print
memri
August 14, 2015 No.
6133

Khamenei's IRGC Representative: Lebanon, Gaza, Bahrain, Syria Constitute Iran's Essential Strategic Depth

In a speech he delivered on August 10, 2015, Ali Saeedi, the representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that what impelled the West to hold nuclear negotiations with Iran was the latter's might and strategic depth in the region. He added that the West was trying to erode Iran's strategic depth in Lebanon, Gaza, Bahrain and Syria, which are crucial assets for Iran. The West, he elaborated, is taking advantage of the nuclear deal to raise other issues concerning Iran's involvement in the region, and concessions in this domain could harm Iran's strategic depth and leave it isolated.

Saeedi also stressed that the Supreme National Security Council - which along with other Iranian state institutions is now required to ratify the nuclear deal - must remember that Iran's ballistic missiles program and that the Parchin facility (where the West suspects Iran conducted experiments on developing nuclear weapons), are red lines for the regime.

Lastly, Saeedi addressed the issue of the Assembly of Experts election, slated for February 2016. In light of the recent announcement by the head of the pragmatic camp, Expediency Council chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, that he would run in this election, Saeedi warned against a flagging of Iran's revolutionary spirit and urged the people to participate in the elections en masse in order to thwart this danger and express their support for the regime.

It should be noted that senior Iranian spokesmen have been stressing lately that Tehran would only increase its support for its regional allies following the nuclear deal. In an August 9, 2015 conference in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: "We declared that we would maintain our defense capabilities and our armed support of our allies. In this context, we have said explicitly that, were it not for the aid and the courageous steadfastness of the Islamic Republic in the region, many regional capitals would possibly have fallen to the Islamic State."[1] In an interview on the Supreme Leader's website, Khamenei's advisor for international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, likewise said that Iran would "only step up its support for fighters in the region" after the nuclear deal.[2] In a similar vein, Kayhan editorial board member Sadollah Zarei, who is close to the IRGC, told the Basij website on August 10, 2015 that the nuclear deal "will not at all detract from Iran's support for its regional allies in the face of foreign intervention and terror. [In fact, Iran] will significantly increase its support [for them]."[3]


Ali Saeedi

The following are the main points of Saeedi's speech:[4]

"The aim of the [regime] heads is to sever the nuclear issue from the other issues, and there is no intention of paying too dearly for [resolving the nuclear issue]. [Supreme] Leader Khamenei believes in using nuclear [energy] for civil purposes, [but] the enemies want to jump [from the nuclear issue] to other conflicts they have with Iran. Following the Lausanne and Vienna agreements, they used the nuclear [issue] as a springboard to [address] non-nuclear issues, because they did not manage to achieve what they wanted in the negotiations...

"The next issue [I wish to address] is Iran's and their [the enemies'] strategic depth. They do not want Iran to have strategic depth in Yemen or to have spiritual influence in Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, Bahrain or Syria. Giving up this strategic depth means giving up everything we have achieved. Iran's might in the region and its strategic depth is what brought [the enemies] to the negotiation table [in the first place]. Strategic depth is a crucial factor for Iran, and if we give it up we will find ourselves isolated.

"The issues of the ballistic missiles and Parchin are among Iran's red lines, and the [Supreme] National Security Council must take note of this.

"Next year's [Experts Assembly] elections harbor a danger, namely the flagging of the revolutionary spirit, and we must be aware of this. Wide participation by the public will convey many messages, especially regarding the nuclear issue. Considering our situation this year, the people's presence and support are very critical. One of the measures of the regime's vigor is voter turnout. The Iranian people turned out for the Qods Day parades, the February 11 parades, and other [events]... It's presence is well-documented and reflects the extent of its support for the regime and the [Supreme] Leader. The Iranian people will [also] turn out for these important elections, as it did in the past, and whatever it thinks will benefit the regime will come to pass. The enemies and the Arrogance [i.e., the West, led by the U.S.] seek to take every opportunity to harm the regime."


Endnotes:

[1] Fars (Iran), August 9, 2015.

[2] Farsi.khamenei.ir, July 21, 2015.

[3] Basijnews.ir, August 10, 2015.

[4] IRNA (Iran), August 10, 2015.