On February 11, Iranian leaders struck a defiant tone on the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. President Hassan Rouhani spoke to a large crowd gathered in Tehran in front of a poster of Qassem Soleimani, the Qods Force commander killed in a U.S. drone strike. Rouhani said that the revolution’s success was “unbearable” for the United States. “For a major power like America it is very hard to endure the Islamic Revolution and victory of a great nation that drove the superpower out of this land,” he said. “It is natural that they dream of returning to 41 years ago and returning to this land every night.”
At the same time, the regime also appeared defensive about the existential challenges to the revolution. Rouhani urged voters to turnout in parliamentary elections slated for February 21. “We should not withdraw from the ballot boxes,” he told a crowd in Tehran. “The ballot boxes are our savior.” He encouraged Iranians to vote despite possible complaints and criticism. “I beg you not to be passive,” Rouhani added. In January, the Guardian Council disqualified thousands of candidates, including 90 lawmakers, from running in the elections. On January 15, Rouhani had criticized the unelected body for not approving a wider spectrum of candidates. But the regime cites turnout as a reflection of public support.
The commemorations began on February 1, the anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's return from exile, and the start of the “10 Days of Dawn,” which culminated in nationwide rallies on February 11. To mark the revolution, Iran also unveiled a new, more accurate ballistic missile on February 9. The short-range missile, the Raad-500, could reportedly travel 120 miles further than the Fateh-110, which had a range of 180 miles. The following are remarks by Iranian leaders on the revolution's anniversary.
Iran has unveiled a new missile dubbed “Raad 500” (Thunder 500) with a composite engine as well as the new generation of engines for propelling missiles & satellite carriershttps://t.co/f2LCQdciFb— ISNA International (@Isna_Int) February 9, 2020
President Hassan Rouhani
Rouhani discussed the anniversary in two separate addresses. On February 10, he spoke to foreign diplomats, and on February 11, he gave a televised speech in front of a large crowd gathered in Tehran.
Public Speech on February 11 to commemorate the anniversary of the Revolution:
"I congratulate the historic day of 22 Bahman (11 February) to the entire Iranian nation and the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, and commemorate all martyrs of the Islamic Revolution, the Imposed War and the Imam of Martyrs.
"February 11 of 41 years ago showed us how divine power is manifested in the will of a great nation.
"Despite what they publicised that the era of religion and spirituality is over and despite them dividing the world into the east and the west, the great Iranian nation could stand up to the regime that was armed to the teeth with their religious motivation and without relying on any power and superpower, leading the Islamic Revolution to victory.
"Without a doubt, we saw the power of God and the will of the right well in the historic event of 11 February 1979.
"How could it be possible for our nation to mark the greatest victory of history without God's attention?
"Here, I would like to mention an important point. The entirety of our revolution was a choice. In fact, the Islamic Revolution was based on a choice, and people chose between a corrupt regime that was dependent on America and a religious democracy.
"Between superpowers and independence, our people chose independence. Our path is the path of elections and our revolution is based on the great choice of a nation 41 years ago and in later elections. Of course it is clear that from the first day we have been facing sworn, tough enemies. Iran's Islamic Revolution did not just affect Iran, but it also affected the region, the world, Muslims, and freedom seekers.
"For a major power like America it is very hard to endure the Islamic Revolution and victory of a great nation that drove the superpower out of this land. It is natural that they dream of returning to 41 years ago and returning to this land every night.
"They know well how much Iran's role in the region is important. They know well what Iran's role in the region is and they know well that Iran is the greatest power in the Middle East. This is why from the first day, America and Zionism are the sworn enemy of this nation and revolution. What America is saying is that people did not have the right to choose and we had approved monarchy for Iran and wanted it to stay, why did people came and chose a modern path for their life.
"We say that the Iranian nation always have the right to choose and our enemies say that you do not have the right to choose. America tells us you should go back to 41 years ago and our people say that we will not go backwards and our path is towards progress and perfection of this country. So you see that this enmity for the past 41 years has manifested in different forms, but the path of our revolution is the same as the first day.
