ayatollah iran 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking to a crowd of thousands on Tuesday to ring in the first day of Eid al-Fitr at a mosque in Tehran, warned other Middle Eastern countries against cooperating with American initiatives that may be designed to divide the Middle East for Israel's benefit.
"Our nation should be aware. The Lebanese nation should be aware. The Palestinian nation should be aware. Arab nations in the region, Iraq and other Muslim nations should be careful not to play along with these US plots," said Khamenei. The supreme leader said America's biggest priority in the Middle East was protecting Israel's interests.
"What is considered success for the US is harming all Islamic nations," Khamenei said.
Khamenei also called for an end to the bloody sectarian conflict tearing apart neighboring Iraq.
"The Iraqi people should do everything to avoid sectarian conflict," Khamenei said.
Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government has maintained close ties with Washington as well as Shi'ite-dominated Iran since the fall of Saddam Hussein's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim regime.
Many Iraqis believe Tehran has played a role in the unrest, since Iran has ties to Iraq's largest Shi'ite political parties and their militias.
That view was echoed hours after Khamenei's speech, with Gen. George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, lambasting Tehran and Syria, Iraq's neighbors east and west, for trying to undermine the American effort to stabilize the country. Casey said both countries had been "decidedly unhelpful."
Casey also predicted Iraqi forces would be able to take full control of security in the country within the next 12 to 18 months with "some level of support from us."