided to let the U.S. forces stay; however, they could possibly leave Iraq any moment. In a telephone conversation with Mr. Erdogan, he said: “the U.S. is leaving Syria; Syria is left for you to do whatever you want with it.” This infuriated Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Therefore, the Emirates embarked on immediately reopening its embassy in Damascus. Well, this was about Syria.

In Yemen, too, it was not only Saudi Arabia that was defeated; rather, the United States also suffered a defeat. The United States became frustrated and despondent in Yemen. Today, the United States cannot impose what it wants on the countries of the region, except in some cases like dealing with the craven among the Al-Saud. The United States is unable to impose its demands on many countries in the region. Washington cannot defend its interests. Remember that 20 years ago, the U.S. went to Somalia and could not stay in that country even for a year, and eventually they left it, humiliated. The United States has become too weak to stay in and dominate over the region; its power is declining day after day. This has happened in the wake of the nations’ awareness and confidence. The obvious manifestation of this failure is that the United States has been trying to encircle the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years, and to overthrow its Islamic system, but it has always failed. They say ‘we are not seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic, we just want Iran to change behavior and method’, yet they failed.

The Islamic Republic continues to adhere to its values, principles and positions, even though 40 years have passed, and its policy has been quite clear since Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

Pompeo came to Lebanon, and met with Lebanese officials. Then, during a press conference, he said to the Lebanese people, “you have to be brave and fight against Hezbollah”. Nevertheless, he did not receive one single positive answer. When Pompeo came to Lebanon, even those who are our rivals told him: “We cannot confront Hezbollah and it is not acceptable for us to cause a civil war in Lebanon.” This means that the U.S.’s demands and decisions are not even accepted by its friends. These are not our friends, they are our rivals. The reason is that, firstly, we are strong, and secondly, our opponents know that pushing toward a civil war negatively affects Lebanon in general. Therefore, they rejected to confront Hezbollah.

Even now that Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are seeking to impose the Deal of the Century on Palestine, we see that the entire Palestinian nation reject this plan. From Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to Fatah, the Liberation Organization, and Mahmoud Abbas are against the Deal of the Century. Mr. Abbas accepts to compromise, negotiate and give concessions, but he says: “this type of contract and compromise is not even acceptable to me; because it is so disgraceful and insulting that no Palestinian can consent to such a plan.” Even in the last meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers, despite the fact that many of the participants were not honest, they stated in a declaration: “We cannot accept political solutions against international agreements and laws.” This means they oppose the Deal of the Century. They said this publicly; but why? Because they know that their nations will not accept the Deal of the Century, even if a person like Trump supports this plan.

Hence, there are plenty of signs indicating the defeat of the U.S. Moreover, now we see the current leaders of the U.S.—namely Trump, Bolton, Pompeo—have no respect for others. They don’t consider diplomacy; and they are greedy, arrogant and haughty. Therefore, they humiliate their friends and allies and damage their relation with them. Their behavior toward the Europeans, the tensions in their relation with Russia and China are examples of these behaviors. Nobody knows to which direction they are leading the world. If you ask the public opinion whether they think the U.S. is a reliable government, you will get a negative answer. Now the U.S. leaves all treaties and agreements; it seeks to impose its demands on the international community. This kind of behavior has disrupted and weakened America’s image. Therefore, the signs of the U.S.’s defeat are very clear in many countries.

One of the signs of this major U.S. failure in the region is, in my opinion, the situation of Hezbollah and Lebanon today. I traveled to southern Lebanon two days ago and went as far as the frontier with the occupied Palestine and visited the area. There was a time when the Zionist forces would enter the Lebanese territory whenever they wished, and even advanced up to Beirut in 1982, committing many crimes and killing many people and even many Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. In short, they did whatever they wanted to and committed any crime with impunity. During the 33-day war, they attacked from air and ground. Two days ago, I saw the Lebanese people live in peace and security in the area, and they were not at all worried about being attacked by the Israeli enemy. I saw there, that now it is the Zionists who have built walls to protect themselves. All this shows that Hezbollah, which grew and evolved over the course of about 35 or 40 years, has become a great power today, against the will of the Zionists and the U.S. So much so, that it has given Lebanon a special credibility and this is a national pride and power for Lebanon. Those scenes show that during these years, the U.S.’s plan to completely eliminate the resistance movement has completely failed, and today, the Israelis consider themselves defeated in this region.

That’s right. At least since 1982, when the Zionist aggressors invaded Lebanon, this was part of an American project for Lebanon and the whole region. Since then, every U.S. plan and project has failed in Lebanon. These failures occurred in 1982, then in 1985, and later in 2000, 2005, and 2006, and finally in the current period. Today, the U.S. cannot impose their will on the Lebanese people and their attempts have failed, by the grace of God. The same is true about the Israelis. As you have seen and said, southern Lebanon is in peace and security, which is unprecedented for the past 70 years; that is, since the creation of the Israeli usurper and cancerous regime. You know that southern Lebanon and the border with the occupied Palestinian have always been insecure. The Israelis carried out military invasions and bombarded it. They crossed into the region, kidnapping army men, security forces and even ordinary people.

They ridiculed the Lebanese. For example, in the 1967 war, when Israel sent separate army units to the Sinai, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan, Israeli war minister was asked if an army unit had been sent to Lebanon. He replied: “No, it is not necessary. It’s enough to send a music band to occupy Lebanon.”

That is the extent they disparaged Lebanon. That period ended by the grace and help of God the Almighty. Today, in southern Lebanon, they do not dare bombard, kidnap, kill, or even trespass. They are very cautious and constantly in fear; because they know that in the event of any aggression, the resistance gives them a decisive answer, which in our view signifies observing the rule of the game and the conflict.

Southern Lebanon has always been frightening [for Israel], and today northern Palestine is the same. Colonialists, settlers, and Israelis in northern Palestine—and not the people in our towns and villages—are scared. This time, it is the Israelis who are building walls and defensive lines, when before, they were always in an offensive position. We were always in a defensive position, but today, we are in an offensive position. It is us who threaten them today; that we will one day enter the occupied Palestine by the grace of God. Hence, thank God the equations have changed, and this has been achieved in the wake of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, through the leadership of Imam Khomeini and the Leader (May His Oversight Last), constant support, and unwavering positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran alongside Hezbollah and the resistance groups in the region.

The image of Hezbollah and the Islamic resistance of Lebanon—in the minds of most people who are not familiar with it—is the image of a military organization. They think Hezbollah is just a military organization. In addition to its defensive and military dimensions to protect Lebanon and to undertake the responsibilities it has defined for itself in that regard, what services has Hezbollah offered to the Lebanese people? We have heard a lot about the progress that Hezbollah has made in science. Besides, there has also been progress in terms of education and literacy rates in that region, especially as compared to before the formation of Hezbollah. These facts have been little publicized. Please tell us more about it. Given the emphasis placed by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution on the progress and investment in the scientific fields of Iran, do you feel you are among the addressees of this remarks?

Naturally, we consider ourselves to be the addressee of these words too, and believe that this is part of our duty, and we work towards this goal. Regarding Hezbollah, from the very beginning, we were concerned with this issue, but today it has become more important and we are paying more attention to it. Hezbollah is not just a military organization, but a popular movement. This group is a popular movement rather than a [political] party, but it is called the Party of Allah. Hezbollah acts like a national and popular movement. In addition to armed resistance and military activities, Hezbollah engages in various activities. Hezbollah has religious activities, and has scholars and missionaries in religious seminaries who carry out promotional activities in different areas. This is a great change. If today you look at the number of religious students in Lebanon compared to the past, you will realize that the proportion of the Lebanese population who are students of religion is significant. If we include our brothers in the holy cities of Qom and Najaf al-Ashraf too, it will make for a spectacular number. This is unprecedented in Lebanon’s history. Regarding ​​religious activities, in many towns and villages of Lebanon, there was not a mosque before. But today, there is no village in which there is not a mosque. There are also mosques in different parts of cities. For example, in Southern Dahieh, even though hundreds of thousands of people live there, there were only 3 or 4 mosques; but today, praise be to Allah, there are mosques in most of its neighborhoods.