"I call on young people, academics, students and researchers to once again read Imam Khomeini's (RA) speech in 1979 carefully. Imam Khomeini stood by what he said at Behesht Zahra until the last day of his life.
"He was honest to people; he told people that their future is at their own hand. He said to people that we are seeking cultural and political independence in this country. What Imam said in 1979 was the same until the last day of his life. Imam's path was a steady one without any division and people saw this honesty in his words and actions.
"What has made our revolution stronger is people's presence and vote and we must act based on whatever people want from us. I would like to appreciate the armed forces, the IRGC, Basij and all forces. The day when people took to the streets at the funeral of Martyr General Soleimani and asked the armed forces and the government for revenge, the armed forces did what people wanted. The fact that Ain al-Asad Air Base was showered with missiles means doing what people want.
"The day when an airplane near our airport made the sky blue and burnt the hearts of us and the Supreme Leader, people wanted the authorities to apologize and the armed forces did it and explicitly apologized from people and promised that such a mistake would not happen again.
"The armed forces that is with people and acts based on people's wish is the same thing that the path of our revolution has taken.
"Sometimes things are said in the media that are different from Imam's path and our revolution. Do not forget that Imam always said "all together" and this being together is an important strategy of the Islamic Revolution. Whenever we were with each other America has failed. Let's not allow some to say this faction or that faction. We must all defend this country and stand up to the US together. This revolution belong to all not a single faction or individual.
"On February 11, all ethnic and religious groups felt victorious, not this faction or that faction. The entire 36 million population of that time felt victorious.
"If we do something that we all feel victorious, that means being revolutionary. Whenever we do something that makes 83 million people, it means being revolutionary. In many instances, this or that is wrong, resistance or diplomacy is wrong, both are right alongside each other.
"Our Martyr Soleimani was both a commander in the battlefield and a top diplomat in negotiation. He was martyred when we was on the way to meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq. He was not going to the battlefield, but the arena of diplomacy when he was martyred.
"General Soleimani was someone who was a powerful commander in the battlefield. In the negotiation arena, he was a powerful diplomat as well. Let's consider all aspects of Martyr Soleimani.
"Martyr Soleimani was not looking for war in the region, Americans are lying. He was not looking for instability in the region, America and Israel are lying. Martyr Soleimani was looking for stability.
"Martyr Soleimani gave Iraq, Syria and Lebanon stability, and the region security. Martyr Soleimani was the man of war and peace, a war that leads to peace; a peace that makes us strong enough not to let a war begin. It is a powerful armed forces that protects our country.
"I appreciate the defence industry of the country that in the recent years, have multiplied our armed forces' power. Our military power today is much more than one year ago.
"Before the revolution, 95 percent of our arms were imported and only 5 percent was built inside the country, but today, all our weapons are being built inside the country.
"I would like to say that some may think that we must undermine the republic aspect of the system to empower the Islamic aspect. With all due respect, I say to these friends that you are wrong. The republic and Islamic aspects are together. There are some times we need to choose between this or that, but in many instances, we must not choose. Either resistance or diplomacy, no, both of them; either interaction with the world or resistance, no, both of them. Either self-sufficiency or trade with the world, no, both of them.
"These are instances that choosing between this and that is not the right thing to do. In many cases, we have to consider all aspects.
"What the US is looking for with this much pressure on our people, targeting all our import, export and basic needs is to take away people's patience.
"What is miscalculation is that the Americans have not understood the position and greatness of the Iranian nation. Americans thought that they are facing 41 years of civilisation; no, they are facing thousands of years of civilisation; the Iranian and Islamic civilisation for centuries.
"Of course, the Islamic Revolution has done very important things in the past 41 years. America is not facing a system or officials; the mistake they are making is that they are facing 83 million people who are united.
"Our people are integrated and unanimous when the revolution is concerned; wherever national interest are concerned, we are united. You saw during Gen. Soleimani's funeral that people were united. All people stood against the superpowers and America and voiced their opinion.
