Iranian radio accuses West of sowing discord among Muslims
BBC Monitoring South Asia
August 18, 2012
[Presenter] Despite all the efforts by the peoples and governments of the two friendly countries, some certain circles working for foreign countries, in particular for the US and Britain, try to spoil the good relations between the two countries and create an atmosphere of mistrust among the countries of the region, in particular among the Islamic countries.
No doubt that Washington and its allies, including Israel are concerned about the dramatic increase in the number of people converting to Islam and this situation is not acceptable for them.
They have the fear that in 50 years the Muslims may control a half of the world and in 200 years the entire world. Therefore, they are making huge investments to prevent this.
One of their projects is creating an atmosphere of mistrust among the Islamic countries. Let us admit that they have been successful in fuelling conflicts among Muslims in various parts of the world and the ongoing wars in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are good examples of that.
According to some experts, the lack of awareness and vigilance about the colonial policies of the so-called super-power, is one of the factors behind the tensions in relations between the Islamic countries.
Similarly in Afghanistan some secret but specific circles try to spoil the good relations between Iran and Afghanistan. Sometimes they accuse Iran of supporting the insurgents and sometimes accuse Afghanistan of disturbing security in Iran.
However, with a deep look into the issue, we can understand that both Iran and Afghanistan have been good friends for hundreds of years and the peoples of the two countries share a number of common things.
The presence of around two million Afghans in Iran is a good example of this friendship.
Also the two countries have good economic, social and cultural relations and these relations are improving day by day.
It is a matter of happiness that the leaders of the two countries do not listen to the baseless rumours and have always stressed bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Just a few weeks ago, there were reports that Iranians were setting fire to the houses of Afghan refugees in Yazd Province of Iran. Foreign media outlets as well as some Afghan media outlets influenced by the foreign media tried to expand these rumours with some false information.
They made a lot of efforts to poison people`s minds about Iran`s foreign policy towards Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, some Afghan parliamentarians also believed in the false reports by the mentioned media outlets but the noble people of Afghanistan stood firm against all the allegations and ruled out the rumours.
As indicated earlier, over two million Afghans live and work in Iran and it is usually not that easy to control such a big group of refugees but the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has made pledges to make every possible effort to help the Afghan refugees and signed conventions on the provision of protection of refugees.
Now there is a new topic and new series of allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Some media outlets accuse Iran of being behind the recent suicide attacks in Nimroz Province of Afghanistan that borders on this country. Sometimes violence in Farah and Herat provinces bordering on Iran is blamed on the Islamic republic [of Iran].
However, all these allegations are baseless, unjustified and pointless. It is believed that Iran is making efforts to disturb security in Afghanistan and create challenges for the people and government of Afghanistan.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has no such intention and there are many factors that prove this country`s sincerity towards Afghanistan.
If the government of Iran wanted to create challenge for Afghanistan it could simply expel the over one million Afghan refugees who live in Iran without any legal document and Iran has the right to expel foreign nationals who do not hold valid legal documents.
However, the government of Iran to show its goodwill towards Afghanistan and out of respect for the neighbour has continued to extend the stay of both legal and illegal Afghan refugees.
On the other hand, Iran itself is a victim of terrorism and this country has experienced terrorist activities against its army and senior government officials.
Therefore, those supporting terrorism in the region are the US and NATO member countries as their military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has greatly contributed to the increase in extremism and terrorism.
Afghan observer Sayed Eshaq Delju has a similar view on the issue and says that the West is making huge investments to damage the relations between Afghanistan and its neighbours, in particular Iran.
[Observer] Unity among Muslims is not in the interests of the super-powers and they see their interests in danger. Therefore, they are making huge investments to create tensions among Muslims. In fact, there are very few Muslim countries that have maintained unity and others, such as some Arab countries, have not made any effort to promote unity among Muslims. It is because they have been influenced by these super-powers. Now the US and its allies are concerned about the expansion of unity among Muslims in this part of the world and therefore they will try to make every possible effort and spend huge amounts to damage the relations among the Islamic countries in particular between Iran and Afghanistan.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has appeared as a strong Islamic state against the wrong and colonial strategies of the powerful countries. Therefore, now they are making every effort to keep Iran isolated, and this is why they do not want to see friendly relations between Iran and Afghanistan.
[Presenter] As the last question, what would be your message to the people of Afghanistan and Iran?
[Observer] My message is very clear and I would urge the people of the two countries to stand by each other and support each other. They should understand that there are some secret hands that try to damage the good relations and create tensions among the peoples of the two countries. I am happy that so far the enemies have not been able to make any progress and they might not be able to succeed in their goals.
Source: Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran External Service, Mashhad in Dari 1330 gmt 17 Aug 12
© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Syria conflict shifts Mideast sectarian scale, with surging Sunnis and blows to Shiite power
By HAMZA HENDAWI
August 18, 2012
BEIRUT (AP) - Not long ago, Arabs everywhere listened when the leader of Hezbollah spoke. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah`s prominence, bolstered by his Lebanese guerrilla force`s battles against Israel, was a sign of the rising regional influence of Shiite Muslims and overwhelmingly Shiite Iran. Now, his speeches don`t necessarily make front pages even in Lebanon.
The change is emblematic of how the bloody conflict in Syria, now in its 18th month, has brought a shift in the Middle East`s sectarian power balance. For much of the past few years, Shiites were surging in power across the region, based on the central alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, with close relations to Shiites who took power in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.
But now the region`s Sunni-led powers are appearing more confident, encouraged by the prospect that the Sunni-led rebellion could bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad`s regime, dominated by members of the Shiite offshoot sect of Alawites. Assad`s fall would cost Iran a priceless foothold in the heart of the Arab world. Hezbollah would lose a bastion of support and a conduit via Syria for vital Iranian weapon supplies.
Already, Iran and Hezbollah have seen their reputations damaged by their support for Assad in the face of the uprising.
“Iran`s influence in the Arab world has taken a big hit recently,” said Alireza Nader, a Middle East expert from the Rand Corporation. Iran`s and Hezbollah`s support of the Assad regime, he said, contradicts their support for Arab Spring revolts elsewhere. “This policy makes Iran, and Hezbollah, appear cynical if not hypocritical.”
Further boosting the Sunnis, the wave of uprisings around the Middle East since early 2011 brought greater political influence to Sunni Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt and Tunisia.
The announcement Saturday that Egypt`s new, Muslim Brotherhood-rooted president, Mohammed Morsi, will visit Iran on Aug. 30 -- the first such visit by an Egyptian leader since the mid-1970s -- likely reflects the growing confidence that Iran`s status is damaged and that Sunni Arab nations can steer the agenda.
Egypt has long shunned Iran and in recent years, former President Hosni Mubarak had joined with Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia in touting Tehran`s growing influence as the main threat to the Middle East. Morsi, who was elected this year in the wake of Mubarak`s ouster, has called for Assad`s removal and last month pledged Egypt`s “protection” of what he called Saudi Arabia`s “guardianship” of Sunni Islam against outside threats, a thinly veiled reference to Iran.
But at the same time, Morsi`s Brotherhood has suggested it is aiming for a new policy of engaging with Iran and influencing it. During a recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Morsi proposed the formation of a contact group of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to mediate a solution in Syria. The proposal may have been largely symbolic, but Brotherhood officials touted it as a return of Egypt`s regional impact “that it had lost under Mubarak.”
“Sunni Arab countries are pushing back to make up for the losses they suffered after 2003,” said prominent Iraqi analyst Hadi Jalo. “With the civil war in Syria and the isolation of the government in Iraq, the Shiite tide is retreating.”
The “Shiite bloc” has suffered a number of reversals amid the Syria conflict.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas moved its political leadership out of the Syrian capital Damascus, costing Assad the leverage he had long enjoyed by hosting the group. Now Hamas, which had long received Iranian largesse, has shifted allegiances to energy-rich Qatar, which is also a backer of Syria`s opposition.
Iraq, where the Shiite majority rose to power following Saddam`s 2003 ouster, is firmly in Iran`s sphere of influence, but the Shiite-led government there is isolated, facing serious challenges to its authority from the Sunnis and Kurds, who between them combine for some 40 percent of the population.
Attacks blamed on Sunni militants there have further eroded the government`s authority. Sunni-led Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, continue to shun the Baghdad government because of its ties with Iran and its perceived marginalization of Iraq`s Sunnis.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies last year also banded together to help crush an uprising by Bahrain`s Shiite majority demanding greater rights under the tiny Gulf island nation`s Sunni leadership. The uprising -- which threatened to turn into an Arab Spring-style revolt -- raised Saudi fears of greater Iranian influence on the doorstep of eastern Saudi Arabia, site of much of its oil resources and the center for its Shiite minority.
Iran is also facing increased pressure over its nuclear program, which the United States and its allies believe is intended to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge. The U.S. has hiked up sanctions, hitting Iran`s vital oil revenues and straining its economy. Israel has talked of military strikes against Iran`s nuclear facilities.
The Shiite militant group Hezbollah, meanwhile, still holds a dominant position in Lebanon. But even that is being challenged.
Only a few years ago, Hezbollah`s leader Nasrallah had emerged as a hero even among many Sunnis across the Middle East after his fighters battled Israel to a near stalemate in a destructive 2006 war in southern Lebanon. But his backing for Assad has tainted him among many across the region, and among opponents at home. Regional news channels like Al-Jazeera no longer carry his speeches live and in full as they once did.
Nasrallah, perhaps in search of relevance, warned on Friday in an 80-minute speech of a harsh and punishing response by Iran if it were attacked by Israel. He warned that if Israel should attack Lebanon, his guerrilla group with its rocket arsenal could turn the lives of millions of Israel to “real hell.”
Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, says Hezbollah is no doubt making preparations for survival without Assad to support it.
“Hezbollah has to face a really huge challenge if the Syrian regime falls, but I cannot imagine a group like Hezbollah waiting for this to happen and not actively preparing itself for that eventuality,” he said. “But it is clear that both Hezbollah and Nasrallah have lost some stature as a result of the Syrian conflict.”
© 2012. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.