The official website of Iran's Supreme Leader interviewed me about US policy, Saudi Arabia, and the Qatar crisis, but censored my mild criticism of Iran.

The official website of Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, khamenei.ir, recently interviewed me to discuss US policy toward Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia and the Qatar crisis. The editors, however, chose to censor a portion of my interview that was just slightly critical of the Iranian government — even while falsely claiming that what was published is the “full text of the interview”.

In light of this censorship, here is the full text, with the censored portion restored (red text):

What does history teach us in dealing with US?

By “us”, I assume you mean Iranians, in which case there are obvious lessons in the US’s role in overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, installation and sustainment of the Shah regime, support for Iraq’s war on Iran in the 1980s, the US shootdown of a civilian Iranian airliner in 1988, its efforts to isolate Iran for its nuclear program despite it being under IAEA safeguards and despite the US’s own intelligence having assessed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, and its efforts to collectively punish the civilian population of Iran (i.e., “sanctions” targeting Iran’s economy).

The general lesson form the history of US policy toward Iran is that the US regards Iran as a rogue state because it refuses to follow marching orders from Washington, D.C. US policy centers around sustaining pretexts for punishing both the government and the people of Iran for disobedience.

Does challenging US has a lower price than appeasing it? What does the Saudi arms deal with US prove?

The answer to the first question depends on how much one values Iran remaining independent of Washington, as well as what it means to “challenge” or “appease” the US. If challenging the US means refusing to follow orders from Washington because it would not be in the best interests of the Iranian people, then I think the cost of appeasing the US is far higher. But that’s ultimately a subjective valuation the people of Iran themselves need to make. There is a legitimate concern in the West that the form of government which exists in Iran today does not lend the Iranian people the voice they deserve.

Washington, however, pretenses to the contrary aside, is not interested in establishing “democracy” in Iran. Democracy is fine, in the view of US policymakers, so long as elections go the right way.

Why does US broadens ties with Saudi dictatorship but ignores huge turnout in Iran’s election?

My rough assessment on that is that the Trump administration places great value on sustaining US dollar hegemony. The Saudis have long played a role in that with its trading of oil in US dollars and its recycling of those petrodollars back into the US economy, such as through arms purchases. This concern about sustaining US dollar hegemony trumps all else (no pun intended).

As for Iran’s election, I don’t think it is a matter of the US not paying attention. Rather, the expected result occurred and since the status quo is thus sustained, it doesn’t pop up on Washington’s radar as a priority issue to focus on.

What is the reason for desperate moves of Saudi regime in escalating tensions in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain?

The Saudi regime seems paranoid that Iran’s influence poses a threat to its existence and is lashing out wherever it perceives policies or circumstances to be aligned the wrong way. We can of course now add Qatar to this list, even though Qatar has been Saudi Arabia’s (and the CIA’s) partner in arming extremist groups in Syria.

Saudi Arabia is essentially engaging in the very kinds of behaviors the US accuses Iran of doing or aspiring to do, only instead of censuring the Saudi regime for its war crimes, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses at home, the US provides the regime with the means to commit those crimes.

Its actions illustrate how isolated and vulnerable the Saudi regime is fundamentally, but it does have a powerful benefactor.

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