Successor to Slain Iranian General Qassim Suleimani Vows Revenge
“God the almighty has promised to get his revenge,” said the man who will take over for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, increasing fears of an escalating cycle of retaliation.
Replacement for slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani vows revenge for U.S. airstrikes in chilling threat issued on state TV – as his daughter swears death to American soldiers.
An Iranian general who replaced Qassem Soleimani after he was killed by the U.S. airstrike has vowed to take revenge as the slain leader’s daughter swears death to the families of American soldiers.
Esmail Ghaani’s threat on Monday in an interview with Iranian state television comes as part of the fallout over the U.S. killing of the top Iranian general.
‘God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger. Certainly actions will be taken,’ he said.
Soleimani’s daughter, Zeinab, directly threatened an attack on the U.S. military in the Mideast while speaking to a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Tehran that stretched as far as the eye could see.
‘The families of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East will spend their days waiting for death of their children,’ she said to cheers.
It comes as Tehran abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying. Separately, Iraq’s parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.
The three developments could bring Iran closer to building an atomic bomb, set off a proxy or military attack launched by Tehran against America and enable the Islamic State group to stage a comeback in Iraq, making the Middle East a far more dangerous and unstable place.
Adding to the tensions, President Donald Trump threatened to demand billions of dollars in compensation from Iraq or impose ‘sanctions like they’ve never seen before’ if it goes through with expelling U.S. troops.
Ghaani now serves as the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, an expeditionary arm of the paramilitary organization answerable only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
As Soleimani’s longtime deputy, Ghaani has been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2012 for his work funding its operations around the world, including its work with proxies in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Those proxies likely will be involved in any operation targeting U.S. interests in the Mideast or elsewhere in the world.
Already, the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned Americans ‘of the heightened risk of missile and drone attacks.’
In Lebanon, the leader of the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah said Soleimani’s killing made U.S. military bases, warships and service members across the region fair game for attacks. A former Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader suggested the Israeli city of Haifa and others could be targeted should the U.S. attack Iran.
‘We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani’s path as firmly as before with help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region,’ Ghaani said.
Teeming crowds chant “Death to America.”
Throngs of people chanting “Death to America” crowded the streets of Tehran on Monday as Iran mourned Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, whose funeral was held in the capital. The military commander was hailed as a martyr, and his successor swore revenge.
“God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger,” vowed Esmail Ghaani, the Iranian general who will take over the Quds Force, the foreign expeditionary arm of Iran’s elite paramilitary organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “Certainly actions will be taken,” he added.
State-run news outlets reported that millions had gathered in Tehran, and images showed of a sea of mourners, many wearing black and waving the nation’s flag in an outpouring of grief.
General Suleimani was killed by the United States on Friday in Baghdad in a drone strike. American officials said the general had ordered assaults on Americans in Iraq and Syria and was planning a wave of imminent attacks.
His killing has set off fears of escalating retaliatory actions by Iran and the United States, and of a broader regional conflict. In the aftermath of the attack, Iran said it would no longer abide by a 2015 agreement to suspend uranium production.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, wept openly at the funeral while offering prayers over the general’s coffin. Ayatollah Khamenei had a close relationship with the general, who was widely considered to be the second most powerful man in Iran.
General Suleimani’s daughter, Zeinab Suleimani, said in a eulogy that the United States and Israel faced a “dark day.”
“You crazy Trump, the symbol of ignorance, the slave of Zionists, don’t think that the killing of my father will finish everything,” she said at the funeral.
The general’s funeral was attended by a broad swath of Iranians, including reformers who oppose the government of President Hassan Rouhani but who perceived the killing as an attack on all of Iran.
“I felt like he was our safety umbrella spread above Iran,” said Amir Ali, 22, a university student. “I felt safe knowing he was out there.”
Trump doubles down on threat to attack Iran’s cultural sites.
President Trump on Sunday doubled down on his threats to attack Iranian cultural sites and warned of a “major retaliation” if the Iranian government planned tit-for-tat attacks in the aftermath of the killing of a senior military commander.
Mr. Trump defended the drone strike that killed General Suleimani.
Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Trump said in a tweet that the United States had selected 52 Iranian sites, some “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture” to attack in the event of Iranian retaliation.
That prompted the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to say that “targeting cultural sites is a war crime.”
But on Sunday evening, aboard Air Force One on his way back from his holiday trip to Florida, Mr. Trump did not back down.
“They’re allowed to kill our people,” he said to reporters. “They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”
Iran pledges to restart uranium enrichment.