"America wants to bring the Iranian nation to its knees. America wants a government that does not want to take the heavy responsibility.
"This is where America is wrong. They don't know that in Iran, the government, people, armed forces, the three branches, and everyone are united under the flag of the Islamic Republic and the Supreme Council of the Revolution.
"Americans thought that if they continued sanctions for three months, no foodstuff would be found in Iran. They said that if they continued sanctions for 3 months, no medicine would be found in Iran and people would have problems finding water, power and gas.
"In the past two years, we have been under the most severe sanctions but in the recent months, our government and people are overcoming problems every day.
"But today, our people are seeing that we are self-sufficient in many foodstuff items. The day the Revolution achieved victory, Iran's agricultural production was 26 million tonnes a year. The day the 11th government started its office in 2013, our foodstuff production was 97 million tonnes and today, it is 126 million tonnes.
"America is wrong and hasn't understood that our farmers and engineers all over the country are firmly standing for their needs.
"They thought that if they impose sanctions on our petrol, queues would be formed in petrol stations, but what happened today? Today we are exporting petrol."
—Feb. 11, 2020, in a speech to commemorate the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution
Speech to a group of foreign dignitaries on February 10:
"I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the distinguished guests, ambassadors and heads of missions in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
"For us, 22 Bahman is reminiscent of the critical and important memories of 41 years ago and the liberation of the people from dictatorship.
"41 years ago, people responded positively to the call of a trusted leader and scholar who called on them to form a movement and revolution to overthrow a rotten and corrupt regime and establish a popular government.
"The basis of the Islamic Revolution that achieved victory over 16 years of fight was the movement and presence of the people, not a particular party, group or ethnic group.
"The Revolution that was based on national causes and goals was undoubtedly a completely popular revolution that always relied on the people.
"Today, we are facing unjust sanctions imposed by the United States on against the entire Iranian nation. No one doubts that the maximum pressure and US sanctions are against each and every Iranian people. This means that not even one person is excluded from these sanctions; a single patient, a single food item is not excluded. No airplane part that are needed for flight safety is excluded. And this is completely clear; a 100-percent inhumane sanction that is against an entire nation. Such sanction may have been less seen in the history of the world.
"They are putting these maximum pressures to force the officials to surrender and then the people. Americans are wrong in both of them. Our people and officials do not give up under these sanctions.
"The Americans thought they could force the Iranian nation to surrender with maximum pressure on entire imports, exports and people’s lives. Those who are familiar with Iran’s civilization and culture know that the great Iranian nation will not yield to bullying and unjust pressures.
"Despite America’s all-out pressures in the past 20 months, all economic indices since the past 8 months show that Iran’s conditions are completely stable and we have successful overcome these sanctions and that America has made a mistake. Inflation, economic growth and employment figures show that the Iranian people and government is on the right track
"Although today our people face many hardships because of the sanctions, there is no queue across the country, neither for food, medicine, or essentials, for transportation and travel, for scientific study, nor for treatment in hospitals. All of our conditions today are a stable in this country.
"We managed the country well last year and this year despite sanctions, and we needed neither foreign loans nor borrowing from our central bank to run the country.
"We are proud of the Iranian people’s resistance, and the United States has shown that it is not a country that adheres to its signature and commitment, and that it is not a country that adheres to its political and moral commitments, and this is the first damage to the dignity of the US government.
"The US action is against the safeguards of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which ordered the United States not to initiate sanctions, and also US actions are contrary to UN Security Council resolutions including Resolution 2231.
"The assassination of a military commander on the territory of a neighbouring country that was its official guest is a great crime that violates all international regulations, and no one in our region doubts that General Soleimani was looking for stability and peace in the region.
"It was easy for General Soleimani to kill the American generals if he wanted, but he never did, and I testify this as someone who was fully aware of the actions of the Quds Force and Commander Soleimani in the region.
