Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ chief warns Trump: ‘If you begin the war, we will end it’

In this June 30, 2018 photo, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard attends a graduation ceremony of a group of the guard's officers in Tehran, Iran. (AP)
Updated 27 July 2018
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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ chief warns Trump: ‘If you begin the war, we will end it’

  • Mounting US economic pressure, a faltering economy, sliding currency and state corruption are rattling Iran’s clerical rulers
  • Neither side want a military confrontation

ANKARA: A powerful commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him, and mocked the US president as using the language of “night clubs and gambling halls.”
The comments by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who heads the Quds Force of the Guards, were the latest salvo in a war of words between the two countries.
“As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to your threats ... If you wants to use the language of threat ... talk to me, not to the president (Hassan Rouhani). It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you,” Soleimani was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Soleimani’s message was in essence a warning to the United States to stop threatening Iran with war or risk exposing itself to an Iranian response.
“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine ... Come. We are ready ... If you begin the war, we will end the war,” Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying. “You know that this war will destroy all that you possess.”
Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said the fiery rhetoric of Soleimani was only “empty talk” because Iran was aware of “the strength and might of the US military.”
On Sunday night, Trump said in a tweet directed at Rouhani: “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!“
A few hours earlier, Rouhani had addressed Trump in a speech, saying that hostile US policies could lead to “the mother of all wars.”
Fanning the heightened tensions, US national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement on Monday: “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”
Bolton is a proponent of interventionist foreign policy and was US ambassador to the United Nations in the administration of George W. Bush during the Iraq war.
“You (Trump) threaten us with paying a price like few countries have ever paid. Trump, this is the language of night clubs and gambling halls,” said Soleimani, who as Quds Force commander is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations.
Iran’s Guards commanders have threatened to destroy US military bases across the Middle East and target Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize, within minutes of being attacked.

WAR OF WORDS
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Thursday that the Trump administration was “working with our partners and allies to try to get Iran to change its behavior and stop its actions across the region.”
Gidley, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One flying with Trump to Washington, D.C., from St. Louis, declined to comment on whether a strike was among options.
Since Trump’s decision in May to withdraw the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, Tehran’s clerical establishment has been under increasing US pressure and the prospect of possible sanctions.
Washington aims to force Tehran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups in the Middle East, where Iran is involved in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria.
Despite the bellicose rhetoric, there is limited appetite in Washington for a conflict with Iran, not least because of the difficulties the US military faced in Iraq after its 2003 invasion but also because of the impact on the global economy if conflict raised oil prices.
Mounting US economic pressure, a faltering economy, sliding currency and state corruption are rattling Iran’s clerical rulers, but analysts and insiders rule out any chance of a seismic shift in Iran’s political landscape.
“This is a war of words. Neither side want a military confrontation. But of course, if America attacks Iran, our response will be crushing,” a senior Iranian official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
Trump suggested on Tuesday that talks with Iran were an option, saying “we’re ready to make a real deal.” But Iran rejected it.
“But eventually, within a few months, half a year, they’ll have no choice and will return to negotiation table with the United States and give up their nuclear program,” Steinitz told Israeli Reshet TV on Thursday.
While the United States is pushing countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November, Iran has warned of counter-measures and has threatened to block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are halted.
“The Red Sea which was secure is no longer secure today with the presence of American forces,” Soleimani said.
Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the Red Sea shipping lane of Bab Al-Mandeb after an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.


Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

Updated 15 November 2018
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Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

  • Egyptian lawyer calls for the arrest of Kuwaiti MP who condemned comments from minister over attack
  • Fatma Aziz says she was injured after she was attacked by a group of Kuwaiti women

CAIRO: An attack on an Egyptian woman living in Kuwait has spiralled into a war of words between politicians from the two countries.

Fatma Aziz, an Egyptian expatriate, said she was verbally and physically attacked by a Kuwaiti woman and four others after she complained that they had hit her child with their bikes. 

In a video posted last week, Aziz described how the woman shoved her to the ground and stepped on her face leaving her with a broken finger, torn hair and bruises.

Nabila Makram, Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs, responded to the attack, saying: “The dignity of Egyptian citizens and Egyptian women in specific is a red line. However, we respect Kuwaiti authorities and judiciary.”

But her comments drew the ire of Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem, who sent a barbed tweet on Makram’s direction.

“Dear Minister of Immigration or Minister of Dignity, as long as you respect the Kuwaiti authority and the Kuwaiti judiciary, it is better for you not to address the issue of dignity nor play on people’s emotions,” she said.

“There is no need to gain political and media attention by inciting fear. We treat people with more dignity than their own country.”

The Kuwaiti MPs response sparked anger in Egypt, where the attack is now being investigated by the authorities.

The Egyptian Hama party said the way Al-Hashem has spoken about Egyptian expats was unacceptable.

“She does not represent the people of Kuwait," the statement said, adding that the Kuwaiti people "respect the Egyptian state.”

The attack and ensuing row has been closely followed by the more than half a million Egyptian expats working in Kuwait.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was investigating the attack. 

Khaled Yusri Rizk, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Egyptians abroad, said the Egyptian consulate in Kuwait contacted Aziz.

Egyptian lawyer Amr Abdel Salam submitted a report on the attack to the Attorney General, Nabil Sadiq. The lawyer said Al-Hashem had “insulted an Egyptian public servant” and insulted the Egyptian authorities. 

He urged the Attorney General to take the necessary measures with Kuwait, Interpol and Egyptian ports and airports to arrest Al-Hashem.

“Al-Hashem has provoked the anger of the Egyptian masses through social networking sites, which led to the escalation of public disharmony and damage to the public interest of the Egyptian state,” Salam said.

He said these were criminal offences punishable by imprisonment.

The Kuwaiti MP’s attack on Egypt was also condemned in Kuwait.  

Media personality Aisha Al-Rashed said the Egyptian ambassador to Egypt did not say anything that hurts the people of Kuwait, insisting that Al-Hashem does not represent Kuwaitis.