Raleigh protest planned against Iran intervention
Posted February 3, 2012 5:07 a.m. EST
Updated February 3, 2012 5:36 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A group of anti-war organizations planned a protest Friday evening outside the Terry Sanford Federal Building in Raleigh to demonstrate opposition to American intervention in Iran. Raleigh is one of dozens of cities to see protests as rhetoric about Iran's nuclear program heats up.
Iran's supreme leader pledged Friday to aid any nation or group that challenges Israel and said any military strikes over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program would damage U.S. interests in the Middle East "10 times over."
The nationally broadcast comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei staked out a hard line in apparent replies to suggestions that military strikes are an increasing possibility if sanctions fail to rein in the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
The West and its allies fear Iran could use its uranium enrichment labs — which make nuclear fuel — to eventually produce weapons-grade material. Iran insists it only seeks reactors for energy and medical research.
Israel has so far publicly backed the efforts by the U.S. and European Union for tougher sanctions that target Iran's crucial oil exports. But Israeli leaders have urged even harsher measures and warn that military action remains a clear option despite Western appeals to allow time for the economic pressures and isolation to bear down on Iran.
Although Israel has raised the strongest hints over a military campaign, Khamenei reserved some of his strongest comments for Israel's key U.S. ally.
"A war itself will damage the U.S. 10 times over" in the region, said Khamenei.
Khamenei claimed Iran, however, could only emerge stronger. "Iran will not withdraw. Then what happens?" asked Khamenei. "In conclusion, the West's hegemony and threats will be discredited" in the Middle East. "The hegemony of Iran will be promoted. In fact, this will be in our service."
At Ramstein Air Base in Germany, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said sanctions remain the best approach to pressure Iran. But he told U.S. airmen Friday that Washington keeps "all options on the table and would be prepared to respond if we have to."
Organizers of the protests in the U.S. say even sanctions are an act of war on the Iranian people. They list their demands as: “No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations against Iran."
Nicole Serban, a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill was protesting both the cost and the potential outcome of any action in Iran.
“It is disturbing that as the U.S.has shown its utter failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and dozens of other nations across the world that it would dare threaten to go into another country such as Iran," she said. “Yet, at the same time as hundreds of billions are wasted on terrible wars, the State of North Carolina is discussing raising its tuition on public universities."