During the last week of 2020, Iranian verbal attacks against the US escalated and reached to the point of threatening to hit the US territories. Those statements coincided with the first anniversary of the Qassem Soleimani assassination, the former Commander of Quds Force and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization in Iraq. Both commanders were killed on January 3rh, 2020 near Baghdad International Airport, in a US airstrike.
A few days ago, the US troops dispatched B-52 aircraft to the Middle East. Those aircrafts are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Reports say that Washington is likely to strike Iranian nuclear and military sites before the end of President Trump’s term.
On the other hand, Tehran, which sent big military reinforcements last week to Iraq, did not hide its concern about this, as Iranian threats and warnings have continued that Iran could respond directly to any aggression against it or its interests in the region.
Observers believe that Iraq will be the battle field, especially after the missile attacks on the US embassy last month, where no casualties were reported. However, the US accused pro-Tehran militias of attacking the embassy.
Last Friday, Ismael Qani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, hinted to the possibility of attacks from within US territory, in response to the assassination of Soleimani. His statements came during the ceremony of the first anniversary of the assassination of Solaimani, in which senior political, military, and foreign delegations took part. “There could be people inside US and they might respond to your crime,” Qani said.
He stressed that he and the Quds Force would continue what Soleimani had started, describing US President Donald Trump, who ordered the assassination, as an idiot who is backed by „the Zionists and the Saudi royal family.“
Kamal Kharazi, the head of the strategic Council for Iranian Foreign Relations, also revealed what he described as the decisive target of his country in the Middle East at the beginning of the New Year.
According to “Irna News”, he pointed out that Iran insists on expelling the US forces from the region, confirming that Iran’s endeavors to revenge the assassination of Soleimani will not stop and that his country could conduct even harder strikes against „the perpetrators.“
With regard to the recent US military action in the Middle East, Kharazi has made it clear that such moves are a psychological war above all, and in fact, “the Americans and the Zionists are very concerned about what Iran can do. That is why they have launched a psychological war through their military presence in the region or via there statements that they throw here and there.”
The Iranian official asked the Iranians to be patient and not to fear this psychological war, stressing on the full readiness, and that US and the Zionists will get the response immediately if they go further.
In a phone call with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the US of any move against his country, holding it “responsible for the consequences of any conspiracy.”
In the same phone call he talked about “questionable movements for the US in the region”, emphasizing that “stability and comprehensive security should be ensured without foreign interference and tension.”
He did not rule out a war outbreak against his country, indicating in a tweet that the intelligence information from Iraq refers to a conspiracy to invent a pretext for war. He confirmed that his country will respond to defend itself if US will attack it. “Iran is not seeking war, but it will defend its people, security, and vital interests,” he added.
Zarif’s tweet coincided with the arrival of the third B-52 fighter in the Arab Gulf region to deter any possible Iranian move with the anniversary of Qasim Suleimani’s assassination, according to a statement by Frank McKinsey, commander of the US Central Command, who added that the US is “Ready and able to respond to any attack on Americans or US interests.”
Iraq between the Jaws
After targeting the US embassy in Baghdad with Katyusha missiles fired by Iranian militants, the US has dispatched two B-52 fighters to the Arab Gulf recently. A senior US military official said Wednesday that the fighters had been sent in response to Iran’s plans for possible attacks on US allies in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East.
CNN has quoted officials, saying that new intelligence information might prove that Iran was transferring short-range ballistic missiles to Iraq, prompting the US to send more military reinforcements to the region, including B-52 bombers. In this context, Iranian sources revealed that he Revolutionary Guard is transporting short-range Arsh missiles and drones to Iraq.
Arab media quoted Iranian sources by saying that transferring the weapons to Iraq was carried out in two stages, as they were first transferred from Tehran to Kawthar Camp, one of the largest camps in the west of the Ahwaz region, and then they were entered into Iraq through the Shalamaja border crossing.
Sources reported that the Revolutionary Guards did not put these missiles and drones at the disposal of the “Iraqi resistance factions,” but rather stored them in heavily guarded sites and camps belonging to the Iraqi armed factions affiliated with Tehran in the southern Iraqi provinces under the supervision of officers and members of the Quds Force.
Iraqi sources revealed last week that the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Ismail Qani, held an expanded meeting with a number of Iraqi militia leaders backed by Iran during his recent visit to Iraq. In the meeting, he asked the militias to be ready to launch attacks against US facilities and targets in the event that Iran was targeted by a US or Israeli airstrike.
The sources emphasized that many of the militias, whose leaders attended the meeting had evacuated their headquarters in Iraq, in anticipation of any possible US strikes.