JEDDAH: The US and its Gulf allies have been warned to prepare for Iran-led terror attacks after Tehran ramped up threats of revenge on the eve of the first anniversary of the killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.
With tensions between the US and Iran escalating in the region, Esmail Qaani, chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Soleimani’s successor, on Thursday threatened to take revenge and kill US President Donald Trump and other officials.
Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike on Jan. 3 last year after his convoy was attacked outside Baghdad airport.
Amid a series of veiled threats from Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday accused the US president of making up excuses to attack Iran and warned that Washington “would pay for any possible adventure” in the region, while Iran’s judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, said that “not even Trump is immune from justice.”
Commenting on the threats, Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said that an Iranian terror strike against the US or one of its allies in the Gulf or in Yemen is “highly possible.”
However, he said that any attack would be limited due to US readiness to counter the Tehran regime.
Al-Shehri told Arab News that the US, more than any other global power, needed to step up its deterrent action to halt Iran’s aggressive behavior.
The US has been suffering from Iranian terrorist actions since 1977, when its embassy in Tehran was taken over by an Iranian militia group, he said.
“The US silence for over 40 years has allowed Iran to grow, develop militias and terrorist cells, and even improve its relations with several countries, which are now supporting Tehran in carrying out terrorism and challenging the US.”
He warned that US “lenience” would help Iran continue its threats to the region and the world, “especially on the nuclear level.”
Al-Shehri said that Iran’s threats are directed at its allies in the region and Iran’s revolutionary media channels.
“If you ask me whose words we should take seriously, I would say Qaani’s. He is Tehran’s spearhead and the one who controls everything in the country.”
He added that Qaani should be held accountable for his threats against the US president and for hinting at terrorist action inside the US.
US Central Command said on Wednesday that it had sent two B-52 bombers to the Middle East “to underscore the US commitment to regional security.”
Two days earlier, a US Navy nuclear submarine passed through the Strait of Hormuz and entered the Arabian Gulf in the latest show of military strength from Washington.
Al-Shehri said: “If US forces don’t take action today against Iran, they will never do so, especially with the change in the US administration and the current situation in the world.”
He added: “It is now the perfect time to punish Iran for all its terror activities.”
Al-Shehri said that Tehran is trying to put pressure on US decision-makers, especially the new administration.
“It wants to tell Joe Biden’s administration that the best way to deal with Tehran is to placate it,” the political analyst said.
“Biden is not likely to be another Obama, but he certainly will not be another Trump in confronting Tehran,” Al-Shehri said.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been escalating since 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions.