Khamenei accuses United States of “massacring” Afghans; Iran prepared to fight if attacked
Iran's supreme leader accused the United States on Tuesday of "massacring" innocent Afghans during its “war on terrorism”, and added Iran was ready to fight if attacked.
Speaking to thousands of people on the 13th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States launched the war in Afghanistan to get rid of September 11 terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, but instead massacred civilians, AP reported.
"In Afghanistan, in the poor and wronged country of Afghanistan, they entered the arena under the guise of combating a group or even a few individuals. They did not get their hands on those individuals, but they massacred many innocent people, bombarded them, killed them," Khamenei said. "...This imposition of violence or statement of violence cannot help America achieve its aims and succeed."
Meanwhile, in Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "The United States helped liberate the Afghani people from repression."
Fleischer conveyed that Iran played a constructive role in the Bonn talks in December that established the interim Afghan administration and "we expect them to play a constructive role now."
However, amidst chants of "Death to America," on Tuesday, Khamenei called the United States "the most hated regime in the world."
Cars and buses carrying Iranians from all around the country jammed the highway leading to the golden-domed shrine of Khomeini, where Khamenei spoke.
Khamenei has repeatedly ruled out talks with Washington, in spite of calls by some reformist lawmakers that the issue of U.S.-Iran relations be decided in a referendum.
"If a dramatic event comes about, which makes the people of Iran feel that they have to come into the arena with their bodies and lives, all the eyes of the world will see that the people's enthusiasm and eagerness will be even greater than in the imposed Iran-Iraq war," Khamenei said, referring to his country's 1980-88 war with Baghdad, which left over 1 million people dead or wounded.
"What the enemy should know is that by using this arrogant rhetoric, they cannot force the Iranian nation to surrender," he said, in an apparent reference to the United States. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)