On the road, Iran's Khamenei sets stage for a less democratic future
During a nine-day provincial tour, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei pushed for voter participation in upcoming elections, but also suggested that a directly elected president might become a thing of the past.
(Page 3 of 3)
In another, on Sunday, he said: "In case American officials are living in their dreams, they should know that any wrong move – be it political or security – will face a strong response for the Iranian nation."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Addressing 'Occupy Wall Street' movement
Referring to the Occupy Wall Street protests, Khamenei lectured Western officials: "You have turned your back on your own people and you are hated by the majority of your people, but the situation of the Islamic Republic is the opposite..."
Iran was moving toward a nation marked by "justice, freedom, [and] giving a role to play in ... determining their destiny," Khamenei averred. Meanwhile, Western intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya showed "they pursue evil goals," and so "we decisively say that the kind of democracy that is common in the West is for the most part fake and shaky."
Khamenei also blamed the US for fanning "Iranophobia," while losing ground to what he calls the "Islamic Awakening" of the Arab Spring people power revolutions that have toppled dictators this year in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.
Rarely mentioned in Khamenei's worldview is the fact that Iran played virtually no role in those events, nor, it would appear, in inspiring them with their own 1979 revolution, as he claims.
If anything, antigovernment protesters in those countries often say they were partially inspired by the pro-democracy street protests in Iran in 2009 – not by the lethal government crackdown.
Also rarely mentioned by Khamenei are the months-long antigovernment protests in Syria, which threaten the rule of Iran's close ally President Bashar al-Assad. With more than 3,000 dead in Syria, according to the UN, Iran considers the uprising a case of "sedition" – not "awakening."
"There are times when I look at Khamenei's speeches, and I think – how shall I put it diplomatically? – he has his own very particular views about what's happening in the Middle East that don't always reflect what's going on on the ground," says Alireza Nader, an Iran expert at RAND Corp., in Arlington, Va. "There is this sense of self-confidence in Iran, among certain elements of the Iranian government, that is misplaced."