Syria and Iran Say to Build 'Common Front', 2/16/05
Syria and Iran Say to Build 'Common Front', 2/16/05
Nov 13 2005, 07:07 PM
Joined: 12-November 05
Member No.: 4
Syria and Iran Say to Build 'Common Front'
Blast Report Raises Tensions in Iran
February 16, 2005
Photo: Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref ® stands with Syrian
Prime Minister Naji al-Otari during the official welcoming ceremony at
Tehran's Saadabad Palace February 16, 2005. Iran and Syria, both locked in
rows with the United States, said on Wednesday they would form a common
front to face challenges and threats. (Raheb Homavandi/Reuters)
A large explosion rocked the southern Iranian city of Dailam on Wednesday as
both Iran and Syria said they will unite against any challenges or threats
to their nations' livelihoods.
As of the morning, it was unclear what exactly caused the blast. But
whatever the cause, the explosion — and various comments from Iran and
others immediately following the reports — pointed to the growing tensions
among Iraq's neighbors.
Iranian state television initially reported that an unknown aircraft fired a
missile in a desert area near the southern city of Dailam in the Bushehr
province, the location of a nuclear power plant. The network later said,
however, that the explosion may have been caused by a fuel tank dropping
from an Iranian plane. Iranian revolutionary guards said there was no attack
in Iran, but they also denied reports of a falling fuel tank.
"A powerful explosion was heard this morning on the outskirts of Dailam in
the Bushehr province. Witnesses said that the missile was fired from an
unknown plane 20 km [12 miles] from the city," Iran's Arabic language
Al-Alam said in a Reuters report.
Israeli security officials said their military was not involved with the
blast. The Russian embassy in Tehran later said there was no attack on the
nuclear power plant, according to Reuters.
Russia has completed construction work at the Bushehr nuclear reactor in
Iran, but it is not yet operational. The United States has expressed fears
that the $800 million Bushehr deal could help Tehran build nuclear weapons.
Russia says that having Iran ship spent nuclear fuel back to Russia will
make any such projects impossible.
"We cannot confirm the reports at this point. We are checking," Interior
Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said.
U.S. officials said they had no information about a blast but were checking
on the matter.
"We've seen the reports and we're looking into it," White House spokesman
Scott McClellan said.
Separately, a Defense Department spokesman stressed to Reuters that "it is
U.S. policy to deal with Iran in a diplomatic manner." The State Department
also said it had no information but was looking into the blast reports.
On the alliance issue, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref, after
meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari, told reporters in Tehran:
"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats."
"This meeting, which takes place at this sensitive time, is important,
especially because Syria and Iran face several challenges and it is
necessary to build a common front," he added.
Both Iran and Syria are in the midst of international disputes with the
Observers said an alliance of any kind between the two nations — though
they've had relations in the past — isn't a good idea.
"They feel the ground shifting under them" as democracy begins to take root
in neighboring countries like Iraq, Robert McFarlane, who served as national
security adviser to former President Reagan, told FOX News. "It's a very
misguided effort, this idea of cooperation between Iran and Syria. They've
wreaked years and years of devastation to Lebanon and the sponsorship of
Ret. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said: "They have been joined for a
long time in creating terrorism in the region. That shouldn't be any
surprise to any of us, they've just now announced it publicly."
Sanctions for Syria?
In one sign that the situation in Syria is far from rosy, the United States
on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to that country in a sign it's far from
pleased with Damascus after Monday's killing of former Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Al-Hariri, credited with rebuilding post-civil war
Lebanon, was killed in a bombing.
There are suspicions that Syria somehow was involved in the assassination.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Lebanon find those responsible
for Hariri's slaying.
Edward Djerejian, director of the Baker Institute at Rice University, said
Hariri's killing is just the latest of a series of "horrible" political
assassinations aimed at derailing Lebanon's independence.
"Instead of through the ballot box, Lebanese leaders have been brutally
killed," Djerejian told FOX News. His killing "really is causing all the
issues of Lebanon's independence, sovereignty to come to the floor."
U.S. officials are considering imposing new sanctions on Syria because of
its refusal to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon and Washington's
belief that Syria allows Palestinian militants and Iraqi insurgents operate
on its soil. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the
United States "will continue to consider other options" when asked if new
sanctions would be pushed by the American government.
"The Syrian problem is a serious problem," Rice added. "Our problems with
the Syrian government are not new."
But the international community has to be behind those sanctions in order
for them to be effective, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told FOX News on
"Once again, it takes away a lot of the leverage of the world to try to help
people who want to be free," said the Texas Republican, referring to how
some countries seem unwilling to force sanctions upon Syria.
"We don't have anyone standing up saying, 'We should have sanctions, we
should act swiftly to show Syria and the world that the people of Lebanon
can stand up on their own determination,'" she said.
McFarlane said the United Nations should take a stronger stance in telling
Syria to get out of Lebanon — or else.
"I think in the wake of this tragedy [assassination of Hariri], it's timely
for the U.N. to pass another resolution with some teeth in it this time to
require Syrian to withdraw," he said. "It's been a continuing menace for
years and years, but this marks an appropriate time for Syria to withdraw
Added McInerney: "The Lebanese people are sick of the Syrians. Let's take
advantage of that."
U.S. officials say Syria's military presence and its political power-broking
role are generally responsible for Lebanon's instability. Syria has denied
accusations that it supports terrorism.
Iran is also on America's and the international community's terror watch
President Bush has branded Iran part of an "axis of evil," along with
pre-war Iraq and North Korea, calling Iran "the world's primary state
sponsor of terror." He also has accused Tehran of attempting to build up its
nuclear program in order to make nuclear weapons; Iran argues that its
program is legitimate and only for electricity generation.
Not helping matters were unnamed U.S. officials saying spy drones have been
flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons
programs. That possible revelation, as of yet not confirmed by the White
House, was reported in the Washington Post on Sunday.
Iran's intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of flying
the drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned
"If any of the bright objects come close, they will definitely meet our fire
and will be shot down. We possess the necessary equipment to confront them,"
Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said.
FOX News' Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report..
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