Leader's Speech in Meeting with Soldiers and Commanders of the Sacred Defense Era

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on October 21, 2006 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the soldiers and commanders of the Sacred Defense Era. The meeting was held in the last days of the month of Ramadan.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

It is a very sweet, influential and significant meeting. Each and every word of these memories is among the most interesting parts in our history and in the eventful stories of our great people. We benefited from the meeting and enjoyed it a lot. I sincerely thank all the dear ones who talked about their memories, those who organized and managed today's ceremony and meeting and all you dear ones who are the reminders of the most glorious days in the recent history of our country.

You should distinguish two issues from each other. Each of these two issues requires a long discussion. One is about the Sacred Defense Era. This eight-year Sacred Defense Era was not like ordinary wars in the world. Rather, it has specific characteristics.

This is one of the two issues which should be discussed, not here and not by me, rather it should be discussed and studied in the general environment of society. The second issue is a peripheral aspect of the first which is, of course, important in itself. It is the memories, history and literature of the war and the art which is specified to this literature in different forms. Both of these two issues are important.

As for the issue of war, first, this war was a defensive one. There are two major differences between a defensive and an offensive war in terms of meaning and content. One difference is that an offensive war is based on transgression and aggression, but this is not the case with a defensive war. The second difference is that a defensive war is a place where zeal, courage and deep loyalty to ideals emerge. These ideals may be related to one's country or more important than that, one's religion, belief and Islam. This does not exist in an offensive war. For example, when America attacks Iraq, an American soldier cannot claim that he is doing it for the love of his country. What does Iraq have to do with his country? This war is at the service of other goals, but if an Iraqi person resists this military invasion and presence inside his country, this means showing resistance and defending one's country, national identity and those values that one believes in. These two differences exist between a defensive and offensive war.

Our war was a defensive war. The people of Iran showed that they were not willing to invade and to transgress. Rather, they showed that when it comes to defending national identity and those ideals which are even dearer than national identity, their resistance is an instructive resistance. The resistance that the people of Iran showed was not an ordinary one, rather it was a kind of resistance that can be considered as a model and a lesson for other peoples. And it was considered to be so during the Sacred Defense Era. The Palestinians said to us, "We learned from you". The people of Lebanon too repeatedly said to us that they learned from us in the course of these years. Those peoples who were not Muslim and who became Muslim later on or those peoples who were Muslim, but who became followers of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household said over and over again that they learned from our war, our defense and our resistance and that they became sure about our sincerity. The Sacred Defense Era was really such an era and the Sacred Defense contained such concepts. This is one part of our approach about the Sacred Defense and its concepts.

Another part is about the event that happened during the Sacred Defense Era. What was that event? Sometimes, a war breaks out between two countries - between two neighboring or non-neighboring countries. This is one possibility. Another possibility is the formation of a tacit, announced and sometimes unannounced union between all global powers - the current powers in the world - against one area and center. These two are different from each other. The first war is different from the second one. Our war was of the second kind. That is to say, all centers of global power - including military, political, financial, security and other such kinds of power - poured onto Iran in a united way. It was a battle of armies and groups in the real sense of the word. All powerful parties, gangs and groups poured onto Iran. Why did they do that? There is a political analysis for this. For any reason, they attacked our country. Despite all their differences, the Soviet Union and America cooperated in this event. The trenches and pentagonal structures that the gentlemen referred to in the meeting were Soviet tactics and they gave them to the Iraqis. You who are familiar with war tactics know these things. All sorts of western and eastern airplanes, missiles, artillery, tanks and ammunitions were used against us by the ba'athist regime of Iraq and everyone helped it in doing so.

After the war came to an end - I think it was in late 1367 - I and other officials went on a trip to the former Yugoslavia which broke up later on and which was one of the important centers of supporting Iraq in those days. At that time, I was the president. After a long and detailed discussion, they did not even agree to sell us their tanks. This was while all sorts of eastern and western tanks were transferred to Iraq whenever the Iraqis were short in the front lines. Whenever one of their tanks was damaged, they would not wait. They would bring a crane and they would throw it into a wetland or river. This way, they got rid of it and it did not matter to them at all. This was while our soldiers would find these tanks with great trouble and they would patch them up and use them. This means that all military equipment and all sorts of ammunitions and weapons - ranging from tactics and space information to all kinds of back up including money, political support and the like - were in the hands of one side, namely the ba'athist regime. All these resources were available to them. And the other side, the Islamic Republic, was alone in the real sense of the word. This is one aspect of the war.

Another aspect of the war was the way it came to an end. With nonsensical statements and weak arguments, some people created falsehoods in the mind of vulnerable people and those who are prepared to accept such falsehoods. Who can doubt that in the eight-year Sacred Defense Era, the Islamic Republic emerged completely victorious? There is no room for doubt about this at all. As I described, a regime entered a country with a well-equipped and well-prepared army in order to overthrow the government of this country and dissect it. It occupied part of this country and everyone in the world helped it in doing so. It continued to exert pressures for eight years and in the end, it was forced to leave this country empty-handed. This was while the number of its casualties, wounded soldiers and captives was larger than the defending country. The defending country made many achievements in different areas during the war. But the aggressor has been fed by others and it has fallen from the favor of those powers which used to support it. Moreover, no piece of land remains in its hands. So, who achieved victory in this war? Who suffered a defeat? Is there any room for doubt about this matter? The end of the war is one of the important areas of the war and it is a source of pride for us.

Now, I would like to place great emphasis on the issue of the memories and history of the war. All the things that we have done so far are very little compared to what should be done. Despite the fact that in the present time, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, the Art Organization, different popular institutes and those organizations which work on the history of the war are busy working, their products are much less than they should be in terms of quantity. And in terms of quality, although some of their products are really good, in general the quality that should display the beauties, delicacy, prominence and brightness of that era does not exist. There is still plenty of room for improvement. There is still plenty of room. Notice that when it is said that we have written, say, 600 or 1,000 books about the Sacred Defense Era, some people think that this is a lot. But this is not the case. It is very little. War is one of the most sensitive historical eras for all peoples no matter if they win or lose it. Studying a war is full of lessons for those peoples who were involved in it.

This does not mean that we should study them only to engender a feeling of pride. Feeling pride is only one aspect of the issue. Obtaining ample information and different kinds of awareness and displaying the situations that existed and the ones that can exist in the future are the other aspects of the issue. The wars that break out in the world are studied very carefully. I do not know if you friends or the friends who work on these issues are aware of the amount of work that is put in on the wars that break out in different countries. I give only one example in this regard: the Civil War in America, also known as the War of Secession, began about the year 1860 and it lasted four years. It came to an end in the year 1864, 1865. I do not remember exactly when it came to an end. It was a war between the north and the south - that is to say, between different states in one country. About 80, 90 years after the formation of the U.S. government, two parts of this country waged a war against each other. An American author - who is apparently our contemporary - says that more than 100,000 books have been written about these wars! For four years of war - which was an inglorious one because there is no honor in a war between two groups from one country - more than 100,000 books have been written! This has been said by an American writer who is a well-known and reliable writer.

Of course, some American propagandists say that this War of Secession was for the sake of abolishing slavery. This is a lie and the purpose of the wars was not this. Although it happened during the time of Abraham Lincoln and slavery was abolished, the purpose of these wars was something else. If someone reads the history of these wars, they will understand it correctly. They have written so many books about an inglorious, totally failed and costly civil war which lasted only four years. Finally in this war, the north defeated the south - which was secessionist - and they formed the government again. In fact, in this war, the country of America was defeated although one side achieved victory against another. According to the figures that have been released, about 600,000, 700,000 people were killed in these years - that is to say, several times more than the number of all our martyrs in the imposed war and during the Sacred Defense Era.

The Sacred Defense was a glorious war from head to toe. All of this era - since the day the regime of Saddam attacked Tehran and struck the airport until the day Imam (r.a.) accepted the resolution - was a glorious era. And it continued to be a glorious era until Saddam attacked again and our revolutionary and mujahid people took over the entire desert. Basiji youth from throughout the country participated in the war and they put in an astonishing performance. This time - the second time that Iraq had attacked - they managed to make it retreat.

So, there is room for doing artistic work, recording the war events and carrying out expert tasks. In the present time, there are certain centers for such tasks and some friends are carrying out good and expert work. Two tasks should be done at the same time: one is doing expert and professional work and showing efficient management in gathering memoirs and another is benefiting from those people in different places who have certain memories about the war. However, you should not confine it to a certain channel so that no limitation is imposed.

Dear God, at this moment of iftar, on these last days of the auspicious month of Ramadan and among these mujahid people and soldiers in the way of God, we ask you to associate the pure souls of the martyrs of the Sacred Defense Era and the Revolution and all the martyrs of our dear people with the souls of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.w.a.) and the martyrs of Karbala. Dear God, send our greetings to those martyrs and the Imam of Martyrs (may God bestow paradise on him). Dear God, do not make our death serve any cause except for martyrdom on Your path. Dear God, by the blessedness of Muhammad (s.w.a.) and his household (a.s.), make us emerge victorious and honorable out of difficult and great tests in our country. Send our greetings to the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake).

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings