TEHRAN (AFP) – Washington’s push for Middle East democracy is resulting in across the board victories for militant Islamic movements, Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has boasted in an interview.
Ahmadinejad also branded Western democracy as a “lie”, said Islamic militants would not be disarmed and predicted the defeat of the “myth of an invincible and eternal Zionism” enshrined by the state of Israel.
The comments came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left for a Middle East tour to push efforts to spread democracy and counter what the United States views as an increasingly aggressive Iranian policy.
“The American slogan of democracy has had the reverse effect in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and even Palestine. Everywhere in the Islamic world, when there are free and fair elections, the Islamists and groups favouring resistance are winning,” the ultra-conservative president told the official news agency IRNA Sunday.
“The myth of an invincible and eternal Zionism and its ideal (of a greater Israel) from the Nile to the Euphrates was been given a pounding by the 1979 Islamic revolution and has been in retreat ever since,” he said.
“The retreat of oppression from Iran, Lebanon and even Palestine are important victories. The Palestinian people voted for resistance to continue and the ideal of a Palestine free of occupation, and not politics in the shadow of Zionism,” he added, referring to last month’s legislative election win by Hamas.
“This is a first step and other successes will come.”
Ahmadinejad, who himself scored a shock election win last June in the face of more moderate Iranian forces, also argued that “people do not believe in the lie of Western democracy”.
“The Palestinian brothers are aware of the enemies’ objective to transform the forces of resistance, those against occupation and the partisans of martyrdom into political wheeler-dealers and Western-style democrats,” he insisted.
“The United States wants to disarm Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and the Palestinians Jihadis in order to repress the resistance forces and transform them into opportunist groups. But the Lebanese and Palestinians are aware and will maintain their revolutionary unity,” Ahmadinejad said.
Earlier this week the US secretary of state described Iran as “a strategic challenge to the United States, to the world, and a destabilising influence in the Middle East.”
Iran is accused of using an atomic energy drive as a mask for weapons development, and Washington has refused to rule out taking military action against the clerical regime.
Rice said all worried states must “challenge Iran’s aggressive policies”, expressed concern about a network formed by Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon and branded Tehran as the “central banker for terrorism”.
Iran enjoys close ties with Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, sharing their refusal to recognise Israel and openly calling for the total erradication of the Jewish state — yet at the same time denies financing these groups.
Ahmadinejad has stepped up anti-Israeli rhetoric in recent months, branding the Jewish state a “tumour” that should be “wiped off the map” or moved as far away as Alaska, and dismissing the Holocaust as a “myth”.
Without openly calling for regime change in Iran or Syria, Rice has asked for 75 million dollars to bolster efforts to beam pro-democracy broadcasts into Iran and five million dollars to help “reformists” in Syria.