Ayatollah Khamenei dispels misperceptions about Sacred Defense

September 21, 2020 - 21:4

TEHRAN – During a speech on the occasion of the beginning of the Sacred Defense on Monday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei addressed a variety of issues concerning the eight-year war the former Iraqi regime imposed on Iran.

On September 22, 1980, Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator, launched a massive war on the newly-established Islamic Republic of Iran that lasted until the summer of 1998. The war martyred hundreds of thousands of Iranian people while defending their country. After eight years of fighting, Iran and Iraq reached an agreement to end the war.

In a speech delivered via videoconference, the Leader said Saddam’s war was in fact a U.S. campaign against Iran meant to topple the country’s political system.

“The U.S. and other powers started a war with the purpose of overthrowing the Islamic Republic, but they were defeated. Iran’s victory in this war is as clear as the existence of the sun. The whole world did whatever it could, but they failed to achieve their goal in the end. Is there any victory better than this?” the website affiliated with the Leader’s office quoted him as saying.

The Leader’s remarks come at a time when Farsi-language foreign media outlets, particularly those funded by Western governments, constantly cast doubts on Iran’s victory in the eight-year war, commonly known as the Sacred Defense. In addition, there have been efforts to distort the history of the Sacred Defense to create misperceptions about it.

Other high-ranking officials have also raised the alarm about these distortions.

“We are determined to preserve the history of the Sacred Defense, which is an invaluable resource for national growth, the country’s progress, dignity, security, health, independence and freedom of the current generation and the future generations. We are determined to protect the history of the Sacred Defense from any distortion and deviance,” the Defapress news agency quoted Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri as saying on Monday.

The top general also said more than 4,000 literary and historical books have been published under the supervision of his forces in the past four years, all to ensure that the history of the Sacred Defense is not distorted.
Ayatollah Khamenei and General Bagheri made the remarks at a commemoration ceremony for honoring more than one million war veterans of the eight years of Sacred Defense.

During his speech, the Leader underlined the need to counter the “distortion movement,” which aims to spread misinformation about the principles of the Islamic Republic and sow doubts among the youth, who were born in the last years of the war or after it and thus have no live memory of the war.
“The more we get away from the Sacred Defense, the closer we should get to it in terms of knowledge because distortive hands are lying in ambush,” said the Leader, underlining the need to foil the efforts of enemies to distort the fact that Iran’s victory in the Sacred Defense was a “result of Imam Khomeini’s amazing leadership.”

As disinformation campaigns against the Islamic Republic reached a critical point in recent months, the Leader sought to put more emphasis on the distortion movement.

“In parallel with sanctions, there is a movement of distortion: Distortion of facts, subversion of realities, whether the realities of our country or the realities related to our country,” the Leader said on July 31, 2020.

In recent years, many facts and principles of the Islamic Revolutions have come under attack. For example, foreign media outlets have sought to downplay Iran’s victory in the eight-year war and whitewash the crimes committed during the former regime of Iran. However, the Leader has dispelled these misperceptions on many occasions including in the Monday commemoration ceremony.

During the Qajar and Pahlavi rules, Iran fought many wars and lost a lot of territories. Iran also fought wars after the establishment of the Islamic Republic but it did not lose “one inch of Iran’s land,” according to the Leader.

He said over the past one or two centuries Iran always suffered defeat in the wars that it was involved in and lost part of its territories. “However,” Ayatollah Khamenei added, “in the war that Saddam waged against Iran, he failed to separate even one inch of Iran’s land even though the U.S., the Soviet Union, and NATO were supporting him.”

The Islamic Republic was able to clinch victory against Saddam, who was backed by almost all Western countries.

“Despite the whole-hearted support that many countries in the world offered to the Ba’athist regime of Iraq, Iran was able to emerge victorious in the war,” the Leader asserted.

He also alluded to the humiliation brought about by the Pahlavi regime to Iran. He said when Mohammad Reza Shah came into the room where Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin was meeting in Tehran, Churchill and Roosevelt didn’t stand up to show respect for the Shah. Only Stalin stood up in an effort to gain the heart of the shah.

While enemies of the Islamic Republic often seek to portray the Sacred Defense as a war between two neighboring countries that led to the destruction of both countries’ infrastructure, the Leader said Imam Khomeini knew, from the start, that the war wasn’t an ordinary war.

“Since the beginning, our late Imam knew that the war between Iraq and Iran was not an ordinary war between two neighboring countries. He knew who the main enemy in the war was and realized that Saddam was a mere instrument. He always said that the U.S. was worse than the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union worse than the U.S., and England worse than both of them. In other words, he had understood that these powers were the main elements working behind the scenes of the war,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The possible reason behind Imam Khomeini’s decision to accept UN Security Council Resolution 598 is another misperception about the Sacred Defense that the leader shed light on.

“The Sacred Defense was one of the most rational events of the Iranian nation. Some accuse the Sacred Defense’s people of recklessness. This is absolutely not the case. Even accepting the resolution in that circumstances that the Imam interpreted as drinking the cup of poison, was wise. If he was not prudent and wise, the Imam would not have done it. We watched closely and saw what was going on. The move was very wise,” the Leader pointed out.

Resolution 598 was adopted unanimously on 20 July 1987. It called for an immediate ceasefire between Iran and Iraq. Iran accepted the resolution nearly a year later. Imam Khomeini famously said at the time that accepting the resolution was like drinking from a poisoned chalice. Since then, different narratives have emerged about the reason behind the Imam’s decision. For some political factions, it was a precedent of how the country can show flexibility at times of difficulty. For others, it was only a superficial change in the nature of the war against enemies.

“In fact, accepting Resolution 598 was not the end of the war, but it marked the shift of battlefield from military sphere to cultural and discursive spheres,” wrote Seyed Pouyan Hosseinpour, a political analyst, on his Telegram messaging app. The analysts based his claim on the content of the Imam Khomeini message that was issued on the occasion of accepting the resolution.

According to Hosseinpour, Imam Khomeini never said a word about the end of the war in his message. Instead, he underlined the non-geographical nature of the war against Zionism and Communism, the analyst pointed out.

However, the distortion movement appears to be seeking to put the Imam’s decision into the broader context of reaching compromise and negotiated deals with the West. This may be the reason why the people behind the distortion movement are widely seen as the ones who make efforts the pave the way for a new round of negotiations with the Western countries, which reneged on their commitment under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers.   

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