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Khamenei Speaks Softly About Trump, Lashes Out At Saudi Arabia, Bahrain

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei performs Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in Tehran,June 5, 2019
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei performs Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in Tehran,June 5, 2019

An unprecedented change of tone about U.S. President Donald Trump turned out to be the highlight of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech on the 30th anniversary of his predecessor's death on Tuesday June 4.

Contrary to his usually derogatory remarks about Trump, Khamenei called him "The respectful President of the United States," while welcoming with a smile his recent remarks about Iran being able to progress with its current leaders.

Iranian politicians, including prominent reformist figure Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, and reformist journalist Farid Modarresi noted the difference.

However, Khamenei immediately characterized Trump's comment as "sly remark made by the president of the United States," and made it clear that he got the point made by trump when he said Trump's comment "means: ‘current leaders of Iran! We don’t want to overthrow you.’ This is a sly political game," Khamenei said according to his official website.

In late April Trump decided to completely chock off Iran’s oil exports by denying exemptions to a handful of countries to buy Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions.

This was followed by deployment of more U.S. forces to the region as indications of Iranian threats rose. But as tensions reached a high point, Trump began sounding more conciliatory, repeatedly voicing readiness to talk with Iran without preconditions. He repeated his preference for talks in an interview in London June 4.

In another speech on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, on June 5, Khamenei changed his usual subject of attacking the United States and its leaders, and mainly talked about the Palestinian question, punctuating his speech with remarks against Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, although he did not totally spare America.

Elsewhere during the June 4 speech, when the audiences chanted the slogan "Neither compromise, nor surrender-Combat against America," Khamenei stopped the crowd, reminding them that he was taking about "resistance" against America and that "combat is a different matter."

Then he went out of his way to define "resistance" in the mildest way he possibly could: "What is the meaning of resistance? Resistance means choosing the right path, the correct path, and starting to travel along that path with the obstacles unable to stop the progress," Khamenei said.

He added: "Every time the Iranian people held on to resistance, they became victorious and advanced forward. The Front of Resistance is a strong front today. Whenever we, the Iranian nation, held onto resistance and advanced and succeeded, others were also encouraged to resist."

Further encouraging resistance, Khamenei said: " They want to see us defeated. They want us to give up. They want us to raise our hands as a sign of surrender. As we do not do so, they show hostility."

The next day, June 5, speaking on the Eid al-Fitr, Khamenei dedicated his sermon mainly to the Palestinian question and "The Deal of the Century"; the U.S. initiative for peace in the Middle East, calling it "America's treacherous plan." He mainly avoided U.S.-Iran tensions, which came as a surprise.

Referring to the summit planned for June 24 and 25 in Bahrain to discuss the roadmap for the peace plan, Khamenei said: "The summit that is to be held in Bahrain belongs to the U.S. But the rulers of Bahrain, with their various weaknesses and faults, and their anti-democratic and anti-Islamic spirit have layed its foundations and have committed themselves to the organization of this summit. This summit aims to help realize the treasonable and wicked plot by the United States— what they have called as the Deal of the Century.”

Khamenei reminded his audience that the move by Saudi and Bahraini governments will turn out to be their detriment and added: "The rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia do not understand what a quagmire they are stepping into. This will of course not succeed and the Deal of the Century will never gather momentum by the grace of God, God willing," his official website quoted him as saying.

Khamenei advised the Muslim countries that have boycotted "the treasonous summit" and maintained: "We appreciate those Muslim and Arab countries, as well as Palestinian groups who opposed it."