Major General Mohsen Rezaei To Al-Ahed: Hezbollah Is One Of The Centers For Transmitting Revolutionary Experiences
By Mokhtar Haddad
Tehran - On the twentieth anniversary of the defeat of the Zionist enemy in southern Lebanon and this year’s Resistance and Liberation Day, Al-Ahed sat down with the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, Major General Mohsen Rezaei.
This was fighting for years even before the Islamic revolution. He became the first commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps when he was 27 years old.
Today he is an influential figure within Iran’s political arena as well as internationally. The Quds Force was established during his leadership of the Revolutionary Guards. He is also one of the figures who presented military, political, and economic theories.
Below is the full transcript of the interview:
- From the Mansourin organization to being the first commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard before the age of thirty, what does General Mohsen Rezaei say about this experience?
Our great people have a long history of struggle with colonialism. That is, during a period of 100 years, we fought colonialism – Tsarist Russia’s colonialism, British colonialism, and American colonialism – from the rise of the constitutional revolution, the rise of oil nationalization, the uprising of June 6, 1963, and the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979. All these unfolded during 100 years of struggle.
No people struggled as long as our people. Eventually, we achieved victory, and the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 is one piece of the Iranian people’s revolutionary struggle throughout history.
We fought against Tsarist Russia and Britain. And with the nationalization of oil, we started a great struggle. The Americans entered the scene again. On June 6, 1963, we continued the struggle until February 11, 1979.
When I was 17 years old, I began the revolutionary work and struggle. In 1971, I founded with my friends the Mansouroun group in school. And we started the struggle against the Shah’s regime.
These experiences were important to me in terms of the victory of the Islamic revolution. During that period, we learned how to struggle and developed political insight. We also learned how to establish combat groups. We were arrested, imprisoned, and endured a lot of torture.
We learned security and intelligence work, and this was an important asset for me. Therefore, when the Islamic revolution escalated in 1978 and Imam Khomeini entered the fight, we went into the battlefield with good experience and organization. We already had an organization and groups affiliated to Mansouroun in seven provinces and 17 cities. We were dealt one or two strikes in the cities of Yazd, Dezful, and Isfahan, but we maintained our organization.
Our main struggle began in 1978 and 1979 under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, and the Islamic Revolution triumphed. We benefited directly from these experiences after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, especially in establishing the first security and intelligence organization following the victory of the revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
- You’ve been part of the Guards leadership for 16 years … and the Liwa al-Quds [Quds Brigade]. What does Palestine mean to Lt. Gen. Rezaei at a time when we are on the cusp of Quds Day?
One of our main slogans in the 100 years of our struggle against tyranny was liberating Palestine and opposing Zionism. At the time when we had not completed our victory against the Shah’s regime, we considered the struggle of the Palestinian people as part of our revolution. We did not say that there was an Iranian revolution in Iran and an Arab struggle and in Palestine. We did not separate the two.
We considered the struggle against the Shah a struggle against "Israel", which is one struggle. We evaluate these struggles in accordance with the concept of the Islamic Revolution. They were one revolution, a joint revolution.
We believe that the rise of Palestine and its resistance and the confrontation of the Palestinian people with the Zionists are the front line of a civilized struggle.
History shows us that there has been 200 years of crusade wars. Extremists from various European countries, from Italy, from France, and from hundreds of kilometers came to the Sham area and Palestine and fought Muslims.
After a period of calm and quiet, the Europeans came up with the "Israeli" cause and sent the Zionists to Palestine and started a war with us at home. At the beginning, and with the help of Britain, they occupied our lands. Then America helped them, too. Thus, a civilization frontline was established for the confrontation.
In other words, the Western - American - colonial civilization was at war and in confrontation with the Islamic civilization.
On the other hand, there is a confrontation between two ways of thinking in Palestine – the Islamic doctrine facing off with the imperialist and Western colonial doctrine that wants to control the Islamic world and does not want the existence of Islam. We also see a confrontation between two powers, the emerging Islamic power against the European and American ones. The Westerners came early to prevent this power from emerging. That is why Palestine is the frontline of our struggle and our civilization as well as our ideology.
The war in Palestine is between Islam and infidelity, and this is an important issue. For us, at any time in the history of our struggle and our lives, we never considered Palestine separate from us, but rather the main line of our struggle.
