Iran Pulse

Khamenei uses Tehran gas summit to slam US

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Article Summary
In meetings with world leaders, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned about US goals in the Middle East and Latin America.

The extraordinarily warm and friendly meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran Nov. 23 dominated the front pages of Iranian newspapers. However, Khamenei also met with a number of other world leaders who were in Iran for a summit of gas exporting countries. The meetings all shared a similar topic: the United States.

In a meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Nov. 24, Khamenei warned of Iraqi disintegration at the hands of the United States. “The environment should not be such that the Americans give themselves permission to openly speak about the breakup of Iraq,” Khamenei said. He described Iraq as a “large and rich country with a thousand years of history” and warned that if disintegration happens, the smaller states will be in constant conflict.

Khamenei said that while Iraqi politicians may have calculated that relations with the United States is in the interest of the Iraqi people, “They must not give the US permission to imagine that Iraq is [America's] own property to say or do whatever they want.” Khamenei added that the Iraq of the past is different today and that the Iraqi youth “will not go under the domination of America.”

While Iran has long had concerns about US influence in Iraq, Khamenei also used meetings with the leaders of Bolivia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Algeria to criticize the United States and its policies.

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In a meeting with Bolivian President Evo Morales on Nov. 24, Khamenei warned about US soft power upon the indigenous population in Latin America. He warned that if the United States is able to successfully import its culture to Bolivia and change the behaviors and attitudes of the youth, the United States will not need to resort to a military coup or hard power in order to dominate the country. This is a concern Khamenei has long had about US influence in Iran as well.

Khamenei said that strengthening the indigenous identity within the country and teaching it to the youth is the solution to confronting the American policy of seeking influence in other countries.

During a Nov. 23 meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Khamenei said that the United States has a “predatory” policy in Latin America and that it views the region as its own backyard. He praised Venezuela’s “unparalleled actions” in turning the region into one that is independent of US influence.

He described the US sanctions on Venezuela as having the intention to destroy the country’s resistance to the United States. He described the wars today in the world as “wars of will,” adding that Venezuela with “perseverance and strength of will and using the plentiful capacity of the country will be victorious.”

In a meeting with Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari Nov. 23, Khamenei said it is wrong to have hope in the United States for help in combatting terrorist movements like Boko Haram. He said Iran has “precise information” that the United States and some regional countries are directly supporting the Islamic State (IS). Although officials in the Hassan Rouhani administration do not hold this view that the United States supports IS, a number of officials within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have made this accusation in the past.

In a Nov. 24 meeting with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Khamenei stressed that Islamic countries should work to expand ties. He said that after the Iranian revolution, those countries who were “followers of America” prevented better Iran-Algeria ties. But, he added, now seems like an appropriate time for unifying Islamic countries who share the same views.

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Found in: vladimir putin, us foreign policy, us-iranian relations, iranian revolution, iran, hassan rouhani, ayatollah ali khamenei

Arash Karami is a contributor to Al-Monitor. On Twitter: @thekarami

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