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Supreme leader warns against internal enemies

TEHRAN, April 15 (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged the armed forces of the Islamic Republic to remain vigilant against the "internal enemy."

"The real enemy intends to attack us from within by aiming to weaken our determination, faith and firm resolution," Khamenei said in an address to troop commanders on Wednesday ahead of Sunday's celebrations of Army Day.

"Therefore the outside enemy can only be defeated when the internal enemy is defeated," newspapers on Thursday quoted the country's supreme leader and spirtual guide as saying.

Khamenei, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, underlined the "need for the exercise of vigilance vis-a-vis the attack of the enemy on the internal foundations of every single force of the army." He also cautioned against showing leniency towards "sweet diplomatic smiles" and the "exchange of warm diplomatic greetings," stressing that the world of diplomacy and international relations is not a venue for serenity and honesty.

"The enemy is the same element which is constantly at work to strip our nation and country of the means of power," Khamenei said.

Khamenei's remarks came nearly a week after the assassination of a top army officer, General Ali Sayad Shirazi, in Tehran for which the Iraqi-based People's Mujahedeen claimed responsibility.

Moderate President Mohammad Khatami's reform agenda has been under fierce attack by hardliners in the regime following February municipal elections that saw a sweeping victory for the reformist camp.

The conservative and hardline wing of the government in recent weeks has lashed out against the domestic press and reformists close to Khatami, accusing them of abandoning the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Two senior conservative officials, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi and the vice president of parliament, Ali Movahedi-Kermani, warned the press against offending the "sacred values" of the regime.

Last week, a revolutionary court banned the pro-Khatami Zan daily, run by moderate MP Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, for committing a "counterrevolutionary act" by publishing a new year's message from the widow of the ousted shah.

Meanwhile, another pro-Khatami liberal cleric, Mohsen Kadivar, is on trial before the Special Court for Clergy for supporting greater autonomy of politics from religion.


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