'Iran does not back uprisings stirred up by US'

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran supports "popular and anti-American" movements, explaining Tehran's lack of support for Syria protesters.

By REUTERS
June 4, 2011 20:18
1 minute read.
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamein

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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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.

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.

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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".

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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."

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