Cablegate: Iran: Khamenei Says System Will "Act Decisively" Against

DE RUEHDIR #0379/01 2571344
R 141344Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 9/14/2019


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CLASSIFIED BY: Alan Eyre, Director, Iran Regional Presence
Office, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: On September 11 Supreme Leader Khamenei gave the
main Tehran Friday Prayer sermon. In his comments Khamenei
sought to characterize his treatment of opposition in line with
the practices of both the first Shia Imam Ali and also with that
of his predecessor Ayatollah Khomeini. He said while criticism
within the framework of the existing political system was
acceptable, those fundamentally opposing the system and seeking
to harm the nation's security will be dealt with decisively. In
keeping with previous warnings about the "soft overthrow" of the
existing order, he cautioned against dissolution from within,
saying that the only way to prevent this was to remain true to
religion, revolutionary principles, and to Khomeini's teachings.
The recent Presidential election with its massive turnout
proved to the world that "regardless of whom the people voted
for" they still believed in the system. Referring to Iran's
position on the international stage, Khamenei said Iran took
pride in standing against the oppressive nature of its enemies
and that Iran wouldn't be cowed into relinquishing its rights,
"nuclear or non-nuclear." He called for a large turnout on the
September 18 Qods Day march in support of the Palestinian
people, although warning that this event should not be used to
"sow dissension," an implied reference to the fact that "Green
Path" oppositionists are reportedly seeking a massive turn-out
on this day as a show of strength.

2. (C) SUMMMARY (CONT): Although Supreme Leader Khamenei 's tone
was consistently mild, Iranian press and IRPO contacts have
interpreted this speech as a clear warning to the "Green Path"
oppositionist leaders to cease and desist, an interpretation
reinforced by the contemporaneous release of a Judiciary panel
report stating that Mehdi Karrubi's allegations of prisoner
abuse were both baseless and also politically motivated, and the
forwarding of this case to judicial authorities for possible
prosecution (reftel). END SUMMARY.

3. (U) On September 11, Supreme Leader Khamenei gave both Tehran
Friday Prayer Sermons (normally there are two, the first
covering ostensibly religious topics, the second focusing more
on issues of the day). As the date fell on the anniversary of
the martyrdom of Imam Ali, the first Shia Imam, the topic of his
first sermon was the government of Imam Ali. Although
putatively non-political in nature, Khamenei used this sermon to
set the stage for themes to which he would refer back in his
second, political, sermon. He pointed out the moral nature of
Imam Ali's government, adding that "when religion is separated
from politics, politics becomes immoral and secular." In an
implicit comparison with current times, he also stressed that
Imam Ali consistently preferred to be lenient in dealing with
those who opposed him, until and unless there was a threat to
the system, at which point he would act decisively.


4. (U) In the start of his second, political speech, Supreme
Leader Khamenei said he wished to address his remarks to those
in Iran's political sphere. Dissension had been a feature of
the Islamic Republic since its founding. These conflicts have
had different causes, to include theoretical differences of
opinion, conflicts of interest and clashing personalities.
Referring implicitly to his comments on the management style of
Imam Ali, Khamenei said that Khomeini's normal method for
dealing with dissension and conflict was to use moderation and
leniency. In an implicit reference to Mir Hossein Mousavi and
Mehdi Karrubi, each of whom has referred back to his own
revolutionary credentials, Khamenei said that at times Khomeini
had to deal with conflicts even with those who had solid
revolutionary backgrounds, at the level of the Prime Minister
(i.e. Mousavi himself), President (Khamenei himself) and even at
levels above the President (a reference to Khomeini's dismissal
of Supreme Leader-designate Ayatollah Montazeri).

5. (U) Khamenei said the system didn't seek to stifle those who
"think differently" (note: 'digar andishan," a term used to
refer to the intellectual current associated, inter alia, with
the Khatami-ist 'Second of Khordad' movement). It was good for
Iran's officials to have critics point out weaknesses if those

DUBAI 00000379 002.2 OF 003

doing so act within and accept the basic principles of the
system, and the government will not move against such criticism.

6. (U) However, again drawing the link to Imam Ali, Khamenei
said that during Khomeini's time if there were danger of
infiltration of "harmful principles" into the system, and if
this conflict were in some way a threat to core principles,
Khomeini would then "act decisively." The regime, much like any
human being, had to defend itself against such an attack.
Linking his actions to those of Imam Ali and Khomeini, Khamenei
said that today also the regime will act if it senses that
someone is acting against its principles and security.


