Iran reinforced the declaration of its fight against Iraq’s insurgents on Monday, saying the defense of Shia shrines is an “obligation”.
Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi said the crisis is a “good opportunity” for Iraqis to form a “popular army” alongside Iraq’s armed forces”.
Following the Supreme Leader’s warning to the US on Sunday not to intervene in the conflict, Makarem Shirazi asserted, “We all know that after Takfiri terrorists and their allies from Arab countries, the US and the usurping Israel suffered a humiliating defeat in Syria, they decided to make up for it in Iraq.”
At the same time, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — amid reports of up to 2,000 Iranian troops and militia in Iraq — tried to limit the talk of Iranian involvement.
General Mohammad Ali Jafari told a ceremony for martyrs of the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, “It is the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief that no one should aid countries like Syria and Iraq unless the work is limited counselling and advising. The people and governments of these countries can overcome their problems without the aid of any country.”
General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force of the IRGC, has been in Iraq inspecting frontlines and meeting Iraqi leaders. Elements of the Quds Force have reportedly been involved in the defense of Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, which has two Shia shrines.
Iran’s intervention in Syria alongside its ally President Assad has also been framed in the rhetoric of defending holy sites, notably the shrine of Sayyeda Zeinab in southern Damascus.
On the political front, the Rouhani Government continued its retreat from any thought of cooperation with the US over the Iraq crisis.
Instead, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continued the denunciation of other countries for plotting the Iraqi insurgency, “What is happening is a foreign conspiracy with the aim of preventing the strong presence of the Muslim world in the arena of regional and international developments.”
The head of Parliament’s National Security Council, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, went farther by naming the alleged foreign culprits, “Although the US and Saudi Arabia claim that they are against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham), these two countries are in fact the main supporters.”
(FEATURED PHOTO: Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq)
Tehran Calls on US to End “Occupation” of Puerto Rico
Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Hossein Dehghani, has urged the US to end the “occupation” of Puerto Rico.
Addressing the UN Special Committee on Decolonization, Dehghani said the case had been under review for 39 years, with more than 32 resolutions.
He asked Washington to “leave the people of the country to act independently” and “to hand occupied lands back”.
The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was ceded by Spain to the US after the Spanish-American War of 1898. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship.
One of the three main political parties on the island calls for independence from the US.
Iran Oil Sales to China 50% Higher Than in January-May 2013
China’s imports of Iranian oil continue to rise in comparison with 2013, with a May level 36% higher than last year.
Beijing’s purchases have risen sharply since a November interim nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers, despite a US statement at the time that Tehran’s exports would be limited to 1 million barrels per day.
China’s imports between January and May are almost 50% higher in comparison with the same period in 2013.
However, the May figure of 757,900 bpd is a slight easing of the surge — China took almost 800,000 bpd in April.