Today there are seminaries in different regions. Seminaries for women, as well as cultural, scientific, and religious studies institutions for women can be found in different regions. Organizing religious ceremonies during Muharram and the holy month of Ramadan, organizing Qur’an recitation gatherings, and holding Muharram processions—which are getting more traction year after year—are among other religious activities of Hezbollah. People are keener on religious occasions and activities in Ramadan and the nights of Qadr.

Beside religious activity, Hezbollah has academic and educational activities. We have the strongest student organizations in universities. The most powerful student organizations at universities are those affiliated with Hezbollah and include both boys and girls; they have a significant presence in universities. They have a strong and active presence at universities among university professors, and school teachers in middle schools and high schools. Hezbollah Group is one of the strongest and largest student and educational groups in Lebanon’s schools. They carry out the same activities as those carried out by Hezbollah student organizations at universities.

Therefore, there are cultural, intellectual, media, political, and scientific activities. In the official examinations, we see that girls and boys who are members of Hezbollah, always rank top and are successful in government and official examinations. We have diverse cultural and social activities for different groups. For example, we have a large division called “Women’s Councils” in Hezbollah. Women’s societies are found in all villages. They communicate with all women; organize cultural classes, and ceremonies on religious and political occasions; provide social aid, and govern women’s affairs in different places. We also have a division for teenagers called “Imam Mahdi (as) Scouts”. This organization, in terms of the number of male and female members, is the largest Scout organization in Lebanon. This is another cultural, intellectual, religious, social and, of course, recreational activity.

We have schools under the name of Imam Mahdi (as) Schools, from kindergarten to secondary school, in different regions, including Beqaa, Beirut and the south. A few years ago, we also set up a University of Religious Education. This university has diverse colleges. We also have a radio station. Al Nour radio is one of the strongest radio channels in Lebanon. Al-Manar TV station also belongs to us; in this field, the range of our activities go beyond television. There are also some institutions of social and service activities in Lebanon that belong to Iran, but are run by Hezbollah brothers. For example, the Martyr Foundation, the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, and others. These institutions provide services to the families of martyrs, disabled war veterans, and underprivileged families. We take care of many poor families in need, and a large number of orphans.

Another important area of activity is medical care. We have hospitals, surgery, and therapeutic clinics. We also have a large civil defense organization that helps emergency patients. All of this is supervised by Hezbollah, and not the Lebanese government. All these institutions provide people with health, medical, social and financial services. We have an extensive institution called Imam Kazim (as) Qard al-Hasan [interest-free loan] Institute, which is known as the ” Bayt al-mal of Muslims”; but called the Imam Kazim (as) Qard al-Hasan [interest-free loan] Institute. This institution has branches in most districts and has given tens of thousands of interest-free loans to the people. This is also one of the important and well-known matters in Lebanon.

In addition to all the service centers mentioned, Hezbollah also runs other institutes, such as “Constructive Jihad,” which basically helps people in agriculture. We provide a great deal of assistance in this regard. I may have forgotten some other things. Among other important issues is the participation of Hezbollah in municipal elections. Today, Hezbollah is present in most municipalities and many of the heads of municipalities are among our brothers. These municipalities also particularly serve the people. So, if you go to different cities of Lebanon today, you’ll see the situation there is quite different compared to 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

Well, we get to the participation of Hezbollah in parliamentary elections and the presence of our members in the parliament. Naturally, the number of Hezbollah members of Lebanese parliament does not reflect the true size of this group; that is, this number is not proportionate to the true size of Hezbollah. Because, we tend to form a coalition and hand over several seats to our allies so that they also have a strong presence in the parliament. Our representatives serve the people of their regions in the parliament. We participate in the government and have ministers, and we hold ministries such as the Ministry of Health which are naturally to provide services. The current health minister is among the most active ministers of the government. Therefore, apart from the military dimension, Hezbollah is also politically, socially, and culturally active. We have institutions that are active in communications, and even poetry, literature, painting, and music.

