Iran's Khamenei: U.S. will fail to achieve its goals in the Middle East

By The Associated Press

Haaretz

Shvat 30, 5767

Syria on Sunday denied any rift between Damascus and Iran during a visit to Tehran by the Syrian President Bashar Assad, who accused the enemies of Islamic countries of trying to sow discord.

"The creation of a rift among Muslims is their latest weapon, which is more dangerous than their previous plans," Assad was quoted as saying on the Iranian state television's Web site on Sunday, a day after the Syrian leader ended his visit to Iran.

Assad's visit, his fifth since taking office in 2000, comes at a time when some Arab diplomats have said Syria feels betrayed by Iran because of a joint Iranian-Saudi Arabian effort to clamp down on sectarian tensions in Iraq and violence in Lebanon.

Syria has largely alienated many of its traditional Arab allies but has had close ties to Iran for years.

Arab observers have said there are also newfound tensions between majority Shiite Iran and majority Sunni Syria over their differing interests in Iraq.

The site did not elaborate on who those enemies might be, but during his two-day trip the Syrian president also accused the U.S. and Israel of having ominous aims.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Sunday the United States will fail to achieve its goals in the Middle East, state television reported.

"Realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region," the broadcast quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with Assad.

Assad left Iran on Sunday after a two-day visit to discuss Iraq and other regional issues with senior Iranian officials, including Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

During his visit, Assad accused the U.S. and Israel of trying to harm the regional positions of Iran and Syria by raising questions about their roles in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority.

"Through effort and coordination, we have to enlighten public opinion about the ominous aims of the U.S. and Zionists," said Assad, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Ahmadinejad expressed similar concerns when he accused the U.S. and Israel of targeting Islamic countries under the pretense of achieving peace.

"They imply that they are pursuing peace and security in the region, however they want to improve their and the Zionists' position in the region and hit Islamic countries," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

The U.S. has accused Syria of not doing enough to prevent militants from crossing its border into Iraq and has blamed Iran for supporting Shiite militias in attacks that have killed American troops. U.S. officials also accuse Iran and Syria of interfering in Lebanon and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which the U.S. considers terrorist groups.

Iran and Syria have long been close allies. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, Syria was the only Arab country to support Iran.

During the past 10 years, Iranian companies have invested more than $700 million in Syria, in sectors such as power generation,
automobiles, cement and agriculture.


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