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Friday, April 28, 2006

Iran accuses U.S. of destabilising oil-rich south

Iran Focus Tehran, Iran, Apr. 28 – The top commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the governor of Iran’s southern province of Khuzestan issued a stern warning to the United States and Britain on Thursday to “stop meddling in Iran’s internal affairs” and creating “insecurity” in the province, the heart of Iran’s oil industry.

“For the past two weeks, America has stationed a brigade of its forces on the borders of Khuzestan [and Iraq], despite the fact that the military responsibility for the region from al-Amara to Basra had been given to the British”, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi told a gathering of senior commanders of the Bassij militia in the volatile city of Ahwaz, provincial capital of Khuzestan.

“This action shows that either the Americans don’t trust the British or these two have problems with each other”, Safavi said. “We warn the U.S. and Britain not to meddle in Iran’s internal affairs”.

The top Revolutionary Guards commander said the United States was “the principal enemy of Muslims around the world”, adding that “America’s hands are “stained with the blood of Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan”.

Safavi claimed that members of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin (also known as Mujahedin-e Khalq or MeK), had been stationed alongside the U.S. brigade in the south as part of the campaign to destabilise Khuzestan Province.

“We have to be sufficiently prepared to counter the plots being hatched by these enemies”, Safavi said.

Speaking at the same meeting, the governor of Khuzistan Province, Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Hayat Moqaddam said security in the province could only be established by “expanding the Bassij forces”. The Bassij is an arm of the Revolutionary Guards composed of Islamist zealots.

“As we all know, 65 percent of Iran’s oil and gas, 15 percent of thermal electricity, 88 percent of hydro-electric power, and a third of our country’s agricultural produce come from Khuzestan Province”, the governor said, underlining the unique position of the oil-rich province in Iran’s economy.

“We don’t believe that the insecurity in Khuzestan Province is an indigenous issue”, the general said. “This is a foreign-driven crisis that has its roots in the conspiracies of America, Britain, and Israel against the Islamic revolution, the Islamic Republic, and the people of Iran”.

Khuzestan Province has been the scene of unremitting anti-government protests since early 2005.
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