But what the media usually concentrate on is the military dimension, since the most important action by Hezbollah since 1982 was defeating Israeli occupiers and achieving the first manifest Arab victory. This was a huge and great action. That is why Hezbollah’s military dimension is often highlighted. Also, Hezbollah went to Syria to fight against the Takfiris and against a project of foreign domination over the whole region. As a result, its military dimension has been wide and essential. However, other activities of Hezbollah continue strongly; even though they are sometimes not adequately portrayed in the media.

I was listening to your speech on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution; I noticed you pointed out some of the problems the Lebanese people face such as the problems with electricity. When we come to Lebanon sometimes, we see the problem of electricity is very serious, and in fact, it is a concern for the Lebanese people. I heard that Saudi Arabia is one of the obstacles. Please tell us about the needs to solve this problem in Lebanon, the government’s lack of serious action to solve the problem and how it is Hezbollah’s concern.

We follow these cases. Not just Saudi Arabia; the main problem is the United States. For example, what disrupts cooperation between the Lebanese government and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Threats posed by the U.S. Some in the Lebanese government are afraid of the U.S. and their sanctions against Lebanon. Otherwise, a few years ago, delegations from Iran came to Lebanon with offers of help and loans. But they are afraid of U.S. threats and sanctions. The U.S. block [cooperation between Iran and Lebanon]. The U.S. prevents Lebanon from cooperating with not only Iran, but also with Russia and even China. For example, the Lebanese government can buy weapons and use Russian military equipment and armaments, but it does not do so because the U.S. has threatened the Lebanese government saying: “If you buy arms from Russia, we will cut all our aid to the Lebanese army.” Well, China has plenty of opportunities and is willing to cooperate with Lebanon. But why do Lebanon’s doors not open to China? The main reason is the U.S. threat of sanctions. The United States now does not threaten Lebanon of occupation and does not send military forces to it. Because they know that if they enter Lebanon, they cannot occupy and dominate this country. The U.S. knows that in this case, their experience in Iraq would be repeated in Lebanon; as it has already had such an experience in Lebanon in the past. But now the United States resorts to sanctions. When they threaten a country with banking, foreign currency, and trade sanctions, the other party gets scared and back off.

But in any case, we are pursuing in the government, along with the officials, the issues concerning Lebanon and the Lebanese people to the extent of the authorities’ capabilities. To this date, the U.S. has supported Israel in the south, preventing the Lebanese from extracting oil and gas in southern Lebanon; because Israel has threatened [them]. Naturally, we are also threatening [them]. But the companies come looking for a guarantee, and the United States penalizes any company that comes to extract oil and gas in that region, of course, if any company dares to come in the first place. So, the main problem is the United States. Of course, Saudi Arabia is also pushing to prevent serious cooperation with the Lebanese government. For example, Lebanon needs to work with and interact with Syria now, but some Lebanese government officials who count particularly on the relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia do not try that, although the interests of Lebanon require to do so.

Lebanon is an interesting example for those who think cooperation with the United States can solve their problems, and sometimes complain, asking why the Islamic Republic does not resolve its issues with the U.S. government to help resolve its problems. Well, Lebanon has no political problems currently with the United States, and has a good political relationship with it; but the main obstacle to Lebanon’s progress is the United States. I read somewhere you said “we are superior to the Zionists in three areas.” One of the areas you mentioned was in intelligence and information. Well, it’s said that the intelligence system of the Zionist regime is one of the most advanced information systems.

