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Iranian official warns U.S.-led strike will engulf entire region
By Hussein Dakroub The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A senior Iranian official warned Monday that a U.S.-led military strike on Syria would engulf the entire region and threaten American and Israeli interests. The statement by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, was the latest in a series of stern warnings issued by Iranian and Russian officials against a possible Western military strike on Syria to punish the regime over its alleged use of chemical weapons. “We think that self-restraint shown so far by U.S. President Barack Obama, this American approach, serves America’s interests on the one hand, and the interests of the Zionist entity’s security on the other, because any political miscalculation in this regard could negatively backfire on the situation in the region as a whole,” Boroujerdi told reporters following talks with Speaker Nabih Berri at the latter’s residence in Ain al-Tineh. Boroujerdi spoke in Farsi and his remarks were translated into Arabic by an interpreter. The Iranian official arrived in Beirut Monday from Damascus to brief Lebanese officials on the conflict in Syria and discuss its repercussions on Lebanon. Boroujerdi, who issued a similar warning a day earlier during a trip to Syria where he met with President Bashar Assad, also said that the U.S. Congress should “bow to the will of the American people and take the right decision to put a brake to the American military approach against Syria.” “We think that the American public is sensitive toward and is opposed to any military aggression against Syria given the failed U.S. military experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. Last week, Obama said he would seek the authorization of Congress for a military strike on Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons. Obama has accused the regime of using poisonous gas on Syrian citizens on several occasions this year including the Aug. 21 attack which U.S. intelligence says killed over 1,400 people in a Damascus suburb. Boroujerdi said his talks with Assad focused on three main issues: defense of the resistance and Syria as a major pillar in the resistance axis, Iran’s strong and absolute opposition to any foreign military action against Syria, and its total condemnation of the use of chemical weapons “because this constituted a great danger to world and regional peace.” He said that during his visit to Damascus he found daily life was normal, while the morale of Syrian officials, including Assad, was high. The Iranian official also met with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and several parliamentarians. “We presented a detailed report about the results of our official visit to Syria and the important meetings we had with President Assad, the parliament speaker, the prime minister and the foreign minister,” Boroujerdi told reporters after talks with Salam at the latter’s residence in Mseitbeh. Boroujerdi said he had affirmed Iran’s support for Syria, describing Tehran’s key Arab ally as “the principal foundation and the vital pillar in the resistance axis in the region.” “We informed Salam of Iran’s firm opposition to any form of foreign military aggression against Syria,” he said. Salam and Boroujerdi also discussed bilateral relations and expressed hope that a Lebanese government would be formed. “We hope that the obstacles still facing the formation of a new government under Salam are eliminated because this matter serves the interest of the Lebanese,” he said. The Iranian official also voiced his country’s support for Lebanon’s stability and national unity. “As you know the Islamic Republic of Iran has always affirmed its principled stance in supporting national unity as well as sovereignty, calm and stability in this brotherly country because we think that this matter greatly serves regional security and stability,” he said. Boroujerdi will Tuesday meet with President Michel Sleiman, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour. Boroujerdi also held a meeting with Lebanon’s foreign affairs parliamentary committee headed by MP Abdel-Latif Zein. The talks, attended by lawmakers Nawaf Musawi, Yassine Jaber, Joseph Maalouf and Khodr Habib, touched on the repercussions of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon, particularly in terms of security. Last week, the head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard warned that a U.S. strike would trigger “reactions beyond” Syria and bolster extremism. And Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said an attack on Syria would be a “disaster” for the entire region.