The day after the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that the US will host a Middle East conference to put Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a rare appearance as the Friday’s Prayer Imam, urged Arab countries to boycott the conference (Keyhan, 13 October). Khamenei said the Palestinians see the conference as a hoax which will bring them no benefit.
“How could other governments of the region approve of this conference? They should regard it a mischievous deception,” Khamenei proclaimed. “This US-proposed move is in fact an initiative of US regime to save the Zionist regime.”
The conference will take place on Tuesday at US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Palestinian Authority President Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Mekdad, along with all other Arab ministers and the ministers from the Middle East Quartet, the G-8, the permanent members of UN Security Council and other key international actors will be in attendance. Nearly 50 countries and organizations would participate. So much for Khamenei’s boycott!
President Ahmadinejad today angrily criticized participants of Annapolis Conference.
“The people of Palestine are alive. The people of Palestine are awake. Who among them is the representative of the people of Palestine? What gives them the right to go there?” Ahmadinejad said (IRIB, 25 November). “This is the result of a lack of political acumen on behalf of those who profess to be politicians… Nations in the region will not accept it. The Palestinian nation, which is standing in the frontlines of the resistance movement, will not accept it,” Ahmadinejad continued.
Hamas and Hezbollah joined Iran in attacking the conference. Hamas actually warned that it will step up attacks against Israeli troops to register its opposition to the conference.
“The period that will follow the Annapolis conference will witness an increase of the resistance against the Zionist occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” said Mussa Abu Marzuq, top aide to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (AFP, 24 November).
Iran’s isolation in the region has never been so overwhelmingly apparent. It could only muster the support of two terrorist organizations heavily financed by Iran to oppose Annapolis. Even Khamenei’s rare personal appeal against attending the conference could not even pursue the Syrians. Annapolis is becoming a major defeat for Iran’s diplomacy, or lack of.