Even during the reign of previous regime in Iran, when they wanted to organize very high levels of intelligence training, they either sent SAVAK agents to the occupied territories, or they brought some trainers from Israel to hold courses in Iran and strengthen Iran’s intelligence systems. Now, you have said that you are superior to Israel in terms of the intelligence system. Based on the points I mentioned and that there are people who might not accept your remark, what explanation do you have in this regard?

I do not remember saying that we are superior. That is, I do not remember saying that we are superior to them. I said we have some information about the situation of Israel that helps us defeat it. We cannot claim to be superior to Israel in terms of intelligence. It is not true. They have some capabilities both technically and in terms of their services. Currently in Lebanon, the services of the U.S. and the services of the European and Arab countries are all at the disposition of Israel. They are technically powerful, and their drones are always flying in our skies, but we do not have such superiority. What I said was that in the past, we had no information—or very poor information—about Israel. But now our strength is that we have much information about Israel, and we know about its bases and barracks, the strengths and weaknesses of its army and its capabilities. We can collect this information by use of various methods. What we need to be able to strike the enemy is this amount of information that we have today, but it is not correct to say we have superiority.

So I would like to ask a question related to the point you mentioned, and then you could continue your words.

That we managed to launch a psychological war against the enemy and affect the enemy’s people showed that my information and the news and issues I was talking about were true and real. The Israelis said: “Wow … they have got so much intelligence.”

One essential point in the context of military confrontation with the Zionist regime is an intelligence surveillance over the enemy, and to use this intelligence in various fields, both in defense of yourself and in planning attacks against the enemy. How much intelligence surveillance has Hezbollah currently gained?

We have an excellent intelligence surveillance that is unprecedented. Hezbollah obtains the necessary intelligence using various methods. The most important intelligence is what we need for any future war or confrontation, or to face any possible threat from Israel. We have an excellent intelligence surveillance and keep track of every development on the enemy’s side. We track the intelligence about the developments related to the enemy, whether obtained through public or confidential methods. But the important thing is to analyze this intelligence; that is, it is important that we evaluate and investigate the intelligence, even when obtained through public means, in order to arrive at a conclusion. This is important.

Hezbollah’s strong point is that it always examines ideology, culture, traditions, customs, weaknesses and strengths as well as the developments related to Israel. This always puts Hezbollah in the context of what goes on within this regime; so that we know how they think, what they like or dislike, what affects them and what problems they are facing. We also know what political, religious and partisan divisions and discords exist within this regime and what the differences between the personalities are. We also evaluate the enemy’s political and military commanders and possess such information. This increases our power to a great extent, and helps us face and confront the enemy through various strategies.

Throughout what you said, you made some remarks about Ayatollah Khamenei on different occasions. I would like to ask you a bit more specifically, considering that you have been in contact with Ayatollah Khamenei for nearly forty years; what are his most prominent personality traits in your opinion? Especially since you have naturally known other important personalities, what makes him singular in comparison?

Firstly, whatever I say in response to this question, I might be accused of bias out of the passion and love that I have for him. Because of this, it may be said that I have brought these issues forward out of affection and love for the Leader. But, realistically and far from the emotional aspects, I have to say that after this extensive experience I have found the Leader possessing exceptional character traits. Sometimes you talk about someone and say that they have good characteristics, of which one or more are excellent and extraordinary. But regarding the Leader, I have to say that he has many exceptional characteristics. For example, his intense sincerity towards God, Islam, Muslims, the underprivileged and the oppressed is an awesome and remarkable devotion. Perhaps this is one of the indications that he is approved by God. This sincerity is very deep and uncommon. When I speak of sincerity, I do not just mean his personality; I have lots of evidence for this. This sincerity lies in his intrinsic personality, in his leadership and in his authority, and does not stop at a certain limit. He always preferred the interests of Islam, Muslims and the public over any other issue.

