Yahoo! News (Link) - AFP - Jay Deshmukh (February 4, 2011)
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called for an Islamic regime to be installed in Egypt, saying the wave of Arab revolts is an “earthquake” triggered by the 1979 Iranian revolution.
The all-powerful Khamenei said the Arab uprisings, if successful, would lead to failure of US policies in the region and that the revolts were the most worrying for the Islamic republic’s arch-foe Israel as its alliance with Egypt could be broken.
The White House said Tehran was in no position to make such comments after crushing its own uprising last year.
“Do not back down until the implementation of a popular regime based on religion,” said Khamenei, Iran’s commander-in-chief, who switched from Persian to Arabic during his Friday sermon directed at Egyptians.
“The clergy should play a role. For example, when people come out of mosques and chant slogans, they should support. Inshallah (God willing) part of the Egyptian army will join the people. The main enemy of the Egyptian army is the Zionist regime and not the people,” he said.
The sermon was the first time in seven months Khamenei had addressed the weekly Friday prayers and came as protesters massed in Egypt for sweeping “departure day” demonstrations to force President Hosni Mubarak to quit.
Tehran, which severed diplomatic ties with Cairo in 1980, has backed the revolt in Egypt and warned Washington against “interfering” in what it says is a movement of the people.
“Today’s events in North Africa, Egypt and Tunisia and some other countries have different meanings for us,” Khamenei said in Persian to thousands of worshippers at Tehran university.
“This is what was always talked about as the occurrence of Islamic awakening at the time of the Islamic revolution of the great Iranian nation and is showing itself today,” he said.
Khamenei told the cheering crowds who chanted “Death to America! Death to Israel!” that the Iranian revolution has been “inspiring (to Arab uprisings) and a model because of perseverance, stability and its insistence on principles.”
“Today in Egypt one can hear your voice echoing there. The American president who was in power during the (Iranian) revolution has said in an interview that what you hear in Egypt is familiar. What is heard in Cairo today was heard in Tehran during his days,” Khamenei said referring to former US president Jimmy Carter.
He called the Arab revolts “a real earthquake” that if successful would lead to “failure of American policies” in the Middle East.
Washington reacted by pointing to mass protests in Iran following the June 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election opponents said was rigged.
“It is remarkable that Iran would make a statement given their actions when it came to their people exercising the same rights that people are exercising now in Cairo,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Khamenei on Friday called Mubarak the “servant” of Israel and the United States.
“For 30 years this country (Egypt) has been in the hands of someone who is not seeking freedom and is the enemy of those seeking freedom,” he said.
“Not only he is not anti-Zionist, but he is the companion, colleague, confidant and servant of Zionists. It is a fact that Hosni Mubarak’s servitude to America has been unable to take Egypt one step towards prosperity.”
He lashed out at former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, saying Iran had reports that he was a “US puppet and linked to the CIA.”
Khamenei also said that Israel had cause to be concerned about the Arab revolts.
“Today more than the fleeing Tunisian and Egyptian officials, Israelis and the Zionist enemies are the most worried about these events as they know if Egypt stops being their ally and take its rightful place, it would be a great event in the region,” he said.
Khamenei said the West’s calculations for the region have gone wrong and cited Tehran’s nuclear controversy as an example of a “political mistake” made by Western powers.
Washington and other world powers suspect Iran is making weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme. Iran denies the charge. †