Published in: Islamic Republic News Agency
Defense Minister praises Arab Iranians' role in sacred defense


Minister of Defense of Logistic Affairs of the Armed Forces Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani said here Monday, "Throughout the years of the (Iraqi) imposed war the Khuzestani Iranian) Arabs were the main defenders of our borders."

Praising the Iranian Arabs as "The defender soldiers of the Islamic Revolution" ever since long before the glorious victory of the revolution's victory in 1978, he added, "That attitude is definitely still alive among the Iranian Arabs."

Speaking to the reporters at a press conference, Rear Admiral Shamkhani, a Khuzestani Iranian Arab himself, emphasized, "The Khuzestani Arabs are selfless Iranians and staunchly opposed to separatist ideas, but they also have righteous demands, that the system needs to recognize, confirm, and meet."

Shamkhani who is President Khatami's special envoy in following up the recent unrest in Khuzestan, told the reporters, "Surveying the various aspects of the province's affairs leads us to the conclusion that if we manage to harness poverty, discrimination, humiliation, and intrigues in Khuzestan Province as the four main factors leading to public dissatisfaction, we will have no further problems in the province."

Referring to policies pursued by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV, he said, "That satellite TV pursues certain polices that are in line with the policies pursued by superpowers, beyond doubt."

Rear Admiral Shamkhani reiterated, "In that respect, the officials' responsibility is immunizing the people that are exposed to the influence of such networks."
He added, "I personally believe the policies pursed by Al Jazeera on Iranian Khuzestani Arabs have been quite biassed and irrational." The defense minister further stressed, "Such policies are not at the service of pushing forth the development plans and securing the stability and well being of the Khuzestani Arabs."

He added, "The recent incidents (in Khuzestan) were quite insignificant and of minute importance and many factors hand in hand led to their occurrence, but before adopting any decision regarding boycotting Al Jazeera, or closing its offices in Iran permanently we need to solve our own cultural obstacles and problems."

Rear Admiral Shamkhani said, "The effect of the presence, or absence of Al Jazeera's representative in Iran is far less than what we have so far propagated for it."

IRI's Minster of Defense and Logistic Affairs of the Armed Forces turning the subject to one of the saboteurs of Ahwaz unrest, said, "A fugitive anti-revolutionary figure

named Al-Ahwazi, who played a role in recent Khuzestan unrest, was a merciless and brutal member of (the ousted Shah's secret police) SAVAK before the revolution." He added, "During the years of the Sacred Defense, too, he was an un-unformed member of (ouster Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain's) Ba'th Party, and briefly speaking, he enjoys zero popularity among Khuzestani Arabs."

Shamkhani said, "During the years of the (Iraqi) imposed war, Al-Ahwazi made a futile effort aimed at boosting the popularity of the aggressor and occupier forces of the Ba'thi forces among Khuzestani Arabs, but to no avail."

He reiterated, "Al-Ahwazi has no influence among Khuzestani Arabs, who consider him a person devoid of any personality, and one who makes much ado about nothing, which proves how cheap a personality he is.

Certain neighborhoods of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan province, witnessed clashes between police and ethnic Arabs last week, in which several state buildings, including banks and police cars were damaged and at least three people killed.

Following the unrest, Iran's Culture Ministry ordered Monday the temporary closure of the Al-Jazeera bureau in Tehran, pending a probe into the possible provocative broadcasts of the Arabic television.

Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, too, highlighted the role of 'foreign elements' in the unrest, saying, "The Al-Jazeera channel was also involved in the trouble and as among the instigators of the incident."
Later, on Wednesday, judiciary officials released 155 people arrested during the trouble out of a total of 333 detained.

The unrest broke out as the conclusion of the circulation of a letter attributed to the former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi advising the government to move population of Khuzestan to Mazandaran province.

The government rejected the letter as fake.

Abtahi himself has denied having written such a letter.



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