For example, one of the most prominent features of the Leader is his piety and righteousness. This is a well-known matter. Recently, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and elsewhere has been trying to attack the Leader’s personality. But, idiotically, they have focused on an aspect of his character that nobody would believe their words. For example, they propagated that the Leader’s personal wealth reaches $200 billion.

One of the distinctive features of the Leader is his moral character and his personality traits. Whenever we meet him, we can see humbleness in his face. Every Lebanese who has travelled to Iran and met with the Leader, in private or in public, has been amazed by his humbleness and modesty. Here in Lebanon, we see that even the head of a small municipality in a small area, is not as humble as the Leader before the people and his visitors.

Others feel that rather than an Imam, a Leader, and a sovereign, they are meeting a loving, caring and affectionate father. Regarding his modesty, and paternal behavior, I told you before that whenever we expressed our views, he would weigh in by saying “my suggestion is …”, and asked us to evaluate it for ourselves. This is one of the signs of the modest, kind and paternal behavior of the Leader. This behavior is fatherly because it teaches us how to mature, and make decisions, and it is kind because he does not want to put us in a difficult position and force us to decide.

Another one of his characteristics, is his extensive political and historical knowledge. The Leader knows our region, despite the region and its developments being very complex. I am referring to the West Asia region, also known as the Middle East, and in particular Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and of course specifically Lebanon. The issues in the region are extremely complicated and even many regional politicians and thinkers make mistakes in analyzing the situation. Meanwhile, we have found every analysis by the Leader to be accurate and reasonable over the past 40 years. Every stance he has made towards the countries of the region, even countries where their own people have been unable to analyze their own issues, has been correct. This is extraordinary.

One of his distinctive features in my opinion, is his absolute trust in the Almighty God. We are not talking about someone who has isolated himself to pray or someone who is active in teaching or in scholarly activities and claims to trust God absolutely. The real test is to have a responsibility as important as that of the Leader, to lead the Islamic Republic, lead the Ummah, confront the U.S., the imperialists on Earth, and the arrogant powers, and to support the oppressed and the underprivileged, go to the most difficult battles, and say I trust in God, and really do have trust in God. That is the difference. This is the true faith in God and the ability to nurture it in others. What is meant is not just claiming to have this trust, but to create and nurture it in the hearts and minds of others like the Hezbollah of Lebanon. It is in the shadow of this trust that progress, consciousness, endeavor for the sake of God, and victory will be achieved. It is through this trust that the Iranian nation and the Iranian youth have stood against the U.S. and faced challenges. If the Leader himself had not achieved such a great level of trust in God, he could not pass it on to others.

In the intellectual realm, today there are very few Muslim thinkers in the Muslim world. There is a difference between a thinker and an educated person. We have many Muslim scholars who have written many books and delivered many lectures, but there are not many Muslim thinkers, the like of the martyr Motahhari, or the martyr Sayyid Baqir Sadr who are among the thinkers of the Muslim world. Today, the number of Muslim thinkers in the Muslim world is very small. There is no doubt that someone who listens to the Leader’s speeches, reads his books and listens to his statements and advice, especially during the month of Ramadan, when he meets with different groups, realizes that he is a great Muslim intellectual leader. Perhaps there is no other thinker in the Muslim world of his stature. That is, no Muslim intellectual is currently comparable to him.

Regarding the subject of jurisprudence and fiqh, naturally, the Leader’s scientific character, and his status among scholar has not been adequately presented. I do not claim to be a scholar, but I know many knowledgeable and mujtahid brothers who are scholars themselves and have attended the Leader’s fiqh classes, and have given solid testimonies about his mastery of Islamic law, and his command of jurisprudence and fiqh. When providing testimony regarding his authority in fiqh, this testimony has gone through testing, investigation, and serious scientific examinations, and not based on an emotional stance or the like.

