In a speech on Sunday June 4, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic suggested that “challenge and compromise have their own costs but a reasonable challenge is less costly than compromise.”
Khamenei, speaking on the 28th anniversary of ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini death asserted: “Challenging great powers is costly but compromising with them has its own costs, as well.”
Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic died in June 1989, ten years after ousting the pro-Western Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and adopting a confrontational policy towards the West and the U.S. in particular.
Iran’s foreign policy under Khomeini’s successor, Khamenei, especially its nuclear activities, regional interventions and constant propaganda and threats against the U.S. and Israel, led to Iran’s costly isolation in the last decade which hurt its economy. Many Iranians, even within the regime, began questioning Khamenei’s confrontational foreign policy.
In last month’s election, the incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani cautiously raised the issue by hinting that Iran needs good relations with the rest of the world.
Warning against cooperation with “arrogant” powers, Khamenei did not miss the chance to lash out at the Saudi Arabia. “The Saudi government, while seeking accommodation with the new president of the U.S., was forced to commit half of its financial resources to American goals and spend it according to their wishes.”
The Supreme Leader was referring to the recent arms deal between Riyadh and Washington which will cost Saudis more than $100 billion. Even Israel raised concerns about the deal; although President Trump’s administration has emphasized its commitment to maintain Israel’s security.
Khamenei, once again, reiterated that compromise has its own expenses too, but a “reasonable” challenge based on “logic” and along with confidence is much less costly than compromise.
Furthermore, Khamenei bluntly advised Iranian authorities: “Do not submit to bullying and do not let the [big] powers deceive you. As soon as you retreat, these powers will bring in new demands and their demands will never end.”
Referring to his own definition of being revolutionary, Khamenei reminded his audience: “The [regime’s] authorities are revolutionary when they do not set appeasement of the arrogant powers as their goal.”
His comments were blatantly in contrast with President Rouhani’s assertion during his campaign: “The meaning of the message hidden in [Iranian] people’s presence in the presidential election is [the necessity of] continuation of interaction with the world.”
But Khameni, showing little tolerance for dissent, strongly called on Iranian authorities to speak with one voice on foreign policy.
While Khamanei in his speech accused other countries of fomenting strife in Syria and elsewhere in the region, most Arab countries, Israel and the West are alarmed at Iran’s military role in Syria. Tehran has sent thousands of fighters to Syria and with its own admission, close to one thousand Iranians have died in battles against Bashar Assad’s opponents.