Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames foreign intelligence for everything from the depreciating value of the national currency to in-fighting among the country’s intelligence services and general discord in the country.
Speaking to a group of top security officials at the Intelligence Ministry April 18, Khamenei said the Islamic Republic is engaged in a “complicated intelligence war” against the “enemy.” He further warned that intelligence personnel must put aside political differences and work together to fight that enemy, and take an offensive stance, as defense is no longer sufficient.
“The footprints of foreigners and their intelligence services was obvious in the recent chaos in Iran’s currency market,” Khamenei remarked, adding that “offensive measures must be carried out.”
“The officials of the Islamic Republic have repeatedly claimed that Tehran’s military doctrine is based on defense and prevention,” UK based military analyst Hossein Aryan told Radio Farda. “However, Khamenei’s latest comments on the necessity of designing an ‘offense plan’ is a blatant confirmation of what the Islamic Republic’s intelligence apparatuses have repeatedly done in the past. Furthermore, Khamenei has called for cooperation among the country’s parallel intelligence services who have a record of competition with each other.”
Branding “any type of partisanship” in the Intelligence Ministry as a “sin,” Khamenei said foreign enemies of the Islamic Revolution are trying to manipulate public opinion, sew economic chaos, and foment unrest. He also accused foreign intelligence of stealing state secrets through cyber-attacks.
Some of Iran’s government departments have indeed been targeted by cyber-attacks in recent years. The website of Iran’s Central Bank was attacked in June 2011 and its internal network was shut down. That same year Iran’s Oil Ministry disclosed that its computer system was the target of a cyber-attack.
Though it is the first time Khamenei has openly spoken about an “offense plan” for cyber warfare, Western countries have repeatedly accused Iran of engaging in cyber-attacks.
Most recently, on March 23 the Trump administration imposed sanctions on one Iranian institution and ten Iranian citizens for hacking the computers of hundreds of American and international universities.
In an interview with Radio Farda, Paris based political analyst Morteza Kazemian said Khamenei’s comments on “enemies” and their role in creating problems for the Islamic Republic are not unprecedented.
“Sadly, the leader of the Islamic Republic has once again decided to point the finger at foreign enemies rather than focusing on the internal roots of the crises Iran is suffering from,” he said.