Imam Khamenei

The eight-year war guaranteed the credibility of the country and the dignity of the Iranian nation

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on March 10, 2018 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with teenagers and youth participating in Travelers to the Light (Rahian-e Noor Caravans).



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 pure, immaculate, and chosen household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth.


Dear youth, dear children of mine, you, who are the owners of the future of this country, you are very welcome here. You are the owners, directors, and managers of the future of this country in the real sense of the word. Everything that you learn, every decision that you make, and every action that shapes your character, today, is influential towards the future of our country, and this is extremely important.


As for Rahian-e Noor [Travelers to the Light], thankfully, this successful event–which began in the country a few years ago and has, thankfully, progressed with each passing day–is another one of the manifestations in the commemoration of the Sacred Defense Era. The Sacred Defense Era deserves to be commemorated, endeared, and guarded. This is because those eight years–eight years of Sacred Defense–became a guarantee of Iran's credibility, the identity of our nation, Iran's security, and the dignity of the Iranian people.


If you would examine, deliberate on, and pursue the reality of the eight-year defensive war as much as possible; then, you would surely come to the conclusion that if those eight-years of the Sacred Defense had not existed, with characteristics from that era of our country's history, our country and our people would, definitely, not enjoy dignity, security, health, independence, and freedom today. Those eight years–which involved war, pressure [on Iran], intimidation, fear, and numerous other problems–became a divine blessing in all actuality. Those eight years were a divine blessing, in disguise, that had been bestowed upon this country and its nation.


These are issues [events that took place during the Sacred-defense era] that you, yourselves, should follow-up on and explore. Certainly, everyone who carries out accurate and complete research will reach the same conclusion. Thus, we should preserve, commemorate, and endear this era. The power that our nation and our country enjoy today is a product of the Sacred Defense and those golden eight years of Iran's history. That era has a special part in a chain of historical events: we must keep that enlightened aspect alive.


Today, there are some motives, on the part of the enemies of this nation, for consigning the Sacred Defense Era into oblivion: they are hard at work trying to consign it into oblivion by questioning and discrediting events. Today, those who have power, among the enemies of Iran, are spending a great deal of money so that they can distort this reality. Therefore, what you have set out to do is a great, popular struggle against the enemies plot. The history of the Sacred Defense Era is a provision that one should benefit from, for the progress of the country, for national growth, and for preparedness in the numerous areas that are ahead of every nation.


Well, I will tell you that there are many thoughts on the Sacred Defense Era. People have written books and memoirs, and they have made movies about it—many of which are excellent and valuable sources. However, there are various dimensions of the Sacred Defense which are left unsaid; in other words, there are issues wherein no research or work has been carried out, and they have been left untouched.


Today, I would like to briefly speak to you dear youth about two parts of these various dimensions: one part is about the cause of this war and the reason that resulted in Iran being attacked. The second part is about the quality of the defensive strategies organized by the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation in a war which was imposed on them.


As I have said, when you look at the big picture, the imposed war, the defensive measures against the malicious and vicious attempts carried out by the enemy—those courageous acts and instances of innocence shown by the people of Iran were a divine blessing, in general. But, these things should be analyzed and understood in any case. Today, I will very briefly discuss these two parts with you dear youth.


The first part is about what led to this war. How were the people of Iran—who had no enmity against their western neighbor and who had not shown any transgression—invaded? And why did that invasion last eight years? What was the reason? The reason was the greatness and magnificence of the Revolution. When the Islamic Revolution came into being, its greatness and magnificence frightened and intimidated its global, powerful enemies: This is a reality.


Those who were sitting on the throne of power and domination over the entire world, who used to brazenly threaten the entire world, in other words, capitalist powers of the west headed by the US and after that Europe. European countries, who really believed that they were at the peak of power and strength, felt the shaking of their throne with the emergence of the Islamic Revolution. Of course, there was the Soviet Union too. These were powers that once saw themselves at the peak of power. However, with the emergence of the Islamic Revolution, the world became an earthquake for them: they were intimidated.


They could not carry out an exact analysis regarding the nature of the phenomenon that had occurred in Iran. In a materialistic world, in a world of irreligiousness, in a world which was indifferent to virtues and to Islam, in particular, in a country whose rulers were once satisfying all the demands of westerners, in a thorough manner: all of a sudden a Revolution was carried out against their wishes, against their materialistic, lustful and money-oriented goals and on the basis of Islam, religion, and virtue. It was not at all understandable to them to see unarmed youth enter the arena in the face of their guns.


