Iran’s Rouhani affirms support for Syria, Hezbollah

President-elect says close ties with Damascus will help vanquish Zionists, who conspire with US to destabilize region

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani at a press conference, in Tehran on June 17, 2013. (photo credit: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani at a press conference, in Tehran on June 17, 2013. (photo credit: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Iranian president-elect sent messages to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, reaffirming support for the two allies.

The official IRNA news agency on Tuesday cited Hasan Rouhani as saying close Iranian-Syrian ties will be able to confront “enemies in the region, especially the Zionist regime.” According to the semi-official Fars News, Rouhani “lauded the Syrian nation for its resistance against western plots” and said Syria will “overcome its current crisis.”

The note was in response to Assad’s congratulatory message on Rouhani’s June election. Tehran has sided with Assad’s regime in Syria’s civil war and provided Damascus with arms and money to help quash a two-year uprising.

In an interview with IRNA, Syrian MP Khaled al-Abboud said the rebels against Assad “are tools in the hands of Washington and Tel Aviv,” but that eventually the rebels “would rise against their present supporters and their allies.” Echoing Rouhani, al-Abboud also remarked that Western support for Syrian rebels was a plot by the US and Israel to destabilize the Middle East.

Rouhani also wrote to the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, saying Iran backs the “steadfast nation” of Lebanon and the Palestinians, a reference to the militant Hamas group.

The notes reflect Rouhani’s intentions to emphasize links to Iran’s key regional allies even as he urges for greater outreach to the West.

Earlier Tuesday, Iran’s foreign ministry said that Israel’s prime minister seeks to damage relations between Iran and the world, referring to the Jewish state as “a warmonger regime.”

The remarks by ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi come two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the world to step up pressure on Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear program with tougher sanctions and threats of military action.

Araghchi said Iran views Israel as “angry” about moderate Hasan Rouhani’s victory in June presidential elections, claiming that Israel appears concerned the world will ease pressure in order to engage the Islamic Republic’s next president.

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