The senior Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani has hit back at US President Donald Trump’s tweeted threats against Tehran in colourful language, likening him to a gambler and a cabaret owner, and saying Iran would be the one to “end” any war between their two countries.
“Gambler Trump! I alone will stand against you,” said Suleimani, who is in charge of the Quds force, the external arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, during a speech in the western city of Hamedan on Thursday. “We, the Iranian nation, have gone through tough events. You may begin a war, but it is us who will end it. Go ask your predecessors about it. So stop threatening us. We are ready to stand up against you.
“The Red Sea which was secure is no longer secure for the presence of American [Military] . . . The Quds force and I are your match. We don’t go to sleep at night before thinking about you,” added Suleimani, according to the Tasnim news agency.
Suleimani’s intervention was in response to a tweet on Sunday by the US president, who warned Iran of “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before”.
It was prompted by a speech by the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who had warned that the US shouldn’t “play with lion’s tail” and that “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Suleimani told Mr Trump: “It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you, but I, as a soldier, will,” before adding: “[Your] language belongs to cabarets. Only a cabaret owner uses such language to communicate with the world.”
Suleimani is the most senior Iranian official to weigh in over the Trump-Rouhani row, which has escalated the hostile rhetoric between Tehran and Washington. In May, Mr Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, in spite of European opposition and the fact Iran has kept its obligations under the agreement, as repeatedly verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Red Sea shipping
Washington wants all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November 4th, which has sparked an angry response in Tehran, which has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, where one-fifth of the world’s oil passes through in tankers. Suleimani’s mention of the Red Sea indicates Iran would also consider disrupting oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb Red Sea route via proxies.
“What could you do that you haven’t already done over the past 20 years?” Suleimani asked of the US. “You came to Afghanistan with tens of tanks and armoured vehicles and hundreds of advanced helicopters and committed crimes there but what the hell have you achieved [in Afghanistan] between since 2001 to 2018 with 110,000 troops? Isn’t it that now you are begging the Taliban to negotiate?”
Suleimani castigated the Mr Trump administration for supporting the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an extreme Iranian opposition group that independent observers say is a cult-like organisation despised by most Iranians, with no visible support inside the country. “America had some grandeur in the past, but today, you have gathered these hypocrites who are Iran’s trash,” Suleimani said.
The Iranian commander, who previously called US soldiers in Iraq pants-pissing wimps during a visit to Syria, said: “Have you forgotten that you were providing your soldiers with adult nappies and today you are threatening us? What damn could you do in 33-day war [In Lebanon] other than accepting Hezbollah’s conditions for an end to war?”
Suleimani’s warning to the US about the Red Sea comes on the same day Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, suspended oil exports through the strategic shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb due to missile attacks on two oil tankers by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels off the Yemen coast.
“Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb Strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe,” Khalid al-Falih, Saudi’s energy minister said in a statement on Thursday.
Riyadh and Tehran are on the opposing ends of the three-year conflict in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, which has led a US-backed military intervention in Yemen since March 2015 aimed at countering the advances of Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi sect of Shia Islam, accuses Tehran of militarily supporting the rebels, viewed by Riyadh as Iranian proxies.
Houthis have intensified missile attacks on Saudi soil and targets since Saudi and UAE coalition forces have advanced towards the port city of Hodaydah, where most aid and food comes through Yemen. – Guardian