Supreme Leader in Meeting with People of East Azerbaijan: The Real War with the Enemy Is Economic and Cultural War, Not Military War
The following is the full text of the speech delivered on February 15, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the people of East Azerbaijan. The meeting was held in Imam Khomeini Hussainiyah on the anniversary of the uprising by the people of Tabriz on the February 18, 1978.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate, infallible and chosen household and may God curse all their enemies
Dear brothers and sisters, you are quite welcome. The 29th of Bahman of every year is one of our most epic and glorious days in this hussainiyah and that is because of your presence here. For me – I’m very enthusiastic to have met with you dear people of Tabriz and Azerbaijan – this is an opportunity to meet with a number of youth, officials, outstanding ulama and people from various social backgrounds here in this Hussainiyah even if that means that I cannot meet with all the dear people of Azerbaijan. You are quite welcome! Send my greetings to other dear people in Tabriz and in other cities of Azerbaijan. Send my greetings to my fellow citizens [Speaking in Azeri].
The issue of the 29th of Bahman is not a mere historical issue, rather it is a lesson, a subject. I am saying this to you youth: not only were the people of Azerbaijan and the people of Tabriz influential on the issue of the Revolution and the 29th of Bahman – the 29th of Bahman became an engine for the victory of the Revolution on the 22nd of Bahman of the following year: it was an engine because it helped carry out the task and because it drove the Revolution forward – but they have also been one of the main pivots of fighting in all important social and political developments in the country since 120, 130 years ago onwards. Our dear youth should know this. Such is the identity of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan was one of the most important places which played a role in the Tobacco Boycott, on the issue of the late Hajj Mirza Javad Mujtahid Tabrizi, in the Constitutional Movement – well, the role of Azerbaijan on the issue of the Constitutional Movement is well-known – and on the issue of the nationalization of oil industry and the elimination of England from possessing our oil. It was the people of Azerbaijan who played an important role in the victory of the Islamic Revolution, in the imposed war and during the events that took place before the war in Tabriz and Azerbaijan.
In the beginning of the Revolution, some people began a movement to oppose the Revolution and to create a rift among the revolutionary people of Iran. They naively imagined that Tabriz was a suitable place for that purpose. This has always been one of the old policies of England and anti-Iranian elements. They went there and created uproar. At that time, I was a member of the Revolutionary Council. This was discussed in Tehran and some individuals were concerned, but Imam (r.a.) stated that no one should be concerned because the people of Tabriz themselves would respond to them and this is exactly what happened. In the end, there was no need for others. The people of Azerbaijan are like this.
During the war, the Army of Ashura proved to be a frontline-breaking army. And it was not only that army which did that. The ulama and back-up forces of Azerbaijan and people from various social backgrounds in that region were all present in the arena. This is the history of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has always stood up single-handedly against the greed of those who pinned their eyes on creating ethnic rifts in the country. Today too, they are pursuing the same tasks.
Well, our country is comprised of different languages and ethnicities. We have Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Baluchi, Luri and Kurdish. This is diversity and diversity is an opportunity, but the enemy has always pinned his eyes on using this as a tool for creating a rift. The great Iranian ethnicities themselves – and the best one in this regard is the people of Azerbaijan – have stood up against this malicious policy which has been adopted by the enemies.
Our dear youth throughout the country should pay attention that the enemy has pinned his eyes on implementing this policy. He wants to use every fault line that he thinks can cause an earthquake so that he can destroy the pillars of this country’s independence and of this Revolution. He wants to use all the resources. He is searching so that he can find the faults with this assumption in his mind. This is while there are not any fault lines. The people are unanimous, they are united.
Well you, who are from Tabriz and Azerbaijan, are aware of your own feelings. We know that the poem that you recited here – “We swear by the Quran that we will honor our allegiance” – holds true. This is clearly evident. The people of Azerbaijan have proven this not only in words but also in practice. They have shown that they have stood firm in the face of the tempting and seditious enemy. My dear ones, other Iranian ethnicities are thankfully also like this. The same is true of the Khorasanis – considering the diversity of religious denominations in east Khorasan – the Kurds and the Baluchis.
Among the Baluchis, there were some ulama who stood up against the enemies of the Revolution in early revolutionary era. I was there for a long time and I knew their ulama. Let me mention their names so that the people know them: the late Molavi Abdul-Aziz Sadaati, who was from Saravan. That old man – who was a bag of bones – stood up against the opponents, critics and censurers of the Revolution and he defended it vigorously. He was a Sunni Baluch. In Kurdistan, the late Sheikh ul-Islam did the same thing. In Sanandaj, he delivered a cogent and vigorous speech. They were Sunnis – the Kurds are Shafi’i – but they defended the Revolution because they witnessed that the Revolution has raised the flag of Islam. However, anti-revolutionaries martyred Sheikh ul-Ism because of that speech and because of his positions.
In Khuzestan, Arab youth stood up against the invasion of Saddam’s regime. The Iraqis were Arab and those youth from Khuzestan were Arab as well, but they stood up against Saddam. The name of Shahid Ali Hashemi – a young Arab Sardar from Khuzestan and from Ahwaz – and the names of those youth will not be forgotten! The Iraqis spoke Arabic, so did Shahid Ali Hashemi, but he understood the truth. He identified the enemy’s plot and he stood firm.
The same is true of other Iranian ethnicities. And the people of Azerbaijan are the best in this regard and they are ahead of others. They can keep hatching plots, talking, spending money, pulling out oil revenues from the sack of the likes of Qarun and spending them on creating discord in the country, but they will fail!
The people are united. The people are unanimous. Today, I will speak about this matter, about the 22nd of Bahman and about officials and their responsibilities. All these matters should be seen together. The people of Iran have stood firm. They are unanimous. Now, some people have learned phrases like “national reconciliation” and they keep speaking about it. In my opinion, these statements are meaningless. The people are unanimous. They are united. Whenever Islam, Iran, independence and resistance in the face of the enemy are involved, the people stand firm with all their power. It is possible that two individuals have differences of opinion on such and such a political matter, but this does not affect the situation. Why do you speak about “reconciliation”? Are they on bad terms so that they should be reconciled with one another?
It is the press which highlight these phrases. They are not aware that such phrases are problematic. When you speak about “reconciliation” it looks as though there is some sort of bad feelings while this is not the case. Of course, our people are not on good terms with those who insulted the day of Ashura. The people are on bad terms with those who stripped naked and beat that basiji youth on the street in a cruel, vulgar and shameless manner. We will not be reconciled with such individuals, nor will we be reconciled with those who are opposed to the essence of the Revolution, and who say that the essence of the system is their target and that the elections are an excuse for them. Of course, such individuals are very few in numbers. They are very few. Compared to the vast ocean of the people of Iran, they are like a drop of water. They are nothing. This ocean is unanimous and united. This unity exists as it should, and it should be strengthened on a daily basis.
Thankfully, the outstanding personalities of Azerbaijan have always been aware of these points. The courageous youth of Azerbaijan and people from various social backgrounds in Azerbaijan have always been aware of this point and they have stood firm against the plots, temptations and activities of the enemy. They have defended national unity and they have offered their lives on this path. Primarily you yourselves and secondly we, all officials and all the people should appreciate the value of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a strong point for the Revolution and the Islamic Republic. This is the first point.
As for the 22nd of Bahman, first of all, I thank all the people of Iran from the bottom of my heart! This year, the 22nd of Bahman became a source of reputation and dignity for the Revolution, for the Islamic Republic and for Islamic Iran. The judgment of domestic officials and those individuals who estimate the number of people on the streets was that in large cities and in 70 percent of the cities of the country in general, the number of participants was larger than previous years. In some cities, it was larger, in some it was much larger and it some cities, it was twice as large. This has been said by our domestic estimators.
And they are not the only ones who have acknowledged this. Foreigners acknowledged it as well. The enemies of the Revolution acknowledged it as well. Those who used to humiliate the 22nd of Bahman rallies every year saying that only a few thousands took to the streets, speak of millions now. Yes, it is correct. Millions of individuals throughout the country took to the streets. I cannot truly describe this in words. I am not anybody to thank the people for this. The Revolution belongs to the people themselves. It is God Who should be thanked. It is God Who should be appreciated because He guided the people’s hearts towards this direction.
The important point is that throughout the year, hundreds of media speak against the Revolution with the money of the CIA, Mossad and the intelligence and espionage services of England and with oil revenues from the Qaruns. They are busy day and night throughout the year. They find tens of political individuals who are bankrupt and who have runaway from Iran. Then, they give them a wage so that they sit and make analyses, write news and deliver speeches against the Revolution and the Islamic Republic. They employ them so that they humiliate individuals including Imam (r.a.), the people of Iran and also the various activities of the Revolution – later on, I will expand on this matter.
These individuals try to accuse and weaken the Revolution and the Islamic Republic. They work hard for one whole year, but then on the 22nd of Bahman, this rain of divine mercy and this great presence of the people pours down and washes away this polluted and dusty atmosphere. The 22nd of Bahman is developed on the streets like an auspicious orientation, cleaning the people’s minds and purging them of pollution. The 22nd of Bahman is like this.
