July 20, 2015 | Policy Brief

Post-Deal, Khamenei’s Remarks as Belligerent as Ever

“Our policy toward the arrogant U.S. government won’t change at all,” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei assured Iranians in his address Saturday marking the end of Ramadan. Lest his message was unclear, he later added on Twitter that Washington’s “policies in the region differ … 180 degrees from Iran’s” and that the Islamic Republic would “never surrender to enemies’ excessive demands.”

Khamenei’s latest broadside against the United States was not an isolated incident, but part of a deliberate ratcheting-up of rhetoric since last week’s nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). With Iranian hardliners criticizing any negotiations whatsoever with the “Great Satan,” the supreme leader felt it necessary to underscore that Tehran remains committed to opposing American interests anytime and anywhere.

The speech – which Khamenei delivered with a semi-automatic weapon by his side – can be separated into three main sections.

First was condemnation of what he dubbed American “triumphalism” and “false boasting” of having forced Tehran to the nuclear negotiation table and surrender to its dictates. American presidents who have dreamt of the Islamic Republic’s capitulation, Khamenei warned, “took that dream to their graves.”

Second was a long survey of American “sins” against Iran, from the 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh to backing the Shah, and from supporting Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War to accidentally shooting down a civilian airliner in 1988. Khamenei then warned the U.S. president against further “mistakes” in his government’s approach to Iran and the Middle East.

Third, Khamenei made clear that he had authorized the nuclear negotiations for the sake of “expediency,” but that the Islamic Republic would not stop supporting its “friends in the region – the oppressed people of Palestine, of Yemen, the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the oppressed people of Bahrain and sincere resistance fighters in Lebanon and Palestine.”

Khamenei’s remarks yet again underline that the nuclear deal signed last week is unlikely to yield a thaw in U.S.- Iranian relations, as the supreme leader continues to perceive the United States as a permanent strategic enemy. This could make it more challenging to enforce the JCPOA, not to mention the efforts to curb Iran’s concerted attempts to destabilize the region as it stands to gain some $100 billion in sanctions relief.

Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Find him on Twitter: @Alfoneh


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