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July 13, 2006
Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel’s Borders
To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD120406 .
In statements published over the last few weeks, senior Iranian officials advocated an escalation of the violent activity against Israel and against “Zionists” around the world.
Additionally, in mid-June 2006, Syria and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement. The Syrian defense minister stated on that occasion that the two countries “are establishing a joint front against Israel… [since] Iran regards Syria’s security as its own.”
For the last few weeks, Iran has been constantly delaying its response to the ultimatum presented to it by 5+1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) regarding its nuclear program, since it has no intention of accepting the international community’s terms and of suspending its uranium enrichment activities. Iran was required to respond to the ultimatum by July 12 (before the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg). So far, the international community has not yielded to Iran’s attempts to evade the ultimatum, and has denied Iran’s request to postpone the deadline to August 22, 2006.
Iranian National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani, who is in charge of Iran’s nuclear dossier, made a surprise visit to Damascus after meeting with E.U. Council Secretary-General Javier Solana on July 11, 2006. Syrian Vice President Farouq Al-Shar’ stated after the meeting that the resistance [movements] in Lebanon and in Palestine [i.e. Hizbullah and Hamas] would make their own decisions regarding their affairs.
It is possible that the escalation on Israel’s borders, set off by elements supported by Iran – Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria – is meant to take the pressure off Iran by triggering a major military clash in the Middle East, which will divert international attention from Iran’s nuclear program.
The following are excerpts from statements by top Iranian figures and details about the Syrian-Iranian military agreement:
Military Cooperation Agreement Between Iran and Syria
On June 16, 2006, the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported:(1) “Well-informed sources in Tehran have told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the talks held in Tehran between Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani and his Iranian counterpart Mustafa Mohammad Najjar did not only deal with military and security aspects of the strategic cooperation between the two countries, but also with the situation in Lebanon… [The talks also] dealt with the situation in Palestine, and with the ways of assisting the Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad in their conflict with Fatah…
“In a meeting with reporters after the signing of the military cooperation agreement, the Syrian defense minister stated that ‘the American threats against Iran and Syria are nothing new… We are examining ways of countering these threats, and are establishing a joint front against Israel’s threats… [since] Iran regards Syria’s security as its own.'”
The daily reported that the Syrian defense minister had visited Tehran at the head of a large delegation escorted by army and intelligence officers, and met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian Chief of Staff Hassan Fayrouz and Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Yahya Rahim Safavi.
It further reported that “Iran has agreed to finance Syrian military deals with Russia, China and Ukraine, to equip the Syrian army with cannon, warheads, army vehicles, and missiles manufactured by the Iranian Defense Industries, and to enable Syrian navy drills.
“Syria, on its part, has renewed its previous agreements with Iran which allow Iranian ammunition trucks to pass [through Syria] into Lebanon…”
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat added that the Syrian and Iranian defense ministers “had agreed to establish a ‘consultation room’ and maintain open communication channels between the two countries in security and military matters.”
Threats by Iranian President Ahmadinejad
In a television program aired on July 11, 2006, Iranian President Ahmadinejad warned Western countries not to support Israel, because “the rage of the Muslim peoples will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region… The waves of the explosion… will reach the corrupt forces [i.e. the Western countries] which support this fake regime.” The following is an excerpt from Ahmadinejad’s statement on the program: (2)
“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Today, it has been proven that the Zionists are not opposed only to Islam and the Muslims. They are opposed to humanity as a whole. They want to dominate the entire world. They would even sacrifice the Western regimes for their own sake. I have said in Tehran, and I say it again here – I say to the leaders of some Western countries: Stop supporting these corrupt people. Behold, the rage of the Muslim peoples is accumulating. The rage of the Muslim peoples may soon reach the point of explosion. If that day comes, they must know that the waves of this explosion will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region. They will definitely reach the corrupt forces that support this fake regime.”
Editor of Iranian Daily Kayhan: No Zionist Should Feel Secure Anywhere in the World
On July 3, 2006, editor of the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan Hossein Shariatamadari, who is close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote, “The reaction to Israel’s crimes in Gaza should not be confined to the occupied territories. Why should the Zionists [feel] secure when there is no security for the Muslims?”
In an interview with the conservative Iranian news agency Mehr, Shariatamadari reiterated that the Muslim world should not limit its responses to the Zionist attacks only to the Gaza Strip, but should see to it that “no Zionist feels secure anywhere in the world.” He added that the Zionist attack in Gaza does not reveal the Zionists’ power, but [only] their fear.
According to Shariatamadari, the U.N. is useless since “all its rules are interpreted [in a way that] favors [the aggressors], and the Israeli attack in Gaza elicits a mere expression of sorrow on the part of the U.N.”
Shariatamadari called on the Muslim countries that maintain economic ties with Israel to sever these ties, and also to minimize their ties with countries that support Israel and to recall their ambassadors to these countries.(3)
Threats by Hassan Nassrallah in Conservative Iranian Daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami
On the morning of July 12, concurrently with the Hizbullah attack on Israel’s northern border, the conservative Iranian daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, which is affiliated with the religious seminaries of Qom, published a speech given by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah on May 23, 2006 at a conference on “The Culture of Resistance.” The following are excerpts from the speech:
“We can hit Israel’s entire northern region with thousands of rockets… All of Israel is now within the range of our missiles. Its seaports, [military] bases, industrial plants and everything else are all within our range… I repeat and say that our stockpile of weapons is significant, both in quantity and in quality… Another advantage that I wish to mention is the geography of Lebanon and Palestine. Most of Israel’s vital areas are concentrated in the northern [half] of occupied Palestine, while the south is uninhabited and desolate. More than two million Jews live in the north of occupied Palestine, which contains the recreation centers and [tourist] resorts, the industrial plants, the agricultural [areas] and the important military airports and bases. This is an advantage for us… Our presence in South Lebanon, in proximity to the north of occupied Palestine, is our greatest advantage…”(4)
Emphasis on Hizbullah’s Importance to Iran
According to a May 11, 2006 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat report, a high-level Iranian official who held a closed meeting with a small group of Western diplomats in London emphasized Hizbullah’s importance to Iran: “Hizbullah is one of the pillars of our security strategy, and forms Iran’s first line of defense against Israel. We reject [the claim] that it must be disarmed…”(5)
(1) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 16, 2006.
(2) To view this clip at MEMRI TV, see http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1187 .
(3) Kayhan (Iran), July 3, 2006.
(4) Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), July 12, 2006, http://jomhourieslami.com/1385/13850421/index.html .
(5) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 11, 2006.
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