Islamic Republic of Iran Foreign Ministry

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has expressed its support for the “reform programs of the Syrian leadership” and that country’s response to recent uprisings.

The ministry announced that Syria’s people and government have played “a prominent role in restoring the dignity of the Arab people and defending the rights of the people of Palestine and Lebanon, which has given Syria an exceptional place in the united effort against the Zionist regime.”

The Foreign Ministry attributed the protests in a number of Syrian cities to “U.S. and Zionist conspiracies aimed at striking a blow against the sovereignty and unity of the people” of this country.

The ministry statement praises the “efforts of the leadership and people of Syria in putting reforms in place that serve the national interest” and adds that “tolerance, both in expressing the demands and responding to them, will ensure Syria’s success.”

The Syrian president has ordered numerous reforms in the country in response to popular protests. Among them is the end of an official state of emergency that has lasted close to 50 years.

The protesters are demanding freedom of assembly and demonstration, but the government says foreign conspirators are behind the protests. Therefore, the Syrian military has been deployed to counter the demonstrations.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says Iranian and Syrian governments share similar policies with regard to Israel and the U.S., accusing the United States of hypocrisy in its reaction to recent protest movements in the region.

Referring especially to developments in Bahrain, the statement accuses the U.S. of maintaining silence in the face of “the heinous murder and torture of the innocent children, women and people of Bahrain” and, in effect, leading the operations to oppress the Bahraini people.

The U.S., on the other hand, has accused Iran of participating in the crackdown on protesters in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has said Iran is trying to exploit Middle Eastern protests.

Iran and Syria have denied the American accusations, and spokesmen for Iran’s Foreign Ministry previously referred to U.S. statements as “a continuation of the psychological and media wars” that the U.S. has carried out in order to “divert public attention from its hegemonic and interfering policies” in the region.

The Syrian opposition has announced it will take to the streets on May 6 to press for its demands.

Iranian media reported that Syrians have demonstrated in front of the French embassy in Damascus to protest recent French statements against Syria.

French senior officials have criticized the Syrian government’s suppression of protesters and called on the EU to boycott the country.