7. (U) In keeping with recent dominant public warnings about
"soft overthrow" and "soft wars," Khamenei turned to the theme
of corruption from within, both at an individual and societal
level. At an individual level, deviation from principles and
susceptibility to corruption were to be avoided at all costs, as
small slips and mistakes could lead to larger ones in a slow and
gradual process. The cure for such threats is self-awareness,
piety and the ongoing moral policing of friends and family. If
such impiety is happening to a government official the problem
is worse, as it affects society.

8. (U) At a societal and governmental level, deviation from
principles and susceptibility to corruption can happen in much
the same manner. The decay comes from within, and although on
the outside the society can still appear like an "Islamic
Republic," on the inside it could suffer degradation and decay.
In this regard, societal dynamics can either be positive or
negative. Positive dynamics means moving ever closer towards
justice and religion, which improves social, political and
economic conditions and also improves society's abilities to
stand up to one's enemies. But a society with negative dynamics
will have growing class and social differences and worsening
political and economic conditions. Instead of using freedom for
growth, such a decaying society will abuse freedom to pursue
corruption, sin and dissension. Such negative dynamics also
cause the society to "feel weak and retreat" in the face of
one's enemy, unilateral disarmament and relinquishing one's
rights, nuclear and non-nuclear, which is another sign of
societal decline.


9. (U) Supreme Leader Khamenei said the June 12 Presidential
election with its massive turnout was a glorious triumph for the
Islamic Revolution. The turnout demonstrated to the world that
the Iranian people believed in their system of government now
more than ever, "regardless of who voted for whom. After the
election, the enemy sought to create disturbances in order to
diminish Iran's achievement and weaken the peoples' confidence
in the system, but to no effect. There will be similarly large
turnout in future elections, Khamenei predicted, showing the
ongoing support of the people.


10. (U) Supreme Leader Khamenei said all governments have
enemies, but what is important to note is the nature of one's
friends and enemies. Iran's friends are Muslim nations and
peoples throughout the world, and the oppressed of the world.
Its enemies are the thieves and oppressors of the world, and
Iran should not be scared to be the enemies of the U.S. and the
U.K. It was important for Iran to show strength in the face of
such enemies.

DUBAI 00000379 003.2 OF 003


11. (U) Supreme Leader Khamenei said that many on the global
stage have tried to bury the issue of Palestine, but Iran has
prevented that, a fact which has upset "the U.S. and the
Zionists." He called for a massive turnout of support on the
September 18 Qods Day Rally in Tehran, and cautioned all that no
one should use this event to sow dissension, an implicit
reference to "Green Path" opposition plans to use this
authorized march as a show of its own strength.

12. (C) COMMENT: Although his tone was mild, Iran oppositionist
press in addition to IRPO interlocutors with ties to the "Green
Path" opposition have said that, in the words of one source,
"Khameni's speech was being viewed ominously in Iran,"
especially when viewed in conjunction with the contemporaneous
release of a Judiciary panel report stating that Mehdi Karrubi's
allegations of prisoner abuse were both baseless and also
politically motivated, and forwarding the case to judicial
authorities for possible prosecution (reftel). According to one
executive branch official, Khamenei's speech has made "the
specter of the arrest of Karrubi - and possibly even Mousavi at
a later stage" all the more probable.

13. (C) COMMENT (CONT): Contrary to Khamenei's assertions and as
evidenced by recent comments by IRGC Commander Jaafari, the
regime's interpretation of legitimate dissent has constricted
dramatically, with Jaffari equating "soft overthrow" with those
seeking to change Iran's behavior in any way. Certainly,
Khamenei seems to be trying to regain the high ground he
forfeited by descending so openly into the political fray, as
shown by his attempts to draw comparisons among himself,
Khomeini, and Imam Ali. Separately, the Supreme Leader's
formulation of "relinquishing ones rights, nuclear or
non-nuclear" as a sign of societal dissolution and immorality
indicates that Iran will continue to adhere to its hard public
line in advance of any future negotiations. Finally, it is also
worth noting that Supreme Leader Khamenei made no endorsement,
either explicit or implicit, of President Ahmadinejad, saying
only that the recent Presidential election was good due to the
turnout, "regardless of who voted for whom." END COMMENT.

© Scoop Media

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