By Edward Yeranian, VOA, Cairo
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is blasting Western leaders for their alleged "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs, threatening to respond with a "Iron fist." The latest saber-rattling from Khamenei comes amid increasing talk of internal divisions among Iran's top leadership.
Khamenei spoke softly, but his words carried a punch as he blasted Western leaders for their alleged "meddling" in Iran's internal crisis following the disputed June 12 presidential election.
Addressing a crowd of several hundred, Khamenei warned the West that the Iranian people would respond to outside interference.
He says the Iranian nation warns leaders who try to take advantage of internal quarrels to be careful because the Iranian people will react ... to their interference. He argues that even if the Iranian people are divided, they will unite in the face of their adversaries and fight them with an iron fist.
The crowd responded to Khamenei's comments with cries of "down with the U.S., down with the Britain, and down with Israel."
The Ayatollah continued his tongue-lashing against Western leaders.
He claimed Western leaders have blatantly interfered in the internal issues of the Iranian nation. "It is none of [their] business. Why do they do this?" he asked. "They interfere and then say that they don't.... Isn't [that] instigating unrest, interference?" he demanded.
Khamenei also warned Western leaders that Iran would weigh their comments and their actions in assessing future relations with their countries.
Iran analyst Mehrdad Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, thinks the Ayatollah's warnings are aimed at the upcoming G-8 summit, and are intended to signal that Iran's future cooperation is contingent on Western behavior.
"The implication that can be given to his comments is the fact that the G-8 meeting is coming up.... The Americans and the Europeans have tread very carefully...they have tried to delink the internal situation in Iran with the desire to engage Iran over the nuclear issue and Iraq and Afghanistan," Khonsari said. "Khamenei's diatribe is aimed at hinting to the G-8 that [Iran's] cooperation hinges on...the continuation of this situation without your meddling or interference, because [Iranian leaders] know pretty soon they will be called to engage regarding the nuclear file by the Security Council and the group of 5-plus-1," Khonsari continued.
Khamenei's harsh language comes amid apparently deepening divisions among Iran's top political and religious leaders over the legitimacy of the disputed June 12 presidential election. Top clerics in Iran's seat of religious learning, Qom, challenged the legitimacy of the election Saturday, calling the vote null and void.
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