The New York Times : TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Sunday that he was against any intervention by the United States in neighboring Iraq, where Islamic extremists and Sunni militants opposed to Iran have seized a number of towns and cities, the official news agency IRNA reported.
“We strongly oppose the intervention of the U.S. and others in the domestic affairs of Iraq,” Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying, in his first reaction to the crisis.
“The main dispute in Iraq is between those who want Iraq to join the U.S. camp and those who seek an independent Iraq,” said the ayatollah, who has the final say over government policies. “The U.S. aims to bring its own blind followers to power since the U.S. is not happy about the current government in Iraq.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said Iraq’s government and its people, with the help of top clerics, would be able to end the “sedition” there, saying extremists are hostile to both Shiites and Sunnis who seek an independent Iraq.
Earlier on Sunday, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said that some countries “feed terrorists by their petrodollars,” in a veiled reference to the Arab Persian Gulf states, and warned that such support would come back to haunt them.
“Rest assured, tomorrow will be your turn,” Mr. Rouhani said. “The barbarous terrorists will go after supporters of terrorism in the future.”
Shiite Iran supports the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and has said it would consider any request for military aid.
The commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Gen. Qassim Suleimani, was reported to be in Iraq last week to consult with the government there on how to stave off the insurgents’ gains. General Suleimani’s forces are a secretive branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that in the past has been accused of organizing Shiite militias to attack American troops in Iraq. More recently they were involved in helping President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in his fight against Sunni rebels.
Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq fought an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s that left more than a million dead on both sides. Many current Iraqi leaders spent years in exile in Iran.
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