WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - The Speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, has threatened the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, if they should place additional pressures on Iran.
The Trump administration has said it will significantly increase economic sanctions on Iran, now that Washington has withdrawn from the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed last month that the new sanctions the administration plans to place on Iran will “end up being the strongest sanctions in history, when we are complete.”
On Friday, Larijani issued a warning to the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia—which he called the “triangle of evil,” mocking George W. Bush’s 2002 declaration of an “axis of evil” (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea).
Larijani asserted, “If they corner Iran, their own security will be at risk.”
It is probably not an empty threat. US intelligence “now believes that Iranian proxies are the primary threat to our personnel in Iraq,” Rep. Steve Chabot (R, Ohio) revealed last month in a Congressional hearing.
Larijani denounced Donald Trump’s “self-centered” delusion that America’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and its threat of sanctions had changed Iran’s behavior.
“Iran is acting a lot differently,” Trump claimed on Thursday. “They’re no longer looking so much to what’s going on in Syria, what’s going on in Yemen and lots of other places. They’re a much different country over the last three months.”
Even the US media challenged Trump’s assertion. As The New York Times noted, Trump withdrew from the JCPOA only last month, while there has been “little indication” of any change in Tehran.
“If [Trump] is saying these things to shield himself from the ridicule of other countries,” Larijani continued, “he had better remain in his ignorant self-satisfaction.”
Iran’s close ally, Syria, has also threatened the US. Last Thursday, speaking to Russia Today, President Bashar al-Assad, asserted, “The Americans should leave [Syria.] Somehow, they’re going to leave.”
Recalling the 1980s, when the US was driven out of Beirut by terrorist attacks orchestrated jointly by Iran and Syria, Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, warned, “The same constellation of actors” exists now in Syria as it did then, and “the preponderance of force there is not with us.”
Larijani spoke on the last Friday of Ramadan, which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini designated Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day in August 1979, six months after the overthrow of Iran’s monarchical regime.
Quds Day was marked in Baghdad—as it has been since 2011, when US forces were preparing to leave Iraq.
Shiite militias, the most powerful of which are backed by Tehran, paraded through the city, carrying Iranian and Palestinian flags, while stepping on the US and Israeli flags.
However, the commemoration of Quds Day further north, in territory disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, and even in the Kurdish city of Sulaimani, is a novelty that has followed Iraq’s assault on Kirkuk and other disputed areas last October.
That attack was orchestrated by Qassim Soleimani, notorious head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Washington—not wanting to jeopardize Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s prospects for success in Iraq’s May 12, 2018, elections and not understanding Soleimani’s central role—turned a blind eye to the assault.
Nonetheless, Abadi fared poorly in the elections, coming in behind the pro-Iranian militias, who in turn, came in behind the top vote-getter, the firebrand Shi’ite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.
Tuz Khurmatu, 55 kilometers south of Kirkuk, lies in the disputed territories and was seized by Shiite militias last October.
In Tuz Khurmatu, the militias marched through the town on Friday, carrying their own flags, including that of Sadr’s force, as well as the flags of Iraq and Palestine, again treading over the US and Israeli flags.
In Sulaimani, the Kurdistan Region’s second largest city, the Iranian consulate sponsored a conference to mark Quds Day. The Iranian Consul General spoke, as did Sunni and Shiite clerics—as well as the Provincial Governor, Haval Abubakr, from Gorran (Change), which claims to be a reformist political party.
The Kurds of Iraq have long sympathized with Israel, seeing in the decades-long Arab conflict with the Jewish state, parallels to the repression they have suffered from successive Arab regimes in Baghdad.
Clearly, Tehran would like to change that, as it would like to change the Kurds’ pro-US orientation. Unfortunately, Washington’s relative indifference to their fate seems only to play into Iranian hands.
(Baxtiyar Goran, in Erbil, contributed to this report)