Barack Obama makes angry attack on Iranian president’s 9/11 comments
Posted by musliminsuffer on September 28, 2010
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Sunday, September 26, 2010
US president uses BBC to make appeal to Iranians while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains unrepentant
Barack Obama made an angry personal attack on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday, saying claims by Iran‘s president that the United States carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks to prop up Israel were “hateful, offensive and inexcusable”.
Obama also used an interview with BBC Persian TV to appeal directly to the people of Iran, defending UN sanctions and urging them to believe the US wants a better relationship with the Islamic republic, repeating that it was only possible if it complied with international demands over its nuclear programme.
Ahmadinejad’s remarks to the UN general assembly on Thursday caused wide outrage and a walkout by diplomats from the US, Britain and many other countries. The Iranian president said one “theory” of what happened in September 2001 was that “the US government orchestrated the attack in order to save the Zionist regime in the Middle East“.
Obama described this as outrageous and disgusting: “Particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation; for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable.”
An unrepentant Ahmadinejad returned to the theme again yesterday, calling on the UN to set up a commission to study the attacks, for which al-Qaida claimed responsibility. “I did not pass judgment, but don’t you feel that the time has come to have a fact-finding committee,” he asked during a news conference in New York. He also said Iran would consider ending uranium enrichment if world powers sent Tehran nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor. “We will consider halting uranium enrichment whenever nuclear fuel is provided to us,” he said.
In his interview, Obama said Ahmadinejad’s stance on 9/11 contrasted with Iranians’ reaction at the time: “There were candlelight vigils and a natural sense of shared humanity and sympathy. It shows once again the difference between how the Iranian leadership and this regime operate, and how the vast majority of the Iranian people who are respectful and thoughtful think about these issues.”
Making this distinction was the point of his interview, broadcast on PTV last night, with a Persian translation, and likely to be seen by millions of Iranians despite official jamming. It was an scoop for the London satellite channel set up in 2008 and enjoying far greater credibility than the Persian service of the Voice of America.
US officials had already called Ahmadinejad’s remarks “abhorrent and delusional”, but Obama’s public riposte is likely to have a global resonance.
The president said the point of the sanctions imposed by the US, the UN and the EU was to make the regime allay concern over the purpose of its nuclear programme. For Tehran it was “more important to defy the international community and engage in a covert nuclear weapons programme than to make sure people are prospering”.
Obama repeated the offer made shortly after taking office in 2009. “We’re willing to reach out with an open hand to the Iranian government and the Iranian people because we believe that there’s nothing inevitable that should cause Iran and the US to be enemies. There’s a history there that is difficult. But it can be bridged with mutual understanding, mutual respect.”
At his press conference Ahmadinejad also lashed out at the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an overreaction to 9/11. The Americans should “not occupy the entire Middle East, bomb wedding parties, annihilate an entire village, just because one terrorist is hiding there,” he said.
Obama conspicuously did not talk of a military option. “I don’t take war lightly,” he told PTV. “I was opposed to the war in Iraq. I am somebody who’s interested in resolving issues diplomatically.” He also emphasised that the US was acting with wide international support though he refused to say whether he would stop Israel if it decided to attack Iran.
“Understandably, Israel is very concerned when the president of a country, a large country near them, states that they should be wiped off the face of the earth.”
The president praised the “courage” of Iranians in the unrest that followed last year’s disputed elections, saying: “We have no interest in meddling, in the rights of people that choose their own government, but we will speak out forcefully when we see governments abusing and oppressing their own people.” The Iranian government had “delegitimised itself in ways that continue to reverberate around the world.”
The White House said it hoped to encourage debate in Iran on the speech. “We will, to amplify the president’s messages, … be blogging it, Tweeting it, posting on Youtube and, again, ensuring that we are doing everything that we can to disseminate the president’s words,” an administration official said.
It was reported last night Ahmadinejad had met Sarah Shourd, an American hiker held last year near the Iran-Iraq border. Shourd, released this month, was believed to have asked for release of her companions, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. After the meeting she said it was “a very gracious gesture [and] … a very human encounter, very personal”.
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