Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the West is making a mistake in supporting Israel, which is “martyring” the Palestinian people.

“The Zionist regime is a dead entity which cannot be brought back to life through such efforts,” the president told a large crowd Sunday in the city of Karaj, close to Tehran. “You (the West) have made investments and are losing face for the sake of a bunch of criminals and are not aware that the Zionist regime is like a rotten tree that you have invested in, but you will lose face.”

The current conflicts in Syria and in Gaza have Iranian officials speaking out on behalf of what they call the “Axis of Resistance” – Iran, Hezbollah and Syria – in their confrontation with Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in a March 8 interview, warned that Iran will not allow the U.S. to use the crisis in Syria to change the balance of power in the region.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, had warned President Obama in a letter that Syria is a red line for Iran, and any meddling by the U.S. will have grave consequences.

Khamenei told the U.S. to cease and desist its pressure on the Syrian regime.

Abdollahian, in his interview, stated, “We have strategic relations with Syria, which we see as an important state in the resistance of the axis. … We have also said clearly that we recognize and understand the objectives of the U.S. and the Zionists in this vitally important Middle East country, and we would not allow America to use unrest in the country to install power structures that would upset the balance of power in the region.”

The deputy foreign minister, addressing the threats against Iran over its nuclear program, said Iran has concluded that Israel does not have the will or the capability to attack Iran. But he warned that any attack on Iran will have grave consequences for Israel and the U.S.

The commander of the Quds Forces, Qassem Soleimani, and 15,000 of his fighters have entered Syria with the mission of assisting in the suppression of the Syrian protesters, it was reported last month.

The Quds Forces are acting as a firewall for the Assad regime, because many officers in the Syrian army are joining the opposition over the mass killings of civilians, which so far number more than 7,000.

According to Mashregh News, an Iranian media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards, sources in Syria report that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last Thursday issued a directive that should the country be attacked by the U.S., Syria, Iran and Hezbollah will counterattack with a barrage of missiles not only toward Israel but also at American assets in the region. The report revealed that the three allies have formed joint war rooms to retaliate against any such aggression.

Iran is determined to protect Assad, because Syria provides a gateway into Lebanon and is key to Iran’s extending power into Iraq and the immediate region.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of the award winning book, “A Time to Betray.” He is a senior Fellow with EMPact America, a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA).

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