On Twitter, the Supreme Leader routinely breaks out into rants and histrionics about the glory of the Islamic Republic, the failings of the “Great Satan” America, the recent nuclear deal and the “Zionist regime” Israel. And he does so in a variety of languages, tweeting out from not only his Persian account, but also from his Spanish, Arabic and English handles too. But this time, his ramblings have gone a step further.
In a tweet posted on Wednesday, October 21, the Supreme Leader has, for the first time, made a direct attack on US President Barack Obama.
Addressing him as “POTUS” – POTUS is President Obama’s handle on Twitter, albeit without the customary @sign — Ayatollah Khamenei accused the president of “backing internal conspiracies” in Iran. Although the ayatollah does not clarify what he means by “conspiracies,” the comment would suggest people that favor reform in the country.
POTUS claims in his 2 letters to me that he is not after regime change in Iran soon proved as a lie with him backing internal conspiracies.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) October 21, 2015
Khamenei’s English account first became active on Twitter in early 2009 and now has nearly 160,000 followers — although ordinary Iranians are banned from using the social network. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani also both have accounts, and they both follow the ayatollah.
It is thought that the Supreme Leader’s office, and not the ayatollah himself, runs the social media account, although the office has neither confirmed nor denied it. The tweets, which are often riddled with spelling or syntax mistakes, are either written in the first or third person, suggesting someone other than Ayatollah Khamenei runs the feed at least part of the time.
Although this is the first tweet that is directly critical of President Obama, Khamenei’s Twitter account regularly comments and condemns US actions and affairs. In July this year, a picture of a silhouetted figure holding a gun to his head wearing a white shirt and red tie was posted on the account with the words,
“We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but if any war happens, the one who will emerge loser will be the aggressive and criminal US.” The figure is widely thought to be President Obama.
In recent months, the Supreme Leader has also commented on the debate over police violence and race in America during the Ferguson protests this summer. In a series of tweets using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, Ayatollah Khamenei compared the police shootings of black people in Ferguson to the Palestinian struggle in Gaza.
Today like previous years, African-Americans are still under pressure, oppressed and subjected to discrimination. #Ferguson— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
Equally, during the Occupy protests of 2011, the Supreme Leader got involved with the debate by predicting that the movement would bring down the entire capitalist system.
"They [the US government] may crack down on this movement but cannot uproot it," Khamenei said. "Ultimately, it will grow so that it will bring down the capitalist system and the west."
But Ayatollah Khamenei’s aggressive catcalling online is neither new nor surprising. In past years, he has made frequent “Death to America” calls at official rallies in the country. And it appears that a nuclear deal with Iran and the US has done little to abet his anti-US feelings — in fact, it could be argued that it has has exacerbated them.
Read other recent tweets from Ayatollah Khamenei:
US deceptive involvement in nuclear talks has been intended to advance their hostile policies towards Iran. pic.twitter.com/YVXMot3cL7— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) October 21, 2015
.@IRKhomeini stated “US is the Great Satan,” some insist on depicting this Great Satan as an angel.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) September 9, 2015
After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: pic.twitter.com/dBA7oAbFPX— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) September 9, 2015