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U.S.-Iran Tensions High at Jan. 3 Anniversary of U.S. Assassination of Iranian General

Jan. 2, 2021 (EIRNS)—Jan. 3 is the first anniversary of the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq, who had been the long-time commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. The rhetoric is more intense than ever. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif  took one very important initiative today, warning the U.S. against falling for, or plotting for, any false flag action, to make it seem Iran would stage an attack. Zarif warned President Donald Trump on Twitter not to be drawn in, writing: “Be careful of a trap. Any fireworks will backfire badly, particularly against your same BFFs.” His message, reported by RT today, was that, “New intelligence from Iraq indicates that Israeli agent-provocateurs are plotting attacks against Americans—putting an outgoing Trump in a bind with a fake casus belli.”

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that U.S. and Iraqi authorities issued warnings to Iran against any retaliatory action to mark the anniversary. “No one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack,” the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, Gen. Frank McKenzie, said on Dec. 30.

According to the same report, calls for violence against Americans in Iraq by militia groups that sympathize with Iran have been increasing. On Dec, 31, a pro-Iranian Iraqi news group on the messaging service Telegram published a picture of the U.S. Embassy captioned: “Remember always I can see what you are doing.”

No Iraqi officials are actually quoted in the Journal report issuing their own warnings to Tehran, however. The report, citing Iraqi lawmaker Amer al-Fayez, only notes that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi dispatched a delegation to Tehran asking the government there to help curb attacks, last month.

In their public statements at least, the Iranians are totally unfazed by U.S. military shows of force. “Iran has no worries. We are ready to defend our independence, vital interests and achievements of our great (1979 Islamic) Revolution as we have demonstrated over the past 41 years,” Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the IRGC, said on New Year’s Day in an address to a ceremony marking the Soleimani assassination. “Today, we have no problems, worries nor concerns to face any military power,” he stressed. He said the Pentagon’s recent decision to ramp up its military presence and activities in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman is because of the mistake it made last year.

“This intense hatred always haunts Americans like a nightmare. They have taken a series of actions to escape from this horrible nightmare. We have braced ourselves for any scenario,” Salami declared.

Apparently speaking at the same ceremony, Soleimani’s replacement, Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, said that Iran was not afraid of confronting “powers.” He also warned that “freedom seekers” within the U.S. could retaliate for the attack that killed Soleimani, telling America that “inside your own home, there might be those who want to respond to the crime that you committed”—an apparently explicit threat of terrorist attacks inside the U.S.

The head of Iran’s judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, said all those who had a role in Soleimani’s killing will not be able to “escape law and justice,” even if they were a U.S. President.

Hossein Dehqan, defense minister during Rouhani’s first term but whose pedigree is that of the IRGC, warned that all U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf region are within range of Iranian missiles. “I saw it in the news that the Americans are on standby for the fear of (Iran’s) revenge, and have flown two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf for show,” Dehqan tweeted Dec. 31, reported Tasnim. “All their military bases in the region are within the range of our missiles,” he said. He also advised “those fired from the White House” not to “turn New Year into a tragedy for Americans.” Dehqan is reported to be a possible candidate in the upcoming Presidential election in Iran.

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