Supreme Leader Claims Iran Remains United Against 'Outside' Threat
Edward Yeranian | Cairo 19 January 2010
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the opposition to distance itself from the Islamic Republic's Western enemies. The statement comes as anti-government protesters are expected to try to take to the streets again on February 11, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Amid growing signs of a rift within his regime, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisted Tuesday that "arrogant and unjust" foreign powers will not succeed in shaking the unity of the Islamic Republic.
The ayatollah spoke to a gathering of officials who are organizing festivities for the anniversary of the revolution.
In the past, the opposition has used such occasions to revive their protests.
Government officials have portrayed the huge opposition protests that erupted after the June election as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the clerical leadership.
Many Iran analysts argue that the country's top leaders, in the face of popular opposition and discontent, are increasingly at odds with each other.
Iran analyst Gary Sick says that discord among Iran's leaders is nothing new, but that he thinks it has gotten worse in the wake of Iran's disputed June presidential election:
"There have always been rivalries and disputes within the top leadership of the Islamic Republic," he said. "That is not anything new. It's been going on for some time, since the [1979 Islamic] revolution. But I do believe that those rifts and differences have become deeper and far more public today than I have ever seen them in the last 31 years of the revolution."
Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was shown on state TV jogging with a crowd of young people in Tehran, in what appeared to be an attempt to bolster his popularity.
Opposition Web sites recently showed a video of Ahmadinejad speaking to a provincial audience, in which young people shouted the name of their favorite soccer team, instead of Ahmadinejad's name as they were told to do.
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