By Syed Zafar Mehdi
President Ebrahim Raeisi’s maiden speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday evening dealt a tremendous blow unprecedented and reaffirmed his reputation as a straightforward international leader and statesman who means business.
It was an outstanding debut for the newly elected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the world body, in line with his refreshingly pragmatic and proactive approach to foreign affairs.
In a recorded speech, the sober Iranian President did not mince his words when he urged the US military-industrial complex to take its course through its disastrous hegemonic approach that wreaked havoc in the world after the humiliating debacle in Afghanistan .
In contrast to his rather bluffing than substantial predecessor, President Raeisi did not play in the stands. He wasn’t talking around the bush. He didn’t use rhetoric to get his point across. He was brutally blunt, snappy, aggressive and yet so calm. He stared an enemy in the eye and pierced his inflated ego in front of the world.
The Iranian President’s speech on Tuesday evening is sure to go down as one of the most powerful and eloquent speeches at the UN General Assembly, held just hours after US President Joe Biden’s lackluster show in which he repeated the same empty promise in the 2015 Nuclear deal with Iran, of course without taking the first step.
President Raeisi, who took his oath of office in early August after a resounding victory in the June presidential election, took the opportunity to address world leaders directly for the first time, reminding them that the American war machine was running out of fuel is. He showed the “naked emperor” the mirror and dared to reveal his vanity and egocentrism.
Referring to two tragic incidents that rocked the world this year – the January 6 uprising in the U.S. Capitol and the desperate Afghans who fell to their death from a U.S. plane in Kabul on August 15 – the said Iranian President that the events carry a message that the US hegemonic project has no credibility and no takers, either domestically or abroad. Both incidents will haunt the haughty American rulers forever.
The US âidea of ââhegemonyâ and the project to impose a âwesternized identityâ on the region âfailed miserablyâ and the result was âbloodshed, instability and ultimately defeat and flightâ. catastrophic foreign military occupation of Afghanistan for 20 long years, which eventually ended in worst political and strategic debacle.
As President Raeisi noted, the foreign occupiers have not “withdrawn” but have been driven out of the war-ravaged South Asian country, and those who are paying the price for such “irrationality” are people from Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Palestine as well as American taxpayers.
He is spot on. The poisonous, belligerent hawks in the power corridors of Washington live in a bubble, isolated from what is happening around the world. They declare wars and military invasions from their ivory towers, and when the adventures backfire they call back their troops and pretend nothing happened. But, as former US President Abraham Lincoln once remarked, one cannot always fool everyone. His words may have been addressed to his political heirs.
The futility of American foreign military invasions, as President Raeisi skilfully pointed out in his speech to the UNGA, is something that even the hawks in Washington have recognized and deplored. The trillions of dollars spent on military adventures thousands of miles away without accomplishing any of the aforementioned goals is against logic. Worse still, these adventures have not only failed to bring peace and democracy, but have also spawned terrorism, instability and the mass displacement of vulnerable people.
President Raeisi’s reputation should not be ignored or played down. As he noted, the West needs to recognize that “the perseverance of nations is stronger than the power of superpowers,” which was clearly seen in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The so-called âsuperpowersâ ââand their heavily armed mercenaries had to eat humble cakes before the forces of the resistance.
The Iranian president, in his characteristic direct style, criticized the US for using sanctions as a tool to subjugate nations that refuse to submit to the American empire. Describing the brutal, crippling sanctions as “crimes against humanity”, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, President Raeisi reminded the international community that sanctions against Iran did not start with the country’s nuclear program but continued into the year Going back to 1951 when the Americans and the British jointly supported a military coup against a democratically elected government in Tehran.
In particular, he condemned sanctions against drugs and other humanitarian goods, calling them an “organized crime against humanity”. He also spoke about obstacles created by US sanctions against Iran’s efforts to import Covid-19 vaccines from “reliable international sources” and commended Iranian scientists for pioneering efforts to domestic production of theirs own vaccine.
It is important to note that Iran has fought a lonely battle against the pandemic in extremely difficult conditions. Despite a lack of resources and an acute shortage of drugs and equipment, health care workers have pulled out all the stops. Although medicine is technically exempt from sanctions, foreign companies have been pressured by anti-Iran hawks in Washington who have made no secret of their desire to smother Iranians to death.
In an address to world leaders, President Raeisi described the coronavirus as a “wake-up call” for the world and a timely reminder that “the security of all people depends on one another,” while calling for cooperation and coordination between them Countries in the field of health and vaccinations.
He went on to blow up the US âmaximum pressureâ campaign against Iran, an idea of ââformer US President Donald Trump which he described as a âtotal failureâ. “We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours,” he said, throwing the call in Biden’s court. This was the principled position of the new Iranian government, based on the instructions of the leader of the Islamic Revolution: The US must return to the agreement and lift the sanctions before Iran reviews and returns to full compliance.
President Raeisi praised Iran’s “intelligent and dynamic resistance” to the US campaign for maximum pressure and stressed that persistence “has produced results.” He rejected Western and Israeli media reports on Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, saying that the production and storage of nuclear weapons is against Iran’s strategic policy and is prohibited by religious decrees.
As the Iranian envoy to Vienna-based organizations Kazem Gharibabadi noted on Wednesday, those concerned about increasing Iran’s uranium enrichment to 60 percent ironically decided to put nuclear-powered submarines with over 90 percent highly enriched uranium (HEU) to sell to Australia. And let’s not forget that the regime that sees Iran as an existential threat is itself a nuclear power.
But Iran must not be provoked into a nuclear arms race. As President Raeisi pointed out, the strategic affairs of the Islamic Republic are rooted in the ideas of Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic revolution, as well as in Islamic concepts such as rationality and prudence, which were the basis of resistance against the arrogant powers.
The Iranian President also reminded western countries of the role played by the top anti-terrorism commanders General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in eliminating the Daesh threat, while reaffirming Iran’s policy of maintaining the stability and territorial integrity of all countries in the region. As President Raeisi noted, the terrorist group would be knocking on Europe’s doors today if it had not been for the two legendary anti-Daesh commanders.
He attributed the growth of terrorism to the “futility and spirituality” of modern life as well as to poverty, discrimination and oppression. The use of terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy is even worse. “You can’t set a terrorist group like ISIS in one place and claim to fight it elsewhere,” he said in a volley aimed at common suspects.
To ensure that nations decide their fate without outside interference, the Iranian President outlined two basic requirements: an end to foreign aggression and occupation, and sincere cooperation in the fight against terrorism. In the same breath he denounced the American military presence in Syria and Iraq as the âgreatest obstacleâ to promoting democracy. “Freedom doesn’t fit in the backpacks of soldiers who come from outside the region,” he said.
In a damning indictment against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, President Raeisi said a government that is not inclusive without the effective participation of all ethnic groups is âdoomedâ and cannot bring security to the troubled country. Importantly, Iran and many other countries in the region have repeatedly called for an inclusive government structure in Afghanistan after the US, but the demands have been ignored by the militant group and an all-male-Taliban cabinet has been announced.
President Raeisi also spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, calling it “worrying” and calling on the world to break “its silence” about foreign aggression in the Arab country. He further said the sweeping blockade of the beleaguered Gaza enclave in Palestine had made it the “largest prison in the world”, slammed the so-called “deal of the century” and called for an inclusive referendum as proposed by the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei years ago.
The Iranian President said goodbye by shaking hands of friendship to all countries, especially neighboring countries, for âcomprehensive political and economic cooperationâ.
“A new era has begun,” announced President Raeisi, saying that Iran is ready to do its part “for a better world”. But will the world play the ball? That remains a question.
Syed Zafar Mehdi is a Tehran based journalist, editor and blogger with over 10 years of experience. He has reported extensively from Kashmir, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran for leading publications worldwide.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)