October 6, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9580

Iranian Supreme Leader Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati: 'The Countries Of The Resistance Front Constitute A Group That Is Unprecedented In The History Of The Region And The World'; 'Iran Is That Group's Main Axis'; Afghanistan Is Part Of The Resistance Axis

October 6, 2021
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 9580

In an interview published August 25, 2021 by the Iranian news outlet Tasnim, Ali Akbar Velayati, a close associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his advisor on international affairs, discussed the Afghan Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and what he called the successes of the resistance axis, led by Tehran, against Israel.

Attributing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to the success of the message of the Islamic Revolution throughout the region, Velayati stated that Afghanistan is also part of the Iranian resistance axis in light of the Afghan people's "humiliating expulsion" of the Americans.

In this context, it should be noted that in 2014, Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini, political analyst and advisor to  then-Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, said: "We in the axis of resistance are the new sultans of the Mediterranean and the Gulf. We in Tehran, Damascus, [Hizbullah's] southern suburb of Beirut, Baghdad, and Sanaa will shape the map of the region. We are the new sultans of the Red Sea as well." [1]

To view this clip of Al-Hosseini on MEMRI TV, click here or below:

In the interview, Velayati described an alleged American scheme to occupy Afghanistan on the pretext of hunting down those behind the 9/11 attacks, when the U.S. itself was involved in these attacks, in an overall plan that included the occupation of Iraq two years later. He explained that the peoples of the countries in the region will not allow the Americans back into the region – neither into Iraq nor into Afghanistan – on any other pretext.

Ali Akbar Velayati (Source: Tasnim, Iran, August 25, 2021)

During the interview, Velayati quoted Lord Curzon, British foreign minister and viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, as saying about the struggle for control of Afghanistan that "whoever rules Herat [once the capital of the Persian Empire] and eastern Afghanistan will rule all of central Asia and the Indian Ocean." Iran, which considers itself strongly linked to the Afghan Shi'ite population and to the lands of the former Persian Empire, is attempting to influence who Afghanistan's leaders will be, or at least to maintain relationships that will serve it. Reiterating Tehran's stated position of "noninterference in its neighbors' internal affairs," Velayati noted that he himself had, recently and in the past, maintained close relations with senior Afghan officials – Sunnis and Shi'ites from the Pashtun, Tajik, and Hazari ethnic groups – and stressed that "during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Iran played an important role in helping the Afghan people fight it." He also reiterated Iran's position of preferring for Afghanistan a government comprising all its ethnic groups – i.e., including Shi'ites, rather than one strictly of the radical Sunni Taliban.

Also in the interview, Velayati linked the success of the "Afghan resistance" in expelling the Americans from the region to other successes of the Iranian resistance axis, against Israel. Warning Israel and the U.S. not to obstruct the shipment of fuel oil from Iran to Lebanon, he noted that Hizbullah and the Palestinians have shifted from passivity to initiating moves, and have successfully deterred Israel from thwarting these moves, with the aim of arriving at "a final victory of the [Islamic] nations in the region over Israel and its supporters."

The following are the main points discussed in Velayati's interview.[2]

The Position Of Hizbullah Secretary-General Nasrallah And The Fuel Shipment From Iran To Lebanon Are Important

Question: "In your opinion, how will the Iranian supply of fuel oil to Lebanon impact future developments in [that country]?"

Velayati: "[Both] the position of Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and the shipment of fuel oil from Iran to Lebanon are unique and very important from a regional and international perspective. As a friendly country close to Lebanon, [we consider] this a positive step. However, the fact that the Zionist regime is threatening to stop the ship [delivering the fuel oil] is an unfortunate event in the region.

"An important and motivating issue for the countries in the region and for the resistance is that the matter [of the oil tanker's trip from Iran to Lebanon] was first announced by Hizbullah's secretary-general, which is similar in quality to what the Palestinian brothers did [in the recent months]. At one point, the Zionists came and destroyed the Palestinian homes around the tomb of Sheikh Jarrah [in eastern Jerusalem]. For the first time in the history of the occupation of Palestine from 1948 to the present, and also since the First World War,, and warning the Israelis that they will respond if they [the Israelis] make a mistake – and it was the Israelis who lost.

"This time, Nasrallah delivered a powerful warning to the Israelis and their supporters, that is encouraging [other] people of the region: 'We will respond to anyone who wants to stop the ship carrying the fuel oil from Iran to Lebanon, [because] this ship is Lebanese territory.' Israel did not dare to do a thing after this warning. Every move  made by this [Zionist] regime will be addressed in an unprecedented manner, and there will doubtless be more and more hope of a final victory of the [Islamic] nations in the region over Israel and its supporters in the region."

