Iran’s leadership heightened its rhetoric in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s bellicose speech given at the Heritage Foundation in which he outlined 12 “basic requirements” issued to Iran in the wake of Trump’s pulling the US from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Pompeo’s list included demands that Iran withdraw from Syria, release all US citizens, stop enrichment of uranium, end support for anti-Saudi Houthi fighters in Yemen, and allow “unqualified access” to all nuclear sites, among other things. Pompeo warned that “the sting of sanctions will be painful” and Iran will struggle to “keep its economy alive” if Tehran “does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen.”
On Wednesday Iran’s top cleric and theocratic ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, fired back, saying that President Trump “would vanish from history just like his predecessors” in statements repeated by Iranian national television.
And Reuters further reports of Khamenei’s first official statements since Pompeo’s Monday speech that he issued an unspecified threat of “defeating” America: “There is no doubt that the Americans will be defeated … provided Iranian officials fully perform their duties,” Khamenei said.
“The Islamic Republic cannot deal with a government that easily violates an international treaty, withdraws its signature and in a theatrical show brags about its withdrawal on television,” the ‘Supreme Leader’ explained in excerpts of his speech posted on his official website.
Khamenei continued, “Iran was committed to the deal. They (the Americans) have no excuse. International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s commitment. But you see they (Americans) easily cancel this international agreement.”
“The current U.S. president will meet the same fate as his predecessors, Bush and the neoconservatives and Reagan, and will vanish from history,” he said, referring to Trump and previous American presidents.
While it’s unclear if the Iranian cleric’s words imply “defeating” the US militarily or just diplomatically as Iran’s foreign minister continues traveling across world capitals to convince European signatories to JCPOA to say the course, his words follow what many analysts are calling Pompeo’s signalling that the US is on a “path to forcible regime change” in Iran.
#Pompeo‘s Iran plan is practically a declaration of war. No country with any dignity and self respect would accept the conditions he is putting on #Iran to stop the sanctions campaign that he announced. #Irandeal https://t.co/eVeqOktqzd
— Walid (@walid970721) May 21, 2018
Bonnie Kristian, a fellow at Defense Priorities, notes in a CNBC editorial that Pompeo’s “basic requirements” list is a purposeful provocation aimed ultimately at pursuing regime change in Tehran. She describes Pompeo’s ‘Plan B’ for Iran in the following:
…this unrealistic, all-or-nothing ultimatum makes escalation more likely. It is one thing to want the changes Pompeo demands and quite another to present them as a public ultimatum. This is reckless and unproductive — unless the aim is to provoke Iran into providing a pretext for military intervention.
Kristian further predicts what will come next should Washington follow through in enforcing what were essentially ultimatums issued by Pompeo:
Military intervention and a Washington-orchestrated regime change attempt in Iran would be a dangerous mistake with catastrophic consequences. The United States’ well-remembered history of meddling in Iranian politics; our extensive and costly military interventions already underway across the greater Mideast; and Iran’s size and wealth all make invasion a fool’s errand.
But with today’s counter-threats coming out of Iran — or at least what American leaders will surely construe as militaristic threats (we should note that the immediate context of Khamenei’s statement is in reference to sanctions, and diplomatic and economic warfare) — it appears we could already be on the early path of escalation.
Earlier this week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Pompeo’s bombastic demands and vowed to continue “our path,” insisting that the US could not “decide for the world,” while Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed Pompeo and US diplomacy in general as “a sham”.
Rouhani’s words, as quoted by ILNA news agency, were as follows: “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? The world today does not accept America to decide for the world, as countries are independent … that era is over… We will continue our path with the support of our nation.”
The only question that remains is whether we will see war coming directly to Tehran, or if things will first get hotter in Syria as both Iran and Israel continue their proxy war there.
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