TEHRAN — In a new stream of belligerent rhetoric, Iran’s chief of staff on Tuesday derided US Republican opposition to the recent US-backed nuclear agreement, and accused the US and Israel of sponsoring terrorism, while another Iranian military chief scoffed that Tehran had intimidated the US into abandoning the idea of using military force in the region.
The anti-US statements came as Iran held a military parade outside Tehran to showcase weapons including surface-to-surface missiles such as the solid-fuel Sejjil and the liquid-fuel Ghadr, both with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles). Also on display at the annual parade were Russian-made S-200 and Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems designed primarily to track, target, and destroy aircraft and cruise missiles.
Speaking to reporters at the event, Iranian army chief Hassan Firouzabadi castigated US Republicans for their opposition to the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers, and dismissed putative Republican threats of a military option.
“They are reactionary people and want to return to the era of the presidency of crazy (president George W.) Bush,” Firouzabadi said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency. “Bush made his utmost efforts to attack Iran but he couldn’t,” Firouzabadi said. “War will also fail to produce any result for them because Republicans are only chanting empty words and slogans.”
The general asserted that Iran was determined to fight against the arrogant powers and the terror groups they support, Fars reported. “All the regional countries should know that the US, Israel and Britain are supporting the terrorists,” he said.
The same Iranian news agency quoted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Commander, Ali Fadavi, asserting that the IRGC has intimidated the US into giving up any plans for the use of ground forces and for war in the region. “The US has officially announced its strategy, which has also been sealed by the US president and presented to the Congress, that the Americans have no plan for war, specially ground war until 2020,” Fadavi said, in a Tuesday address to the Iranian parliament.
Fadavi was also quoted saying that “The US is obedient and passive in the Persian Gulf and we impose our sovereignty right in the Persian Gulf very powerfully.”
In a speech at the parade, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country’s military is the most reliable force to take on “terrorists in the region” — a reference to the extremist Islamic State group.
Rouhani offered military assistance to Mideast countries, saying that so far, Iranian troops “have helped both Iraq and Syria” in the struggle against IS but insisted that Tehran has no military intentions toward other nations.
The parade marked the 35th anniversary of the start of the ruinous, eight-year Iraq-Iran war.
In his speech, carried live by state TV, Rouhani said that if “terrorists begin to expand in the region, the only hope will be Iran’s army and the Revolutionary Guards.”
The Sunni militant Islamic State group has seized a third of both Syria and Iraq following its blitz in the region last year, and has declared a self-styled caliphate on the territory it controls. Other Mideast countries, such as Egypt, Libya and Saudi Arabia, have seen the emergence of IS affiliates and groups that have declared allegiance to the Islamic State.
Rouhani said Middle East nations should not put too much faith in “Western powers as their defenders. Today, our armed forces are the biggest regional power against terrorism.”
Iran has already sent military advisers to neighboring Iraq and the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, a key Tehran ally, to help in the battle with IS militants but denies sending ground combat forces.
Rouhani also made a veiled offer of Iranian help to Sunni rival Saudi Arabia, though he did not name the kingdom. The Saudis have been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen against Iran-backed Shiite rebels since March. The advance of the rebels, also known as Houthis, has forced Yemen’s internationally recognized president into self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia.
Rouhani’s remark can be taken as an effort to reach out to the kingdom in the wake of a landmark deal struck in July between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s contested nuclear program.