Both university and school students entered the arena. You know that one of the important areas in the bloody battles of this country was the presence of high school students on the 13th of Aban. The issue was not only about university students, adults and the like. High school students and even kids younger than that, the elderly and people from various social backgrounds entered the arena in all cities and all villages. They were surprised at the phenomenon that had emerged. That is why they were intimidated. Well, with the passage of time, their surprise turned into more fear. As time passed, not only did they not become calm, but they also faced more problems, concerns, and worries. What was the reason? The reason was the reception that the Revolution had received all over the world.


The people in countries whose rulers were dependent on the US chanted slogans in favor of the Islamic Revolution. During the years 1978, 1979 – the beginning of the Revolution – almost all Islamic countries spoke, chanted slogans, delivered sermons and published articles in favor of the Islamic Revolution. This phenomenon really drove them mad. They witnessed that they had lost control of Iran. That was while they were previously dominant over it. They were afraid that the domination of revolutionary culture over nations and Muslim peoples would lead to a loss of control over other Islamic countries and governments as well. That is why they decided to destroy this Revolution at all costs. The war of the Ba'athist regime of Saddam against Iran began from this point.


Saddam was a person whom they knew; they knew who he was; they know political personalities around the world. That person [Saddam] had the potential to begin a selfish, overbearing, and oppressive movement. He was a sinful and aggressive personality type. During the Revolution, he was not the president of Iraq; someone else was the president – Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. But, they developed events in such a way that the president would be forced to step down; then, they replaced him with Saddam so they could force, encourage, and entice him [Saddam] into launching a military attack against Iran.


In the beginning, the military attack on Iran was launched with the excuse that they wanted to separate oil-rich areas from Iran to connect them with Iraq. They would repeat such statements; however, these were empty words. The underlying issue had nothing to do with oil-rich regions; rather, it was about the essence of the Iranian government and the Revolution. They wanted to destroy the Revolution. The powerful US and Europe stood behind Saddam and helped him as much as they could. They helped him as much as possible! Second, third-rate countries in Europe were not important. The central powers of Europe–England, France, Germany, and Italy—countries which had power and capability in Europe stood behind Saddam and supported him to the fullest.


And, at the beginning of the war, the troops of Saddam's regime were limited in number; and they had below average resources; but, with the passage of time – over a few years – these resources increased daily. However, war destroys resources. For example, at the beginning of the war we had tanks, but some of them were destroyed; we had some cannons, but many of them were ruined; we had ammunition, but all were used up; these things are naturally consumed during a war: war reduces resources. As the war went on, the resources of the Ba'athist regime increased. Who gave them these resources [weapons]? [It was]France, England, Germany, and the US.


The Soviet Union, too, despite the fact that it was against the US, cooperated with the US on this matter. There was a special reason for the Soviet Union’s actions: they had a fairly large number of Islamic republics. The Islamic movement and the Islamic Revolution of Iran would lead those republics to think about their Islamic identity. The Soviet government was not ready to tolerate this. As a result, the USSR stood alongside its old enemy, the US, on this issue–the issue of the war against Iran. So, those powers were compromised by the US, the Soviet Union, NATO, the member states of NATO comprised of European countries, the US and the like–and all other dominant powers in the world. They stood behind Saddam and against the Islamic Republic to destroy it: this was their goal.


The goal was not to conquer Khorramshahr, Qasr-e Shirin, and other such cities; rather, the goal was to occupy the whole of Iran. Saddam once said: "I am giving an interview here today, but next week I will be giving one in Tehran." They had prepared for such events: this [ultimate control of Iran] was the reason behind the eight-year war. The imposed war was a major international plot, hatched by the most powerful governments of the world, against the newly-emerged Islamic Republic. It appeared as if all the wild animals were out to attack a lonely, unarmed, and defenseless creature; in fact, it was much like this.


During the era of the defensive war, the Islamic Republic did not have an organized armed force nor did it have a systematic or disciplined intelligence service. It was the beginning of the Revolution and everything was a mess. The only thing that the Islamic Republic had was religiously devout people and a powerful leader like our magnanimous Imam [Khomeini]: this was the only thing that the people had. In the middle of the war, France gave its most advanced airplanes and helicopters to Iraq; and Germany provided Saddam's regime with chemical and toxic substances so that he could use them on the front lines.