Today, the struggle continues. Who is conducting this struggle, and its requirements, including science, knowledge, thought, and real identification of the issues in every political, economic, social, cultural, military and security dimensions? Who is conducting this struggle which requires deep insight and courage? One may have insight, but lack the courage and spirit of sacrifice with his soul, life, and blood. Which leaders possess all these features all together? This was a summary of the Leader’s characteristics. Although, if one wants to study his exceptional and distinctive features, one would learn about many of them.

You pointed out his courage. In your opinion, what was the most courageous decision by Ayatollah Khamenei regarding the issues of the region?

You know that after the events of September 11 in the U.S., George Bush and the neoconservatives in the U.S. were outraged. They misused the anger of the American people as a pretext to break every legal boundary and international norm. On that day, George Bush declared that the world is either with us or against us. He sent U.S. troops to Iran’s neighbors. We are not talking about U.S. troops deployed to, [let’s say] Brazil. We are talking about forces deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and countries surrounding Iran and its neighboring waters. Bush did this to show his blunt and fierce hostility.

Anyone standing in his way, he would try to destroy. Many in the region were in a state of great fear and horror; because they thought that the U.S. would come and take over the region.  I remember, at the time articles were written claiming the region would enter an American era for 200 or 300 years, and no one can stand up to the United States and defeat it. Who stood up to the United States? The Leader. This stance does not only require historical wisdom, political knowledge, piety or sincerity. It also requires a great deal of courage. He stood against the only arrogant imperialist superpower in the world; a fuming superpower that does not abide by any rule. He stood up to them, not in a subdued state, but taking an attacking posture. In conclusion, the person who has led the fight against the American project in the region over the past years has been the Leader.

When we were talking outside of this interview, you described the decision to get involved in Syria also as a very courageous decision.

Of course; there is no doubt that all of these decisions have been courageous. But you asked me about the most courageous decision. The most courageous decision was to stand against the stupendous, fierce and utterly mad tornado of the United States, and to reject any kind of kneeling or surrender to this tornado and ultimately vanquish it.

About the book “Certainly, Victory Comes with Patience” that you also referred to, during the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution; please tell us if you remember an interesting point or remarks from this book.

First of all, when this I received this book before its final edition, I read it the same night. It was sunset when I received this book. That night, I read it with great enthusiasm. I first read the introduction written by the Leader in his own handwriting. An introduction in Arabic, which is obviously, also in Persian alphabet. I was surprised. I knew that the Leader is fluent in Arabic, but the text I read was of the highest level of rhetoric and was very eloquent and expressive. I do not think that today, any Arab native could write a text of such beauty and eloquence in Arabic. This was the first thing I noticed at the beginning of the book.

Likewise, what was said in the introduction of the book, regarding its language and expression was very significant. Because I had heard from a brother, Dr. Azarshab that: “This text – i.e. the Arabic text – is written by the Leader, and I have only made simple modifications to it “. The text of this book is a great and very important text in Arabic literature and rhetoric. Many Arab literary figures, not scholars, but literary figures, cannot write a text with such excellent rhetoric and eloquence.

Another feature is a clear, detailed description of the events. The Leader has narrated the events beautifully, in a way that many of them are new to the Arab world, although this may not be the case for the Iranians; because there is of course a Persian version of this book. I had read some books about the Leader’s memories and his life; a collection of many books. But this was the first time I read a book in Arabic written by the Leader himself, which includes extensive details. It was very effective. And, of course, the amount of oppression, pain, suffering and solitude that the Leader and other brothers endured became apparent to the people. But anyway, he narrates his personal recollections, and not those of the others, who are not the subject matter here. Obviously, the Iranian nation, religious leaders, officials, and even those who took up responsibilities later suffered a lot and made many sacrifices for the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

In your meetings with the Leader, what language are the meetings held in?

