Iran Says it Supports Arab Spring

Posted November 16th, 2011 at 9:45 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior Iranian official said Wednesday the government in Tehran has been supporting the movements for democracy in the Middle East “since day one” when the uprising began in Tunisia.

Javad Larijani, who heads Iran's Human Rights Council and serves as a top advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, described the Arab Spring as a “fantastic and very important social change.” But he also warned the West against using external pressure, especially military, in countries such as Bahrain and Iran's ally, Syria, where uprisings have become protracted and violent.

Larijani said that in Bahrain, where the majority of the population is Shi'ite just like in Iran, regional and Western powers should not interfere. He said interference would be “totally against the interests not only of the Bahraini people, but also against the security of the region and against the interests of Saudis as well.”

As for Syria — where President Bashar al-Assad faces international calls to resign and suspension from the Arab League — Larijani condemned what he called “incitement by the United States, Europe and Arab nations” to urge opposition to take up arms against the Damascus government. He called meddling in Syrian affairs “dangerous.”

When asked about the suspension of Syria from the Arab League, Larijani questioned the group's motive. He said he did not think democracy was the issue, but rather the fact that the group wants to create a government that is submissive toward Israel.