Iran's Supreme Leader has reacted defiantly to threats about the consequences of Tuesday's attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by Shiite militant groups supported by Tehran.
Following the attack on the embassy, President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday December 31, " Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat."
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 's official website carried the following statement on Wednesday January 1, responding to American warnings by adding Trump's name in brackets to make the message clearer: "That guy [Donald Trump] has tweeted that we see Iran responsible for the events in Baghdad and we will respond to Iran. First, there is no damn thing you can do, and second, If you were logical —which you’re not— you’d see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan… have made nations hate you."
Also in a speech on Wednesday, referring to the US attack on Iraqi militia bases in Iraq and Syria after an attack in which a U.S. contractor was killed, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei charged that "The U.S. is taking revenge on Hashd, al-Sha'bi for defeating ISIS.”
Khamenei further repeated old conspiracy theories advanced by Iran that ISIS was created by the United States! "Look at what the U.S. is doing in Iraq and Syria. They’re taking revenge on Hashd al-Sha’bi for defeating ISIS. Since Hashd al-Sha’bi crippled and destroyed ISIS—which the U.S. had created—they’re taking revenge. The Iranian government the Iranian nation and I strongly condemn the U.S.’s malice," said the ayatollah.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also pointed fingers at Iran for the attack on the embassy, posting pictures of Iranian proxies among the demonstrators outside the embassy. Pompeo charged that the attack on Tuesday, "was orchestrated by terrorists."
Meanwhile, Pompeo wrote in another tweet that the attack on the embassy "should not be confused with the legitimate efforts of the Iraqi protesters who have been in the streets since October working for the people of Iraq to end the corruption exported there by the Iranian regime."
Khamenei also said in his remarks that "If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge and fight, it will do so unequivocally. We’re not after wars, but we strongly defend the Iranian nation’s interests, dignity and glory. If anyone threatens that, we will unhesitatingly confront and strike them."
Interestingly, Trump also told reports later on Tuesday after threatening Iran that he does not want, or foresee, war with Iran. Responding to a question on the possibility of tensions escalating into a war with Iran, Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida: “Do I want to? No. I want to have peace. I like peace. And Iran should want to have peace more than anybody. So, I don’t see that happening.”
Iran's foreign ministry also summoned an official from the Swiss embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, to complain about American "warmongering" in neighboring Iraq, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
"The Swiss charge d'affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry... over stances of American officials with regards to developments in Iraq," the ministry said.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran conveyed its strong protest... over warmongering remarks made by American officials which are in violation of the United Nations Charter," it added.
The exchanges between Trump and Khamenei takes place while both leaders face more problems in their domestic politics. Khamenei in particular, has still not recovered from massive nationwide protests in Iran during which security forces reportedly killed 1,500 protesters who were angry about financial problems, mismanagement and corruption.
Incidentally, while Khamenei's website says he made the Wednesday speech among thousands of nurses marking the National Nursing Day, Iranian nursing association "The House of Nurses" has announced a boycott of the official ceremony because the Islamic Republic government and its Ministry of Health have neglected to address the problems Iranian nurses are struggling with.
Meanwhile, one of the most critical comments among hundreds of reactions on social media to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, was posted by Professor Sadeq Zibakalam of the University of Tehran who wrote: "Iran has been using a fallacy for 40 years to justify its anti-US policy." He reminded that the fallacy was once again used by President Hassan Rouhani on December 31 when he said, "America wants Iran to surrender before sitting at the negotiating table but Iran has resisted heroically." Zibakalam asked Rouhani when and where the United States has said such a thing.