In a videoconference with the participants of a ceremony honoring the veterans of the Sacred Defense (Sep. 21, 2020), Imam Khamenei described the leadership and command of the late Imam Khomeini (may God have mercy on him) as being very sensitive and amazing from the beginning to the end of the Sacred Defense.
How could an elderly cleric in his eighties manage the war?
This was how the imposed war and our Sacred Defense began. It is here that one can see the very sensitive and astonishing leadership and command of our magnanimous Imam. It was under these circumstances that Imam managed to handle and to run the beginning and then the continuation of the movement with his vision and willpower. Some people deny his role, wondering how an old clergy aged 80-plus years was able to manage the Armed Forces in the war. They think that the management of war and military command is synonymous with transferring and dispatching soldiers and units here and there. However, this was not the case. Imam’s command and role covered other areas: first of all, Imam’s great feat was that he understood how large the battle was in magnitude and scope. From the beginning, he understood what the war meant. Many of us did not understand that.
Well, it happens many times that two neighboring countries clash with one another and this is not of great significance. However, Imam understood from the beginning that it was not a normal confrontation between two neighbors. He identified the enemy and realized from the beginning who the main enemy was. He understood that Saddam was a mere instrument. In many speeches, he spoke about the war and about the Sacred Defense. For example, in some speeches about the war, he would say that the US and the Soviet Union were competing over who was worse than the other and that England was even worse than those two. In other words, he was addressing those who were the main elements of the war and who were acting behind the scenes of the war, as he had correctly realized.
Bringing people onto the scene
Secondly, Imam made a fundamental and vital estimation: he realized that that important issue could only be resolved by the Iranian nation. He understood that the issue was not all about the Armed Forces. Although the Armed Forces improved their condition, later on, the task could be accomplished by the Iranian nation. It was the Iranian nation who should show its presence in the arena. As it was the Iranian nation who helped the Revolution achieve victory, it was also the Iranian nation who should help win the war. Imam correctly recognized this and acted accordingly and he launched that great movement – later on, I will explain this more.
Another point is about his personality, his spiritual influence and his sincerity and genuine statements. Whenever he spoke, the signs of trustworthiness and sincerity were visible to everyone. Everyone knew that he was telling the truth. We can also refer to his vision and sharp-sightedness. He could see the depth of matters and very delicate details. He was really the manifestation of this couplet: "The elderly can see in raw clay what youth see in the mirror.” Sometimes we and military officials would refer to him to ask about his opinion over certain matters and he sometimes raised points that really astonished all of us.
He also exhibited exemplary decisiveness. His showed extraordinary decisiveness. He would decisively order things that seemed impossible in the true sense of the word. For example, he said firmly that the siege of Abadan should be lifted. Well, when they laid siege to Abadan, I was in Ahwaz and no one could have imagined that the siege of Abadan would be lifted. However, Imam said very firmly that it should happen. He equally said that Khorramshahr should be liberated. A little while before that, he said that Susangerd should be freed. In other words, he would firmly ask for things that seemed impossible to the people who were present there. Such was Imam’s leadership, guidance and command. Unfortunately, Imam’s role has been ignored in the writings and discussions that exist about the war.
Seeing God’s power in the balances
I wish to raise another point about the way Imam faced that matter. During various stages of war, Imam adopted different positions in accordance with the circumstances and he would raise the main point. Once, a certain incident took place in the arena of the war that had made the people lose their morale and he felt the need to raise their morale. So, he tried to raise their spirit and humiliate the enemy. He said, "A thief has come and flung a stone and he has escaped.” This means that our soldiers – who were in the frontlines – were chasing an enemy on the run. This is how he would raise the people’s morale. And sometimes, it was necessary to prevent soldiers from becoming overconfident. For example, our soldiers had managed to liberate Khorramshahr after a deadly and extraordinary month – well, it was an astonishing and great achievement for our soldiers, our Army, our Guards Corps and Basij to retake Khorramshahr from the enemy – but this could have led to overconfidence. So, in order to prevent our forces from becoming overconfident – as it would deliver a serious blow to all those who were in charge of affairs in every area – Imam said, "It was God who liberated Khorramshahr!” This means that we are mere instruments and he attributed the victory to divine intervention and divine power. Such statements are necessary in these circumstances.
And sometimes, soldiers faced certain difficulties and they needed encouragement and warm words. Imam would encourage them saying, "I kiss the soldiers’ arms.” In other words, he was vigilant. He would utter every word that was necessary like a kind father and like a strong and well-informed manager. Therefore, in our research and in the work that is done in this area, Imam’s role should definitely become clear.