Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Iran's armed forces to strengthen themselves in order to "scare the enemy."
"The enemy" is the term Khamenei uses to describe mainly the United States and occasionally Israel.
Speaking at a military ceremony at the Marine Academy in Nowshahr in northern Iran on Sunday September 9, Khamenei claimed that "the situation in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon” are examples of where “the United States' conspiracies have been defeated in the region."
He did not mention Yemen, a county where he runs a proxy war against Saudi Arabia and where his supporters, the Houthi rebels threaten navigation in the Red Sea. He added that in those three countries "God's promises have come true and his power has been proven”.
Citing a verse from the Koran, Khamenei told Iranian forces, "Increase your power in order to scare the enemy and force it to retreat."
U.S. president Donald Trump has cited Iran's aggressive behavior in the region as one main reason why he does not believe in reducing sanctions on Tehran, as the Obama administration did after the signing the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Khamenei on Friday had called the situation in Syria "a successful example of restraining the United States" during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran.
Iranian officials have often described Syria as Iran’s “strategic depth”, while Russia, Iran’s ally in Syria, had recently called on Iran to withdraw its forces from Syria.
Putin had said during a meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in May that all foreign forces should leave Syria at once. Other Russian officials said that this includes Iran's IRGC and Lebanon's Hezballah.
Iran has reportedly limited its military presence in Syria, but Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Radio Farda in a September 4 exclusive interview that he was not sure Iranians have decreased their military presence in Syria. Instead, he said, Iran has "changed its approach."
Liberman however made it clear that Israel is determined to put an end to Iran's military presence in Israel’s neighboring country.
In another development, a senior Israeli commander told reporters that Israel has recently launched more than 200 attacks on Iranian targets in Syria.
Meanwhile, the outcome of recent parliamentary elections in Iraq signalled a decline in Iran's influence in that country.
During the weekend, Iraqi demonstrators in Basra set fire to the Iranian consulate in that city and burned Iranian flags and pictures of Khamenei and his war-lord in the region, Qasem Suleymani.
Khamenei had said in another speech last week that from a political point of view, there is no possibility for Iran being involved in a war. Nevertheless, he stressed the need for further empowerment of the Iranian armed forces.
He said, "Recently, the Americans have been talking about us in shameless ways. Apart from sanctions, they talk about war and negotiation at the same time in order to scare cowards."
Khamenei further characterized US officials' call for negotiation with Iran as "a banal game."
Responding to the United States' renewed sanctions against Iran, President Hassan Rouhani and some Iranian military commanders have threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Most of Middle East’s oil shipments pass through the straits on their way to world markets.
The United States' Operational commander in the Persian Gulf region, Admiral John Richardson has said that the United States is determined to keep the Strait of Hormuz open to international navigation even if it has to use force.