Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (file photo)
Nearly three months after Iran's supreme leader ayatollah
Khamenei made a weighty trip to Qom, where the country's senior ayatollahs
reside, Rooz has obtained the full text of the talk that he delivered at the
second meeting with the Qom Theological Seminary Teachers Association. The
speech is important because in it ayatollah Khamenei talked about Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's administration, and earlier governments, throwing light on issues
and thoughts that play out behind the public eye in Iran. The trip was a
milestone in ayatollah Khamenei's standing with the senior clerics some of whom
have been known to disapprove of his post-2009 presidential election policies,
and because of its impact, he postponed he return to Tehran for a day beyond the
schedule for this meet-and-talk event with the clerics.
On the third day of his trip to the city of Qom on October 23, 2010, ayatollah Khamenei met with the Teachers Association and gave a talk to the clerics present. But the more controversial meeting was the second meeting that the ayatollah had with the Teachers Association. After that, the office of the leader announced the contents of the meeting, but more importantly some of the clerics from the association revealed the contents of the meeting and talks to Fars news agency, which describe Khamenei's reasons for supporting Ahmadinejad's administration and his criticism of earlier governments.
Soon after their posting on Fars' website, these remarks by the clerics were taken off the sites, but they continued to be posted on other news sites. The full text of Mr. Khamenei's speech obtained by Rooz belongs to the talk that the leader delivered at the second meeting with the Teachers Association. It is the direct transcript of the original audio file of Khamenei's speech. Here are the details.
In his lecture, ayatollah Khamenei acknowledges that debate over supporting, opposing, criticizing, etc Ahmadinejad's administration exists in all quarters of the Iranian polity, including the Teachers Association, and the public at large. "I would like to inform you that there was a time when there were efforts in this country to create a dual authority (in the country). They really invested in this." He clarified this not to be just two executive branches each making its own independent decisions, but to "push velayat fagih (rule of the clerics) completely aside and create a rival to it." He pointed out that those who pursued that goal first targeted the administration and failed. Then they focused on the Majlis. And finally they came up with the notion of creating a complete dual authority. "The Americans and the Europeans at the time too were saying the same thing," he added.
"Since Ahmadinejad has come in, there the issue of dual authority does not exist: there is only one authority. This means the government and the leadership are in line. I say this with full authority. This of course does not mean that there are no differences or that some minister or the president is wrong in his views. These have always existed. And there are differences between my views and the president's. There are many differences. There are times when something is absolutely clear to me , I say something should not be done, and they really listen and stop it," Khamenei said at the gathering.
"There are other times when some issues are not definitive enough for me to stop them, and so while I disagree with them, I do not intervene. There are many such issues too. But the overriding theme is that of concurrence. There are some areas that I do not intervene at all. Economics is one. Issues relating to the foreign exchange rate, banking interest rates, etc are some of the issues they have asked and expect me to comment on. But I do not," Khamenei continued.
The supreme leader specifically said that he sometimes stops the government on some issues. "Different ideas come in. Sometimes I come to specific, clear conclusions, but mostly I do not because I am not the expert in them. And so I do not intervene. On issues that I have a clear view I intervene and prevent them from taking place."
Talking about his support, Khamenei said. "I support all governments ranging from the cabinet, the executive branch and the other officials. I have supported all administrations, even though some of them were not in line with us. But weakening them was not in the interest of the country. We would do everything we could in private but in public we would support them. I have supported them. The current administration is on the right path, even though it makes mistakes in different areas."
I Have Rebuked As Well
Responding to criticism by some of the clerics at the session for the remarks that presidential aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashai had made over the Iranian versus the Islamic school of thought, friendship with the people of Israel, etc, ayatollah Khamenei said, "I did not get the sense that they are after pitting anything against Islam. I certainly did not like what they did." Ayatollah Khamenei clearly expressed his displeasure with the comments and the person who made them by further saying, "Just yesterday this person came to me and again raised something. I told him not to continue with this Iranian stuff. I rebuked him. I do not like to do it but I do not understand if they really want to raise this Iranian school against Islam. This does not emerge to be the case by looking at a range of evidence in their work. They may have made a mistake, but that is not the case."
Khamenei also had plenty to say about previous administrations. "In the past some things were done that were really concerning. Today, when the president meets with anyone in the world and talks, I have no concerns. I do not even know. But I am not concerned. I know that nothing against the revolution and the general policies of the state will be said. It is possible that they may something different for the sake of formality, but nothing will be done. I am confident about this. This was not the case in the past. If we were not vigilant, something would take place."
Referencing the administration of Mohammad Khatami, Iran's supreme leader said, "They came to me and said that they wanted to borrow money from the World Bank. Those who are knowledgeable in monetary issues know how dangerous this is. Furthermore, we had no need for money. But they insisted. I told them not to do it. The president told me this the first time, some eight or nine years ago. I told them not to do it as it was not in our interest. Then a number of banking, economic and monetary specialists came and talked to me and said that we needed this and so had to do it. I realized then that this whole issue had been planned in advance and that they were bent on doing it. Next time I met the president I told him that if they went ahead with it, I would announce my opposition to it. They got scared and did not pursue it. That is how things were in those days. Today, however, things like this do not happen."
Then ayatollah Khamenei turned to Hashemi Rafsanjani's administration and said, "When Kohl was the chancellor of Germany he had good relations with the president. They spoke on the phone and what not. I approved of the contacts. He had appointed a special representative who would come to Tehran to talk and made the arrangements. One day the president showed me a piece of paper and said that they had written it and wanted the representative of the president to submit it to the German visiting representative. When I looked at the text, I saw that they had asked the Germans to express their expectations from the Islamic republic. This was a very dangerous thing to do. I got very annoyed and sent a message that they had no right to have any expectations from us. Who is he? Who is Germany to treat Iran in this way? They (the Germans) had said that they would fulfill whatever we (Iranians) wanted from Europeans. Based on this, they had written a list of items as their wishes. I questioned all of this and said if they wanted to have relations with Belgium, Italy, Austria, etc, why did you have to tell them (the Germans)?"
Then turning to the members of the Teachers Association, Khamenei said, "You see, the error was a fundamental one. If someone was not vigilant, they would have gone ahead with it. Today such things do not happen."
Ayatollah Khamenei also addressed the desire of Khatami's administration to recognize Israel and Palestine simultaneously and said, "They came to me then and said that they planned to announce that they recognize both states in Palestine. Two states. You see how flawed this is. I displayed some anger and then after two or three sessions ended this issue. Today, such things do not happen. In those days I was not confident. Today there is one direction and path that they are following."
At the end of his talk, Khamenei encouraged his audience to advice officials and the government on what they thought and what should be done. He said public advice and criticism should be reserved for only special occasions as needed.
Mr. Khamenei finished his talk by asking his listeners to present their advice if they had any, promising to utilize them.
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