Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
TEHRAN - Iran backs all Muslim uprisings except those stirred up by Washington, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday, a stance that explains Tehran's lack of support for anti-government protesters in ally Syria.
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Addressing a crowd commemorating the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei said the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution had predicted events in the Middle East over the last few months where Arabs have risen up against oppressive regimes.
Non-Arab, predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran relished the fall in February of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a US-backed secularist who made peace with Israel.
Tehran has also voiced support for pro-democracy movements elsewhere in
the region, especially Bahrain where the Sunni monarchy was aided by
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to put down democracy protests
led by majority Shi'ite Muslims.
But the Islamic Republic, which crushed its own mass protests after the
disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June
2009, has not expressed backing for demonstrators in Syria where
President Bashar al-Assad is a key regional ally.
"Our stance is clear: wherever a movement is Islamic, popular and
anti-American, we support it," Khamenei told the crowd which punctuated
his speech at Khomeini's mausoleum on the outskirts of Tehran with
chants of "Death to America".
Without mentioning Syria by name, he continued: "If somewhere a movement
is provoked by America and Zionists, we will not support it. Wherever
America and the Zionists (Israel) enter the scene to topple a regime and
occupy a country, we are on the opposite side."