[Ironically,] Those who are often attacking countries today, with accusations of chemical weapons use, officially and publicly gave chemicals to Saddam for making chemical bombs, and other chemical weapons, to use on the front lines. After the passage of 30 years, since the end of the war—almost 29 years have passed–we still have a fairly large number of soldiers suffering from the impacts of chemical weapons exposure. And many of them were martyred on this holy defensive path. It was the British and the Americans who caused this [destruction and injuries]. They helped him [Saddam] with war plans and satellites; all satanic apparatuses around the world helped that wretched, arrogant, and selfish Satanist–Saddam—against the Islamic Republic: they helped him with the intention of beginning, continuing, and ending the war in his favor.


Of course, all those efforts were like a bullet that targets rocks and soil. For eight years they killed themselves to usurp just one inch of the Islamic Republic's soil, but they failed. The people of Iran defeated all those powers throughout those eight years: this was the first point behind the cause of the war.


Another point is in regards to the quality of the eight-year war and the type of defensive strategies that our soldiers had organized. None of you, dear ones, remember that era of war. Of course, you naturally know some of our personalities, and you have read their books. I advise you to read the books that have been written about these dear, great, eternal, and, indeed, exceptional personalities. Our defense was extraordinary! It was accompanied by firm determination and willpower. In the field of war, determination, willpower, and decisiveness used to radiate.


Our defense was accompanied by faith, which means belief in one's cause and the falsehood of the enemy's claim: this is very important. In the arena, if a fighter believes in his cause, and in the truth of their path, this will help them progress. If this faith stands for faith in Allah and in divine power, then the outcome will be extraordinary. This is the same factor which helped Muslims achieve certain victories during the early Islamic era; this occurred in our era as well. There were elements of determination, faith, and self-sacrifice: the result of faith is self-sacrifice.


For our soldiers, laying down one's life was not of major concern: they were ready to lay down their lives on the path of God and jihad—for the sake of God. This is the meaning of self-sacrifice. The memoirs were written and are full of events about self-sacrifice. These are real lessons for all of us. Whenever I read one of these books–and I read them often–I feel humble because of the greatness within those acts of self-sacrifice.


Another characteristic of the Sacred Defense was the spirit of innovation and creativeness. If you take a look, you will see that our soldiers moved on from many traditions, in many armies of the world, which allegedly benefit from the experience. They created and discovered new paths: this was actually the case. One of the most important characteristics of our soldiers was innovation; and, after that, it was spirituality. Whenever ordinary and simple individuals joined the front lines, they would see that the front lines were these places where one witnesses sincerity and mystic enlightenment. And this happened in an involuntary manner.--This was a shared characteristic among our soldiers; so, that war built individuals. The Sacred Defense Era helped every one of our ordinary youth–including school and university students, businesspeople, villagers, laborers, farmers, literate, and illiterate individuals to improve their human aspects as they moved further in that arena of test and trial.


What do you think of important and outstanding personalities–the likes of Hemmat and Kharrazi? Shahid Hemmat and Shahid Kharrazi–who are exceptional legends–were average youth. It was the war that turned them into these outstanding, exceptional, and eternal personalities. Other examples are people like Bakeri and Burunsi. Those who used to listen to Ousta Abdul-Hussein–who was an illiterate bricklayer–know that he spoke like a sage and logical mentor; and he would convince the one on the other side [who was listening to him].


War builds individuals. That Sacred Defense, with the characteristics, that I mentioned, cultivates such individuals. Chitsazian was a seventeen, eighteen-year-old boy who entered the arena, and he became an eternal personality. He became a brilliant star whose statements I, you, and everyone else should benefit from. Thousands of youths like this were built during the era of war.


They had wisdom and acumen. If we think that they [defenders of Iran] only lowered their heads and struck at the enemy without any knowledge, this is a mistake. They used to fight with acumen and wisdom. The movement of our youth, in the arena of war, was a movement of intelligence and wisdom: they had wisdom, acumen, courage, boldness, self-sacrifice, and piety. During the day, they were the roaring lions of the arena, in the real sense of the word; and, at night, they were devout worshippers and supplicants in a real sense of the word. They were the lions of the day and the worshippers of the night: they were like this.


That is why Imam Khomeini issued a message in one of his very deep speeches: it happened following the liberation of one city. During the year 1981 an Iranian city was liberated: it was the liberation of Bostan, which was very important. After retreating, for a while, and after various failures, the liberation of Bostan was considered a great victory. Of course, what I will say is simply the gist of what he said. The exact quotation exists in the book: The Sahifa of Imam. He said that the most important victory is not about liberating a city, rather, the most important victory is cultivating and producing such youth: this is the most important victory, and this is really the case.


