On September 25th, US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Iran that the US is “watching, and we will come for you,” and there would be “hell to pay” if the Islamic Republic continues its current course. His speech took place hours after US President Donald Trump made his ridiculed speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Tensions have sharply worsened in recent weeks, due to US sanctions, constant US accusations of Iranian misconduct and the September 22nd terrorist attack on an Iranian Military Parade for which Iran blames the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel.
Bolton spoke at the annual United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) summit, blasting the threatening rhetoric of Iranian officials.
“According to the mullahs in Tehran, we are ‘the Great Satan,’ lord of the underworld, master of the raging inferno,” Bolton said. “So, I might imagine they would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.”
He continued: “The ayatollahs have a choice to make. We have laid out a path toward a bright and prosperous future for all of Iran, one that is worthy of the Iranian people, who have long suffered under the regime’s tyrannical rule.”
According to him, Iran “brazenly supports the criminal Assad regime in Syria” and was” complicit in Assad’s chemical weapons attacks on his own people.” He also called Iran the world’s “worst kidnapper of U.S. citizens.”
He also once more dismissed the Iran Nuclear Deal, which was signed under the Obama administration. He clearly said it was “the worst diplomatic debacle in American history.”
On the previous day, Bolton once more reiterated that US presence in Syria would remain until Iran withdraws its forces. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” White House national security adviser John Bolton said while in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
There are currently 2,200 US troops in Syria, most of them deployed to fight ISIS. As reported by Defense News, While Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have said Iran poses the bigger strategic threat, US military leaders have emphasized that Iran is not their focus.
On the same day, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis repeatedly confirmed Bolton’s claims and that there was no change in policy, and that the Pentagon was on the same page as the White House on what the role for US forces would be in Syria.
“As part of this overarching problem, we have to address Iran,” Mattis said. “Everywhere you go in the Middle East where there’s instability you will find Iran. So, in terms of getting to the end state of the Geneva process, Iran, too, has a role to play, which is to stop fomenting trouble. Right now our troops inside Syria are there for one purpose, and that’s under the U.N. authorization about defeating ISIS,” Mattis said.
The Trump administration and Israel have tried to convince Russia to assist in compelling Iran to leave Syria, however that has had no effect. Moscow, also announced it would give Bashar al-Assad’s government more modern S-300 missile defense systems, following the downing of the Russian IL-20 jet.
“We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider,” Bolton said.
Iran also recently signed a military cooperation agreement with Syria, which means that the Islamic Republic has no plans of leaving the country. According to Defense News, Iran’s presence in Syria has allowed for “pro-Assad armed groups” to enter the conflict, such as Hezbollah. The presence of Hezbollah and Iranian forces is viewed as a direct security threat by Israel.
Bolton, Mattis and Pompeo’s claims come as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke at the UN General Assembly, condemning US international relations as authoritarian, while saying that the negotiating table is open for the US and that dialogue must be two-way. He also invited the US back into the Iran Nuclear Deal, which the remaining signatories have scrambled to uphold and protect Iran from the US sanctions.
Rouhani also said that despite the escalated tensions, Iran does not wish for war, not with the US nor with the Gulf States.
On September 19th, an annual Trump administration report concluded that Iran remained the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The State Department’s annual survey of global terrorism accused Iran of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran’s “terrorist affiliates and proxies,” the report said, “demonstrated a near-global terrorist reach.”
Most, if not all, of the US accusations towards Iran are substantiated by absolutely no evidence.