Iran’s government said it would no longer abide by a commitment it made under a 2015 nuclear deal that limited its enrichment of uranium.
The decision to lift all restrictions on the production of nuclear fuel spelled the effective end of the nuclear deal, experts said, though Iran left open the possibility that it would return to the limits if sanctions were lifted.
“It’s finished. If there’s no limitation on production, then there is no deal,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonprofit in Washington.
The announcement came after Iran’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the country’s nuclear policy in the aftermath of General Suleimani’s assassination.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will end its final limitations in the nuclear deal, meaning the limitation in the number of centrifuges,” Iran said in a statement. “Therefore Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production including enrichment capacity and percentage and number of enriched uranium and research and expansion.”
The announcement followed several steps by Iran to move away from the terms of the agreement, nearly two years after Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the deal. Since that renunciation, the Trump administration has imposed severe sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy.
The nuclear agreement ended some economic sanctions on Iran in return for its verifiable pledge to use nuclear power peacefully.
Iran’s statement on Sunday did not include details about its enrichment ambitions. And the country did not say that it was expelling the inspectors who monitor its nuclear program.
The European parties to the deal, including Britain, France and Germany, as well as China and Russia, also signatories to the deal, had struggled to preserve the agreement as tensions between the United States and Iran worsened.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a daily news briefing that there was still hope for the nuclear deal. He noted that Tehran had said it would continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iranian activities under the agreement, and that it could return to the pact under the right conditions.
“We believe that although Iran has been compelled to reduce adherence owing to external factors, it has also demonstrated restraint,” Mr. Geng said.
Oil prices surge to more than $70 a barrel.
Oil prices surged and stock markets in Asia fell on Monday morning, as the impact of General Suleimani’s death ricocheted around the world.
The price of Brent oil, the international benchmark, jumped above $70 in futures trading as markets digested a steady flow of news over the weekend.
The sudden escalation in tensions in a region that supplies much of the world’s petroleum has roiled oil markets. The West Texas Intermediate, the American oil benchmark, rose 1.9 percent to $64.22 a barrel in futures trading.
Analysts at Capital Economics have warned that the price of oil could spike to $150 a barrel if the bellicose rhetoric between the two countries turned into action.
“The price of oil would soar in the event of full-blown military conflict in the Middle East,” said Alexander Kozul-Wright, a commodities economist at Capital Economics.
China condemns the U.S. over Suleimani’s death.
Chinese state-controlled news media on Monday condemned the United States for the killing of General Suleimani, amplifying China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, who warned of a “vicious cycle of confrontation” between the United States and Iran.
“Solving the conflicts between the United States and Iran can’t be achieved through military strikes or extreme pressure,” People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, said in an editorial. The editorial appeared under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” which is widely used to offer the paper’s views on foreign affairs.
The editorial likened the latest crisis to the United States-led occupation of Iraq in 2003 and Western intervention in Libya in 2011.
“The facts prove time and again that unilateral resorts to armed force will not solve problems,” the paper said. “Instead the outcome will be the opposite, leading to a cycle of confrontation that will be difficult to clean up.”
China has been reducing its imports of oil from Iran as United States sanctions have deepened, but it remains heavily dependent on crude from the Middle East, especially from Saudi Arabia. Beijing has also tried to shore up the international agreement that curtailed Iran’s nuclear development.
On Sunday, the Chinese embassy in Washington warned Chinese citizens to be extra careful about their safety in the wake of the crisis with Iran.
Fears of worldwide conflict were shared across social media over the weekend, but Xinhua, China’s main official news agency, published a commentary saying that outright war between the United States and Iran still seemed unlikely.
“Faced with the 2020 election, Trump has deliberately used attacking Iran to shift the focus from domestic tensions and add to his electoral chips,” read the commentary, “but he has no intention of launching a war.”
Evacuations planned and alerts raised for foreigners in Iraq.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines on Monday held an emergency meeting with defense officials to discuss a potential evacuation plan for the thousands of Filipino workers stationed in Iran and Iraq. The Philippines has a huge population of expatriate laborers who live and work in the region.
“President Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be prepared to deploy military assets to repatriate overseas Filipinos in the Middle East, particularly from Iran and Iraq, at any moment’s notice,” said Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, a close ally of Mr. Duterte who was at the meeting, according to The Associated Press.
On Monday, New Zealand became the latest country to advise its citizens to leave Iraq, but officials denied reports that it had decided to withdraw troops stationed there as part of a training mission. The training mission was said to have been postponed as tensions in the region soared.
“New Zealanders currently in Iraq despite our advice who have concerns for their safety are strongly advised to depart as soon as possible,” the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.