TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States and Israel of igniting internal conflict among Muslims to achieve domination in the region.
The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during talks with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed al-Muallem in Tehran Tuesday that the "Zionist entity," in reference to Israel, and America are "inciting threats, aggression and divisions."
He added the United States is working towards turmoil and "weakening independent and nationalist governments in the region in order to continue its presence and achieve its colonialist objectives."
The Iranian president said "igniting a sectarian war between Muslims, especially between Shiites and Sunnis, is a Zionist-American conspiracy for hegemony and to rob the resources of the people's resources."
Ahmadinejad's comments came amid growing animosity and strife between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, where Iran is largely blamed for supporting and arming Shiite militias accused of killing and torturing Sunnis. Many Arab regimes of predominantly Sunni countries are also accusing Tehran, albeit privately, of playing a role in supporting Arab Shiite populations for political gains, such as in Lebanon.
The Syrian foreign minister, according to IRNA, said there are "attempts by America and other insolent forces to escalate the struggles and killing between Muslims and igniting sectarianism between them in the region."
Muallem added that Damascus and Tehran believe accelerating the restoration of security and stability in Iraq will serve all the region's nations, while the U.S. interests lie in the continued instability and absence of security there.
IRNA said Ahmadinejad also called on Arab and Muslim countries to "prepare the ground for supporting independent and nationalist governments, and consolidating stability and security for the people of the region through awareness, resistance, unity and harmony in cooperation."