Iran Guards chief threatens to disrupt Israeli maritime trade operations

Ahead of Quds Day, Hossein Salami says recent attacks on ships show how vulnerable Israel’s sea routes are; FM Zarif blasts ‘apartheid regime’

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami speaks during a pro-government rally in the capital Tehran's central Enghelab Square on November 25, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
File: Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami speaks during a pro-government rally in the capital Tehran's central Enghelab Square on November 25, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

The commander-in-chief of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, , Major General Hossein Salami, said Wednesday that Iran can easily disrupt Israel’s sea trade routes, which he said recent attacks on cargo ships have shown to be vulnerable.

Salami spoke about the shadow maritime war between Tehran and Jerusalem during an interview he gave to Iranian television on the eve of Quds Day, Iran’s day of protest against Israel, held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif branded Israel “an apartheid regime” in a tweet. “Palestine is a yardstick for justice. Few measure up. But Iran has proudly stood with Palestinian people — who resist the brutality of an apartheid regime #QudsDay is yearly reminder of moral imperative of global solidarity for Palestine,” he wrote.

Referring to a recent spate of attacks on Israeli-owned cargo ships that were blamed on Iran, Salami said the incidents showed that “the Zionist regime’s shipping and commercial shipping are vulnerable anywhere in the world,” according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“No one thought that the Zionist regime would have such great damage in the field of maritime trade. It is very easy to seriously disrupt the Zionist regime’s maritime trade,” Salami said.

The general further claimed that Israel’s national security infrastructure was “fragile,” citing recent incidents including a rocket motor test at an air defense systems factory that created a large fireball as part of what officials said was a planned test, a recent fire at a Haifa oil refinery, another blaze near Ben Gurion Airport, a cyberattack on Israeli companies, and a claim of an attack on a Mossad post in northern Iraq that was dismissed as false by local authorities.

Israel’s national “security bubble” has burst as a result of the incidents, Salami asserted.

He added that Israel’s political turmoil, which has seen four inconclusive elections in two years, was bringing an end to the country.

“The Israelis are in a state of decline and are living in a political sunset, and this time it seems that the collapse of the Zionist regime can be from within,” Salami said.

“We are witnessing the loss of social cohesion in their political inefficiency and political turmoil,” he said, also referring to the weekly protests outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in which demonstrators have called on him to resign.

“So far, they have held four elections to appoint a prime minister, but they have not been able to do so and will probably go to the fifth election,” he said.

Salami also asserted that US influence in the region was on the decline and that it could no longer help its allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia in particular.

“We see fragility and vulnerability in the Israeli national security system, but the United States cannot help the Zionist regime,” the Fars news agency quoted him saying.

His comments came amid recent rising tensions between Israel and Iran that have seen the two countries blame each other for attacks on each other’s ships in the region, which have caused minor damages, and also an explosion at the key Iranian nuclear facility of Natanz that Tehran has attributed to Israel.

Last month Salami warned that if Israel gets up to any more “mischief” in the region Iran will respond with great force.

Iran initiated Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, in 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution. It commemorates it with anti-Israel speeches, events and threats to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israeli control.

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