Speaking to a group of students in Tehran last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced a recent move by several Sunni Arab nations to label Iran-backed Hezbollah a terrorist organization and said the Shiite group is a source of honor and pride for the Islamic world.
“Let’s suppose a corrupt, sycophantic, hollow regime condemns Hezbollah in a statement with money and petrodollars; to hell with it! How much does it matter?” Khamenei said, according to Khamenei’s official government website. “Hezbollah is shining like the sun! Hezbollah is a source of pride for the world of Islam! The youth and members of Hezbollah of Lebanon are a source of pride for the world of Islam!” Khamenei added.
Iran’s supreme leader delivered the remarks during a meeting with individuals at the Islamic Students Association on April 20, the day before the anniversary of Imam Ali’s birth. While Shiite Muslims consider Ali to be first imam in Islam, as well as the religious and spiritual successor to Muhammad, Sunni Muslims recognize him as the Fourth Rightly-Guided Caliph. Ali was Muhammad’s first cousin, as well as his son-in-law.
The interior ministers from several Arab countries had labeled Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement a terrorist organization at the conclusion of the 33rd session of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, on March 2.
Al Arabiya notes that they had condemned and deplored “the practices and dangerous acts by the terrorist group Hezbollah to destabilize security and peace in some Arab countries,” and in issuing the “Tunis Declaration,” reiterated their condemnation of “terrorism whatever its forms or sources and all acts of terrorism, including those directed against ethnic and sectarian minorities.”
Gulf nations have coalesced in the face of growing threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is similarly seeking a hegemony in the region. In particular, Iran is at stark odds with Saudi Arabia, as the two nations are backing opposing sides in the ongoing Syrian and Yemeni civil wars.
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