Washington Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Iranian officials urge greater confrontation with Trump admin, U.S. forces
A senior Iranian leader and confidant of the Islamic Republic's president is threatening to "depose" President Donald Trump if he continues his policy of confronting Iran and its terror proxy groups in the Middle East, according to recent comments that come as Iranian military leaders threaten missile strikes on U.S. forces and bases in the region.
Mostafa Tajzadeh, a leading Iranian politician and ally to President Hassan Rouhani, claimed this week that the Trump administration is too "fragile" to confront Iran and that if U.S. officials do "anything unwise against Iran," the Islamic Republic will see that Trump is "deposed," according to Farsi-language comments independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.
The threats come as Iranian politicians and military leaders amp up their rhetoric against the Trump administration following a series of strikes in Syria on Iranian-backed forces bolstering embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
Iranian forces and militants affiliated with Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran, have launched several strikes on U.S.-backed forces in Syria in recent weeks, amplifying a growing proxy war between the United States and Iran that threatens to ignite the larger region.
Iranian military officials have separately vowed to use ballistic missiles and other armaments, including weaponized drones, to confront U.S.-backed forces operating in Syria.
Iran has chosen to confront the Trump administration, both militarily and diplomatically, as the U.S. levels new sanctions and punitive measures against Tehran for its continued use of illicit ballistic missiles and funding of terrorism.
Tajzadeh appeared to up the stakes in a tweet endorsing efforts to see Trump thrown out of office.
"Trump's presidency is so fragile that if he does anything unwise against Iran, if we react smartly, instead of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is Trump who will be deposed," the Iranian official tweeted, according to a translation of his remarks.
The comments are in line with statements from other Iranian politicians and military officials during the past several days, following Iran's missile strike on several key areas in Syria, a move Tehran claimed was in reaction to a recent ISIS-backed terror strike inside Iran.
Sources close to the Trump administration told the Free Beacon that despite the lack of public statements on the escalating military situation, U.S. officials are closely monitoring Iran's hostile activity and are prepared to respond with force.
"The Obama administration constantly spun journalists on foreign policy, and that created this idea that if officials aren't talking about something, they're not paying attention," said the source, a veteran foreign policy adviser who is in routine contact with the White House. "But the Trump Middle East team knows exactly how and where the Iranians are waging war against the U.S. and our allies."
Trump officials are keeping their strategy discussions out of public view, but the increased U.S. presence is Syria should be viewed as a sign of the administration's willingness to confront Iran, according to the source.
"They haven't laid out their plans for journalists, but of course there's a strategy there," the source said. "Do people really think that all of the military pushback to Iran in Syria these last few weeks just happened randomly without authorization? Come on."
Senior Iranian officials tied to its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, also are seeking confrontation, and have warned that the recent missile strikes in Syria were meant as a message to the United States and Israel.
"This reaction has a clear message for the American enemies and certain regional states that think that if they attack Iran, their aggression will remain unanswered," Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying on Wednesday in the country's state-controlled press.
The military leader additionally bragged of Iran's ability to flex its military strength in the region.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran's power to decide and respond is a rapid and decisive power and the missile strikes against the ISIL terrorists' positions in the past few days displayed Iran' might and power to make decisions and react," Safavi said.
Iranian diplomat Hossein Sheikholeslam further claimed this week that the missile strike is meant as a direct warning to the U.S. and Israel.
"It is crystal clear that it is a message not only to terrorists but to their sponsor—Israel, the U.S., and the ruling monarch dynasty of Saudi Arabia—who, by hands of terrorists, have committed mass killings in the region" the diplomat was quoted as saying this week. "Iran has the full will to display its military might and deliver pinpoint blows to any location of terrorists. It is a message to all those who have committed and is still committing violence in the region."
Just days after the missile strike, Iranian drones targeted U.S. forces in Syria for a second time, demonstrating that Tehran is committed to a new policy of direct action against U.S.-backed forces.
The attack was similar to one earlier this month in which an Iranian drone shot on U.S. forces in Syria.
U.S. military officials said that they shot down the drone after it fired.
"The Coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS," U.S. military officials with Central Command, or CENTCOM, said in public remarks. "This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down, June 8."
U.S. forces will not hesitate to confront hostile forces affiliated with Iran and Russia, according to CENTCOM.
"The Coalition has made it clear to all parties publicly and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated," U.S. military officials said.