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TEHRAN - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush’s defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.
Bush has accused Iran of trying to make a nuclear bomb, being a state sponsor of terrorism and stoking sectarian conflict in Iraq, all charges Tehran denies.
“This issue (the elections) is not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush’s hawkish policies in the world,” Khamenei said in remarks reported by Iran’s student news agency ISNA on Friday.
“Since Washington’s hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation.”
The Democrats wrested control of both houses of Congress from the Republicans in this week’s mid-term elections, partly because of voter concern over the war in Iraq.
Khamenei, a senior cleric in power since 1989, has the last word on matters of state in Iran’s complex system of Islamic rule, while the government, under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in charge of day-to-day decision making.
“The result of this election indicates that the majority of American people are dissatisfied and are fed up with the policies of the American administration,” the IRNA state news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Khamenei said military maneuvers in the Gulf this week in which Iranian forces tested new missile systems showed Iran was ready to face any threat.
But, he said: “With the scandalous defeat of America’s policies in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, America’s threats are empty threats on an international scale.”
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A purported audio recording by the leader of Iraq’s al Qaeda wing gloated over the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a top U.S. general said the military was preparing to recommend strategy changes.
Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, said in the recording posted on the Internet on Friday that the group has 12,000 armed fighters and 10,000 others waiting to be equipped to fight U.S. troops in Iraq.
“I tell the lame duck (U.S. administration) do not rush to escape as did your defense minister . . . stay on the battleground,” he said.