Speaking to attendees at the 25th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on Friday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said:
“The developments and revolutions in the region and also the repeated retreats of the United States and the hegemonistic machines and the increasing weakness of the Zionist regime are unique opportunities for the Islamic ummah [Muslim people]which must be taken full advantage of…. Despite all the pressure and conspiracies, the Islamic Revolution… has stood firm, grown day by day, and its power has increased.”
Tehran Times ran a story about Khamenei’s remarks on Saturday and so did Mehr News, an Iranian news outlet located in Tehran, but Western news sources completely ignored his statement. The Western media did pick up on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment to the same audience that “[w]ithin the next few days the world will witness the inauguration of several big new achievements in the nuclear field.”
It’s not surprising that Western news sources picked up on Ahmadinejad’s proclamation, cryptic though it was, since Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is front page news all over the world, but it’s shocking that they failed to grasp the significance of Khamenei’s remarks. From his perspective, the Arab Spring, Islamist political gains in Turkey, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan, and headway made by Palestinians in their effort to destroy Israel, for example, dovetail perfectly with Iran’s emergence as a regional power in the Middle East and a potential nuclear power. The Western media’s failure to take note of Khamenei’s speech is all the more alarming since he is the head of Iran’s government, not Ahmadinejad.
Western ignorance where Islam and Iran are concerned is breathtaking. If we continue to ignore and/or make light of what is being done and said openly by Islamists leaders, particularly Islamist leaders in Iran, there will be hell to pay.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.