As well as the 22nd of Bahman, we have Quds Day. Each of these days has a special meaning and purpose. The people have grasped this meaning really well and they enter the arena by paying attention to that meaning. Now, who are in the arena? This is a very important point. You in Tabriz, people in other cities and people in Tehran should look at the large crowds of people who move forward on the streets. Most of them are under the age of 37 – the Revolution is 37, 38 years old. In other words, they have not seen the early revolutionary era. They have not seen Imam (r.a.), they have not seen the Sacred Defense Era and they have not seen the bitter and dark era of taghuti oppression. However, they go to the streets clenching their fists, chanting slogans and shouting with the same excitement, feeling, understanding, broad-mindedness and intelligence.
What does this mean? It means that the Revolution is alive. It means that the Revolution grows and cultivates. These are the new saplings of the Revolution. They who stand up against the enemy and express their viewpoints in a determined manner are the third, fourth generations of the Revolution. This is very important.
The enemy is trying to portray the Revolution as inefficient. Of course, his effort is of no avail. Well, we have certain hindrances. Which place and country in the world has resolved all its problems? Hindrances exist everywhere. We too have some hindrances – I will refer to this later on – and we will not forget about them. Without a doubt, there are certain hindrances, but the enemy is trying to ignore the achievements of the Revolution because of these hindrances. In the nearly 38 years that have passed, the Revolution and the Islamic Republic have accomplished a great task. I have a list of the most important plans that have been implemented in these 38 years which shows what effort has been made for the country. Such effort is not carried out even by capable and active governments in the course of 100 years!
Let us compare this with the pre-revolutionary era. In infrastructural areas – which are very important for the future progress of the country – the progress of the country in the revolutionary era is a thousand percent in some cases. That is to say, it is 10 times more than the pre-revolutionary era. In some cases, the figure reaches two to six thousand. That means the progress is sixty times more than the pre-revolutionary era. Let us compare the number of students, scientific progress, the infrastructural tasks that have been accomplished, numerous and big cases of cultural change, and national reputation and dignity during the revolutionary and pre-revolutionary eras – the pre-revolutionary era is the era of taghut, the era of the domination of America, the era when Tehran was a resort for Zionist elements who used to come here to have fun in Shian Garden, which was a resting place for them, whenever they got tired. They used to come here for seven, eight, ten days and then they would go back. Let us compare these areas with the pre-revolutionary era. When we do so, we see that the country has made progress, that it has moved forward and that it has made a leap.
In those days, the country used to be controlled by a submissive government. The taghuti regime was a submissive regime. It used to submit to America, to England and to big governments. They humiliated and belittled the people. They completely closed down the capacities of the country. Some of those capacities were given to the enemy. However, the Revolution came and activated many of those capacities. Today, the country is dear. Today, on a regional level, as long as Iran does not want something, as long as it does not show its presence and as long as it does not wish something to happen, nothing will happen and this is the case on almost all regional matters.
The people of Iran have shown that they are a resistant nation. All these things are being acknowledged in the analyses of our enemies. They say that the people of Iran cannot be confronted and fought against, and that they are a resistant people who resist and who do not give in to the enemy. This is dignity. They compare this dignity with the era of humiliation which they had imposed on our people and our country. Well, it is clear, this is a source of happiness and exhilaration for the youth who enter the arena. The 22nd of Bahman is this.
The 22nd of Bahman is a divine blessing and opportunity for the people to show themselves and to express their willpower in a loud voice. What exists in the hearts of the people is reflected in their slogans on the 22nd of Bahman and this is seen everywhere in the country. We are after progress, we are after Islam, and we are after establishing an Islamic government that originates from the people and that can solve their problems. This is the slogan of the 22nd of Bahman of every year. And the people have stood firm. Every official who decides to stay away from the people and to avoid resisting will undoubtedly be rejected by them. Well, this was about the 22nd of Bahman.
The next issue that I want to discuss is addressed to the honorable officials of the country. I would like to say to officials that they should not interpret the people’s presence on the 22nd of Bahman as their complete satisfaction with the activities of us officials. The people are upset. They are upset with the many things that are happening in the country. They are not on friendly terms with discrimination. Whenever they see discrimination, they feel unhappy and disturbed. They get the same feeling when they see lack of seriousness. They get the same feeling when they see indifference towards problems. They get the same feeling when they see that things will not move forward. The people are upset. The 22nd of Bahman is a different story. The people’s resistance in the face of an enemy who lies in ambush to swallow the people of Iran is one thing – which was manifested on the 22nd of Bahman – but their expectations of us officials is quite another thing.
Well, we named this year “The Year of the Economy of Resistance, Action and Implementation”. The year is coming to an end. It is late Bahman now. “Action and implementation” should be shown in practice. In the beginning of the year, I said that all the officials of the country – whether executive or judiciary and parliamentary officials – should show at the end of the year what they have done in the area of action and implementation this year. They should not just say that such and such measures should be adopted first, rather they should say such and such tasks have been carried out. They should show what they have done.
