As the new year started in Iran, the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei addressed his domestic audience about setbacks in the past year, trying to instill some optimism, but he refrained from his fiery attacks on the United States.
Iran's state TV broadcast an unusually long pre-recorded video of Khamenei's Nowruz (Iranian New Year) message early Friday March 20.
Some were wondering about his absence from the scene for the past two weeks, but the message showed he is healthy and perhaps shielding himself from coronavirus.
Khamenei cancelled his New Year speech at the holy shrine in Mashhad and instead offered a longer televised message.
The New Year message started with his condolences on the occasion of the death anniversary of the 7th Shiite Imam Musa ibn Ja'far, continued with congratulations for the anniversary of the ordainment of the prophet, and Nowruz was the last occasion on which he congratulated Iranians.
In his New Year message, Khamenei remembered his fallen soldiers in the proxy wars in the region, most notably former Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. However, he also mentioned those who lost their lives in the IRGC missile attack on a civilian aircraft in January and the medical staff who died while treating coronavirus patients.
However, in listing the events of last year, Khamenei probably deliberately forgot to mention the November protests during which some 1,500 were killed by his security forces.
"I deem it necessary to express both my congratulations and my condolences to the families of the martyrs of the year 1398 including the martyrs defending the holy shrines and the martyrs of defending the country's borders, especially our dear and great martyr – Shahid Soleimani, his companions and Shahid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as well as the martyrs of the Kerman incident, the martyrs of the airplane incident and the martyrs on the path of health, who achieved the high rank of death and martyrdom God’s path while they were rendering services to patients. " Khamenei said.
"I believe that all these incidents will turn out to be to the advantage of the Iranian nation", Khamenei said trying to sound confident.
Khamenei then summarized the events of last year as "a tumultuous year… that began with the floods and ended with the coronavirus." He also mentioned "Floods, earthquakes, sanctions and the like," as if sanctions were also natural calamities.
But, he said, there were also "a number of achievements some of which were unprecedented." However, when he began to mention these achievements, they were mainly "acts of sacrifice" made by the people, most recently during the COVID-19 outbreak. "And I want them to know that divine rewards – both worldly and otherworldly – awaits them," He said.
For the year ahead, Khamenei's suggestion was that Iranians "should confront subsequent events with hope and by keeping up their morale as well and they should rest assured that bitter events will pass." Citing a verse from the Koran he said: “Verily, with every difficulty there is relief,” assuring Iranians that "Relief will surely await the Iranian nation. There is no doubt about this."
Khamenei who had called the past year "the year of boosting production" said that although everyone worked hard, still what was accomplished was "not even one-tenth of what the country needs."
He said "This means that we need to do ten times more work – including research, work related to production and various other tasks – so that boosting production can exert its effects in the lives of the people. Last year, production was raised, and it moved forward, but its effects in the lives of the people were not yet tangible. We should make production reach a point where it can influence the people’s lives. Of course, the economic issues of the country are many."
Khamenei's solution for the new year was another slogan. "Last year’s slogan was Boosting Production … This year is the year of Surge in Production. This is the slogan of the year. Officials should act in a way that production will witness a surge, God willing, and that there will be a tangible change in the lives of the people." Whether Khamenei has run out of new slogans or not, the new motto is the same as last year’s, with using a different synonym for “boosting”.
Knowing about Iran's isolation and its problems in the area of international relations, Khamenei called on Iranians to rely on the domestic market if they can produce anything: "Considering the large market that exists inside the country, if we manage to boost production, the main activity will be in our domestic market with our eighty-million population, despite the fact that production needs foreign markets. Of course, we can interact with foreign markets as well. If we can move production forward, God willing, economic problems will definitely come to an end and the sanctions that they imposed will prove to be to our advantage."