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Khamenei: If not in Syria, Iran Had to Fight Enemy on Its Soil | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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SUPREME LEADER: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shown at a 2009 clerical gathering, oversees an organization called Setad that has assets estimated at about $95 billion. REUTERS/Khamenei.ir/Handout

London – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reiterated his defense for the military interference in Syria saying it was to keep enemies off the Iranian soil.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ali Khamenei received families of seven the commandos members killed in Syria.

In the meeting on Thursday, Khamenei said: “Had the ill-wishers and plotters, who are agents for hostility of the U.S. and Zionism, not been prevented there (in Syria), we should have prevented them in the Iranian provinces of Tehran, Fars, Khorasan and Isfahan. These brought the enemy into its knees.”

The leader added that his country would have fought with enemies inside Iran if threats had not been thwarted in Syria.

This is the first time that Khamenei speaks of the participation of Iranian forces to prevent an internal war, as well as the first time he mentions the deaths of Iranian Army in Syria. It coincided with the rising tension in the country following exchanged statements between Iranian officials.

In his speech, Khamenei didn’t explain the nature of the plots designed against Iran, but he said it was the tool of U.S. and Zionism.

Over the past five years, several Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials delivered statements about the role of Iran in Syria which prompted questions and caused arguments within the Iranian society.

In April 2016, Brigadier General Ali Arasteh, the deputy for coordination in the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, announced that the Iranian commandos, from Brigade 65 of the Forces, had taken on a mission of advising Syrian forces.

A week later, the army announced a number of dead soldiers and confirmed the death of four officers during battle in Aleppo.

The army’s official announcement of dead soldiers unraveled the true Iranian military interference in Syria, contrary to the official announcements later which said it was an advisory role as part of defense agreements reached between the governments of Iran and Syria.

Iran’s chief of staff, General Atallah Salhi tried to deny the direct role of army in sending troops to Syria. He said back then that it was the responsibility of another agency to deploy special units. Yet, Deputy Commander of Iranian Army Ground Force confirmed that the army sent troops under direct orders form Khamenei.

In a statement similar to that of Khamenei’s, IRGC’s Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said that hadn’t the IRGC interfered in Syria, suicide attacks would have occurred in Iranian cities.

“Iran is now capable of designing and producing any needed missiles and aircraft,” Hajizadeh elaborated during his speech at a conference in Shiraz, central Iran.

The Iranian commander further hailed the country’s intelligence capabilities and said Iran is enjoying full security in the region thanks to its intelligence supremacy as well as the steadfastness and resistance of its armed forces.

Khamenei’s website posted excerpts from his November 2015 speech concerning internal arguments between top officials. Khamenei asked the officials to stop their internal disputes, adding that he doesn’t mind criticism but enemies and friends should not be confused.

Khamenei called upon channeling internal disagreements towards outside Iran. Observers believe that Khamenei’s pressures on President Hasan Rouhani are part of a tradition the leader has always done to undermine the role of the president.

Over the past few days, Iranian media outlets expected Khamenei to interfere to separate between Rouhani and Larijani camps.

Meanwhile, Guardian Council Spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodaei said that Sitting presidents are not guaranteed approval to run for second term.

He stated that the council reviews a sitting president’s qualifications to run for a second term as it would any other candidate during an interview on January 4.

The conservative-dominated Guardian Council vets candidates for the presidency, Parliament, and Assembly of Experts.

When asked about the “convention” of confirming sitting presidents’ qualifications to run, Kadkhodaei responded: “There has not been and is not a guarantee in this regard.”

Kadkhodaei also noted the Guardian Council’s record of occasionally disqualifying sitting parliamentarians from running for reelection.

In another case, Foreign Ministry responded to comments from Judiciary Head Sadegh Amoli Larijani that the Foreign Ministry failed to sufficiently investigate the holdings of Babak Zanjani, a wealthy Iranian businessman recently convicted of corruption.

The statement asserted that the Foreign Ministry cooperated completely with officials from the Judiciary in investigating Zanjani’s assets. Zanjani controlled businesses in the UAE, Malaysia, and Turkey and possessed extensive holdings in Tajikistan.

“The remarks would not be piercing for the Ministry, but they however seem surprising in the view of our regular contribution to the Judiciary, including in Zanjani’s case; no other ‘unconventional demand’ would be accepted by the Judiciary, since the Ministry acts according to its internationally accepted norms of conduct for foreign ministries around the world,” added the statement.

Head of the reformist camp and Hope Fraction Mohammad Reza Aref said that disagreements should be revealed to the media, and must be dealt with between officials.

Reza Salehi Amiri criticized those who are attacking the government saying they are trying to create a rift between the government and the regime. He also warned of misusing public platforms for rumors and exchanged accusations.