Iran Steps Up Threats to Israel, U.S.
Iran's threats against Israel and the US are becoming bolder and louder. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is now repeatedly threatening Israel's annihilation relatively soon.
According to Iran's Press TV, Khamenei recently stated:
"The Zionist regime -- as we have already said -- will cease to exist in the next 25 years if there is a collective and united struggle by the Palestinians and the Muslims against the Zionists."In addition, Iranian officials are warning President-elect Donald Trump that if he makes any wrong move, it would lead to a World War, wiping Israel from the face of earth and destroying the smaller Gulf states.
Iranian leaders are adopting their classic tactics and strategy of threatening in advance -- and frequently -- probably to obtain concessions, push the next US administration to pursue policies of appeasement, and, more importantly, to drive the US to abandon Israel.
In addition, through anti-Israeli and incendiary statements, Khamenei and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are inciting Palestinians and the Muslim world to use violence against the Israeli nation. As a result, Khamenei heightens even further his anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiments. Many who follow his beliefs consider it their Islamic duty to fulfill his policies, religious doctrines and prophesies.
Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Revolutionary Guards' elite unit, the Quds Force, previously said that Iran is ready to follow Khamenei's orders once the leader gives the green light. According to the semi-official Fars News Agency, Karimpour said, "If the Supreme Leader's orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes."
In order to project himself as the leader of the Muslim world (both Shia and Sunni) and to mobilize opposition to Israel and the US, Khamenei reaffirmed the Islamic Republic's support for groups that stand against Israel and America:
"Despite being engaged in certain regional issues, the Islamic Republic has always announced explicitly that Palestine is the number one issue in the Muslim world and has fulfilled its obligations in this regard."Iran's leader then went on to lash out at the United States as "the most arrogant [power] and the Great Satan."
Khamenei is correct that his generals and he have previously threatened Israel's destruction.
In July 2016, the deputy commander of the (IRGC) warned that Iran possesses tens of thousands of missiles outside Iran to hit Israel. According to Iran's state-owned news agency Tasnim, General Hossein Salami pointed out:
"Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes... today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are (present) more than ever."In addition, Khamenei has already published a 9-point plan on how to destroy Israel. In September 2015, he called on violence and jihad against Israel, until it is completely destroyed:
"En Sha'a Allah [God willing], there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists."Beside exploiting people's grievances and inciting violence against Israel, Khamenei primarily relies on Hezbollah, Hamas and the IRGC to pursue his anti-Israel agenda.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, previously disclosed that Iran is lifeline of Hezbollah. In a speech broadcast by the Shiite party's Al-Manar TV station, he said:
"We do not have any business projects or investments via banks... We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have no money in Lebanese banks, neither in the past nor now. We do not transfer our money through the Lebanese banking system.... We totally reject this [U.S.] law until the Day of Judgment. ... Even if the law is applied, we as a party and an organizational and jihadi movement, will not be hurt or affected".Nasrallah also insisted that, "as long as Iran has money, we have money... Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it."
Notably, there are no differences across Iran's political spectrum when it comes to opposing and threatening Israel. Moderates, reformist, principalists [in Farsi, Osolgarayan: ultra revolutionary and conservatives] and hardliners all pursue the core anti-Israel pillar of the Islamic Republic's foreign policy.
The so-called moderate Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, said previously:
"The Zionist regime (Israel) is a regional base for America and the global arrogance ... Disunity and discord among Muslim and terrorist groups in the region ... have diverted us from the important issue of Palestine... We stand with the dispossessed Palestinian nation."Iranian leaders believe that arming groups and people who oppose Israel is critical. Khamenei tweeted that "I announced and it will absolutely happen that, just like #Gaza, the #WestBank must also be armed..."
Iran is also attempting to intimidate Trump from taking a tough stance against Iran. Trump ought to be wary of falling into Iran's tactical game of fear-mongering. For Iran, US concessions and silence in the face of Iran's threats mean weakness and fear. The fact is that whenever the US surrenders to Iran's threats, Iranian leaders become louder and bolder in their threats. On the other hand, when Iran sees that the US is taking a robust stance and that military option is always on the table, Tehran retreats.
Finally, at least as long as Iran's Supreme Leader is alive, and as long as the ruling clerics preserve the political establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran will maintain the core pillars of its foreign policies and revolutionary principles: these are anchored in anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Semitic politics. Iranian politicians across the political spectrum totally agree on these fundamentals.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, political scientists and Harvard University scholar is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He can be reached atDr.firstname.lastname@example.org.