TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) — An Iranian general who replaced the leader killed by a United States (US) airstrike in Baghdad vowed to take revenge as Tehran abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying.
Esmail Ghaani’s threat comes as the blowback over the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani mounted last Sunday with Iraq’s Parliament calling for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.
The three developments could bring Iran closer to building an atomic bomb, see a military attack launched by Tehran against America and enable the Islamic State group to stage a comeback in Iraq, making the Middle East a far more dangerous and unstable place.
Adding to the tensions, US President Donald Trump threatened to demand billions of dollars in compensation from Iraq or impose “sanctions like they’ve never seen before” if it goes through with expelling US troops.
Ghaani made his remarks in an interview with Iranian state television aired yesterday.
Ghaani now serves as the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, an expeditionary arm of the paramilitary organisation answerable only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As Soleimani’s longtime deputy, Ghaani has been sanctioned by the US since 2012 for his work funding its operations around the world, including its work with proxies in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Those proxies likely will be involved in any operation targetting US interests in the Mideast or elsewhere in the world.
Already, the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned Americans “of the heightened risk of missile and drone attacks”.
In Lebanon, the leader of the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah said Soleimani’s killing made US military bases, warships and service members across the region fair game for attacks. A former Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader suggested the Israeli city of Haifa and others could be targetted should the US attack Iran.
“We promise to continue down Soleimani’s path as firmly as before, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region,” Ghaani said.