In a November 24, 2018 speech at the 32nd International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rohani called on the Islamic world, Sunni and Shi'ite alike, to unite against the enemies of Islam, that is, the West, particularly the U.S., Israel, and the Saudi regime that carries out their dictates. Rohani, who is perceived as moderate and conciliatory by the West, laid out his vision – i.e. the vision of the Islamic Revolutionary regime in Iran – that advocates the destruction of the State of Israel, that he says has no right to exist.
In light of Tehran's political and economic straits, and against the backdrop of the volatile open Tehran-Riyadh struggle, the Iranian leadership is attempting to underline the religious/ideological element that is shared, in its opinion, by Shi'ites and Sunnis – namely the hostility to Israel and the U.S – and on this basis to call for unity of the Islamic world. Furthermore, in accordance with the ideology of Iran's Islamic Revolution, Rohani is going over the Saudi leaders' heads to address the people, conveying revolutionary-Shi'ite messages in the name of Islamic unity.
In his speech, Rohani delineated, in accordance with the revolutionary-Shi'ite vision, the forces of good in the world – Shi'ite Islam and supporters of the Islamic resistance in the Iranian revolutionary spirit – and the forces of evil – the West, led by the U.S., Israel, and the Saudi regime that pretends to be religious and Islamic but that is collaborating with the U.S. and Israel, and accused the U.S. of attempting to enslave the peoples of the region. Rohani stated that there are two ways Muslims can face these forces of evil: they can either surrender to them and betray Islam, or they can resist them with all their might.
Statements in this vein were also made a few days later by senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein Nuri Hamedani, who bears the title of marja' taqlid, i.e. source to emulate, the highest level of authority in Shi'a Islam. On November 27, 2018, he said, in an address at the conference: "We and all Muslims have a single goal, and a common enemy – America and Israel – and our shared aim is the liberation of Jerusalem and the elimination of Israel. America's resentment towards the Iranian people is because they follow the path of protecting the poor and the downtrodden in the world, including those in Yemen and Syria, and [among] the Muslim peoples.
"Unity is very important to us, and the main issue [is] the destruction of Israel and the liberation of Jerusalem, because the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini [founder of Iran's Islamic Revolution]emphasized that as long as this cancerous growth [Israel] exists, the Islamic nations face a problem..." Referring to the Saudi regime leaders, he said: "No man can serve both America and the places holy [to Islam in Mecca and Medina]. In every place where the Islamic nations unite with each other, we will overcome all the problems. The heart of the Islamic nations is always together, and we will never tolerate an insult to the sanctities of the Muslims."
The following are the main points of Rohani's November 24, 2018 speech at the 32nd International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran:
"There Is A Cancerous Growth In The Region Called The Zionist Regime"
"Unity in the Islamic world is not a technical issue, but a leadership statement. Unity cannot be achieved by means of slogans, and the enemy does not fear slogans... [We] must unite in deeds, and today there is no other way but to unite. Without a doubt, if we unite we will triumph over the Zionists and the Americans.
"The first step to unity is to officially recognize each other and officially recognize all the schools of Islam: Everyone must recognize each other officially, and a Shi'ite must not, deep within himself, refrain from officially recognizing a member of the Hanafi or a Shafi'i [school of Sunni Islam], and there is no need for members of any Islamic school to chase after members of other Islamic schools with the aim of recruiting them to their own school. We must recognize each other as brothers.
"If we seem outwardly to officially recognize [each other] yet are not brothers amongst ourselves, we will get nowhere, and if a Shi'ite ascertains the religion of someone killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan [i.e. to determine whether or not he should mourn him], it shows that we are not marching on the path of unity. Let us not consider any differences between Shi'ite and Sunni... and even if the blood of an innocent [Sunni] man is spilled in vain, we must be impacted by it and stand against [the injury to him]...
"We must note that the abovementioned schools [in Sunni Islam] are considered [part of] the religion [of Islam]... We must expand the scope of Islam, and must not denigrate the other Islamic schools... The arrogant ones [i.e. the West, led by the U.S.] do not want the Muslims to be united; we Muslims believe that there is no god but God, and we will surrender to no one. Unity, prophecy, and the prophets are the basis of the religion of Islam. Despite the disputes among the Islamic schools, there are many [areas of] cooperation that must be insisted upon, and our young people must be pushed towards religious cooperation. This is the path that the enemy does not want us to focus on.
