Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez believes that the United States and European countries have a hand in anti-government protests rocking Iran over the country’s presidential elections.
"People are in the streets, some are dead, they have snipers, and behind this is the CIA, the imperial hand of European countries and the United States," Chavez said, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday, June 25.
Though he did not offer evidence, he said the unrest in Iran follows a pattern seen in different countries.
"From my point of view, that’s what’s happening in Iran," he told a meeting of Latin American leftist leaders.
Iran fell into turmoil after the July 12 presidential elections, which saw incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected in landslide.
Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is refusing to acknowledge Ahmadinejad’s re-election, and is encouraging his supporters to protest and demanding the cancellation of the results.
At least 17 people have been killed in the post-election violence, the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Chavez’s statements echo accusations by Iran for the CIA of being behind the protests.
The CIA was behind the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat to depose the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq.
The accusations come amid a new diplomatic ebb in relations between Tehran and Washington.
The US on Wednesday rescinded invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend the July 4 Independence Day celebrations at US embassies over the post-election violence.
"Given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
US diplomats abroad had been instructed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to invite Iranians to the Independence Day celebrations, as part of Washington’s bid to engage Tehran.
"July fourth allows us to celebrate the freedom and the liberty we enjoy — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble peacefully. Freedom of the press," Gibbs said.
"I don’t think it’s surprising that nobody’s signed up to come."
The US has no diplomatic relations with Tehran since 1979 Islamic Revolution and the US embassy hostage crisis.
US interests in Iran at present are looked after by the Swiss embassy.
The Islamic Republic maintains an interests section at the embassy of Pakistan in Washington.
Obama issued his strongest statements yet on Iran on Tuesday, condemning the crackdown on protestors.
He also for the first time suggested that his bid to engage the Islamic republic over its nuclear program could be heavily impacted by how the crisis plays out.
The US has been engaged in a long standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says it aims at generating energy for a growing population.
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)