Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Friday said Iranians, like the Iraqis, are happy to see Saddam Hussein ousted, but they strongly condemn the killing of Iraqi civilians by the US-British troops, IRNA reported from Tehran.
Ayatollah Khamenei, addressing thousands of worshipers at Tehran weekly Friday prayers, said Iran's position was like that of the Iraqi people, and that the ouster of Saddam, as a most evil dictator, had been good news for the Islamic Republic.
"We never helped either of the tyrants, and we are very happy that Saddam is toppled ... We were neutral during the crisis, as were the Iraqi people, and are happy as are the Iraqi nation," he told the worshipers at Tehran University compound.
Ayatollah Khamenei also strongly condemned the killing of Iraqi civilians by US-British troops, stressing that the world would never forget such atrocities.
He said the Islamic Republic sympathizes with the Iraqi nation for US crimes, adding that the US and Britain had violated the very basic right of the Iraqi people to live by attacking civilians.
Ayatollah Khamenei criticized US plans to install a military government in Iraq, stressing that Iran considered those plans as an aggression against the dignity of Islam and the Muslim world.
He also called the US-British ambitious plans to share Iraq's resources as a big mistake and a reactionary step toward the early decades of colonialism.
Ayatollah Khamenei said that these decisions show the invaders are not aware of the dictates of time and situation, and underscore the need that a future Iraqi government should be democratically elected with no reliance on the outsiders.
He further stressed that Iran is still suspicious about the developments that led to Saddam's fall, and that doubts over Saddam's fate still hang heavy question marks over the true nature of those developments.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the supreme leader lashed out at the UN for failing to carry out its duties regarding the Iraqi crisis, stressing that the UN and its Secretary General Kofi Annan should have taken more serious measures to stop the war.
"Why did the Security Council not condemn the US attack against Iraq? Why did they refuse to issue a resolution against the US and Britain? Why didn't they call the General Assembly to condemn the US-British campaign against Iraq?," he asked.
"Suppose the US and Britain vetoed that resolution. Well, let them do it. Issuing a resolution in itself could have been a move against the war. But why didn't they take that move?"
The supreme leader further said Britain had made a big mistake to join the US in attacking Iraq, stressing that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair had once again unveiled the ugly face of Britain to the world in the Iraqi crisis.
He said Iran's position regarding the US-British campaign against Iraq is still unchanged, stressing that the Islamic Republic condemns the war on Iraq -- what he said had been an unprecedented move in international relations.
The supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution cautioned that the US leaders will soon notice how their rhetoric to champion democracy regarding the Iraqi crisis will be frustrated.
"If they are right in their claim that their campaign against Saddam was meant to establish democracy in Iraq, why don't they leave the country now that the dictator is toppled?," he asked.
"If they ever believe in the principles of democracy and the rights of nations, they should immediately withdraw troops from Iraq and refuse to interfere in its affairs."
Ayatollah Khamenei further said the Zionists had the largest share in fomenting the Iraqi crisis, stressing that this was part of their efforts to expand the Israeli territory in the Middle East -- as prophesied in the "road map" to peace of US President George W. Bush.
He said the Zionists had benefited the most from the Iraqi crisis, stressing that they are continuing their atrocities against Palestinians in light of the US-British campaign against Iraq.
Ayatollah Khamenei called on the Iraqi political activists not to make a strategic mistake by becoming carried away nor deterred over the US victory of US troops over the Baathists.
He urged the Iraqi activists to address chaos in Iraq and stop efforts to gain scores in the country, warning also that any step on their part to help foreign dominance over Iraq would be registered as a disgrace to the nation in Iraq's history.
Iranian FM warns against creation of US govt in Iraq: report
Iraqi people will feel humiliated and insulted if Washington establishes an "American government" in Baghdad, Itar-Tass news agency from Paris Friday cited Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi as telling French media.
"My impression is that Americans are going to make a strategic mistake by putting an American government in office in Iraq, even if it is a provisional government," the news agency quoted Kharrazi as saying.
"This will be regarded as an insult to the Iraqis, because they are quite capable of electing their own government," he said, Itar-Tass added.
The Iranian foreign minister called on the United Nations to play a "key role" in the process of power transition in Iraq, it said.
According to Itar-Tass, Kharrazi also said that "one should not reproach the Iraqis, who greeted the US troops with enthusiasm last Wednesday" into Baghdad.
"It is not their fault; they were looking forward to that day, and they wanted to be free. The point at issue is the legality of the change of power in Iraq," it cited the Iranian official as saying.
Tehran is among the staunchest opponents of the US-led war against Iraq but it has taken a position of 'active neutrality', saying it will not back one side or the other in the conflict.
The Islamic Republic, which has held no diplomatic relations with Washington since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is anxious about US military build-up on its doorsteps in the Persian Gulf littoral Arab states as well as Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Iran condemns murder of Iraqi Shiite cleric
Iran on Friday condemned the murder of prominent Shiite cleric Seyyed Abdul Majid al-Khoei who was stabbed to death in the Iraqi city of Najaf Thursday, IRNA reported from Tehran.
"From the Islamic Republic of Iran's standpoint, resorting to violence in order to achieve political ends is condemned," Foreign Minister spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
Iraqi opposition sources here told IRNA Thursday that Khoei was knifed by assailants at the mausoleum of Imam Ali (AS) -- the first infallible imam of Shiite Muslims -- while he was saying his prayers.
"The brave Iraqi people in the current sensitive juncture, while (maintaining) their unity, solidarity and vigilance, must not allow outside forces to impose their views on them by exploiting their disunity and conflicts," Asefi said.
The official also voice sympathy with and offered condolences to Khoei's bereaved family.
The attackers reportedly dragged the cleric out of the shrine and shot him with a gun before killing him with several strokes of knife. The identity of the assailants and their motives are not known yet.
Abdul Majid was the son of senior spiritual leader Ayatollah Abulqassem al-Khoei who died under hazy circumstances in the aftermath of the Shiite uprising against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 1991.
Following the uprising, he defected to london and established a charity group. Abdul Majid returned to Karbala -- another holy city in central Iraq where the tomb of the third infallible imam of Shiite Muslims Imam Hossein (AS) is, and arrived in Najaf on April 3.
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