Friday Prayers leaders in various Iranian cities have ruled out the possibility of a war with the United States in their sermons on May 17. One of the most prominent and outspoken Imams, Ahamad Alamolhoda in Mashad has said, "We are not the kind of people to start a war, and the United States too, does not deem a war to be in its interest."
Official news agency IRNA, quoted Alamolhoda as having said that America's confrontation with Iran has entered a "new phase," however, he added that a war between the two countries is not likely to break out "easily."
He added that "in spite of all the threats from America, the United States does not believe a war with Iran is in its interest," adding that "The war posture taken by America including its economic pressures on Iran are simply meant to intimidate Iran."
The Friday Prayers Imams are in fact representatives of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who are financed by his office. The contents of Friday Prayer sermons in various cities are dictated by two state bodies controlled by Khamenei's office, officially known as "The Policy-making Council for Friday Prayer Imams" and the "Friday Prayer Headquarters," both dominated by hardliner clerics loyal to Khamenei.
The tone of this Friday's sermons, however, were different from two weeks ago, when the Imams delivered more aggressive messages, even insulting President Donald Trump personally.
Several other Friday Prayers Imams including Mohammad Mehdi Shahcheraghi in Semnan, and Mohammad Ali Al-e Hashem in Tabriz also said "There will not be a war as the United States is not capable to fight us."
Khamenei had also assured Iranians during a May 14 meeting with state officials and military commanders that a war with America was unlikely.
The war of words between the two countries' officials and the deployment of USS Abraham Lincoln to the region prompted many to believe that a war between Iran and the United States was imminent.
Nevertheless, President Donald Trump on Thursday expressed hope that the U.S. will not have to enter into a war with Iran.
Trump had also said May 15 that he was sure Iranians would soon call for negotiations with the United States.
Khamenei on May 14 described negotiations with America as "poison", while stressing that Iran will not hold any talks with America over Tehran's nuclear program.
Meanwhile, criticizing the idea of negotiations with America, Alamolhoda said in Mashad, "What should we negotiate about? They tell us not to develop missiles and to abandon the ones we have already manufactured because they have a minimum range of 2000 kilometers."
He added: "All the U.S. assets in this region are within the range of our missiles. Its favorite friend in the region, Israel, is also within range."
Alamolhoda was echoing Khamenei's remarks in a gathering in Tehran May 14 when he said: "They want to negotiate about our defensive weapons. They want us to reduce the range of our missiles so that we cannot defend if they attack us."
Iranian officials had previously threatened that America will be in trouble in the region if its forces attack Iran. They said in that case Iran will attack U.S. bases in the region as well as attacking Israel and the United States' Arab allies.
Meanwhile, some Friday Prayers Imams have seriously attacked those who have put forward the idea of negotiating with the United States. Abdolnabi Mousavi Fard, the Imam in Ahvaz called such individuals "U.S. agents" and described negotiation as a "miserable act."
Lortfollah Dejakam, the Friday Imam of Shiraz called on officials to resist against pressures, and assured his audience that no one in Iran will support negotiations.
In another development, some Friday Prayers leaders, including Hashem Hosseini Bushehri in Qom and Kazem Nourmofidi in Gorgan, have said the U.S. sanctions are meant to lead to unrest in the streets.
Other Iranian officials had also previously warned against more economic and labor unrest in Iran as a result of U.S. sanctions. Most Iranian analysts abroad believe that possible unrest is equally, if not more worrisome a prospect for Islamic Republic’s rulers as a U.S. attack.