On Wednesday, September 19, the global community had to endure for 35 minutes what the Iranian people have stomached for 45 years. While the attention of world leaders, the media, and the public in New York was focused on the words of state leaders, Ebrahim Raisi, known in his country for mass killings and executions, took the stage to chastise the United Nations for neglecting its main mission: safeguarding the rights of nations.
Raisi’s disjointed speech lacked a clear and constructive message for the international audience, although this was not surprising for political observers familiar with Iran issues. However, it shed light on the regime’s priorities and concerns, as it is desperately struggling to project dominance and control over an explosive society.
Alongside absurd claims of being a universal guardian of Islam, the Quran, Asian and African countries, and even “the sacred institution of the family,” Raisi argued that Western countries are on the verge of collapse. Notwithstanding numerous accounts of former Iranian state officials speaking about the risk of regime overthrow in the last 18 months, Raisi stated that “we,” referring to his regime, symbolizes the future.
In the segment where Raisi briefly mentioned Afghanistan, the Ukraine conflict, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it appeared to be the only part that might have been intended for an external audience. However, given his mischaracterization of these topics, it once again demonstrated to the world that, apart from deceit and schemes, the regime had nothing substantial to offer.
During the UN General Assembly, an exceptional platform where heads of state address the global audience once a year, Ebrahim Raisi chose to devote six minutes of his speech to discuss terrorism. In his closing statements on this matter, he chastised European nations for not quashing the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) as per Tehran’s wishes. Despite his reluctance to enumerate his grievances against the Iranian resistance, he inadvertently shed light on the paramount threat his regime is facing.
It’s crucial to highlight that over the last three months, the two main IRGC-affiliated news agencies have spread falsehoods, fabricated information, and engaged in slander against the PMOI/MEK in more than 230 instances. Notably, each of these instances of misinformation was amplified by 50 other media outlets within the state. Within this quarter, a staggering approximately 12,000 false news pieces directed at the MEK were disseminated by just these two news agencies for the Persian-speaking audience worldwide.
For those familiar with the clerical regime’s style and literature, it was evident that Raisi’s primary audience was not in New York or even the capitals of the five continents, but primarily inside Iran. Over the past four decades, various presidents of this regime have exploited the General Assembly stage with different tones and gestures, engaging in verbal deception, cunning, or false displays of power. From Ebrahim Raisi, whose name has been synonymous with killing Iranians for the past forty years, one should not expect a message of peace and tolerance for all of mankind.
Ebrahim Raisi, a vital member of the “Death committee” in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in #Iran, is scheduled to speak at the #UNGA on September 19. It's crucial to hold him accountable. @CFR_org#ProsecuteRaisiNOW pic.twitter.com/P3og0YdvhP
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) September 18, 2023
Ebrahim Raisi’s baseless claims and irrational statements may appear contradictory to his regime’s actions to a global audience. However, his intention, as well as the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has most definitely dictated his text, was to demonstrate to the regime’s officials and guardians that we absolutely do not yield to international demands and will project power to all.
While the claim of “the decline of the liberal democracy system” might seem absurd to world leaders, it was quite crucial for Khamenei’s targeted audience; the low-morale, tight-knit paramilitary and intelligence loyalists who need to believe that since these statements were made at the UN General Assembly, they must be true.
Indeed, apart from Raisi’s rhetoric at the UN, the actions and conduct of the Iranian regime’s delegation in New York aligned with a consistent agenda. The purported journalists accompanying Raisi made efforts to intimidate Iranian dissidents and Persian-language media activists, disrupting their programs and engaging in bullying theatrics and aggressive language for public display. These orchestrated events were aimed at affirming to Iranians both within the country and abroad that the clerical regime wields control on various fronts.
The so-called diplomatic team pushed for photo-ops and brief encounters with officials from other countries, they conveyed headlines and images to domestic news agencies, pretending that behind these artificial smiles and diplomatic gestures lies something more than concern about international isolation. The timing of this trip coinciding with the release of American hostages, although it provided substantial material for Western media, was Khamenei’s way of showing his dismayed forces that he also controls the US and has made them vulnerable.
For individuals self-identifying with political involvement largely characterized by a policy of appeasement and acquiescence, a regime entrenched in terrorism and employing coercive rhetoric may project an image of strength. However, for those burdened solely by suffering and adversity, these superficial gestures assume a different connotation. While the international community finds itself compelled to uphold diplomatic immunity and endure human rights transgressions, the Iranian populace has come to acknowledge the necessity of engaging with aggressors on a balanced and equitable basis.
Another noteworthy and equally significant aspect of Raisi’s address lay in his assertion that contrary to the widely observed and deduced outcome of the 2022 uprising, his administration is not teetering on the brink of overthrow. As in this particular segment, Raisi became the loudest and tried to appear convinced, he unwillingly offered a glimpse into what may well be the most profound fear harbored by his regime.