"The route of General Soleimani was not from the airport to the battlefield, not to a field of action against the United States, but from the airport to a meeting venue with the Prime Minister of Iraq, the highest official of the country, hours later. The great crime is condemned by us, the world and international law.
"The third crime of the United States, in addition to dozens of other crimes, is the crime against the Palestinian people and our region, with international regulations and UN resolutions in 1967 and 1973 in place.
"According to international laws, the land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian refugees must return to their country. The US has taken anti-human-rights action against Palestine, as it has done so against the Syrian people.
"In Iraq, despite the decision of Iraqi lawmakers and government, it has remained in the country in violation of international law.
"What they are pursuing as the Crime of the Century and wanting to keep the Palestinian nation permanently displaced from their homeland is a new scandal for the White House, for the American people, and for the American government before it has any effect.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a harbinger of peace since the beginning of the Revolution, and during these 41 years, we have not acted against any state. War was imposed on us but we did not attack a country. We helped the displaced. We helped the displaced people of Afghanistan, the Iraqi people who were displaced in the war of the Coalition against Iraq. We helped the Kuwaiti people during Saddam's invasion to Kuwait. We helped the people of Qatar who were under illegal seige. We helped the Yemeni people with food and medicine. During these 41 years, we have helped the people and the cause of Palestine. We helped the Lebanese people. We fought the terrorists and suffered casualties.
"Our people helped every government that asked us for help against terrorism. The day Iraq asked us for help against ISIL, we helped them. The day the Region in northern Iraq asked us for help, we went to help them.
"The day the Syrian government asked us for help, we helped them. Our nation is a peace-loving nation against terrorism. We are a nation victim of terrorism and victim of chemical weapons.
"Our nation is a victim of terrorist groups that are still supported by the United States, a victim of terrorists and chemical weapons prepared for Saddam by Western countries. But we have always sought peace, and today we are seeking peace. What we are saying is for the benefit of the people of the region and even the American people.
"What the White House is doing is against the interests of this nation, the nations of the region, against the stability of the region, and against the interests of America itself and the American people.
"Our proposal since the first day [of the current government] in 2013 was World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) at the UN General Assembly and in 2019 again, our proposal at the Un General Assembly was the Hurmuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE). What we propose is to fight against extremism and terrorism in the region. Iran’s proposal to the whole world is dialogue and negotiation.
"Let the whole world know that we have used our missiles two times; once against ISIL when they killed our innocent people in Khuzestan and Ahwaz and around the Islamic Consultative Assembly. The second time was against Ain al-Assad Air Base in Iraq because of the crimes they did and assassinated our military commander.
"So, our precision-guided and modern missiles are to be used against terror and crime; we have never built missiles for aggression, and will never do so.
"We assure all our neighbors and regional peoples that we want peaceful coexistence. We are willing to negotiate with all our neighbours, without exception, to settle issues. We have brotherly and friendly relations with most of our neighbours and countries around the world today.
"What we want is brotherhood, friendship and negotiation. We want the end of wars, the end of aggression, the end of supporting terrorism, and the end of sanctions. We favour living together, which is the message of our revolution.
"This is the message of our Imam. We have been with this revolution for 41 years, and we will always stand by it because it has brought us freedom, independence and national sovereignty and has set us on the path to ethics and peace."
