Tehran Will Abandon Neutrality If Israel Enters The War
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iran’s deputy Parliament speaker warned Friday that Iran would abandon its neutrality and fight alongside Iraq if Israel joined the Gulf War.
As a high-ranking Iraqi official visited for talks with the government, Tehran Radio reported that Iran also sent a shipment of medicine and milk to Baghdad, and opened a bank account for donations to Iraq.
″If Israel is stupid enough to respond to Iraqi missile attacks, then (Iran’s leaders) ... will undoubtedly take a position quite different from their present one,″ the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted deputy speaker Assadollah Bayat as saying.
Tehran has stressed its neutrality during the war to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait. At the same time it has expressed outrage at the damage allied bombing is causing in Iraq. Bayat was not the first Iranian official to threaten to enter the war if Israel does so.
The head of the Iranian judiciary, speaking at Tehran University Friday, slammed President Bush for alleged allied attacks on civilian targets in Iraq. ″Bush says he does not want to destroy Iraq, but these are empty words,″ Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi said.
Iranian officials also have said they were unhappy Iraqi planes had flown into Iran without prior permission. Tehran says 16 Iraqi fighter jets have flown into its airspace and 11 landed safely. U.S. military officials say about 90 Iraqi aircraft have sought shelter in Iran.
There has been no official explanation for the development, although some military analysts say Saddam sent the planes to Iran for safety.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati met with Saadoun Hamadi, a senior aide to Saddam, late Thursday and said the planes and their crews would be impounded for the war’s duration.
Official Iranian media also have deemed it significant that Francois Scheer, an undersecretary to France’s foreign minister, and Hamadi were in Tehran simultaneously. But France has denied the two men would meet.
France was generally friendly toward Iraq before the outbreak of the gulf crisis.
Other envoys in Tehran for talks on the war include Abdulaziz al-Dali, Yemen’s minister of state for foreign affairs, and Algerian Foreign Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali. Both met separately with Velayati to discuss ways to end the war.
Friday was decreed the ″day of compassion with the innocent people of Iraq,″ the Iranian news agency said. It coincided with the 12th anniversary of the return from exile of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, under whose leadership Iran fought the bloody 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Vahid Dastjerdi, head of the Red Crescent, the local Red Cross organization, said five offices in border provinces will send aid to Iraq. The first shipment of medicine and powdered milk for infants was sent Friday, he said.