AP: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Hezbollah head Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, described the militant group’s clashes with Israel as a “victory” for Islam. Associated Press
By HUSSEIN DAKROUB
Associated Press Writer
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Hezbollah head Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, described the militant group’s clashes with Israel as a “victory” for Islam.
“Your unprecedented holy war and steadfastness are beyond the limits of my description. It’s a divine victory. It is a victory of Islam,” Khamenei said in the message read by an announcer on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.
Hezbollah is heavily financed and backed by Iran’s Shiite Muslim theocracy.
“With God’s help you were able to prove that military superiority is not (measured) in the number (of soldiers), planes, warships and tanks. Rather, it depends on the power of faith and holy war,” Khamenei said.
“You have ridiculed the myth that the Zionist army is invincible,” he said.
Khamenei said the U.S.-Israeli plan for “a new Middle East” had been shattered by Hezbollah’s resistance against Israel’s 34-day military offensive in Lebanon.
“Lebanon has emerged (from the war) shining and beaming as a result of its people’s determination and heroism,” he said.
“The (Israeli) enemy has made a mistake in imagining that by attacking Lebanon, it is targeting the weakest chain of the region’s states to inaugurate its illusory Middle East plan as it desires,” Khamenei said.
“But the American-Israeli enemy was oblivious to the Lebanese people’s patience, intelligence and heroism. It was also oblivious to the strength of Lebanon’s big arms,” he said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the U.S. administration was working with its allies for “a new Middle East” where anti-Israeli militant groups, like Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have no place. All three groups are on a U.S. list of terror organizations.
Khamenei said Israeli attacks that killed Lebanese civilians and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure have exposed “the real face of America and some European countries, side-by-side with the hated and repugnant Zionist face.”
“They (Israeli attacks) have also uncovered the level of falsehood surrounding the hollow slogans … about human rights and democracy,” Khamenei said.
He lashed out at President Bush for declaring that the Israeli assault in Lebanon was self-defense and had defeated the Shiite guerrillas.
Khamenei is the supreme religious authority to Hezbollah followers.