Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a group of students on Wednesday that Iranian youth will “witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel.”
Reuters puckishly noted that Khamenei “gave no further details” about how these demises would come about, but he expounded further on the idea in a Wednesday morning tweet:
I declare it firmly that the Western civilization is declining. Even Western intellectuals have felt it. Societies' events and evolutions occur over time. The Western and materialistic civilization we see today is treading the path towards destruction.https://t.co/sicAPVjUao
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 23, 2019
The irascible ayatollah also blasted the secular wing of Iranian government under President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, unusually castigating Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif by name for the nuclear deal they negotiated with former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015.
“To some extent, I did not believe in the way that the nuclear deal was implemented. Many times I reminded both the president and the foreign minister,” Khamenei told the student group he was addressing.
Khamenei amusingly cited a letter he wrote to Rouhani in 2015 complaining about the terms of the nuclear deal as proof he was skeptical all along, even though the letter was actually written over three months after the deal was signed.
Khamenei insisted the Supreme Leader does not “intervene” in the affairs of the government, which is obviously not true, but it is a fiction that allows the theocracy to blame everything that goes wrong in Iran on the subordinate secular administration.
He did this explicitly during his remarks to the students, saying, “There are certain shortcomings with officials and some officials are not competent enough in handling affairs.”
Some observers thought this was meant as a rebuke to Rouhani for requesting enhanced powers to deal with emergencies caused by the restoration of U.S. sanctions against Iran, and as a retort to opposition critics who demand – sometimes from behind bars – that Khamenei should resign and dissolve the position of Supreme Leader.
Khamenei endorsed the nuclear deal when it was signed, but Iranian “hardliners” soon began criticizing the results, accusing the U.S. and Europe of delivering insufficient benefits in exchange for a temporary slowdown of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Criticism of the deal as poorly negotiated from the outset intensified after President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018.
Voice of America News noted Khamenei did not directly address mounting military tensions with the United States, but one of the students in the audience approached the Supreme Leader with a painting of his father, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who was ostensibly killed by the U.S. Navy in the 1980s while laying mines in the Persian Gulf to destroy civilian tankers during Iran’s war with Iraq. Iranian officials have threatened to attack shipping in the Gulf or close off the Strait of Hormuz to retaliate for U.S. sanctions.