- What is General Rezaei’s message to the Mujahideen in Palestine after all your experiences?
To the Mujahideen in Palestine, we suggest that there be an international renaissance of Palestine. In the past, when "Israel" took measures against the Palestinians, people in various countries of the world, including America, Europe and Islamic countries, took to the streets and held anti-“Israel” demonstrations. However, this is not enough anymore. The Palestinian revolutionaries must establish an international renaissance against "Israel". And all Muslims in the world can be members of this renaissance.
“Israel” has a supporter in the name of Zionism. This supporter has a network around the world. And the struggle against the Zionist entity in the occupied territories is not enough. Rather, we must have an international democratic awakening against Zionism. Here, the Palestinians must move forward in this direction and carry the banner of this new renaissance.
In Europe, America, and Africa, there are many supporters of Palestine who believe that "Israel" should disappear. Many support holding democratic elections in Palestine in order for people to write their constitution. They support the return of the Palestinian refugees to their country, taking part in elections, and having the right to vote. If these millions of Palestinian refugees return to their homeland and free and democratic elections are held, the situation will be different.
Inside Palestine, the defense features must be strengthened day after day, and Palestinian fighters must innovate and possess techniques to neutralize radar systems and launch rockets more accurately.
- By virtue of the post, how did Imam Khomeini see the Zionist invasion of Lebanon, and what did he charge the Revolutionary Guards with at that stage?
During the days when the Zionist occupation attacked Lebanon, Imam Khomeini said: ‘As soon as possible, go to Lebanon and help. But try to make your presence there as support, training, and transferring medical expertise and services. Participate in the military field in a limited way, so that the Lebanese people, the Syrian people, and the peoples of the region could establish a real front. That recommendation led to the dispatch of a minimal force to Lebanon and Syria. And we started supporting people to get them up on their feet.
We did not launch a military campaign like the rest of the countries. Rather, we empowered and organized the people so that the Lebanese, with our support, can stand up to "Israel". The Imam believed that Lebanon was able to confront "Israel".
"Give Lebanon this ability," he said. The Lebanese are able to defeat "Israel". It is not true what is being said that all Islamic countries must join forces to defeat "Israel". Lebanon alone is sufficient to defeat "Israel".
Imam Khomeini told us to go, train, and transfer experiences and establish hospitals. Through the transfer of experience, allow the Lebanese youth to form a national resistance on their own.
The same recommendation led us to send less troops to Lebanon. Initially, we thought that we would send five or six legions or brigades. But after Imam Khomeini gave us this piece of advice, we went to empower and prepare Lebanon in the field of defense.
- Amid the atmosphere of the anniversary of the Resistance and Liberation Day – the glory of May – what is your message to Lebanon’s resistance and people?
My brotherly message to the dear and sincere people of Lebanon and my suggestion to them is that the people should not miss this because it made history. This resistance inspired many of the resistance forces and gave a new spirit to the resistance in Palestine. It also established the Islamic awakening.
My suggestion is for the Lebanese people to carry the banner of the awakening with all their might, and I am sure that they will achieve great victories in the future.
Today in Lebanon, along with the resistance, the issue of the economy is important. Aside from strong defenses it is useful to have economic strength in Lebanon. Lebanon was one of the major trading centers in the region and one of the largest financial centers in the world. It was also one of the tourism centers in the world. The Lebanese people understand economy well, and there are a lot of creative youths.
This is the day when it is good for the Lebanese to start an economic movement and renaissance in order to be a support for the resistance. The fruits of the resistance are not in security and defense only, but also in the economy and in people's lives.
Planning for the prosperity of the Lebanese economy is one of the most important things that we expect our brothers in Lebanon and to follow up on. Following up on the issue of economic prosperity should be more serious than before. Of course, a good job has been done in the field of health, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Today, there is a significant void in economic development in Lebanon.
- How does Major General, Rezaei, view the Islamic resistance in Lebanon and the development of its capabilities since the liberation until today?
The resistance has had a very good development. Today, the resistance has become a revolutionary force. National reliance is the greatest achievement of the Iranian and Lebanese people, even in Iraq and Syria. That is why we suggested forming a popular mobilization to complete the security and defense in both countries.
Hezbollah in Lebanon achieved a high level of capabilities. In the Arab world today, Hezbollah is one of the centers for transmitting revolutionary experiences. Today, the Lebanese revolutionary experience has become beneficial to many resistance forces in countries that are being occupied, facing invading armies, or fighting terrorists like Daesh.