I speak Arabic and he speaks Persian. But sometimes, at the beginning of the meeting, he asks some questions in Arabic. For example, he asks about how we are, and about our families and brothers in Arabic. But he continues in Persian. Indeed, it was an agreement at the beginning of his leadership and even during his presidency, but mostly during his leadership. Because I understand Persian. But some of my brothers in the Council understood Persian to a certain degree. So, they used to bring an interpreter to the meetings with the Leader. He said in the beginning that we should rely on an interpreter. At a meeting where the Leader, the Lebanese and some Iranian brothers were present he said: “We will not rely on an interpreter from now on. The Iranians must learn Arabic to understand what you say, and the Lebanese must learn Persian, so they do not need an interpreter.” Since then, there has never been an interpreter present at any of our meetings with the Leader.

Clearly, you have many memories of your meetings with the Leader. These memories are related to politics, military discussions, etc. some of which have been explained. Now, at the end of this conversation, if we ask you to share with us one memory that is very sweet and interesting for you, of the many memories that you have, which one would it be?

(Sayyid Hassan laughs) Now, we need to search. They are all good memories. (Sayyid Hassan laughs) It’s difficult to choose one. You know that in the 1990s, i.e. in 1997 or 1998, we were going through a difficult period because of all the hardships, challenges and many dangers and we were very tired. We were in a very difficult position, both domestically in Lebanon, and in our foreign affairs, and the issues related to Israel and our neighbors. Naturally, at that time, I was young. My beard was completely black, and the burden I had on my shoulders was beyond my capacity. I sometimes travelled to Iran. To the Leader I said: “Our Leader! What do I do? “At that time, the Leader answered:” You are still young and your beard is still all black. What complaint should I make about fatigue, with all my beard grey?” He said: “It is natural for anyone to face challenges, difficulties and dangers, sometimes coming from enemies and sometimes from friends. Often, the hardships coming from friends are heavier than those from the enemies, and it causes more pain. Well, ultimately there are limitations in many things. Sometimes a man gets tired mentally and needs someone to guide him and show him the way forward. Sometimes a person needs someone to hold his hand; sometimes he needs someone to calm him down and give him spiritual and moral relief; sometimes he needs someone to increase his strength and reinforce his determination. Well, for all the things we need, we have God the Almighty and do not need anyone else. We have God the Almighty. God the Almighty, through His Kindness and Compassion, has allowed us to call Him and talk to Him at any time and place.”

These words were all by the Leader, stated without any formalities. He continued: “For that reason, whenever you feel tired or overwhelmed, I recommend the following. Enter a room alone, and for 5 or 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour, talk to God the Exalted. We believe that God is present, hears, sees and knows, and He is capable, rich and wise. That is, God has everything we all need. So talk to Him, and for this purpose, there is no necessity to read the Prophet’s (PBUH) or the infallible Imams’ invocations. No, in your own language, say what weighs on your heart and minds, using your everyday language. God will hear and see, and He is generous, benevolent, forgiving, merciful, and the source of guidance and knowledge. If you do this, God gives you peace, confidence and power, and takes your hand and leads you. I say this from experience. Try it and see the result. “

Then I told them that God willing, I will follow his advice. Since then, I have done this occasionally and seen the blessings of this advice and guidance from the Leader. No matter how great the hardships, if we resort to this means, the doors of the great divine blessing will open to us. This was the most important thing we did during the 33-day. Whether I, or my brothers, we each sought a secluded corner, and we would resort to God the Exalted and ask for guidance, support, determination, power, courage, and so on. God the Exalted is so generous.

Thank you very much. At the end of this conversation, I would like to ask your Excellency if you would like to say a few words in Persian to the Iranian people.

It’s hard for me. I speak in Persian in our private meetings, but because it is for the media, I have to be cautious.

We cannot thank you enough for the amount of time you dedicated for us, several hours both yesterday and today. We are grateful, and God willing, this interview will be a source of blessing and goodwill for the Iranian nation and the Islamic Ummah. May Allah keep you in good health; you are a source of pride for all Muslims.

 

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