In an interview last month with Iran’s ISNA, Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi set out his ideological doctrine regarding the West, Israel and the regional order Iran is trying to create.

Notably, his statements framed the call for the annihilation of Israel as an ideal and as a major goal towards which the Iranian regime was working. Israel, he stressed, is a tool of “international Zionism” that seeks to enslave the “subjects of God”—that is, Muslims. All Arab Muslim countries that aid Israel are considered by the Iranian regime to be part of Israel’s illegitimate regime.

“Basiji thought,” he explained, is the only existing ideology resisting Zionism, and has become the only effective weapon of the nations oppressed by Zionism and by the “arrogance”—that is, the United States. (The Basij is one of five branches of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp.)

He detailed the “satanic” hierarchy of the Western countries: The United States is the “Great Satan,” while countries such as France and Britain are “smaller Satans.” All these “Satans,” he said, are seeking to enslave the Muslims and other peoples and plunder their resources, using the cultural influence of the values of the infidel world via technology. He also spoke out against intellectuals and political activists in Iran who are calling for reaching understandings with the United States.

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and America’s inability to defend Saudi Arabia from attacks by the pro-Iran Houthi militia in Yemen, he said, were proof of its collapse.

The following is a translation of the interview.

Q: A recent New York Times report stated that American elements had told the Zionists: ‘Not only have you not succeeded with the sabotage you carried out in Iran, but you have caused Iran to advance in the nuclear and military areas.’ What do you think led the Global Arrogance, particularly America and the Zionist regime, to arrive at this conclusion—that they cannot deal with Iran and that they see no choice but talks?”

Shekarchi: When we say ‘the Zionists,’ many tend to think [that we mean only] the regime occupying Jerusalem [i.e. Israel]. We want to say that today we are dealing with international Zionism. That is, the tool that the Zionist is using is the regime that is occupying Jerusalem. We see the regime occupying Jerusalem as a tool of international Zionism. Therefore, we look at the regime occupying Jerusalem in one way, and at Zionism in another.

As I have said a number of times, we will not back down one millimeter from [the vision of] the disappearance of the regime occupying Jerusalem, even if we are torn to pieces. The annihilation of the regime occupying Jerusalem is the greatest ideal that we see before our eyes, and the greatest goal whose trail we are following.

This regime came and conquered an important part of the Islamic world, the first qibla [direction of prayer, i.e. Jerusalem] of the Muslims, from which it moved to attack and wreak vengeance upon the Muslims. Anyone who aids this false regime—even if they have an Islamic name like Saudi Arabia, the regime in Bahrain, the UAE, or any [other such] regime—is as far as we are concerned part of that regime, and this is a matter of the utmost importance.

International Zionism is more than the false Zionist regime. The Zionist aspires to enslave the subjects of God [i.e. the Muslims]. This is his idea, and he wants to turn God’s subjects into his servants. But in the Koran, God ordered His subjects to worship only Him, and to stand and fight anyone who wreaks vengeance upon them because they worship God. This is God’s command. This strategy [of enslavement] is the one by which international Zionism is operating today.

Q: In your opinion, is it possible to arrive at understandings with America?

A: There is no way. The oppressed peoples that are enslaved today by America’s power—their capabilities and their underground resources [i.e. petroleum and natural gas]—are being plundered, and they have no right to even use their own God-given resources. This Zionist view is not from today, or from yesterday. Read the history of France—what did it do in Africa? Or England—what did it do in these countries? Did it operate with a strategy any different from this? It’s the same thing today, only with new tools and technologies. They feed the people the ignorance of the infidel world in the name of [Western] civilization. This is a new ignorance called [Western] civilization.

Unfortunately, we must say that very many of our countries have accepted this ignorance called civilization. They think that they can arrive at understandings with a Great Satan like America, but it [this Satan] will not back down from its strategy, and it aspires to enslave God’s subjects. It intends to plunder the assets of the oppressed people, and it has no other aim.

America wants material control and also to enslave everyone. These are its two different fronts. How is it possible to arrive at understandings with this kind of thought? How is it possible to cooperate with this kind of thought? How is it possible to come to terms with this kind of thought? Consenting to this kind of thought means failure… turning one’s back on all the religious, Islamic and revolutionary ideals on which we were raised.

Q: What role does the Basij play in the formation of the resistance axis?

A: The thing is that today, creating a strong structure against the Zionism front is the Basiji thought. The nations that adhere to this thought [are creating this structure]. You will find nothing else on the face of the earth [but Basij thought] against this dangerous front [i.e. Zionism]. If the oppressed Gaza manages [to withstand], with a minimum of means and under maximal oppression, the occupying and baby-killing regime [Israel], have they anything but [Basiji] thought? Do Gaza’s soldiers have any means?

