Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says the United States will be "expelled from Iraq and Syria," adding that "The U.S. government’s long-term performance has led to abhorrence by a major part of the world."
Khamenei’s remarks came during a virtual meeting via video teleconference on Sunday May 17 with a group of students and the members of student political, scientific, and cultural associations in Tehran.
Khamenei also accused the United States of "warmongering, helping notorious governments, training terrorists, unconditional support for oppression and the like."
The U.S., several regional counties and at times leading European states have accused Iran of exporting violence and extremism to other countries. It seemed Khamenei was intent to blame the United States for the same behaviour it stands accused of.
He said "Other than the nations, many of the leaders of the states that cooperate with America privately reveal their hatred and distrust of the United States."
The Americans say clearly that they have deployed forces to Syria because it has oil. But "the Americans won’t stay in Iraq and Syria; they’ll be expelled."
Although Khamenei's official website highlighted his remark about "expelling America from Iraq and Syria" on its English front-page, the message to the domestic audiences on the Persian page was about the 2021 Presidential election.
Addressing the students, he called for a young administration and president after 2021, but at the same time made it clear that "I do not mean Iran's next president should be a 32-year-old man."
After listening to questions by the students, he also made it clear that he was addressing the Iranian youths "who own the future of Iran" calling on them "to hoist the flag of idealism, be inquisitive, voice their demands without aggression, try to expand the revolutionary front, do not pay too much attention to differences in tastes, distance themselves from those who question the foundations of the Islamic revolution and be alert to the enemy's plots against Iranian youths.
In repeated widespread protests since 2017, throngs of young Iranians have come out into the streets to demand an end to corruption and mismanagement in the country and at times they have even demanded an end to the Islamic system of government.
However, hardliners in Iran led by Khamenei have blamed the protests on foreign enemies, while security forces keep a tight lid over citizens.
Khamenei said "Iran is facing a widespread front of oppression, blasphemy and imperialism that wishes to make the Islamic Iran surrender. If they succeed, it will be too costly for the future of the country."
He said the enemies wish to stop Iran in order to prevent it from becoming a desirable model to be followed by other nations. "but Iran's military and non-military experiences during the past 40 years prove that it has all the potentials to defeat its enemies."
As an example of Iran's capabilities, Khamenei said that in comparison to what has been done in the West, Iran's scientific success in its effort to know the virus, as well as the launching of a satellite into the space have led Iranians to believe they are power and dignified.
He called on the youth to be idealists and demand justice and elimination of corruption in a bid to create an Islamic civilization. But he warned that their demands should be voiced in a way that would not be mistaken for protest.
Khamenei once again explained his idea about a new "young and Hezbollah government," as an administration that is always ready to work to solve the country's problems.
"Some people remain young despite their age. Martyr Haj Qassem Soleimani was 60 years old, but I would have kept him in the same position for another ten years if he was not martyred," Khamenei said.
Meanwhile, Khamenei suggested that the youth should expand the revolutionary front. "There might be a difference of opinion between you and others who also believe in the fundamentals of the Islamic revolution. Assimilate them and expand the revolutionary front as much as you can," he said. "But never compromise with those who question the fundamentals of the revolution."
He said at the end of his speech, "We should take care of our youth to prevent their recruitment by the enemies."