Rohani: West seeks to strengthen Israel, weaken 'resistance'

Iranian president tells Revolutionary Guard commanders, 'It is clear to all West doesn’t like our region in its present shape'; claims Syria crisis may 'change the fate of the world'

Iranian President Hassan Rohani warned the regional states to be vigilant about "plots hatched by Washington and its allies," saying that the US-led West is seeking to change the geopolitical shape of the region, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.


"It is clear to all of us that the West has a decision for the entire region and doesn’t like our region in its present shape and this is the reason that the British and the French are returning to the region after years," Rohani was quoted by Fars as saying in reference to the recent "war rhetoric of the French and British officials against Syria."


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Addressing the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard in Tehran on Monday, the newly-installed Iranian leader claimed that "a study of the (present) conditions in Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Syria shows that the West has made a chain of them and seeks to strengthen Israel and weaken the resistance front."


Fars reported that Rohani referred to the recent "war rhetoric of the West against Syria and Damascus' important role in the region" and said, "The Syrian issue is the fate of a big region and not just a country and it may even change the fate of the world under some (specific) conditions."


The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged US Secretary of State Johnto reach an agreement with Russia on the seizure of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal as an alternative to an American strike on the Assad regime.


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According to the newspaper, on Sept. 11 Kerry called Netanyahu, who said he believed Russia wasn't bluffing and that a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis was possible. Israel shared US concerns that strikes against the regime in Damascus could strengthen rebels linked to al-Qaeda and allow them to take control of President Bashar Assad's chemical weapons arsenals, WSJ reported.


American and Russian officials reached an ambitious agreement over the weekend calling for an inventory of Syria's chemical weapons program within a week, with the program eradicated by mid-2014.


According to IRNA, the official Iranian news agency, Rohani told the Revolutionary Guard commanders his country will accept anyone as ruler of Syria who is elected by the Syrian people.


"Whoever Syrian citizens vote for to rule their country, we'll agree with it," Rohani was quoted as saying.


Syria plans a presidential election in 2014, but few in the opposition take the vote seriously or believe it can be held amid the country's civil war.


Opposition groups say they oppose all negotiation with President Bashar Assad's government unless it is aimed at his giving up power.


Rohani was elected in June promising a more diplomatic approach to the West in negotiations over its nuclear program, which the US and its allies say is aimed at weapons development. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes.


The new president has stated however that Iran will not give up its right to disputed nuclear activities, nor has he suggested any major rethinking of Iran's alliance with Damascus. Key nuclear and security matters are under the control of the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and institutions that answer directly to him, including the Revolutionary Guard.


Syria's opposition says the Guard is directly involved in the war on Assad's side. Iran denies this.


"The Guards do not seek military domination on the region," Rohani said. "It is mistake by the West that thinks Iran is after military domination on the region."


He called the US military, which has bases in the Persian Gulf, to leave the region. "You, the unsolicited guest in our region, leave the region and then you will see that it will convert to heaven."


In the same meeting, Guard Commander Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said, "So far, the enemies plot for military intervention in Syria has been failed. We are hopeful this will continue until the end."


AP contributed to the report



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פרסום ראשון: 09.16.13, 14:55
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