The Iranian government continues to defy international standards, as it refuses to act as a rational and constructive state, even apart from its repeated malign behavior in the Gulf of Oman this week. Pictured: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a June 13, 2019 press conference in Washington, DC, where he said, “It is the assessment of the US government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks [on oil tankers] in the Gulf of Oman. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Iranian government continues to defy international standards, as it refuses to act as a rational and constructive state, even apart from its repeated malign behavior in the Gulf of Oman this week. Iran’s Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who enjoys the final say in all of Iran’s domestic and foreign policies, recently proclaimed to the youth in Iran that they will soon witness the demise of Israel and all of American civilization. This announcement was confirmed on the Supreme Leader’s official website.
Khamenei made Iran’s intentions clear while meeting with students. “You young people,” he declared, “should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel”.
Iran also recently produced a program on its state television channel demonstrating that the government is currently practicing missile attacks, with the purpose of carrying out actual attacks on Israel. The video excerpt included in the television broadcast showed how the operations the Iranians are striving to put into action will bombard Tel Aviv. The video concludes with images of Israeli citizens covered in white sheets, indicating great tragedy for Israel, and a victory for the Islamic Republic.
The Deputy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, also recently threatened on Iran’s Channel 2 TV that Israel is “vulnerable and bringing itself closer to death”.
Salami made the strategy of the Iranian government vehemently clear by stating, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And, it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that.” In addition, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently posted a Twitter tirade attacking Israel. It stated that “the Zionist regime will perish in the not so far future.”
Why are the Iranian leaders ratcheting up threats against Israel and the Jews at these critical times? There seem to be two major reasons.
Aside from their proclaimed hatred of the country, there is, behind these increased threats, a political motive. From the perspective of the Iranian leaders, if they continue to increase their threats against Israel, the United States will be pressured to change its strategy and lift pressure that has been placed on the clerical establishment, the IRGC, and its elite branch, the Quds Force.
Since its establishment in 1979, the modus operandi of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been to pursue aggressive violent policies instead of attempting diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East.
Since US President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the flimsy nuclear deal, the Iranian leaders have been under significant economic pressure, and are seeking ways to escape it. Sanctions leveled against the Iranian government’s military institutions — the IRGC and its affiliates — as well as the banking system and the oil sector, are placing financial and geopolitical pressure on the Islamic Republic. Iran’s oil exports have declined by more than half, and its national currency, the rial, continues to lose value. As the squeeze continues on both political and economic dynamics within Iran, the government will grow more and more desperate.
It is not only inside the country that the Iranian leaders are feeling economic losses and pressure; Tehran’s financial influence, investments and assistance to other countries, particularly Syria, are also being negatively impacted.
As the pressure continues, it is becoming extremely difficult for the Iranian authorities to continue funding, sponsoring and supporting its militias, proxies and terror groups across the Middle East.
According to the latest reports, Iran’s reduced oil revenues have already caused Tehran to cut funding to its militias in Syria. As Iran’s militias are not getting their salaries and benefits, their ability to continue to fight is being limited.
When these militias do not receive the required funds to operate and advance Iran’s interests, some will begin to lose their power, erode, and even fall apart altogether. The Islamic Republic will likely lose the loyalty of other militias as they attempt to find new paymasters.
The second reason behind Iran’s increasing threats against Israel is linked to one of the core pillars and revolutionary ideals of the Islamic Republic: destroying the Jewish state. It is also one of the religious prophecies of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his successor, the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Israel will be eventually erased from the face of the earth.
As Iran’s theocratic establishment believes that the Supreme Leader is Allah’s representative on earth, whatever words or desires the Supreme Leader utters are considered wishes, which must be brought to life by Allah’s true believers. With this religious drive, the undercurrent of hatred toward Israel is only amplified: each attack against the country is considered a holy act.
It is an unacceptable double-standard that the United Nations and the international community have been, and continue to be, silent about Iran’s threats against Israeli citizens. If the situation were reversed and if Israel threatened to annihilate Iran, the international community would be up in arms, and quick to defend Iran. Through political and economic pressure, the ruling mullahs of Iran should be held accountable by the international community for endangering global security and regional stability.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu