United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Supreme Leader on Women

      The West has committed an “unforgivable sin” against women by defining them as merely objects of pleasure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Iran’s National Women’s Day. The supreme leader claimed that Islam grants women equal rights and honor, while Western lifestyle degrades them. He also warned that irreparable damage to family values will lead to the West’s collapse, according to Fars News Agency.

      In his May 1 speech, Khamenei argued that Western women have to serve men to further themselves in society. But Iranian women can participate in “politics, social and jihadi activities, helping people and the Revolution … while preserving her grace, dignity and Islamic hijab,” he claimed in an undated article on his office’s website. The following are excerpted remarks by Khamenei on women.
Women in the West
            “The move that the West's materialistic civilization has done towards women is a big and unforgiveable sin, the consequences of which are absolutely irreparable… In the West, the human being is divided into two parts: men who are considered beneficiaries and women who are exploited and used…
            Once the foundation of a family is shaken, the problems of that society will be internalized and the Western civilization with its vicious sexual laws is doomed to fail and collapse…” May 1, to poets on National Women’s Day
            “The Western world and in the European world claim to be defending women rights – which is almost all a lie – but women did not have the right to vote, could not speak and choose, and did not have the right to possess property until the early decades of the twentieth century.” From an undated article on Khamenei’s website
Women in Sports
            “An athlete promotes the values of a nation with good sportsmanship and piety. The fact that our woman athletes enter sports arenas with hijab (head covering) is very important…
            “In a certain European country, some people dare to kill a woman because she is wearing hijab. And they do it in a court of law and in front of the judge. This is the case. They are not ashamed of it. Under a certain illegitimate law, they harass women who wear hijab in universities, stadiums, parks and on the streets. In such conditions, a woman who wears hijab stands on the medal platform in such countries makes everyone respect her. Is this a minor achievement? This is a very great achievement. Everybody should appreciate from the bottom of their heart the value of women athletes who participate in international arenas with hijab and modesty…” March 11, to veteran athletes and participants from the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
Women in Iranian Society
            “Today, the Iranian woman can enter the field of science… while preserving the religion, chastity, piety, dignity, grace, personality and reverence of a typical Muslim woman. There are, among you, many female students, professors and scholars. A woman might also enter the field of religious sciences and information without any obstacles. Among you, there are many seminarians, students, instructors and professors of religious sciences who deal with Islamic fiqh and religious insight. Our great Imam [Khomeini] also highly regarded this issue and gave an order to establish this institute of Qom. Today a woman in our country is able to participate in different activities including politics, social and jihadi activities, helping people and the Revolution and appear in different fields while preserving her grace, dignity and Islamic hijab…” From an undated article on Khamenei’s website
Women in Pre-Revolutionary Iran
            “The woman in the society of the evil system of the kingdom was really an oppressive one… A Muslim woman could not easily survive at the universities and educational, scientific and cultural centers with hijab, grace and dignity. Was it possible? A woman could not walk in the streets of Tehran or some other cities with even a partial hijab... Education for women was almost impossible in this country. Of course, there were exceptions. Generally speaking, entering the field of science for women was almost impossible except by giving up hijab, piety and Islamic dignity!
            The same problem was there in terms of political and social activities. Once a woman decided to have a social or political position in Iran, she had to give up hijab, chastity and the dignity of a Muslim woman. Of course, it depended on how her nature and potentialities were…” From an undated article on Khamenei’s website
Women in Islam
            “In Islam, women have the right of allegiance, property possession while their presence in the social and political arenas is something fixed. Women used to come to the Prophet [Mohammad] to pledge their allegiance. The Prophet wanted both men and women to participate in decision-making. Women did not have to follow men. They participate in choosing their government and the social and political system. The Westerners are a 1300  years behind Muslims in this regard. The same is true about the right to have property and other social and political issues…”  From an undated article on Khamenei’s website
Photo Credit: Khamenei.ir via Facebook
Tags: Islam, West, Women

