Iran's Supreme Leader challenges U.S. policy in the Middle East
By Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
Since the signing of the nuclear deal, the Iranian leadership with Supreme Leader Khamenei at the forefront has been affirming again and again that the deal has no connection with any other issue in the Middle East. They maintain that the antagonistic relationship between Iran and the United States will not change.
Khamenei also keeps declaring that Iranian and U.S. interests, in the Middle East in particular and in the world in general, are completely opposed to each other. Iran, which continues to view the United States as an enemy and as the Great Satan, will keep fighting it even after the signing of the deal, and will keep helping its friends in the Middle East (Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, etc.).
Khamenei, along with the religious-political and military leadership, keeps emphasizing Iran's expanding influence in the Middle East and asserting that this is a reality that cannot be changed.
In a meeting with Iranian students on July 11, 2015 (during which calls of "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Death to Britain" were voiced), Khamenei underlined that Iran's influence in the region is spiritual and that the leaders of "reactionary Arab states" (meaning the Gulf states) have, in closed-door meetings with the Americans, been calling for pressure on Iran to counteract this influence, with the United States responding that it can do nothing to check Iran's growing power.
Khamenei added that during the meeting, students asked him how the struggle against the United States, or the "fight against arrogance," would fare after the signing of the deal. Would it be suspended? He replied:
Khamenei's sermons are often accompanied by chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," and in the sermon he gave at the end of Ramadan, a short time after the deal was signed, he indeed expressed support for these chants. The U.S. secretary of state said that the chants and the ongoing Iranian enmity toward the United States were "very disturbing," and tried without success to make excuses for them.
Meanwhile Khamenei has posted on his homepage a defiant infographic that describes and maps the huge disparities ("180 degrees") between Iranian and U.S. policy in the Middle East.
IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and at Foresight Prudence.