Iran's leader Sunday showed the first public sign of readiness to compromise with the West over the nuclear issue, while maintaining enmity with the United States.
In a televised speech Sunday morning Ali Khamenei said that "Negotiations with the enemy at a certain juncture does not necessarily mean surrendering." The anti-Western ruler of Iran tried to convey the message to his hardliner supporters that although he is prepared for another round of "heroic flexibility"in a bid to have sanctions lifted, his opposition to the United States is unwavering.
"Not surrendering to the enemies, is one of the principles of the Islamic revolution. However, holding talks and negotiating with the enemy at a certain juncture does not mean surrendering to it. We have never surrendered so far, and we never will," Khamenei said.
Khamenei’s statement comes after many politicians and pundits in Iran and abroad have been saying for years that Iran should try direct negotiations with the US, but Khamenei explicitly banned it in 2018.
Portraying the United States as the Islamic Republic's biggest enemy, Khamenei said: "America’s deep hostility and spite toward Iran stems from the Iranian people’s revolutionary, religious viewpoint on the current issues of the world. That is why the US, the leading “arrogant power”, opposes the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Khamenei addressing supporters on Sunday.
Claiming that US stances vis-a-vis Tehran is based on miscalculations, Khamenei reiterated: "The US system of calculation is defective. It cannot fathom the truths about Iran. When their calculation of the existing situation is wrong, their decisions are wrong too. This is why they have been unsuccessful so far and they will continue to be unsuccessful, God willing."
Based on his accounts of certain episodes in Iran's history in the 18th and 19th and 20th centuries, Khamenei said that only the grand ulema [prominent Shiite clerics] are capable of mobilizing masses of the people against big powers. Khamenei concluded that this reveals why "arrogant powers are against religion, clerics” and Shiite political Islam.
Khamenei reiterated: "The United States is basically against the Islamic regime in Iran because Washington knows that this system is the outcome of religion and is a manifestation of the Iranian nation's religious beliefs." He added: "Religious zeal based on reason turns threats into opportunities. An example of this is the war imposed by Saddam on Iran. The US, USSR, NATO, etc. united in this international war to defeat Iran, but the people’s zeal that is based on faith defeated all of them."
Meanwhile, expounding on his conspiracy theory about the West, Khamenei said that "The enemies are trying to erode Iranians' responsiveness to the principles of the Islamic revolution through a massive propaganda campaign on cyberspace and foreign-based [Persian] media. However, he did not mention that widespread and systematic corruption among clerics and officials has vastly contributed to the erosion of the underlying beliefs in the ruling system.
He also did not mention that many blame his regime's mismanagement for wasting a wealthy country’s resources, or criticism that his own unreasonable ambitions led to wasting billions of dollars on a nuclear program that has had no positive outcome for the people in more than four decades.
Nonetheless, he warned Iranian intellectuals that "It is unfair to say that the principles of the Islamic revolution do not serve the people's interest and do not guarantee their future."
Khamenei's critics even those such as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have said on various occasions that nothing has remained of the main principles of the revolution, namely independence, freedom and an Islamic republic.
Critics have often argued that the regime's over-reliance on Russia and China and massive concessions to them has undermined Iran's independence. Meanwhile, thousands of political prisoners languishing in Iranian prisons, one of whom died in custody on Saturday because of neglect, bear witness that there is no freedom of expression in Iran. Critics say nothing has remained of the idea of a Republic in Iran particularly after the latest round of presidential election where everyone knew the winner months before the voting day.