Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, an ultraconservative cleric and the spiritual father of the hard-line Paydari (Steadfastness) Party in Iran, says, "Iran has only less than a handful of real friends in the world."
Speaking to a group of conservative university lecturers on September 5, Mesbah-Yazdi said, "I do not want to make disparaging comments, but most of the nations of the world are thirsty for our blood, and a few others are simply indifferent to us. They might speak softly, but they are our enemies."
He suggested that Iranians should mobilize their forces against the world "as they are using economic and cultural tools against us," the Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA, quoted him as saying.
Mesbah-Yazdi added, "When official authorities are not prepared to defend the people against the enemies, the people should be mobilized to enter the scene."
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also spoke about "the enemies' economic and media war" against Iran in an address to the Assembly of Experts on September 6.
Mesbah-Yazdi, who is chancellor of a major international academic institute in Qom that trains Muslim clerics from various countries, has been characterized by Iran's reformist media as the "theoretician of violence," and the mastermind of the murdering of Iranian intellectuals and activists killed by those former President Mohamad Khatami called "rogue elements in Iran's Intelligence Ministry" in the late 1990s.
Most recently when hard-line clerics at the Qom Seminary implicitly threatened President Hassan Rouhani during an early August rally, moderate cleric Mohamad Javad Hojjati warned Mesbah-Yazdi, "Fingers are pointed at you and the Paydari Party," ISNA reported.
The party supported ultraconservative President Mahmud Ahmadinejad but ceased to express support for him openly when Ahmadinejad fell out with Khamenei during the last years of his presidency.
According to centrist daily newspaper Arman, Mesbah-Yazdi had charged in March that Western countries are encouraging Iranian women to abandon compulsory hijab. "This had gradually started from women refusing to cover their hair properly and has progressed to a point that women want to go to stadiums so that Western liberties would be enforced in our society," he said, warning that "this would leave no room for the Islamic rules."
Arman said that there appears to be a conflict between Mesbah-Yazdi's attitude toward the West during the 1990s and what he is suggesting now. The daily noted that Mesbah-Yazdi was an advocate of sending young clerics to Europe, the United States, and Canada and has boasted of "having visited more than 40 countries."
Former MP Morteza Aqa-Tehrani, a younger cleric who had studied in Canada, led the Paydari Party for a few years.
Nevertheless, Mesbah-Yazdi criticized Rouhani for having studied in the West, and criticized others for having studied particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, Arman observed.
"Unfortunately, those who have studied in the UK, the United States, and France have instigated the most important cultural deviations in Iran, as their mental structure was formed in those countries, " Arman quoted Mesbah-Yazdi as saying.
The Rouhani administration allocated 28 billion tumans of the budget to Mesbah-Yazdi's academic institute, the Imam Khomeini Academic and Research Institute, for the current year, ISNA reported last December.