West Needs to Revise View of Iran’s Supreme Leader

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, April 7, 2008
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A023291710.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- There is perhaps no leader in the world more important to current world affairs but less known and understood than the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

In a unique and timely new study Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour presents an in-depth political profile of Ayatollah Khamenei based on a careful reading of three decades’ worth of his writings and speeches. Though the author has in parts been imprecise and mirrored the United States’ views, he has been successful in revealing some of the existing realities and his article could contribute a major role in correcting West’s almost absolutely wrong perception and view about the Iranian leader.

Sadjadpour argues that “Iran’s Islamic government is more powerful than it has ever been vis-à-vis the United States, Ayatollah Khamenei is more powerful than he’s ever been within Iran, and in order to devise a more effective US policy toward Iran a better understanding of Khamenei is essential.”

Though the United States sometimes makes a crucial mistake and dismisses Iran’s Supreme Leader as indecisive, Sadjadpour writes, “his rhetoric depicts a resolute leader with a remarkably consistent and coherent world view.”

Given that the real political power of the Iranian Supreme Leader dwarfs that of the president, Sadjadpour argues, “It’s time for the world to focus less on Ahmadinejad and more on Khamenei. His speeches present arguably the most accurate reflection of Iranian domestic and foreign policy aims and actions over the last two decades.”

He unearths insightful quotes that provide deep insight into Ayatollah Khamenei’s thoughts on issues such as the United States, Israel, Iraq and the nuclear issue.

“Given Iran’s centrality to urgent US and European foreign policy challenges -namely Iraq, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, energy security, Arab-Israeli peace, and Afghanistan,” Sadjadpour writes, “the United States does not have the luxury of shunning dialogue with Tehran” until Ayatollah Khamenei is alive and in power.

Sadjadpour argues that any successful approach toward Iran must take into account Ayatollah Khamenei’s pivotal role in Iran’s decision-making process and his deeply held suspicions of the United States. “Trying to engage an Iran with Khamenei at the helm will no doubt be trying, require a great deal of nuance and patience, and offer no guaranteed chance of success. But an approach toward Iran that aims to ignore, bypass, or undermine Khamenei is guaranteed to fail.”

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