Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Iran President Warns of Hurricane in Middle East

Yahoo News:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned on Tuesday that the conflict between Lebanon and Israel could sweep through the entire Middle East like a hurricane. "If (problems) are decided through the use of force, everything becomes double-complicated," Ahmadinejad said on a visit to Central Asian Tajikistan.

"He who sows the wind will reap a hurricane and this will be a very strong storm in the whole Middle East region, which will strike painfully," he told a joint news conference with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov. READ MORE

Iran is a key backer of Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrilla group, whose capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12 sparked Israeli air strikes on Lebanon.

The United States and Israel see Hizbollah and its allies in Iran and Syria as the root cause of the conflict which has killed more than 400 people in Lebanon since the start of the confrontation.

Ahmadinejad said Tehran was against any form of violence in the Middle East.

"All questions on international security have to be settled only through dialogue because using force will not lead anywhere," he said.

Rakhmonov called for an immediate end to the fighting.

"We call for an immediate ceasefire, and Lebanon's territorial integrity and its independence should be taken into account when settling this issue," he said.

Ahmadinejad was in Tajikistan to foster closer relations with the strategically-important nation where Russia and the United States are also vying for influence.

His trip came just weeks after the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who sought to deepen military and political ties with the country.

Tajikistan, an impoverished former Soviet nation with good ties to Washington, wants to use its warm relations with Iran to raise its international profile and attract Iranian investment into its fledging economy.