—Feb. 10, 2020, in a meeting with foreign diplomats
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranians turned out in huge numbers to rally on the 41st anniversary of their revolution–and to honor their fallen heroes.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 11, 2020
Message to Trump (+vassals): Time to abandon your delusions
With all challenges & differences, in defending country & honor, all 82 million Iranians are ONE. pic.twitter.com/2voXw2Wy9d
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The POTUS told some heads of European countries that if they wait 2-3 months, the Islamic Republic will be finished. This reminds me of what they said 40 years ago, that the I.R. will be finished in 6 months. That sapling is now a sturdy tree. #StrongIRANhttps://t.co/FFccZHPDJQ pic.twitter.com/VZleRszRUy— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 12, 2020
“During the rule of the Pahlavi regime, the Air Force was one of the closest forces to the power center, the royal family and the United States. We should take lessons from this.” “The Air Force, despite its commanders who were so dependent and the particular circumstances that it always had at that time - its close ties with the American administrators, academies, and the like - suddenly acted in favor of the Revolution at the most sensitive time. Their first action of this kind was on February 8, 1979, when the Air Force members met with Imam Khomeini and pledged allegiance to him. The next measure they took was resistance in confronting another division of the Army that had attacked them.” “The first point is that God, the Almighty, came upon them from where they did not expect. This is one side of the matter. On the other side, the believers were empowered from where they did not expect. In our Islamic terminology, culture and literature, this is called ‘unexpected provisions.” “Now, they are reporting that they have repaired a large number of fighter planes and passenger planes, overhauled and built a number of them. When did this become possible for our Air Force? When we stopped relying on foreigners. They threatened us, said they would not sell to us, and said they would not let us (advance).” “Military equipment belonging to us is still in the warehouses of U.S. military corporations. That is, they have not yet been given to us. We do not know what they have done with them. Ironically, we were even asked for warehousing charges a few years ago. Equipment they had been paid for, they refused to give to us. However, what is the outcome? The outcome is that our Air Force, which did not have the right to repair a single part of a fighter plane or an aircraft during the Pahlavi regime, is now producing the entire aircraft today. That is, our Air Force transformed threats into opportunities, turned danger into profit. This is the virtue of a society of believers.” “Sanctions have been imposed on us since the beginning of the Revolution, and the sanctions have intensified over the last few years. They themselves boast that they have imposed the most severe sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Imposing sanctions is literally a crime. That is, it is a major threat, which is condemned by public opinion around the world because it is not about just the U.S. imposing sanctions on Iran. Rather, it is about the U.S. coercing others to enforce sanctions against Iran too. These sanctions can function as an opportunity, in the same way, that they have already provided us with many opportunities. They can also bring about a great opportunity for us in the future. If we, the officials, act astutely, it can save the nation's economy from relying on oil. The economy’s dependence on oil should be stopped.” “The major factor causing our economic problems is dependence on oil, which has led to not paying much attention to the domestic potential inside the country for generating revenue. As a result, we have been mistakenly assuming that the country’s expenses will be met by exporting oil.” “I saw in reports that they (in the West) recommend preventing Iran from achieving a non-oil economy. Among themselves, it is said that they should not let Iran experience a non-oil economy. (They recommend that they should) develop a secret means - if they don’t want to remove the sanctions - to find a way to prevent Iran from becoming completely independent (of oil exports); because, if Iran becomes independent, it will develop a non-oil economy.” —Feb. 8, 2020, in a speech to air force commanders
Remarks to members of the Air Force on February 8:
“Sanctions have been imposed on us since the beginning of the Revolution, and the sanctions have intensified over the last few years. They themselves boast that they have imposed the most severe sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Imposing sanctions is literally a crime. That is, it is a major threat, which is condemned by public opinion around the world because it is not about just the U.S. imposing sanctions on Iran. Rather, it is about the U.S. coercing others to enforce sanctions against Iran too. These sanctions can function as an opportunity, in the same way, that they have already provided us with many opportunities. They can also bring about a great opportunity for us in the future. If we, the officials, act astutely, it can save the nation's economy from relying on oil. The economy’s dependence on oil should be stopped.”
“The major factor causing our economic problems is dependence on oil, which has led to not paying much attention to the domestic potential inside the country for generating revenue. As a result, we have been mistakenly assuming that the country’s expenses will be met by exporting oil.”
“I saw in reports that they (in the West) recommend preventing Iran from achieving a non-oil economy. Among themselves, it is said that they should not let Iran experience a non-oil economy. (They recommend that they should) develop a secret means - if they don’t want to remove the sanctions - to find a way to prevent Iran from becoming completely independent (of oil exports); because, if Iran becomes independent, it will develop a non-oil economy.”
—Feb. 8, 2020, in a speech to air force commanders