The most important victory for a country is achieved when its youth are intelligent, wise, religious, pious, and interested in supplication, shedding tears, worshipping God, and showing resistance in the face of the enemy. They should also have insight so they will not be deceived by propaganda campaigns that the enemies and their cohorts have launched, at all times, including the present time. When such youth exist in a country, that country will achieve immunity [from evils].


As I said, you are the future of the country. You are the future of the country! If you cultivate yourselves with these qualities, the country will soon–not in the distant future, rather in the near future–achieve a peak of transcendence and perfection in every area: including scientific, worldly, political and economic areas.--Youth is like this.


The identity of the Sacred Defense is the enmity of global powerful enemies who created this war, and the greatness and self-sacrifice of our youth finished it in our favor. They [the enemies] began the war with the intention of completely annihilating the Islamic Revolution: they entered the arena with this spirit; they did something to make the Islamic Republic stronger and more deeply-rooted on a daily basis. The Islamic Republic became stronger, indeed.


This is the identity of the Sacred Defense: this identity should be preserved and guarded. What you are doing–the movement of Rahian-e Noor throughout the country and the several million people, including the elderly and youth, who walk that path every year–is, in fact, one of the manifestations in protecting that enlightened era and reality.--This is the reality of the Sacred Defense.


Well, 40 years have passed from the victory of the Revolution, and you are not older than 18, 20, or 25. They expected that there would be no trace of Islam and the Revolution in the country when this generation–your generation–undertook responsibilities in the country. They expected that it would be the Americans, global powers, and Zionist capitalists who would dominate the policy of this country, the identity of this nation, and everything that this country own.--That was their expectation. They began the battle with this intention; they began the war with this intention; and they have continued, until today, these soft wars and hard war attacks with this intention.





But, what is the result today? The result is that there are some individuals among this generation whose talents to grow and to blossom is more than those of the previous generation. They also have more power in the face of the malicious, transgressing, and violent enemy. Without a doubt, if our youth managed to push the enemy back in those days, today our youth are much more prepared. They used tricks and hatched plots, but Islam, the Islamic Republic, and divine will foiled their plots. By Allah's favor, these plots will be foiled, more and more, on a daily basis. Good youth, you should prepare yourselves!


I would like to offer some words of advice about Rahian-e Noor: first of all, all organizations should help this movement in their own right. All the various organizations of the country, which can help this movement, should help. According to a report which was delivered, some organizations have helped a lot, but it is believed that this task should receive the attention of all organizations in the country. Another issue is that they should strengthen the cultural and social aspects of Rahian-e Noor as much as they can. They should understand how they can achieve cultural depth in this great popular movement. Then, they should pursue it and follow it up.


Another word of advice is in regards to the narrators. Those who narrate the events for these travelers and those who go to Rahian-e Noor areas should be completely trustworthy when it comes to narration. I am opposed to exaggeration and magnification: it is not at all necessary to exaggerate. What has happened is honorable, exciting, and appealing enough; and there is no need for us to embellish without any reason. Sometimes, it is heard that they increase the role of divine assistance in a way that is typical of ordinary people. Well, divine assistance definitely existed.--We were witness to this. We know that divine assistance existed, but it was not in the form that is sometimes portrayed.


Allah the Exalted definitely helps. In the Battle of Badr, Allah, the Exalted, ordered His angels to go and support the mujahids in the way of God. Allah the Exalted does so everywhere for sincere individuals, but we should not resort to exaggeration, magnification, and the like in narrating these events.


The prominent events of the Sacred Defense Era should be included in schoolbooks. The outstanding and prominent events that have taken place should be transferred to schoolbooks so that our youth can become familiar with these events. Well, many books have been written, but some of them are lengthy and detailed, and some people may not read them. We can separate parts of these books and include them in schoolbooks when there is room for such materials.


Ensuring the safety of dear travelers is a necessary issue which should receive attention. The brothers in charge should pay attention to this issue.


You should know that with this movement of Rahian-e Noor and with the motives that we witness in the youth of our country in different areas, the enemy will not be able to do a single thing against the people of Iran, from now on, as he has failed to do so over the past 40 years. Of course, they create some problems–for example, sanctions, economic matters, and various propaganda activities--these things exist. These measures create some problems for the people, but they cannot stop the people. When one's determination is strong enough, when decisions are serious for moving forward and making progress, when youth have the necessary insight to know their enemy, when they do not make a mistake in identifying the enemy, and when they do not weaken themselves on the decision to confront the enemy, the enemy will not be able to move, to strike, or to stop this great movement.


I hope that by Allah's favor, you, dear youth, will be able to help this country reach the peak of dignity and power in future eras when the keys of this country will be in your hands.


Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings