Soleimani’s successor promises ‘bodies of Americans’ across the Middle East

Esmail Ghaani warns US, but also says ‘be patient’; US national security adviser O’Brien says retaliation by Iran would be ‘poor decision’; Tehran asks UN to condemn killing

This undated photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader shows Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
This undated photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader shows Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Esmail Ghaani, the successor to slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, threatened the US Friday following his appointment to head the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm.

“Be patient, and you will see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East,” Ghaani said.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, named Ghaani as Soleimani’s successor, saying “following the martyrdom of the glorious general haj Qassem Soleimani, I name Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani as the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

The US killed Soleimani in an airstrike early Friday in Baghdad, saying the powerful commander of the Quds force was planning a significant campaign of violence against the United States.

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, January 3, 2020. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)

Ghaani was described by Khamenei as one of the “most decorated commanders” of the Guards during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. He has been deputy commander of the force for some two decades.

“The orders for the [Quds] Force remain exactly as they were during the leadership of martyr Soleimani,” said the supreme leader.

Robert O’Brien, the US national security adviser, said Friday that an Iranian response to the killing would be a “very poor decision.”

O’Brien in a Friday phone briefing to reporters said the attack was meant to “prevent further bloodshed,” calling it a “defensive action.”

US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien speaks of a press conference in Nonthaburi, Thailand, November 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi, urged the UN Security Council to condemn the airstrike, calling it “a criminal act” of “state terrorism” by the United States that led to “the horrific assassination” of Soleimani.

Ravanchi said Soleimani played “a significant role” in helping some countries “in combating and defeating the most dangerous terrorist groups,” including the Islamic State.

In Friday, March 27, 2015 file this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, right, sits next to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei while attending a religious ceremony in a mosque at his residence in Tehran, Iran (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, File)

In letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council president, Ravanchi said the US airstrike “clearly invalidates the claim of the United States that it is fighting terrorism.”

The Iranian ambassador says the Security Council must “uphold its responsibilities and condemn this unlawful criminal act.”

The chances of that happening, however, are virtually nil because the United States would almost certainly veto any condemnation.

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