"Even if there is no external enemy, we must still emphasize unity and solidarity [among us]. Unity in the Islamic world is not a technical issue, and it is not only because we have a problem, because there is a cancerous growth in the region called the Zionist regime. We must unite, even if there were no Zionist regime or America... This unity [is necessary] not [only] so that the Palestinian people can return home. Even if the Palestinians return to their homes and the war in Yemen ends, we must still be united. Unity is a duty of the religion of Islam and the basis of the religion of Islam.
"If the Muslims listen to the precepts of the Prophet [Muhammad], they will undertake to stand behind him and will achieve happiness in the world; their might will be greater than the weapons of the enemies.
"Today the Zionist regime is carrying out grave crimes against the Palestinian people, and the moment America transferred its embassy to Jerusalem, it exposed more than ever its hostility towards the Muslims. They imagine that with a sign, and a change in building, they can take the holy city [Jerusalem] from the Muslims, the dear Palestinians, and the Islamic world. Without a doubt, this thinking is a mistake and a sin."
"We Consider The Nations In The Region, The People Of Mecca And Medina, To Be Our Brothers"
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"They [i.e. the Saudi regime] gave a gift of $450 billion and purchased over $1 billion in weapons [from the U.S.] so that America would assure their security. After all these steps, the same people whom [the Saudis] coddled [i.e. the Americans] openly said: 'We will drink and take the milk of the cow [i.e. Saudi Arabia] and if we are not [in the region] for two weeks, you will have no security. [Saudis,] at least ask your master [i.e. Saudi King Salman] to preserve [your] honor outwardly, and not to accept this ongoing contempt from his master [i.e. U.S. President Trump].
"What need do you [Saudis] have for America that you give it all your resources?! We are willing to protect the interests of the Saudi people with all our capabilities against the terrorists and the superpowers, just as we hastened to help the Iraqi, Syrian, Afghan, and Yemeni peoples. In exchange for such a move on our part, we will not ask you to pay [us] $450 billion, and we will not treat you with contempt – we will call you 'our brothers.'
"We consider the nations of the region, the people of Mecca and Medina, to be our brothers. Do not fear the nonsense that they have poured into your ears, and be assured that Iran and Islam are not afraid. You must fear the superpowers and the criminals. We are [your] brothers and we stand alongside you. It is very painful that crimes are being carried out in the name of Islam and that most of those killed are killed by people claiming that they are Muslims and are putting together an Islamic government [a reference to the Saudi regime and others].
"We wish the catastrophe in Istanbul [i.e. the murder of Jamal Khashoggi] had not happened, and no one had been dismembered piece by piece. It shames us Muslims that you [Saudis] are bombing the oppressed Yemeni people daily. The Islamic religion not only honors the Muslims but also honors all people and their values. Today we are proud of our ability to follow the Prophet [Muhammad], and we will continue to do so...
Rohani delivering his speech at the conference (Source: President.ir, November 24, 2018)
"America Demands Enslavement From The Region And From The World; The Disputes Between Us [And the West] Are About Freedom And Slavery"
"What is the dispute between us and the West, led by America, about? Is it about freedom for the West and enslavement for the others, or about freedom for all? According to the logic of the Prophet [Muhammad] and Islam, freedom is for all people, for the [various] nations, and for the Islamic nations. But what America is demanding from the region and from the world is slavery. The disputes between us are about freedom and slavery.
"[The Americans] claim that the whole world must think like America, and must respect their values, while we say that all people are free and must think as they see fit, and we respect the values that bring mankind happiness.
"The long-term disagreements between the Islamic world and the West can be seen everywhere, throughout all generations – prior to World War I and after World War II. They [the West] claim that might is determined by strength. But we stress that it is determined by justice, conscience, and mutual respect. This [reflects] the difference between us and the bullies of the world, led by America.
"They claim that their interests in the world must take priority, and that the nations that do not go according to their principles must return to the [Western] path they set out. But we believe that only God determines the path on which people must walk, and the bullies of history cannot determine the path for us.
"They claim that they have better weapons. At the UN they have veto power. The UN [apparatuses] were determined according to the military power structure following World War II. Those with more strength have more points, and those with more military strength have the last word with their veto power.
"According to what principles do those five countries [i.e. the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the U.K., and U.S.] have veto power? Have the countries of the world given them veto power, or did they receive it because of their past? Whoever has more powerful weapons that can wreak more havoc and destruction is the one in control and the one who has veto power, and that is how the world was set out after World War II.
"One of the negative influences after World War II was the establishment of the cancerous growth in the Middle East [Israel]. The establishment of the cancerous growth came about because the West did not trust the nations [in the region], and did not even trust the governments [I the region] that supported [the West]. It had to put together a force in the region that would act 100% according to its instructions and would fulfill its interests in the sensitive Middle East region.
Cartoon published by Fars news agency that was headlined "The Shi'ite and Sunni brothers in a single frame": On the right, Shi'ite and Sunni embrace; on the left, a Jew labeled "Zionism" operates "American Islam" via "Aal Sa'ud" (the Saudi royal family) and "takfiri" terrorist groups (i.e. ISIS, etc.); below the cartoon it stated: "The path of American-Zionist thought is attempting to obtain its long-term colonialist goals in the region by creating divisions between Shi'ite ad Sunni and by spreading violence in the Islamic world." (Source: Fars, Iran, November 26, 2018)
"There Are Two Paths For Muslim Resistance To The Plots Of The West, Led By America" – "Surrendering To The West... Or Resistance With All [Our] Might"
"How was the false regime called Israel created in the region, and how was a great and historic nation called Palestine removed from its home and [its people] made homeless and subjected to murder and occupation by the Zionists in the region? Where does the problem lie? If America tells the truth to some of the countries in the region and believes [that it is telling the truth], why is it claiming that it must preserve a particular country [Saudi Arabia] for the sake of the security of the Zionist regime? This statement [by President Trump] means that everything in the region revolves around a single issue, and that is preserving the Zionists and their cruel power in the region. They [the Zionists] are free to do whatever they want because, before the establishment of the false regime called Israel, America and England created a veto power for themselves [which allows them to protect Israel at the U.N. Security Council].
"There are two paths for Muslim resistance to the plots of the West, led by America: Relinquishing [our] religious Islamic identity and recognition of the Prophet [Muhammad] and surrendering to the West and America, betraying the religion and the future of the generations to come, in order to live comfortably and to leave all the Islamic gates wide open for America [to enter] and to roll out the red carpet to the criminals of history – or resistance, with all [our] might, to the existing oppression, and refusing to relinquish the Prophet, the Quran, and Islam.
"We do not fear those people [the West, the Israelis, and the Saudis] who are united and threatening Islam... Of course, in battle and in war, sometimes you win and sometimes you don't, but if we implement the truth and the resistance in the path of God, victory will be ours.
"In the current circumstances, a heavy and difficult responsibility rests on our shoulders, because the first issue is [ensuring] hope for the future and there is not a shadow of doubt about this. Even if we do not have the privilege of seeing the final victory, our children will see it. This is the divine promise, and they cannot extinguish the light of justice and bring back the darkness of the Islamic nation.
"We believe in the future of the Islamic world, which is the main key. The younger generation looks towards the future of the Islamic world, and it must know that we will overcome the difficulties. Didn't the great Iraqi nation overcome the difficulties and resist America, ISIS, and the terrorists? Didn't the Syrian people achieve victory against the terrorists? The Palestinian nation too has to this day resisted the aggression of the Zionists, and in Yemen, oppressed and destroyed by the criminals and weapons of the West, [the people] stand fast and resist.
"The Iranian nation too, 40 years ago, achieved victory against the world's superpowers, and in the eight-year war [with Iraq, 1980-88] we were victorious... against the entire world. At that time, no one in the world protested when chemical bombs were dropped and missiles were fired on the Iranian people. The Iranian nation resisted alone, and united, and the moment we showed our truth in the arena, God gave us victory.
"Today, the Islamic world stands alone, and the Muslims must unite. Without a doubt, with unity we will be able to face the Zionist regime and America, and vanquish them. With regard to unity in the Islamic world, some of the responsibility [for making this come about] lies with the clerics, the simple folk, and the intellectuals. We must push the young people, with strong statements, towards justice, the path of God, and the path of the Prophet – and there is no doubt that if we march on the path of God, He, the Prophet, and the angels will not abandon us."
"The Prophet gave the world [divine] guidance and light. It is true that the Prophet brought brotherhood to the Muslims – but he also brought the entire world coexistence and tranquility."
 Tasnim (Iran), November 27, 2018.
 President.ir, November 24, 2018.
 President Trump said in his November 22, 2018 Thanksgiving Teleconference with Members of the Military: "The fact is that Saudi Arabia is tremendously helpful in the Middle East. If we didn't have Saudi Arabia, we wouldn't have a big base. We wouldn't have any reason, probably – I mean, if you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia. So what does that mean? Israel is going to leave? We want Israel to leave?" Whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-thanksgiving-teleconference-members-military.