Latest on the Race: Economy Top Election Issue

      The economy is a pivotal issue in Iran’s presidential campaign, since the country now faces its most serious crisis since the 1980-88 war with Iraq. Virtually everyone—including both supporters and critics of the regime—is demanding change. Most candidates are too.
      But the economy has also sparked the widest array of solutions. Campaign slogans often illustrate the political divisions, even though the field of candidates is overwhelmingly conservative. The only thing that unites them is criticism of President Ahmadinejad’s poor economic performance.
            The candidates’ plans vary widely, from weaning Iran off oil revenues to creating jobs for university graduates. Mostafa Kavakebian, a reformist, even calls for improving relations with the United States for sanctions relief ― if Washington softens its tone. Most candidates have not yet detailed how they will achieve their lofty promises. The following are the economic agendas of eight major candidates, according to Iranian news media.
Ali Akbar Velayati, chief foreign policy adviser to the supreme leader
• Wean economy off oil revenues
• Don’t waste public money
• Complete national development plans
• Fix the economy in three years
Mostafa Kavakebian, secretary general of the Democracy Party
• Improve ties with the United States for sanctions relief
• Lower inflation to below 20 percent
• Lower unemployment to below 10 percent
Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, mayor of Tehran
• Stabilize economy in two years
• Create jobs for university graduates through effective management
• Follow the 20-Year Vision Plan, which requires Iran to be a top economic power in the region by 2025
Mohammad Reza Bahonar, deputy speaker of parliament
• Control cash flow and rising prices
• Decrease the inflation rate to a single-digit number
• Revive the Planning and Budget Organization that Ahmadinejad dissolved in 2007
Mohsen Rezaei, Expediency Council secretary and ex-Revolutionary Guards chief
• Tie the currency to non-oil exports and support domestic producers
• Increase household income and support a grassroots economy in towns
• Reduce unemployment
• Give farmers “green” subsidies
•Reduce the inflation rate to a single-digit number
Hassan Rouhani, former head of the Supreme National Security Council
• Lift U.N. and unilateral sanctions on Iran through improving relations with other nations
• Boost domestic production
• Reduce unemployment and employ more academics
Ali Fallahian, Assembly of Experts member and former intelligence minister
• Fight corruption by using more electronic transactions
• Continue subsidy reform
Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, deputy speaker of parliament
• Decrease national expenses to dampen effect of sanctions
• Increase the value of Iran’s currency by boosting domestic production
• Reduce dependence on oil revenues
Sampling of Iranian news sources for this article on the presidential race:


Online news media are welcome to republish original blog postings from this website in full, with a citation and link back to The Iran Primer website (www.iranprimer.com) as the original source. Any edits must be authorized by the author. Permission to reprint excerpts from The Iran Primer book should be directed to permissions@usip.org

Khamenei: West Fueling Syria Conflict

            Western intelligence services are fomenting “bloody sectarian, ethnic and national conflicts” in Syria and countries in transition, Iran’s supreme leader said on April 29. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Western propaganda and “mercenary media” in the region are falsely portraying the Syrian conflict in sectarian terms – as Shiites vs. Sunnis. But the two sides are instead “supporters and opponents of anti-Zionist resistance,” he claimed. The following are excerpts from Khamenei’s opening speech at the World Conference of Ulama and Islamic Awakening. The two-day event gathers nearly 700 clerics and scholars from around the world.

      U.S. and Western Role
      “[O]ne of the most dangerous things that threatens the movement of Islamic Awakening is the efforts to foment discord and turn these movements into bloody sectarian, ethnic and national conflicts. Currently, this plot is being seriously pursued by intelligence services of the West and Zionism with the help of petrodollars and bribed politicians from East Asia to North Africa and particularly in the Arab region. And the money that could have been spent to bring about happiness for mankind is being used to make threats, excommunicate, assassinate, bomb, shed Muslim blood and to kindle the fire of long-lasting grudges. Those who consider the unified power of Islam as an obstacle in the way of their evil goals have come to the conclusion that fanning the flames of conflicts inside the Islamic Ummah is the easiest way to achieve their satanic goal, and they have used differences of opinion in Islamic jurisprudence… as a pretext to excommunicate, shed blood and cause fitna [strife] and corruption.
            A vigilant look at the scene of domestic conflicts clearly reveals the enemy’s hands behind these tragedies. These deceptive hands undoubtedly take advantage of the ignorance, prejudice and superficiality that exists in our societies and they add fuel to the fire. The responsibility of religious and political reformers and outstanding personalities is very heavy in this regard.
            Currently, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, Syria, Pakistan, and Iraq and Lebanon are in one way or another involved in or exposed to these dangerous flames. It is necessary to be extremely careful and to look for a remedy. It would be naïve to think that all of these things are due to ideological and ethnic factors and motives…”
Ethnic and Religious Conflict
            “Propaganda campaigns of the West and dependent and mercenary media in the region pretend that the destructive war in Syria is a Shia-Sunni conflict and they create a safety margin for the Zionists and the enemies of resistance in Syria and Lebanon. This is while the two sides of the conflict in Syria are not Shia and Sunni, rather they are the supporters and opponents of anti-Zionist resistance. Neither the Syrian government is a Shia government, nor is the secular and anti-Islam opposition a Sunni group. The only achievement of the plotters of this calamitous scenario is that they have managed to make use of religious sentiments of simple-minded people to kindle this deadly fire. A look at the scene and those who are involved in it at different levels can clarify the issue for any just individual...”
Click here for the full text of the speech.
Photo Credit: Khamenei.ir via Facebook

