Iranian officials responded with anger and derision to President Donald Trump’s Sunday warning on Twitter that “if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded using Twitter:
Goaded by #B_Team, @realdonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won't "end Iran". #NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 20, 2019
The “B Team” is Zarif’s derogatory name for Iran hawks in the Trump administration, such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, plus officials in other countries hated by Iran who have good relations with the United States, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Zarif has been striving mightily to get U.S. media to pick up his little nickname, with limited success.
“Today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” Rouhani said, ruling out negotiations with the United States for a new arms control deal.
In practice, Rouhani’s “economic war” footing looks suspiciously like an excuse to scapegoat Iranian businessmen for the flagging economy, imprison or execute them, and seize their assets. “Economic sabotage” prosecutions are ramping up even as the Iranian public protests against government corruption.
Sheikh Naim Qassem, second-in-command of Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah, on Tuesday blamed the United States and Israel for increasing regional tensions and making military conflict more likely.
“The rhetoric being used by this front is a rhetoric of threats and war and this might push things to the brink of confrontation,” Qassem told U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis.
In contrast, Qassem claimed Hezbollah is “working with all Lebanese parties to establish political stability, financial balance, and economic recovery.”
“Hezbollah’s strength and readiness are only aimed at protecting Lebanon and its land and resources,” he said.
The Israeli government criticized U.N. Special Coordinator Kubis for meeting with the Hezbollah leader, praising him afterward, and describing Qassem’s writings as “necessary reading.”
“We are shocked and disappointed by this meeting with a designated terror organization’s leader, threatening Israel, Lebanon, and the whole region,” exclaimed Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.
“One doesn’t need to read the Naim Qassem book, courtesy of Hezbollah terrorists, in order to understand this!” Nahshon added, referring to the book lauded by Kubis.