Today, we have certain problems. The people’s problems and complaints cannot be ignored. Officials should take this seriously. The issues of unemployment, economic recession and inflation are important. These are issues that exist. Of course, officials are working hard. We are witnessing their efforts, but capacities are more than this. By Allah’s favor, when the right time comes, I will say that we are not at a dead end. We are not at a dead end on economic matters. Problems exist. There are problems from two, three, four sides, but the exit from those problems is clear as well. How can we eliminate these problems? Officials should work hard.
Five, six years ago, I said in the new year speech that the enemies of the Iranian nation have focused on the issue of the economy in the present time. They are trying to pressure the economy of the country. They want to exert such a pressure on the economy of the country that the people will face serious problems. And when the people face problems, they will become frustrated and disappointed. The enemy wants this. The enemy wants the people to become disappointed at their Revolution, their political system, their government and their country. That is why they decided to pressure the economy and they did so. Officials should pay attention to this point.
Of course, it is not the case that we are only concerned about the issue of the economy. Everyone knows that I am very sensitive about the issue of culture and the issue of science. However, when we look at priorities in the short term, the issue of the economy of the country will come up top. This is because the enemy has focused on this issue. Today too, they are pursuing the same plots. Everyone should pay attention to this. One of the methods that the enemy has constantly used whether in the previous or in the current American administration is to threaten us with war. They say that the military option is on the table and so on.
A European official said to our officials that a war in Iran would have been inevitable if it had not been for the Bar-Jaam. That official said that if the Bar-Jaam had not been signed, the war would have been definite. This is a blatant lie! Why do they speak about war? They do so because they want to switch our minds to a military war, but the real war is something else. The real war is an economic war, the real war is the war of sanctions, the real war is the arenas of work, activity and technology inside the country. This is the real war! They draw our attention to a military war so that we ignore this war. The real war is a cultural war. There are so many television and internet networks which are busy diverting the hearts and minds of our youth away from religion, our sacred beliefs, morality, modesty and the like. They are working in a serious manner and they are spending heavily on this. The real war is this.
Officials should be careful. I have said to the honorable President that they should warn their managers to couple their management with clarity and supervision. A manager should exercise supervision and follow up the task. As soon as we want something to happen and as soon as we want others to do the task, the task will not be carried out. It should be clear in the field that the task has been carried out. These are the things that are needed and that should receive attention.
I will tell you that in the holy ayah “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power” [The Holy Quran, 8:60] most probably the word “strength” does not only mean military strength. Of course, military strength is one of the possibilities, but it is not the only one. “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power.” It means that you should strengthen yourselves from the inside as much as you can. Strengthening the country from the inside – which I constantly speak about – means this. You should strengthen yourselves in terms of science, technology, domestic production, influence on foreign markets, and discovery of the numerous capacities which exist in the country and which are untapped. These capacities should be utilized.
While announcing the policies, we said that the country should achieve an eight-percent growth rate. However, some people said that this is not possible. Later on, experts and pundits said that if we take capacities into consideration, the country might even witness a growth rate of more than eight percent. I do not mean growth in the sense that we sell more oil – of course, this is beneficial as well, but this is not what we have in mind – rather growth in the sense of developing the domestic production of the country and strengthening the economy of the country from the inside. This is the same as the economy of resistance which we have stressed many times.
This is while some people point to the shortcomings only. They magnify these shortcomings and avoid mentioning the achievements and the solutions. As it happens, these are the same people who signaled to the enemy to impose sanctions on Iran. They gave them the nod to impose sanctions. More than everyone else, these individuals focus on the weak points. Of course, the individuals outside the country do this more than the ones inside the country.
Dear brothers, dear sisters, youth of Azerbaijan, you courageous ones who have emerged victorious out of difficult arenas, I will tell you that if we move forward in the same manner and if we steer forward at the same speed, the victory will definitely belong to the Iranian nation. Everyone should think, work hard and show diligence. Everyone should think of the future, keep the ideals within their sight and move towards them. Everyone should keep warm this sacred hope in their hearts.
We thank God because of keeping the flames of hope alive in our hearts so that we will not be disappointed about the future of the country even for one moment. Thankfully, we managed to achieve more than what we hoped for. But these are not all our dreams and wishes. These are not all the wishes that we want from God either. We have taken small steps so far. By Allah’s favor, we should take larger steps and move towards achieving what the Islamic government has promised which is the establishment of an Islamic society which is just, pioneering, powerful, dignified and strong. We will certainly reach it by Allah’s favor and permission.
I hope that God will preserve you. I hope that He will protect you.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings