[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the situation in Iran 30 years after the revolution?
[Shariatmadari] On its 30th anniversary, the revolution in Iran is more alive than it ever was in the past 30 years. The revolution and its ideas are being exported to other Islamic countries. On the first year of the revolution, we were alone. We did not have many allies or friends that believed in our ideals. The situation is different now. We are not alone; many countries around the world support us. This can be seen in Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, and the whole Muslim world. Even non-Muslim countries are leaning towards the Islamic Revolution in Iran and chanting its slogans and ideals. Moreover, 30 years after the revolution, we are the first power in the region militarily and technologically and in the fields of sciences, medicine, and nuclear technology.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why do you say that the revolution is more alive than it was at any time in the past?
[Shariatmadari] I say that because despite all the conspiracies to weaken us, those that wish to destroy our revolution have failed. The Iranians know that the United States harbors strong hostility against Iran. They know that US hostility has been uninterrupted for the past 30 years. They have imposed sanctions and plotted and conspired to weaken us. These days, the United States is taking the same position against our nuclear program. All this proves that the United States wishes to stop Iran’s progress. But this will not happen. Look at the US position on Hezbollah and Hamas and how it colluded in the war against them to strike at the resistance. However, praise be to God, the war on Hamas lasted 22 days and the Zionist forces were then forced to withdraw. As for the war on Hezbollah, it lasted for 33 days but the resistance triumphed. (Laughing) Will the next war last for 11 days and the war after that last for one single day? When the Islamic resistance stands fast and firm this means that the revolution is alive and that the schemes of the United States and Israel will fail. That is why I am saying that the revolution is stronger and more alive than it ever was in the past and its exportation is stronger than it ever was.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What do you mean when you talk about the exportation of the revolution at present?
[Shariatmadari] Geographic borders cannot stop the spreading of ideas and other countries near us or around the world can see that Iran enjoys independence, freedom, and sovereignty. Others are inspired when they see that the United States has not succeeded in destroying us after 30 years of war and destruction. Iran is an inspiring model of sovereignty and confrontation of arrogance and bullying might. When Yasser Arafat, may God rest his soul in peace, went to the United Nations carrying an olive branch in one hand and the gun of resistance in the other and addressed the United Nations on the rights of the Palestinian people, a US senator who saw the olive branch in one hand and an empty handgun in the other said what can this accomplish? However, after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the resistance of Hezbollah, the intifadah and the resistance in Palestine, and now the position of Turkey everything changed. Geographic borders do not stop the spread of the ideas of resistance. Many things changed in the region after the success of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some say that the revolution was born while containing many differences among the various wings that led it. They say that these differences continue to simmer in Iran and thus the revolution is not at its best.
[Shariatmadari] I do not wish to use the word wings and I do not think that there are differences today among those that participated in the revolution on support for the revolution. During the revolution, there were various currents and elements. However, when we look at them closely, we find that not all of them participated with the same intensity. In fact, there are currents and individuals that did not do anything while other currents and individuals participated and later withdrew from the revolution and its course. If we want to classify these we see that they can be divided into conservatives – I prefer to call them with principles – and there are the reformists. These two currents may be different in many issues. However, they did not fight or compete against one another during or prior to the revolution. After the revolution, however, viewpoints changed on how to manage the state. This led to estrangement; however, these are not against the revolution. When we celebrate the anniversary of the revolution, we celebrate it side by side.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You talk about reformists. Some say that the level of freedoms was better prior to the revolution than it is at present and that the reformists are under pressure.
[Shariatmadari] This is not true at all and the facts say otherwise. There were no political or ideological freedoms under the Shah; the prisons were full of political leaders and there were vast differences in the economic and social conditions. After the revolution, everything changed. There are municipal elections, parliamentary elections, and presidential elections. There are active social movements and the newspapers print what they want. The facts speak for themselves.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Did US President George W. Bush unintentionally serve Iran during the eight years of his rule?
[Shariatmadari] I will give you my answer by borrowing a quote from Imam Zayn al-Abidin Bin al-Hussein, may God be pleased with him: “Thank God that made our enemies fools”.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some are accusing Iran of causing tensions. For instance, Barack Obama, the new US President, wants to hold a dialogue on the nuclear file while Iran is setting conditions for such a dialogue, like an apology in advance for crimes committed against Iran.
[Shariatmadari] I do not believe that Obama will make any change. So far, there is no real change in policies. Barack Obama is expressing the same views that Bush held before him. Obama is very close to the Jewish organization AIPAC and has aides that support Israel. If he means to bring change, we would like to see that in his stands. After the Zionist war on Gaza, the whole world demonstrated in support of the Palestinians and many world leaders condemned the Zionist onslaught. Obama, however, did not say anything against Israel and the massacres that it committed. How can we be satisfied with him? On the first day that Obama was elected, we wrote an article in Kayhan headlined “A hawk in a dove’s outfit”. A basic change must take place on the US way of thinking and structure. Obama is a mere secondary change. In order to have relations between the United States and Iran, one of us has to change his principles and ideas. Iran will not do so. The United States must change. As Imam Khomeini said, it must look at international relations in a different light rather than through the light of international arrogance.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that President Mahmud Ahamdinejad will win the upcoming presidential elections?
[Shariatmadari] Ahamdinejad has accomplished a lot. His most important accomplishment is returning the revolution to its first days and its original principles. I believe that he will be elected for a second term. The way he dealt with the West’s threats against us due to our nuclear program showed that he is right. The problem with the West is that it deals with Iran from the logic of force but the time of this language is over. We now live in a world where certain forces cannot impose their hegemony and their will over the other countries of the world. A new world is forming.