On July 22nd, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the US that war with Iran is “the mother of all wars,” while not completely rejecting the idea of a peaceful agreement
Rouhani’s exact words were “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace,” while speaking in front of diplomats in Tehran, as reported by Iran’s state news agency IRNA. The Iranian President also warned Donald Trump: “do not play with the lion’s tail, because you will regret it eternally.”
Hassan Rouhani’s comments come months after the Trump administration announced the withdrawal of the US from the Iran Nuclear deal. The decision was also accompanied with the reinstatement of sanctions on the Persian country. CNN reported that according to Brian Hook, a State Department policy and planning director, more than 50 international companies have said they are leaving the Iranian market due to the sanctions. The said sanctions shall be reimposed on November 4th.
President Rouhani’s comments also follow a July 22nd rhetorical assault of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He verbally assaulted Iranian leaders, comparing them to “mafia”, while promising unspecified backing for Iranians who are unhappy with their government.
This came in front of a mostly Iranian-US audience in California. He called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “merely polished front men for the ayatollahs’ international con artistry,” in regard to the nuclear deal.
Reuters reported that Pompeo’s speech is the latest step in the communication offensive against the Iranian government. It is, according to Reuters, aimed at creating unrest in the Persian country and help in pressuring the government to shelf its nuclear program and support of militant groups, according to anonymous US officials.
According to the Trump administration’s policy towards Iran, Rouhani had this to say: “You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests.” Publicly, the Trump administration, as reported by Reuters, claims its policy is not a “government change” in Iran, it is to purely change Tehran’s behavior in supporting militant groups, supporting proxies in the Middle East and nuclear and missile work.
Pompeo continued his tirade by claiming senior Iranian leaders had benefited from embezzlement, sweetheart deals and other ill-gotten gains. He continued by dismissing Iran’s ayatollahs as “hypocritical holy men” who “seem more concerned with riches than religion.” He also announced the launch of a 24/7 Farsi-language TV, radio, digital and social media platform channel. He also claimed that the US is attempting to limit internet censorship in the Persian country.
Trump’s answer to Rouhani’s comments came late on July 22nd. It was a more-aggressive inits manner twitter diplomacy attempt: “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
All of this follows an escalation in tensions between the US and Iran rose over Iranian oil exports which happened in early July 2018. CNN reported that a Trump administration official promised to reduce the number of countries that import Iranian crude oil to zero, which led to a backlash from Iran.
After the mentioned above rise in tensions, Iran hinted at closing the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian government did not expressly mention closing the Persian Gulf, it expressed its intention to prevent any country from shipping oil via it, following the aforementioned sanctions and threats on Iranian crude oil trade. On July 20th, Iran again threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz once again, as reported by Memri. Although on July 3rd. Memri reported that many inside and outside Iran have interpreted these statements as an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has historically threatened to close the Strait numerous times in the past, never to follow through on it, as show Memri archives. As aforementioned Trump’s twitter diplomacy and the harsher US stance towards Iran might, in fact, push the country to bring its threats to fruition.
Regarding withdrawing from the nuclear deal in May 2018, Trump had the following to say: “It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing we know exactly what will happen.” President Rouhani, however, reiterated that a retaliation could be avoided if the remaining European members of the nuclear deal can make up for the withdrawal of the US.
According to the Guardian, what is happening since May 8th with Iran, and what transpired with North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Un is Trump’s gamble for glory. Just as every gamble, this one can too, backfire. His arguable success with Jong-Un is more than likely not going to be repeated with the Persian country. The Washington post, in an article from May the 4th foreshadowed what is happening at this moment. The Trump administration would attempt twitter diplomacy with Iran, albeit from what has been provided so far, much harsher. They would attempt to escalate the issue, thus forcing Iran into a deal. Iran, as the Washington Post predicted would initially play the victim, seeking to worsen the relationship between the US and the international community and, in particular, the other members of the nuclear deal. Then, as announced mid-July 2018, they would incrementally expand aspects of its nuclear program such as the centrifuge factory, increasing research and development. Thus, showing that Iran is resisting Washington, and hoping that members of the international community, infuriated by Trump would let it pass. And this is indeed what is happening, Iran is lashing out and there seems to be no actual international community efforts to quench that. Because Trump’s “strategy of increased tension” which finally leads to the other side capitulating due to his aggressive business-like approach might fail to work this time.