A top Iranian general has said Iran will annihilate Israel, boasted that Iran could easily defeat Saudi Arabia, and threatened to overrun American military bases in the Middle East.
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Deputy Commander for Cultural and Social Affairs, said in a December 28 interview with the Iraqi television network Al-Nujaba that the “Islamic revolution in Iran will not back down” from the goal of “wiping out” the Jewish state. The interview was translated Wednesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Naqdi, a former head of the regime’s Basij militia, insisted in the interview that “Israel must be destroyed and wiped out. There is no doubt that the Zionists must be annihilated and destroyed. This will definitely happen.”
He added: “Neither Russia nor any other country can intermediate between us and the Zionists. The Islamic revolution in Iran will not back down even an inch from its position regarding the wiping out of Israel.”
He vowed to take part in that effort. “We were, we are, and we will continue to be the soldiers of Imam Khamenei,” he said, “until our last breath and until the last drop of our blood. I myself will hoist the flag of the Islamic Revolution in Jerusalem, Allah willing.”
Iranian leaders routinely call for the destruction of Israel, and the Iranian regime arms and funds terrorist groups that seek Israel’s destruction such as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, but it is less common for regime figures to directly declare that Iran will wipe out the Jewish state.
He scoffed at the idea that the US would attack Iran. “America will not launch a war against Iran,” he told the interviewer. “If it does — a possibility that I rule out — we will destroy all its military bases in the region. We currently stand before the gates and barbed wire [surrounding those bases], and if they make a wrong move, we will cross those barbed wire fences.”
And he belittled Saudi military capabilities. Asked if “Saudi Arabia is capable of following through with its threats” to attack the Iranian regime, he called the idea “very laughable.”
“We have a Farsi proverb that goes, ‘You cannot compare an ant to an elephant.’ Saudi Arabia is incapable of controlling even its domestic front. It uses fighter planes to bomb small neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia. I believe that Saudi Arabia is much weaker than you might think. If we gave the order to a division in any of our 30 provinces, it would be able to defeat and destroy Saudi Arabia. It’s true that Saudi Arabia has many advanced weapons, but it cannot face an army like Iran’s.”
On Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said American sanctions are putting pressure on Iran and its people.
In an unusually forceful speech from the holy city of Qom, Khamenei also mocked American leaders, as top US diplomat Mike Pompeo made a tour of the region.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and in November reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
“The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people. The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history,” Khamenei said, according to a Reuters translation. “Yes, they’re unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, God willing.”
Iran has ignored Western calls to curb its military development and has pushed ahead with repeated ballistic missile tests. The Iranian military recently announced its intention to deploy warships to the western Atlantic off the US coast as a counter to the American military presence in international waters off Iran.
In an English translation of his remarks posted on his website, Khamenei said “Iran will overcome sanctions, slap US in face again.”
Khamenei also cited a story about a US official once predicting he’d celebrate Christmas in Iran to lash out at Americans. “Some US officials pretend that they are mad,” Khamenei said. “Of course I don’t agree with that, but they are first-class idiots.”
Punishing sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program had been curbed as part of a 2015 nuclear deal, but were largely re-imposed by the US last year, under Trump, who has taken a hard line toward Iran.
Trump has labeled the agreement forged under his predecessor Barack Obama as “defective” and unable to rein in Iranian behavior or halt the Islamic Republic’s quest to develop nuclear weapons.
In 2017, Khamenei dismissed remarks by Trump calling Iran a “terrorist” nation as “idiotic.” Last May, after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal which saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, Khamenei told Trump in a speech: “You cannot do a damn thing!”
Khamenei’s comments Wednesday came as Pompeo visited Iraq. On Tuesday, the US top diplomat threatened that America would double down on commercial and diplomatic efforts in the coming weeks to “put real pressure on Iran.”
Khamenei’s remarks to Qom residents were meant to mark the anniversary of religious riots in 1978 that challenged Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. They would spiral into the nationwide demonstration that saw the shah leave Iran and give rise to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranians will commemorate the revolution’s 40th anniversary in February.