Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps to stop its operations around the world, particularly those in Africa and Latin America, according to a senior army official.
The official told Dubai-based Al Arabiya on Friday that Khamenei wants the Guards to focus their efforts on countries in the region, and that he fears a possible Israeli strike. Khamenei is also worried about the effect of crushing international sanctions, particularly on the Islamic Republic’s funding of its military forces, according to the report.
The IRGC has been accused of involvement in numerous acts of terrorism worldwide, and its Al-Quds force has focused on attacks on Israeli targets. Most recently, Israel blamed Iran for a series of attempts to hit Israeli targets in India, Georgia, Thailand and other countries last spring. India’s police reported IRGC involvement in one of these attacks, in which the wife of an Israeli diplomat was injured in a bombing in February in New Delhi.
Also on Friday, Iran held a massive parade where it unveiled a new air defense system, Raad. At the parade, the air force commander of the Revolutionary Guards warned that Israel “would cease to exist” if it launched an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“If a conflict breaks out, the Zionist regime would be able to manage the beginning of the war, but the response and end would be in our hands, in which case the Zionist entity would cease to exist,” said Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “The number of missiles launched would be more than the Zionists could imagine,” he added, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the event to lash out at the West over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a French satirical weekly.
Ahmadinejad said that ”in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they — the West — raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.” He asserted that this shows a double standard and “is clearly a deception.” Ahmadinejad called the film a plot conceived by Zionists to cause discord among Muslims.
The parade marked the anniversary of the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war 32 years ago.
According to Fars, Raad, or Thunder, is more advanced than its Russian predecessor and is designed to confront fighter jets, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and drones.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.