The commander of Iran’s notorious Basij forces declared Monday that the Islamic Republic’s ultimate goal is the destruction of America and Israel.
“Today there is no mandate to end our fight because Iran’s greatness in the region and the repeated losses by the Zionists and America are the proof of our fight up to today,” Gen. Mohammad Naghdi said, according to Fars News Agency. “Our ideal is not [nuclear] centrifuges but the destruction of the White House and the annihilation of Zionism [Israel].”
The regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also called for the continuation of the fight to destroy America, saying: “This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought. … This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and a need for great strides.”
Naghdi denounced comments by the Rouhani government over the weekend on a possible referendum on the country’s nuclear issue in an effort to remove international sanctions and negotiate a solution with the West.
“Those who have no faith in our ideals and in the name of rationalism have drawn a line on these goals and talk of ending the fight must speak honestly that they are no longer revolutionaries because we will continue with our goals,” Naghdi said.
President Hassan Rouhani stressed economic reforms during a speech on Sunday at an economic conference in Tehran.
“As the enforcer of our constitution, I would like, even for once, to see conditions ripe to implement a tenet of the common law calling for major issues — economic, social, political and cultural — to be put to public referendum rather than parliamentary vote,” Rouhani said.
Naghdi countered that “the prophet [Mohammad] and Amir Almomenin [(the title given to the Shiites’ first Imam, Ali)] until the last days of their lives were engaged in preparing their forces to fight against the enemy and the imam [referring to the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] in the last days of his life had more revolutionary enthusiasm than before.”
While the civilian government is run by Rouhani, the real power in Iran is in the hands of the clerics. Naghdi answers directly to the Revolutionary Guards and Khamenei, and thus his comments are aimed not only at the West but also at the civilian government. Rouhani, who is regarded in the West as a moderate, has a history of deception and ruthlessness.
Naghdi, who was born in Iraq, was a member of the Iranian Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards’ extraterritorial unit, and involved in international terrorism before Khamenei appointed him to command the Basij in 2009.
He has previously threatened to assassinate American generals in retaliation for the killings of Iranian nuclear scientists. The Basij Force is a volunteer paramilitary force operating under the Revolutionary Guards and specializes in internal security, law enforcement and special religious or political events and morals policing, according to the U.S. Institute of Peace. Khamenei has mobilized the Basij to counter perceived threats to the regime in the wake of the sanctions, which have crippled Iran’s economy.
The Basij commander referred to the statement made by the founder of the Islamic Republic that the fight will continue for the freedom of Palestine.
“All promises of our great Imam [Khameini] have come true,” Naghdi said. “We have overcome all conspiracies of the enemies, created new forces and soon, God willing, will do our prayers in Beitol Moghadas [Jerusalem].”
The regime has been awarded $2.8 billion in sanctions relief by the Obama administration in return for an agreement on a four-month extension to the Geneva talks in finding a peaceful solution to its illegitimate nuclear program.
The Islamic regime had received $7 billion in sanctions relief after the negotiated agreement in November 2013 with a six-month deadline to finalize the agreement, but it has so far refused to back down from its demand that it continue developing its nuclear program. It has also succeeded in excluding from the talks its ballistic missile program, which is also under U.N. sanctions.
The next round of nuclear talks with the world powers is set to start on Jan. 15 in Geneva.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).