Iran’s Khamenei Accuses US of Supporting ISIS and Plotting to Dominate Region

Patrick Goodenough | November 24, 2015 | 4:38am EST
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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Monday, November 23, 2015. (Photo: Russian presidency)

( – Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran on Monday and, judging from a statement released by Khamenei’s office, the discussion was dominated by criticism of “the Americans.”

“With a long-term plan and by dominating Syria and then extending their domination to the whole region, the Americans are trying to fill the gap left by a lack of domination over West Asia,” Khamenei said. “This plot is a threat for all nations and countries, particularly for Russia and Iran.”

The Shi’ite mullah repeated what have become familiar themes – that the U.S. gives “direct and indirect support” to terrorist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); that American policies are detrimental to the entire region; and that Iran will not cooperate or negotiate with the U.S. on any issue except for the nuclear deal.

According to his office’s account of the two-hour meeting, Khamenei and Putin agreed that the U.S. was seeking to achieve in the Syria political talks in Vienna what it could not do on the battlefield, with a key goal being the ousting of their mutual ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

“The Americans and their followers on the issue of Syria are determined to realize the objectives, which they failed to realize militarily, in the political arena and at the negotiating table, which this attempt must be vigilantly and actively blocked,” Khamenei said.

Putin concurred, according to the ayatollah’s office.

“As his excellency [Khamenei] stated, the Americans intend to pursue the objectives, which they have failed to achieve in the Syrian battlefields, at the negotiating table, and we are closely watching this issue,” Putin was quoted as saying.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner dismissed Khamenei’s criticism, calling it “a continuation or a pattern that we’ve seen from the supreme leader in terms of bellicose rhetoric and over-the-top rhetoric about the United States and our intentions.”

Putin, visiting Tehran for the first time in eight years, praised Iran as “a trustworthy and reliable ally.”

“Unlike certain [governments], we are committed to not stabbing our partners in the back and not taking any action in secret against our friends,” Putin reportedly said.

A brief readout from the Kremlin did not mention the U.S. by name, but said the two leaders were in “complete agreement that attempts to dictate political solutions or impose a single option from outside are unacceptable”

The most recent meeting in Vienna of the so-called International Syria Support Group, on Nov. 14, agreed to work towards a nation-wide ceasefire, coupled with negotiations between Assad regime and rebel representatives, to begin by a January 1 target date. That should lead to new elections and a new constitution within 18 months, according to the plan.

But as before, the parties continued to disagree on the future of Assad as that process unfolds, and at his meeting with Putin, Khamenei slammed the U.S. and its allies for wanting Assad to  go.

“The Syrian president has gained in a general election the majority of the votes [cast] by the Syrian people with different political, religious and ethnic views, and the U.S. has no right to overlook this vote and the choice of the Syrian people,” he said.

In a presidential election last year, Assad was reported to have won 88 percent of the vote. The State Department called it “a disgrace.”  The last parliamentary election, in May 2012, handed a large majority of seats to Assad’s Baath party, in a process dismissed by the U.S. as “bordering on ludicrous.”

Other U.S.-focused quotes from Khamenei during his meeting with Putin included:

-- “America’s long-term scheme for the region is detrimental to all nations and countries, particularly Iran and Russia, and it should be thwarted through vigilance and closer interaction.”

-- “Cooperation with countries that have lost their credit in regional and global public opinion due to their support for terrorists shows that the Americans do not follow an honest diplomacy.” 

“The Americans always try to drive their rivals into a position of inaction, but you [Putin] have neutralized this policy.”

On the issue of the nuclear agreement concluded last July, Khamenei said although the negotiations had reached a conclusion, “we place no trust in the Americans and we are watching the behavior and performance of the American government on this issue with open eyes.”

“Except for the nuclear issue, which of course has its own special reasons, we do not have, and will not have, any bilateral negotiation with the Americans – neither on Syria, nor on any other issue,” he told Putin.

‘Americans … are directly assisting Daesh’

The two leaders met on the sidelines of a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).

During a separate meeting with another GECF attendee, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Khamenei doubled down on his accusations of U.S. support for ISIS.

“The global coalitions claiming to be fighting against terrorist currents are by no means reliable, because these same destructive factors, particularly America, are behind the creation of or lending support to terrorists like Daesh,” he told Buhari, using an Arabic term for ISIS.

“According to accurate information, in Iraq, Americans and some reactionary countries of the region are directly assisting Daesh and play a destructive role.”

The ayatollah also advised the Nigerian leader not to pin hope on U.S. help in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Khamenei also met with visiting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and the two voiced mutual hostility towards the U.S.

“Today, arrogant [that is, U.S.] policies are plaguing the humanity like a grave scourge and the only way for the progress and victory of independent countries is steadfastness and reliance on masses in the wars of wills,” the Iranian said.

Referring to Latin America, he added, “America viewed this region as its backyard, but Venezuela’s unique move managed to turn this region into an independent spot with [its own] identity.”

Venezuela’s leftist leader, using his preferred epithet for the U.S., told Khamenei, “By stoking unrest and chaos across the globe, and humiliating the identity of countries, the imperialism is seeking to destroy the independence of nations.”

“As his excellency noted, we have to defeat the enemies through the war of wills and by relying on people.”

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