Friday, July 21, 2006

Hezbollah “heroes” hailed in Iran for their “great job”

Khaleej Times:
Top Iranian cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday hailed Lebanon’s Hezbollah as “heroes, but rejected mounting allegations that Iran and Syria were behind the Shiite movement’s conflict with Israel.

The Hezbollah forces have done a great job and have resisted well. They and their leader, our dear brother Hassan Nasrallah, are heroes,” the influential cleric and former president said in his Friday prayer sermon in Tehran. READ MORE

Iran has been accused of financing Hezbollah, although the Islamic regime insists it only gives “moral” support to its fellow hardline Shiites.

It is misleading to say that Iran and Syria are carrying this out,” Rafsanjani said of Hezbollah’s fight against the Jewish state. ”These are careless statements.”

Israel launched its offensive against Lebanon on July 12 after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers.

“Destroying a country is not proportionate to capturing two hostages,” Rafsanjani said, attributing the ongoing Israeli assault against Lebanon as “part of an evil US plot for the Greater Middle East”.

“The United States and Britain do not allow the Security Council to order a ceasefire. The UN Secretary General (Kofi Annan) makes proposals favoured by Israel,” Rafsanjani added.

But he said that “most deplorable of all” were fellow Muslim nations.

“Arab and Islamic countries... do not even bother to condemn the fact that Muslims are being butchered by non-believers. This is a historic catastrophe,” he fumed.

According to state television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call for an emergency meeting of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the “activation of the Islamic world to stop these Zionist crimes”.

Ahmadinejad has previously described Israel as a “tumour”, and has said it should “wiped off the map” or moved as far away as Alaska.

On Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Iran of helping to coordinate Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers in a bid to distract attention from the controversial Iranian nuclear programme.

“The moment for the abduction owed nothing to chance, it was determined with Iran to distract the attention of the international community from the Iranian nuclear programme,” Olmert said, according to army radio.

“Hezbollah is supported by Iran and Syria,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair also said on Tuesday.

It is supported “by the former in weapons -- weapons, incidentally, very similar if not identical to those used against British troops in Basra -- and by the latter in many different ways and by both of them financially.”