AFP: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday warned Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinians to remain united in the face of “cunning” US plots to destabilise the region. by Aresu Eqbali
TEHRAN, Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday warned Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinians to remain united in the face of “cunning” US plots to destabilise the region.
Addressing thousands of devotees massed into the grounds of a huge mosque in Tehran to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival, Khamenei said Muslims in the Middle East had to be on their guard against “the cunning United States policies”.
“Everybody should be alert in the region. All the Arab nations in the region — Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine and other Muslim nations should be alert,” Khamenei told the faithful, who greeted his entrance with cries of “Death to America!”
“They should be careful not to make any move that allows a new betrayal from the plans of the Zionists and the United States to be realised.”
The US, along with Israel, is the arch-enemy of the Islamic republic. Washington severed ties with Tehran in 1980 following the seizure of the US embassy in Iran.
Khamenei warned Palestinians in particular to keep their unity amid deadly factional bickering between the mainstream Fatah faction and the Islamists of Hamas.
“The Palestinian brothers from the different groups and wings must know that their unity today is the most important factor in their victory,” he said.
“They should not be ignorant about the enemies’ desires to divide them and the conspiracies the enemies have thrown for them.”
Khamenei said that following Hezbollah’s “victory” in its latest conflict with Israel, the people of Lebanon should “keep their unity with strong calls for resistance.”
Tehran has repeatedly applauded the Shiite militant group’s performance against Israel in the conflict although the Islamic republic rejects accusations it helps fund and arm Hezbollah, saying its support is of moral nature only.
Khamenei also directed a warning message to Iraq, whose Shiite-dominated government has become a close ally of Iran since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
“The Iraqi people should do everything to avoid sectarian conflict,” Khamenei added, in reference to the deadly bloodletting between Sunnis and Shiites that is claiming dozens of lives daily.
“This (alertness) is the solution and the cure for the problems in our region,” he concluded.
Iran is celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Tuesday to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the next two days have also been declared national holidays.
Iran’s other top leaders were also in attendance to join Khamenei in prayer, including current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Khamenei also warned Iran’s political groups not to allow elections for the Assembly of Experts on December 15 to be marred by dirty campaigning, in a repeat of the sometimes acrimonious presidential campaign of 2005 where Ahmadinejad defeated Rafsanjani.
“Let’s keep the elections flawless and healthy, without rumours. Let’s keep the political atmosphere of the country free of bad-mouthing and insulting one another,” Khamenei said.
The elections for the Assembly of Experts, which chooses the supreme leader, are seen as a tight race between factions close to Rafsanjani and hardline cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi.