TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday voting in a parliamentary election this week is "a religious duty” for Iranians as the nation geared up to go to polls on Friday.
"Today, voting is not only a revolutionary and national responsibility, but it is also a religious duty,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
"Elections nullify many of the vicious plots the Americans have in their minds and Zionists have in their hearts against the country,” the Leader said.
Iranians are set to elect a new parliament on Friday, with principlists expected to make a resurgence. Campaigning will end on Thursday, on the eve of the vote, for which 58 million Iranians are eligible to vote out of a population of 83 million.
Friday’s election comes after months of steeply escalating tensions between Iran and the United States.
Tensions with Washington have risen since 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions.
In retaliation, Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the deal. Tehran says its steps are reversible if European parties to the agreement fulfill their promises of shielding Iran’s economy from U.S. penalties.
But they have never come as close to a direct confrontation as in the past seven months, when it has happened twice, most recently after the U.S. assassinated prominent Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on January 3.
Iran hit back on January 8 by firing a barrage of missiles at U.S. troops in Iraq.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the elections are a means to strengthen the country and would show that Iran’s enemies had failed to divide the nation, adding a weak parliament will have long-term affects and negatively affect Iran’s fight against enemies.
"Watch how the people favor the election despite the enemies’ insistence on distancing the people from the system,” the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the elections are taking place at a critical time of U.S. pressure and attempts to drive a wedge between the Iranian nation and government.
The Leader called elections a contributor to the strength of the country and said the U.S. formed think tanks of dozens or hundreds of people to plan to alienate the Iranian people and the youth in particular from the government.
He referred to the massive turnout of the people on the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution last Tuesday and in processions to honor General Soleimani earlier.
"The same thing should happen in the elections, meaning that the enemies should see for themselves that, in spite of their persistence in attempting to drive a wedge between the people and the establishment, people receive the elections well, which is reason for pride for the Islamic establishment.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said friends and foes alike were watching the elections.
"Enemies want to know what all of their attempts, the economic difficulties that exist in the country, the perfidy of the Westerners and
the Europeans (in the Iran deal matter) toward Iran, and all the pressures — the maximum pressure, as they call it themselves — have finally done to the Iranian people,” the Leader said.
"Our friends all over the world, too, are watching with concern to see what happens.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said the "first-class idiots in the U.S. are once again lining up to say some nonsense about” Iran. "Partially, what they say is to affect the elections... to make people despair of the ballot box,” the Leader said.
"The nonsense they speak is also partially to make up for their ineffectiveness,” he added, referring to how the regional tide had turned against America after the assassination of General Soleimani.
"The Americans wanted our dear martyr (General Soleimani), who had a very deep impact on the region, to be taken out so that they could prevail. Things turned out the opposite way.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said the U.S. has done all in its power — in military, political, security, economic, cultural, and media terms — over the past 40 years to topple the Iranian establishment. Not only did America fail in those attempts, the Leader said, but it also saw the Iranian establishment grow "a thousand times” stronger.
The Leader said the U.S. was the most indebted country in the world — with 22 trillion dollars in national debt — and was merely making itself up to look good.
Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to the story of the British giant passenger ship RMS Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, and said, "Just as the splendor of the famous ship Titanic did not stop it from sinking, attempts to make up America’s appearance do not stop it from sinking, either, and America will sink.”
The Leader said Iran was opposed to no nation or race but only to arrogance and tyranny.
"America has dozens of bases in the countries around ours, but if something happens one day, these bases will be of use neither to America nor to those who give their money to it... because American arrogance is collapsing.”