(CNSNews.com) – Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday accused the United States – the “great Satan” – and its “little demons” in the region of creating crises like those in Syria and Iraq, to divert attention away from the issue of “Palestine.”
Khamenei, echoing a statement made in a speech last year, also told a visiting Palestinian terrorist leader that if Muslims act, Israel will no longer exist in 25 years’ time.
“As I have said before, the Zionist regime will not exist in the next 25 years on the condition of a public and unified struggle by Palestinians and Muslims,” his office quoted him as telling a delegation led by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdullah Shalah.
“Despite continued attempts by the supporters of the Zionist regime to create crises and make the Palestinian issue fade into oblivion, the holy land will be liberated thanks to the resistance and striving of Palestinian groups,” Khamenei said.
He stressed that Iran was at the forefront of supporters of the Palestinian cause.
“Despite being entangled in some regional issues, the Islamic Republic has always and explicitly declared that Palestine is the foremost problem of the Islamic world and continues to fulfill its obligations in this regard,” Khamenei said.
He said the only way to liberate Jerusalem from the Israelis was “through struggle and resistance,” as any other methods were futile.
A day earlier, Iran’s “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani met with Shalah and told him that “jihad and resistance” were the only options for Palestinians confronting the “Zionist regime.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization since 1997, is a Sunni group but enjoys strong support from Shi’ite Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally, Hezbollah.
The Syrian civil war, with largely Shi’a forces arrayed against Sunni ones, has fueled sectarianism across the region, exacerbated by the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Iran, Hezbollah, and other Shi’a militia are fighting on behalf of the Assad regime, against predominantly Sunni rebels, ranging from nationalists to radical jihadists, some of them supported by the Sunni Gulf states and Turkey.
Clerics and politicians on each side use sectarian rhetoric when condemning and inciting violent actions against other, further fanning the flames.
But Khamenei told his visitors the crisis in the region has nothing to do with differences between Sunni and Shi’a.
It was Sunnis in Aleppo and Mosul, he said, who were being massacred by “criminal takfiris.”
“Therefore, these crises have nothing to do with Shias and Sunnis.”
“Takfiri” is an epithet used by Shi’ites for radical Sunnis who regard any Muslims not sharing their religious views as infidels.
The schism dates back to a succession dispute after the death of Mohammed in the seventh century. Shi’ites believe Mohammed chose his son-in-law, Ali, as successor; Sunnis recognize four caliphs, beginning with Abu Bakr, as the rightful heirs.
Shi’ites comprise between 10 and 15 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims today.