True, relative to the past, when they threw stones, they have many means [today]. But if we conduct a material comparison [of] the capabilities and tools at the Gaza soldiers’ disposal, [we see] they are not at all equal to the capabilities that the world of arrogance [the West, led by the United States] have placed at the disposal of the Zionist regime. If we say that the false Zionist regime must disappear—and inshallah it will—the Islamic world will celebrate on that day … On that promised day, we will make maximal use of our means.

Q: Why are the enemies trying to instill [the perception] that the [Iranian] people are fed up with the [Islamic] Revolution?

A: The enemy is deluding itself that the people of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] has turned its back on the regime, that it does not accept the [regime] officials, that it aspires to regime change and that it is fed up with the rule of the Islamic Republic. If this people is fed up with the Islamic Republic, then how is it that with a single order from the Leader of the Revolution [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei], everyone goes out into the field?

Yes, it is true that they are fed up with the activity of some of the officials, particularly in the past [a reference to the Rouhani government, whose policies are regularly criticized by Iran’s ideological circles].

Our people has defeated more than that. The people that is always in the field, in all the dangerous arenas in the country, and on the front lines of the Islamic Revolution, has defeated more than this, and that’s already a different matter. Perhaps the people aren’t satisfied with some officials, but they are not going to turn their back on the regime of the Islamic Republic [of Iran], because the current leadership of the Islamic Republic is the most honest, diligent and pure … in the history of this country. Even if at one point one official [apparently a reference to Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had called for reaching understandings with the United States and whose 2017 death was suspicious] committed treason, this was because of the infiltration of the enemy—the authoritative regime—and the arrogance front [the West led by the United States]. When we examine the story, we see that they [the traitors] were supported by the front of arrogance….

Q: Some of the notable activity by the [Iranian] armed forces that has also increased in recent months are the [military] exercises [conducted by Iran at its northern border to deter Azerbaijan and Turkey in the Caucasus, and also in the Gulf as a show of strength against the United States]. We are witness to the fact that these exercises are in response to the rhetoric and threats that emerged [in Azerbaijan and in the Gulf], and at the same time they convey a message of peace to the countries of the region and to the neighboring countries and encourage them to preserve the peace of the region. What impact have these exercises and the [Iranian] armed forces’ readiness had in preventing enemy attacks at [Iran’s] borders?”

A: On the fundamental level, we conduct exercises and drills in order to maintain and improve [military] readiness. In effect, if we want, we can take a practical step, but in the framework of the exercise, we do nothing. The exercise is aimed at maintaining and improving readiness. That is, every so often there is a need to practice [using] weapons, equipment, means and forces on the battlefield. But the basic thing is that there is a need to maintain and update readiness.

If our defensive might was not high, and the enemy did not fear it, it would not wait even a single night to attack us. Naturally, when we conduct exercises, we absolutely have the enemy’s eyes and ears. It sees these capabilities. Every time we conduct these drills on the ground, in the sea and in the air, the enemy monitors and sees them, with its capabilities, equipment and technology. The enemy is aware of these capabilities [of ours]…

The points at which we choose to carry out the drills are sensitive points. We want to make the enemy understand that we are in charge of security in our region. And you, the Americans, and your partners come from the other side of the world to this side to do what? We give the countries of the region the right to defend their security by themselves—but the enemy, and particularly an enemy of the entire Islamic world like America and the Zionist regime, cannot build a bridge from their land [to our region].

Q: Why does Iran always oppose an American presence in western Asia [i.e. the Middle East]?

A: America’s presence in this region is illegitimate. The establishment of a military base in the region of the countries of the Islamic world, and close to our borders, is not legitimate. What does America want in this region? When we conduct drills, we want to provide security for international shipping lanes [i.e. the Strait of Hormuz], and that is what we are doing. If our ships are in the Red Sea, or in the south or north Atlantic Ocean, it is not with the aim of attacking, but rather in order to create security—exactly the opposite of the American strategy, that comes to create not security but insecurity. [America] comes in order to plunder, rob and stir up the region. Such a presence is illegitimate. If a country wants to create security somewhere in the world, that’s excellent. But do the Americans create security in the region?

Give me any day in history and [you will see] that that is a day on which we have created security! Anywhere they have gone, [the Americans] have created chaos. Look at Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of people have been crushed under the American boot. Oppressed, stripped of rights, children, women, old men and women, young and old—what was their sin that this catastrophe had to fall upon their heads from the Americans?

America did not come to Syria in order to help the [Syrian] people. It came to help Islamic State. The ISIS fighters were beheading people, slashing their bellies, and America was giving ISIS money, equipment and means, as well as intelligence. Did they murder any fewer people in Iraq? Did they help the Yemeni people even a little? Or did they regularly provide the Saudi regime and the UAE with equipment, means and intelligence in order to crush the Yemeni people?

The Palestinian people is being crushed under the boots of the occupying Israel—and whom does American help? Does it help the [Palestinian] people, or the regime occupying Jerusalem [Israel]? Everywhere it has gone, America was an agent of fitna [civil strife]. Everywhere it has gone, insecurity was created.

Q: Why is Iran in Syria?

A: Our advisory presence in Syria is aimed at creating security and protecting the Syrian people. We did not come to create insecurity. Nowhere in the world will you find traces of insecurity [as a result of the activity of] the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. Everywhere we have gone, it was for the sake of security [and] the defense of the people and the oppressed, while America is the exact opposite of us. Everywhere America has gone, it has created insecurity, and therefore we say that the highest level of vengeance for the blood of the martyred [IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem] Soleimani is the Americans’ exit from the region, so that the region will see the face of tranquility and security.

Q: In recent years, we have witnessed the establishment of official relations between several Arab countries and the Zionist regime. Can these relations provide security?

A: As long as the Americans are in this region, insecurity will prevail [here], because today America is a focal point of insecurity in the world. Regimes such as the Bahraini and UAE regimes are now reaching an agreement [with Israel], and in some way giving it a foothold [in our region]—[a foothold] for the regime occupying Jerusalem, in addition to the illegitimate presence [in the region] of America, that creates insecurity worldwide.

Is Israel’s presence in the region in fact providing these countries with security, or is it destabilizing them? This presence is intolerable for the Islamic Republic, and also for all the nations of the region. Because the [Iranian] people want security, the Islamic Republic is also interested in creating security, and not war and insecurity. If the Islamic Republic has a presence in the sea, it is so that ships won’t be attacked, and to provide security for the shipping lanes. [If] it has a presence on the land, it is for the same goal. Everywhere there are anti-aircraft weapons; they are for security purposes.

If we are attacked, we will have no mercy on a single one of these enemies. We have said several times that we will never initiate a war, and we are not interested in occupation. The Islamic Republic’s strategy is not occupation  and land grabbing, but it will strike its enemies mightily.

Q: In your statements, you have mentioned Afghanistan, Yemen and many other countries. Recently, the Americans sent the Saudis the message that it is better for them [the Saudis] to solve the issue of Yemen via talks. Have they [the Americans] realized that they are no longer able to advance anything using their own means?

A: Consider this all-out war against Yemen as over, and the Yemeni people as the clear victor … Had America wanted to put an end to this fitna [civil strife], it would have said so in the first year [of the war]. After [its] failure and the scandal [in Yemen], it says that this is in order to preserve its honor.

Q: In light of the events that took place in Yemen and Afghanistan, and the message that America conveyed to the Zionists, what message can be conveyed to America’s allies worldwide?

A: Some of America’s allies share its same thought, but less intensely. They need to come to their senses and accept the following message: First of all, they must set aside the spirit of arrogance and aggression. With regard to Satanic thought, we see France and England as single unit with America—but it is the Great Satan and they are [smaller] Satans.

The Imam [Khomeini] did well to call America “the Great Satan.” “Great Satan” is [one] thing, and there are smaller Satans such as England and France. First of all, they must abandon this satanic nature, and come to their senses. Every so often, they, with their satanic nature, lead America itself to its perdition. In many cases, England paved the way for America’s fall, because the officials in America are extremely stupid.

The Satans in England are very sharp—they are birds of prey. They send America forward, and if there are results, they devour like birds of prey, and if there are no results, they hide. With regard to thought, there is no difference between England, France and America. Several countries are under their control, and we must send those [countries] this message: You are like the devoted and mighty Iranian people that clings to its belief. If you stand against the arrogance [the United States], you will certainly triumph and will get out from under its [America’s, Britain’s and France’s] control. Do not follow America.

Forty-three years ago, America was at its peak materially, and every day that has passed since the [1979] Islamic Revolution, America has plummeted several hundred meters, and now it is near the bottom. Is it wise to follow America, that is crashing into the ground? It is natural to want to get out from under the [yoke of] America. America is being extinguished. It has had no achievements, only the loss of its prestige.

During the recent decades, what strong country, that claims to be mighty, has fired Kalashnikovs directly at America [except for Iran]? What catastrophe did the Islamic Republic deliver to America at Ain Al-Assad [base in Iraq in response to the killing of Soleimani]? They [America] can end the story [there] by claiming that this was [a mere] a “headache,” but the greatness of America exploded like a balloon at Ain Al-Assad, and was lost.

The world has realized that America’s claims regarding its creation of security in Saudi skies do not even stand up to the strength of the Yemeni people with the most paltry of means. It cannot guarantee the security of this country [Saudi Arabia] against [even] a single Yemeni drone. How can this reliance guarantee your security? America did not manage to guarantee its [own] security at Ain Al-Assad, and you want it to guarantee your country’s security? This is absolutely illogical. They [the countries relying on America] must learn to free themselves from America, which is going down the path of crashing.

This article was first published by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

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