Latest on the Race: Leader’s Ideal President

            In a strong speech six weeks before the election, the supreme leader admonished presidential candidates against making empty promises or creating tension. Ayatollah Khamenei also defended the Guardian Council, which usually disqualifies 99 percent of candidates. In 2009, the council only cleared four out of more than 400 men and none of the 42 women who registered. Guardian Council members are “fair-minded, impartial, and insightful,” the supreme leader claimed. The next president must be “resistant against enemy pressure.” The following are excerpted remarks from Khamenei’s speech at an early May Day event.

      “Iran needs a president who is brave and fearless in the international arena and in the face of arrogant powers, and who has planning, wisdom and foresight in the domestic arena, and believes in the resistance economy… A president must be a person who, first and foremost, believes in God, the people, and the constitution, and, secondly, must have an indomitable spirit…
      The Iranian nation seeks to realize great objectives and [carry out] great tasks, and is not one to surrender. And no one can speak to it using the language of force. Therefore, [the president] must be brave, fearless and resistant against enemy pressure and should not back down…
      [Candidates] must not give people empty promises… but rather they must move forward with logical remarks based on the realities on the ground and reliance on God…  [Presidents] should not create unnecessary costs and problems for the people, and should not cause concerns for or create tension among the people…
            Those who plan to enter the election scene should enter the scene after a proper assessment, and it is the people who will decide in the end…  As the late Imam Khomeini always emphasized, the participation of the Guardian Council in the election through checking the qualifications (of candidates) by fair-minded, impartial, and insightful people is auspicious…
            They [Western nations] try to use economic pressure to create a rift between the nation and the Islamic establishment and dishearten the people.” April 27, in a speech to thousands of workers in Tehran
Photo Credit: Leader.ir


Part II: Sanctions Hit Iran’s Oil Production

            Iran’s oil production dropped 17 percent in 2012, according to a new according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But Iran managed to remain the second-largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on average. Consumption of liquid fuels fell one percent in 2012. The following is a chart and excerpt from the report.

            Iran's exports of crude oil and lease condensate declined to approximately 1.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, compared to 2.5 million bbl/d in 2011. This 39% decline in exports was coupled with a 17% drop in crude oil and condensate production and a 1% decline in liquid fuels consumption including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other products.
            While the world's supply of oil increased by about 2%, or 1.8 million bbl/d in 2012, oil production in Iran declined by nearly 700,000 bbl/d from the 2011 level. Most of the 2012 drop in production is attributable to tightened sanctions. A smaller decline in 2011 resulted mainly from declining production in aging fields. Iran remained the second-largest OPEC crude oil producer on average during 2012, but it exceeded Iraq's production only narrowly. In August 2012, Iran's monthly crude oil production fell below Iraq's for the first time since 1989.
            A new set of sanctions by the European Union became effective on April 1, 2013. The new sanctions bar EU insurance companies from providing coverage to any refiner and refinery operators that process crude oil of Iranian origin. The new provision will mostly affect refiners in South Korea and India, which rely heavily on European insurance providers. The new sanctions may further affect Iran's exports and production over the next few months as refiners try to find alternative suppliers of insurance.

Part I: Iran Oil Sales Plummet

Click here for the full report.

Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo