Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Iran: U.S. Mideast plans 'toppled'

CNN News:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Hezbollah has "hoisted the banner of victory" over Israel and toppled U.S.-led plans for the Middle East.

Hezbollah's main backers -- Iran and Syria -- struck nearly identical tones a day after a cease-fire took effect in Lebanon: heaping praise on the guerrillas as perceived victors for the Islamic world and claiming that Western influence in the region was dealt a serious blow.

"God's promises have come true," Ahmadinejad told a huge crowd in Arbadil in northwestern Iran. "On one side, it's corrupt powers of the criminal U.S. and Britain and the Zionists .... with modern bombs and planes. And on the other side is a group of pious youth relying on God." READ MORE

In Damascus, Syrian President Syrian President Bashar Assad said Washington's plans for the Middle East were turned into "an illusion" by Hezbollah's resistance to the powerful Israeli military during the 34-day conflict.

"(Israel) was defeated ... and (Hezbollah) hoisted the banner of victory," Ahmadinejad told the crowd, including many people waving yellow Hezbollah banners and Iranian flags.

Ahmadinejad drew cheers when he said Hezbollah foiled plans for Washington and its allies "to create the so-called new Middle East."

"The people of the region are also after the new Middle East, but a Middle East that is free from U.S. and British domination," he said.

Since the war broke out last month, Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders have repeatedly denounced the U.N. Security Council for moving slowly toward a cease-fire pact. They also sharply criticized other Muslim nations for what Iran saw as failure to rally to the aid of Hezbollah and Lebanese civilians.

Ahmadinejad said the United Nations should force war reparations from Israeli and its allies, led by the United States.

"Those who were involved in inflicting damage to the Lebanese nation are responsible," he said.

Ahmadinejad has drawn worldwide condemnation for calling for Israel's destruction and describing the Holocaust as a myth. Earlier Tuesday, a hard-line Iranian cleric warned Israel that Iran's new 2,000-kilometer (1,250-mile) range missiles will land in Tel Aviv if the Jewish state attacks Iran, state-run television reported.

Ahmad Khatami, a mid-ranking cleric, declared that Israel would face dire consequences if it "makes an iota of aggression against Iran."

"They must fear the day (Iran's) 2,000-kilometer range missiles land in the heart of Tel Aviv," he said.

Khatami is a Friday prayer leader in Tehran and a member of the Assembly of Experts, a clerical panel that has the power to choose or dismiss Iran's top leader, but he is not considered a government official.

In his address, Ahmadinejad also said Iran will stick by its plans to reply on Aug. 22 to a package of Western economic and technology incentives offered in exchange for a suspension of uranium enrichment. The U.N. Security Council has told Iran it must halt enrichment by Aug. 31 or face possible sanctions.

Western nations, led by the United States, claim Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover for atomic weapons development. Iran denies the allegations.