"It Is An Honor For The People Of This Region To Expel The Americans In Humiliation"

Question: "Considering that you were foreign minister during the Iran-Iraq war, and that the issue of the Soviet invasion [of Afghanistan] was one of the most important foreign policy matters [during that time], and that afterwards you remained in contact with prominent Afghan figures as part of your position in the [World] Assembly of Islamic Awakening, what is Iran's Afghanistan policy and how can peace and security be achieved in that country?"

Velayati: "Iran has never interfered in Afghanistan's internal affairs, and never will. Of course, Iran never interferes in any country's internal affairs; the decision about [each country's] future depends on the people of each and every country, and the Afghan people will determine their own destiny.

"As a neighbor with much in common with Afghanistan – including history, religion and customs – Iran believes that the period of foreigner-caused tension and crisis must end, and that the people of Afghanistan should live peaceful lives. Many Islamic scholars... were Afghans... Afghanistan played a central role in the shaping of the Islamic culture and civilization.

"Britain's past interference in Afghanistan, the Soviet interference during the Communist period, and the current American interference have harmed the Afghan people. Since the citizens of this country have learned not to submit to bullying, they will react to anything that [foreign countries] seek to impose on them. They fought the Americans for 20 years, and the Soviet Communist government for more than 15 years, until they managed to expel America from Afghanistan, and opposed the British. If we want to sum up Afghanistan's contemporary history, we should say that the people of Afghanistan are 'resistors.'

"Lord Curzon, who was at the time the British viceroy in the Indian subcontinent and who became foreign secretary during World War I, wrote in his book on Afghanistan that 'whoever rules Herat and eastern Afghanistan will rule all of central Asia and the Indian Ocean.' They [the British] tried to settle in eastern Afghanistan in accordance with that rationale, but the Afghan people would not permit it. This is characteristic of the Afghan people, and it is an honor for the people of this region to expel the Americans in humiliation.

"This [resistance] was previously done in Iraq. Following the [January 2020] martyrdom of [IRGC Qods Force commander] Qassem Soleimani and [deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units] Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the Iraqi parliament approved, with an overwhelming majority, the American troop withdrawal from Iraq. This decision is currently in the stages of implementation, and is a defeat for the Americans in Iraq.

"America Itself Had A Role [In The 9/11 Attacks]. They Came To Afghanistan And Perpetrated Crimes" 

"The same thing happened in Afghanistan. The Americans came to Afghanistan to stay, just like they did in Iraq. But now, 20 years after the American occupation of Afghanistan, they have withdrawn after paying the price of hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of casualties. The important point here is that the Americans must not think that, if their forces leave the region, they can maintain their presence in other ways, for the people of the region are very vigilant. The Americans' bad reputation in various countries shows that there is no place today for the principle of American presence with the purpose of exploiting the peoples of the world, especially in our region and in western Asia, i.e., in the Middle East. The prediction is that, if the Americans want to return to Iraq and Afghanistan in any way, the people of these countries are vigilant enough to stop them and will not tolerate it. 

"When Hamas and the Palestinian movements defeat the Zionists… or when Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel that 'if it attacks the vessels carrying fuel from Iran to Lebanon this will be [considered] an attack on Lebanese territory,' as well as Hizbullah's very forceful and proud reaction to the issue of the Shaba Farms, which is a very important, influential and historic action – all these [moves] reflect this change and this vigilance.  I know Hizbullah and know that its potential is considerable. Neither the Zionist regime nor any other country, including the U.S. and others, can withstand Hizbullah's capabilities."

"The Palestinian Forces Are Shifting From Passivity To Taking The Initiative"

Question: "In your opinion, why is it that America spent so much money yet could not control Afghanistan and Iraq? Did [the Americans] not have a plan for this, or did they have a plan that failed?"

Velayati: "The Americans invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York. [U.S. president] Bush Jr. said back then that 'the Crusades have begun.' [This shows that] they regarded this issue [the occupation of Afghanistan] as a crusade, for Bush was a Zionist Christian. Zionism first developed among fundamentalist Christians, and the Jews joined it later, in the 1897 [First] Zionist Congress. So when someone like Bush Jr., who has fundamentalist Christian beliefs, says that 'the Crusades have begun,' this means that the American planes came to Afghanistan using the bombing of the Twin Towers as a [mere] pretext, after an investigation [conducted] by many Americans [found that] America itself had a role [in the attack]. They came to Afghanistan and perpetrated crimes that one is ashamed to recount.

"Two years later they invaded Iraq [as well]. They appointed a governor for Iraq, like they did in the colonialist period. Iraq is the richest country in the region and has a culture going back 5,000 years. The first important reign there was the Sumerian one. The Sumerians rose to power in Iran at the same time as Elam, and were a cultured people. One of their first kings was Hammurabi, who was the first to regulate [the practice of] medicine! Iraq is the most powerful country in the Arab world. The Americans wanted to influence Iraq for several reasons. First, in order to exploit [this] wealthy country. A second important [reason] was its proximity to the occupied lands. Iraq has ongoing political and strategic importance for America as a base in the Arab world. But the Iraqi people soon resisted, and showed that the Americans could not remain in Iraq as occupiers. Now they are withdrawing. They have pulled out most of their forces, and they are leaving following heavy losses [in lives] and money.

"In sum, we are now seeing the Palestinian forces shifting from passivity to taking the initiative. Today the Palestinian people is no longer passive, but rather creative in choosing the type, time and manner of fighting and confronting the Zionists. As for Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, who delivered a speech about America and Israel, is also promoting the equations, and he is serious, for he has so far done everything he said [he would].   

"Syria, too, has defeated the cowardly attack of 80 countries against it. It was a world war [focused] exclusively on Syria. Since the war began in 2011, Syria has managed to defeat its enemies with head-on resistance and complete stability. Only a few areas remain [under the control of the enemies], and are likely to stay [that way]. The presidential elections in Syria were also a kick in the teeth for those who wish to harm the Syrian people.

"In Yemen, the belligerent Saudi Arabia, supported by America, meant to occupy the country, but the Yemeni people did not allow the Saudis and their allies to live in peace all these years. Bab Al-Mandab is in the hand s of the Yemenis, who are part of the resistance axis.

"The Yemen-Tehran-Baghdad-Al-Bukamal-Damascus-Beirut-Gaza Route Constitutes the Resistance Axis"

"The countries of the resistance front constitute a group that is unprecedented in the history of the region and the world, and the main axis of that group is Iran. This route that has formed, the Yemen-Tehran-Baghdad-Al-Bukamal-Damascus-Beirut-Gaza [route], constitutes the resistance axis. With Iran as the foval point, following the Islamic Revolution a group formed in the region that is taking steps towards resistance, independence and freedom. I foresee a very good future for this group. Afghanistan is of course part of this group, and its most important victory is the expulsion of America.   

"We respect any decision the citizens of Afghanistan make. I was in contact with several senior Afghans in the last few days. I spoke with Pashtun, Tajik and Shi'ite officials [there]. In the last three or four days [I spoke] with 11 Afghan officials who were involved in the struggle against the Soviet Union at the time. I spoke with Shi'ites, Sunnis, Pashtuns, Tajiks and Hazaris.

"I had close ties for many years with Afghan brothers like the martyr [Burhanuddin] Rabbani [president of Afghanistan in 1992-2001]; [Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar [prime minister in 1996-1997]; [Sibghatullah] Mojaddedi [president in April-June 1992]; [Pir Ahmed] Gailani [founder of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan]; Abdul Ali Mazari [leader of the Shi'ite Hazara minority and founder of the Islamic Unity Party]; [Karim] Khalili [Afghan second vice president in 2004-2014 and] leader of the Islamic Unity Party; Muhammad Mohaqiq, [deputy chief executive in 2014-2019]; Nasseri, leader of the Isma'ili [Shi'ites] in Afghanistan; Zahedi, chair of the Guardians of the Islamic Jihad of Afghanistan; Ayatollah Asif Mohseni [who was secretary and spokesman for the grand assembly of the Mujahideen government, who resided in Afghanistan and Iran], and others. I had ties and held many meetings with the Afghans and with Afghan officials, such as [Taliban leader] Mullah Mansur, Mullah Muazin, and Mullah Amin Waqad during the years of the struggle. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan Iran played an important role in assisting the Afghan people fight [this occupation].

"As for the future of Afghanistan, I must say that any decision the Afghan people make will be respected. There were talks with influential figures in Afghanistan, and it appears that the officials there believe that the future Afghan government must be a combination of all [the elements]. The [Afghan] elders and those who fought the Soviets [at the time] unanimously believe that a government must be formed consisting of all the ethnic groups [in the country]. They also insist that no changes be made to the constitution of Afghanistan, which is the legacy of thousands of martyrs and of ongoing wars of the Afghan people. The Americans waged propaganda in this context, but the constitution cannot be so easily influenced by propaganda of this sort. I am convinced that the American effort to change the [Afghan] constitution will not succeed, given the determination and national unity of the Afghan people.  Another point is that the Americans, who were expelled thanks to the power and determination of the people of the region, and are in the process of leaving, cannot return to the region under some other pretext, for instance [in the guise of] training groups and intelligence [personnel]. The people of this region are too vigilant to allow the Americans, who were kicked out the door, to get back in through the window."



[1] For more statements by Iranian regime officials and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders on Iran's spread across the Middle East, see the "Exporting Iran's Islamic Revolution" section of the MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1155, Iran's Support For The Houthi Rebellion In Yemen: 'Without Iran There Would Be No War In Syria And Ansar Allah Would Have Never Emerged,' April 20, 2015.

[2] Tasnimnews (Iran), August 25, 2021.

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