The experiences of Lebanon’s Hezbollah in Syria were very influential in forming the national army. We have very good cooperation with our dear brothers in the Syrian army.
- Commander Qassem Soleimani has always represented the strong link between the Islamic Republic and the resistance factions in the region. Did the assassination of the major general constitute a blow to this link or weaken it?
The Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force was formed after the sacred defense. Initially, I appointed my dear brother, Brigadier Wahidi, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force. A few years later, my dear brother, Qassem Soleimani became the commander of the Quds Force. And now Brigadier General Qaani is the commander of the Quds Force. This chain of command shows the coherence or consistency of this powerful and great group, but we must admit that the martyr Major General Hajj Qassem Soleimani created a major shift in the resistance front. That is, his ideas and his school of thought created a major change in the resistance front from Palestine to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and all Islamic lands and made the Islamic resistance international.
In other words, the resistance, which was largely in Lebanon and Afghanistan, attained an important position on the international arena during the leadership of martyr Qassem Soleimani. Therefore, his name, knowledge, ideas, and banner will always be shining on the resistance front.
- The Islamic Republic is facing the global coronavirus pandemic in light of the unjust US and Western sanctions. What is the message that Iran is conveying through its success with this challenge?
In the Islamic Revolution, we have an equation that converts threats into opportunities, which I call the technique of the revolution. It consists of three stages: First, we create opportunities by resisting. Then, we take advantage of these opportunities. After that, we build the necessary systems and institutions.
In other words, we not only extinguish any fire that escalates, we also create green and prosperous pastures from the same fire. For example, during the Holy Defense, we rebuilt Iran's power for the first time in 300 years. Not only did we drive Saddam out of our land, but we also created a very strong defense force. If it weren't for war, we wouldn't be able to do that.
The coronavirus is a global disease that has caused large countries such as the United States and developed countries such as Germany to kneel. Almost everyone in the world sees their failure.
The Americans themselves admitted they were defeated by the coronavirus, but we emerged victorious.
Not only did we emerge victorious, we have also made impressive strides in the medical and health industry, in medical sciences, in the sciences of healthcare and treatment, and in the production of medicines. We have made an amazing development. Now, we have reached the export stage. We are now exporting anti-coronavirus products, including masks, special diagnostic kits, and other products to European countries. This is a great achievement and a victory.
- The US occupation is still maneuvering using the Daesh card in Iraq. Could this lead to a return to the time of Daesh control of Iraqi areas and the expansion of the American occupation?
The new Daesh is 100 percent American. The previous Daesh was also American, and the Americans managed to run Daesh through a series of people close to them.
In an area between Syria and Iraq – from the area surrounding Ain al-Assad to the Syrian border – the Americans want to train, organize, and use Daesh in terrorist acts in Syria and Iraq. Somehow, they want to rebuild their military failure and broken prestige, which of course will fail again.
Just as the previous Daesh was defeated, the new Daesh will be defeated because the Popular Mobilization Forces [Hashd al-Shaabi] and the Iraqi army today is more experienced and better organized than those that existed when Daesh first emerged. Of course, with the previous Daesh, “Israel” had more influence than the Americans. With the new Daesh, even though the “Israelis” are present, the Americans and the CIA are responsible for organizing the terrorist group.
- The Yemeni people are still suffering from the unjust US-Saudi siege despite the coronavirus pandemic. What is your message to the forces of aggression?
The Yemeni resistance largely unveiled the inhumane face of Europe, America, and the Al-Saud family. The Yemenis are resisting remarkably. They are besieged and cannot get water, food, or fuel. In addition to the blockade, they are being bombed. They have also been suffering from infectious diseases, such as cholera for more than three years, which has infected more than 200,000 people.
The resistance of the Yemeni people deserves praise, and there are no people in the world that face three wars simultaneously – an economic war, a military war, and war against diseases.
The resistance of the Yemenis is unique and one-of-kind, and it must be called a miracle of resistance. The Yemeni people have made a great miracle. On the other hand, the inhumane face of Europe, America, and Saudi Arabia has been revealed. In the future, this disgraceful spot created by the Saudis with the help of the colonialists will turn into dangerous protests, even in Saudi Arabia. Certainly, the Yemeni people will triumph as God promised.