print
memri
June 25, 2001 No.
233

Former Iranian President Threatens Force Against US and Israel

In an interview given to the Arabic daily Al-Hayat[1] on the same day the US blamed Iran for the Khobar Tower bombing, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsangani, former Iranian President, close political ally of 'The Supreme Leader' Ali Khamenei, and a member of 'The Council of Preserving Constitutional Interest', referred to several domestic, regional and international issues. Following are excerpts from the interview:

The Reformist's Victory

According to Rafsangani, the most notable accomplishment of the recent Presidential election is the large turnout of the Iranian people, rather than the re-election of President Khatami.

Relations with the US

Rafsangani stated that Iran does not distinguish between a Republican or a Democratic administration in the US and stressed, "restoring relations with the US depends on a change in American policy towards Iran... the US has to endorse an acceptable policy towards Palestine, and to stop [American] support of Israel."

Rafsangani said that during his term as president, he insisted the US thaw Iranian assets in the US as a precondition to resumption of negotiations with the US, while Khatami has not posed this as a precondition, but rather sufficed with a call for a change in America's policy towards Iran. He stated that the steps America has taken so far in the field of commerce towards Iran are "minute, partial, and have no meaning or effect."

Rafsangani defined American military presence in the region as "a humiliation to the region's peoples" and despite the fact that these [US] forces are not present on Iranian soil, "we consider our neighbors, the Arab countries, as equal to us in this respect."

Israel

Rafsangani criticized the election of Ariel Sharon: "Even if we refrain from claiming that the election of Sharon is an act of insanity, it can be admitted that such a step is irrational ... "

Rafsangani warned, "If the Zionists wish to take irrational actions, they will face a serious and immediate response, at first from within Palestine, and then from neighboring Islamic countries."

Rafsangani added: "The reactions will not be limited to the Zionists alone, for the Israelis do not take such steps before [receiving] the go-ahead from the Americans. Therefore, if such [steps] are taken, the United States will also be held responsible, [and then] one cannot expect a limited area of conflict ... [Iran] will not stay idle but rather respond with force."

Assistance to the Palestinians

Rafsangani stressed, "We shall not confine [our] assistance to the Palestinian problem, because we perceive it as our problem... starting from financial aid, through media and political assistance at the international level, and if the need arises, we will not withhold military assistance".

Lebanon

Rafsangani said, "We will not rest in silence over the Lebanese situation... because the 'Shab'a Farms' issue has not been resolved and the Israeli threats continue."

Relations with Egypt

Rafsangani applauded Egyptian positions in the last months regarding the Palestinians and Israel, and anticipated that this persistent Egyptian policy would bring a solution to the problems between Iran and Egypt.

Rafsangani emphasized, "It is appropriate for Egypt and Iran to be in one trench" at the front of the struggle against Israel, as "the only obstacle between us and Egypt was their relations with Israel."

Relations with Iraq

Rafsangani expressed regret over the lack of reciprocity from Iraq on the issue of improving relations between Iran and Iraq following a few Iranian gestures, but added that it is important to unite all Muslims to confront Israel, to end the foreign presence in the region and the evil done to the Iraqi people.

Relations with UAE

Rafsangani understated the territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over the three islands in the Gulf and called upon UAE "not to insist upon" this issue as "it is commonly known that no country like Iran would be willing to compromise on a territorial issue."


[1] Al-Hayat (London-Beirut), June 21, 2001.