News / Middle East

    Iranian Envoy Says Tehran Supports Arab Spring

    Mohammad Javad Larijani  (File Photo).
    Mohammad Javad Larijani (File Photo).
    Margaret Besheer

    Despite representing a regime that suppressed its own pro-democracy movement, a senior Iranian official says Tehran “supports all the way” the movements for democracy sweeping the Middle East. Javad Larijani also warned the United States, Europe and the Arab League against meddling in the affairs of its ally, Syria, calling the potential threats ‘dangerous.’

    Javad Larijani said Wednesday that Iran has supported the change sweeping the region “since day number one” when the uprisings began in Tunisia. He calls the Arab Spring a “fantastic and very important social change.”

    Larijani, who heads Iran’s Human Rights Council, represents a government under international scrutiny for its alleged abuses of human rights, including the detention of political opponents and one of the highest execution rates in the world.

    As a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he warned the West against any external pressure, especially military, in countries such as Bahrain and Syria where uprisings have become protracted and bloody.

    In Bahrain, where the majority of the population is Shi'ite - the same brand of Islam that the majority of Iranians practice - Larijani told reporters at a news conference that regional and Western powers should not interfere.

    “We are against military activity or military meddling of the affairs of Bahrain, either by Saudi brothers or others," he said. "We think it is totally against the interests of Bahraini people, against the security of the region, against the interests of Saudi as well. They won’t succeed. We believe the wish of the people of Bahrain - Sunni and Shi'ite together - are in the streets, not only the Shi'ite. So it will succeed.”

    On Iran’s closest ally, Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is facing international calls to step down and suspension from the Arab League, Larijani condemned what he said is ‘incitement’ by the United States, European powers and Arab nations to urge the opposition to take up arms against the government.

    “These are very dangerous events; we are against this kind of meddling in the situation," he said. "Our position is that all the hands should be cut off from this kind of interference. It is up to the people of Syria to decide. We respect, everybody should respect, the decision of the people of Syria.”

    Asked about the move at the Arab League to suspend Syria, Larijani questioned the group’s motive, saying he did not think it was about protecting the rights of Syrians to pursue democracy.

    “So it seems that democracy is not the issue," said Larijani. "So if democracy is not the issue, then what is the issue? I think the issue is they want to generate a government that is submissive toward Israel more than the present government.”

    Iran has been sanctioned for nuclear activities that it says are peaceful. Western powers say Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, and a recent U.N. nuclear agency report appeared to support that accusation.  Larijani denied that Tehran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb and called the U.N. report a “disgrace” that lacked evidence.

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora