The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Iran – Ayatollah Khamenei’s Speech at Friday Prayer

with 7 comments

Just a short one today folks, I haven’t had as much time today to update on the events of yesterday so I’m going to focus on Khamenei’s speech, the reactions to it and some other choice pieces of commentary.

Some things I found of interest (sourcing translation from Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish):

“The competition for the election was very clear. Enemies and dirty Zionists tried to show the election as a contest between the regime and against it. That is not true, all four candidates support the regime.” [He lists the government positions of the opposition candidates]. All of the candidates are part of this system and regime. Zionists and the bad British radio said it was a challenge to the regime.

Ah playing the old Zionist card again, as long as you can successfully associate anyone who does something you don’t like with Zionism in Iran, you can win brownie points with at least a few people (ironically much how many actual Zionists will accuse you of being an anti-semite the minute you oppose anything the Israeli Govenrment does).

The presidential campaign has finished. All of the four candidates are among the Islamic system. The people have trust in the revolution and the republic. The Islamic republic is not cheating against others. There is no cheating inside the election system – it is well controlled. There may been mistakes but 11 million [votes] is not possible.

Not that this is in any way a surprise but just thought I’d put it out there that… yeah he’s not budging on that whole “election was the real deal” thing.

“The candidates should be careful about what they say and do” [Mousavi doesn’t seem to be there]. “Some diplomats from the west are showing their real face and that they are enemies. The worst are the British.

OK blaming foreign influence, that’s been played. Blaming “the great Satan” (usually the US) thats been played too. But can someone please explain to me why “the worst are the British”? I’m really rather confused. Reports are that Gordon Brown is rather in a huff about it (as only Gordon Brown can be) and has called in the Iranian ambassador to explain what the devil has gotten into old Khamenei…  oh and also to prove the election wasn’t rigged, good luck to the Ambassador with that one.

Oh and the final and most important piece of wisdom:

“Rioting after the election is not a good way. It questions the election. If they continue [the consequences] will be their responsibility. … If they continue they will be receiving other consequences, behind the scenes. I’m asking my friends and brothers to follow the laws. Let God give us blessing to follow those ways.”

I’m rather scared about what he means by “other consequences, behind the scenes”. Is this a signal for a further, larger crackdown? Is the violence we’ve seen from the basij so far only the beginning? Is it actually constitutionally illegal for Iranis to protest peacefully (someone let me know, I’m no expert on Iran’s constitution of 88)? If so, how far is this going to be taken?

Alternative English translation here.

Some further analysis and punditry that I found to be of note:

Simon Tisdall for the Guardian has the following thoughts:

Those hoping the supreme leader would produce a plan for a way out of the tumultuous political stand-off that has gripped Iran since last Friday’s disputed presidential poll were disappointed. Khamenei offered no new initiatives, no explicit offers of compromise, no path through the maze.

Worse, he appeared to show little understanding of the depth of the crisis that he and his protege, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have helped provoke with what looked to many Iranians like a pre-emptive strike last weekend to claim victory before the votes were fully counted.

I agree with him on the first point, Khamenei showed nothing that could amount to a plan of action, a man who is supposed to be the unifying figure (and who needs to remain the unifying figure) surely isn’t doing much unifying, he’s stuck in his one corner and he’s got his gloves up… this is not good for his regime’s legitimacy. I think Khamenei understands “the depth of the crisis” but I think he doesn’t know what to do about it. The protesters want nothing short of annulment and re-voting, but if he was to agree to that not only would he be showing a precedent that protests work in Iran but he would also risk alienating the basij, the Revolutionary Guard and the die-hard Ahmadinejad supporters (and there are plenty of them, whether he won the election or not). Backing Ahmadi all the way, as he seems to be doing, is of course also playing with fire because no one can predict which way the protesting is going to head in the next few days.

I have to agree with most pundits that this regime may have taken a strong (possibly critical) hit and that Khamenei’s legitimacy. is on the line. If these protests are crushed with brute force, they will rise up again and again because people have had a taste of success.

Speaking of which, Tariq Alhomayed writes for Asharq AlAwsat and believes that this is just the beginning:

Rafsanjani noticed that there is genuine public agitation towards the internal situation in Iran, not to mention towards the country’s increasing international isolation; he wanted this volcano to erupt in Ahmadinejad’s face, as well as engulf the Supreme Leader.

Alhomayed believes that thepublic  letter sent by Rafsanjani to Khamenei following the fiery election debates asking him to take responsibility for them put the ball firmly in Khamenei’s court, and that these street protests in response to the election are another stab at that. This could all be a plan by Rafsanjani and his team to destabilise Khamenei’s legitimacy to a point where it collapses. Seems internal Iranian politics is set to get more interesting regardless of how this all ends up.

Brief note, yes there is a big rally planned for tomorrow (tweets would indicate people are being encouraged to bring the Qur’an), and yes it has been declared illegal and yes I’m sort of worried.


Written by alexlobov

June 20, 2009 at 12:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

7 Responses

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  1. That was a short one? Phew! 🙂

    P.S:- Am following your advice. We’ll see how it turns out.


    June 20, 2009 at 12:52 am

  2. Haha yeah check out my other posts, they’re considerably longer. Apparently a lot goes down in Iran in one day.
    And my advice is always good advice to follow 🙂


    June 20, 2009 at 12:57 am

  3. re: British – the Brits played an active role in Iranian politics up until 1979. Initially the Russians and the Brits competed for colonial interests, oil and what not, then it was a case of influencing election results and leadership selections

    Wiki says:
    “… the British forced Reza to abdicate in favour of his pro-British son Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who ruled until 1979.”


    June 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    • Westy,
      I believe you’re referring to the coup against Mossadeq in 1953 which was a joint-US and British venture. However, as British influence in the region waned and US influence increased, post-revolutionary Iran largely forgot about British involvement in the coup and focused more on demonising the US, resulting in the US embassy siege that lasted 444 days and Ayatollah Khomeini referring specifically to the US as the Great Satan. It was the US that funded Iraq (although it also later funded Iran) during the Iran-Iraq War and the US that was supporting Israel, so it was the US that has been getting it from the Ayatollahs to this day… so the sudden reintroduction of Britain and ommission of the US during Khamenei’s speech seemed to be a little strange.


      June 22, 2009 at 6:26 pm

      • thanks for your recap.

        I put that piece up to explain why the mention of the British as opposed to any other non US nation.

        given the Brits perceived history of election influencing/tampering it isn’t too much of a leap to figure out why they are mentioned again now. The small quote I put up from wiki shows British involvement in the 1979 shifts so it is natural that K would also refer back to that moment.

        I haven’t read the speech so I have no comment on the ommision of the US…

        anyway, keep on trucking.


        June 23, 2009 at 8:10 am

  4. westy – your point sucks. im right, and youre wrong. 😀 is that better? 😛


    June 24, 2009 at 1:35 am

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