Speculation is rife on the turn the showdown between the US and Iran will take in the coming days after the Islamic Republic’s ambassador in Baghdad threatened that his country would attack US troops in Iraq.
Iraj Masjedi said Iran would attack US troops in Iraq, if the Islamic Republic came under attack by the US.
“We do not want to go to war with the US,” Masjedi said. “War will serve nobody’s interests,” he added in on September 27 in an interview with the Amman-based Iraqi channel, Dijlah TV.
His ultimatum came only hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed that the US had sent a message to European leaders that it was willing to lift all sanctions on Iran.
The Iranian leader, who was returning home from New York where he attended the 74th United Nations General Assembly meetings, added that he had rejected talks with Washington while punitive US sanctions were intact.
Germany, Britain, and France, he said, had insisted on a joint meeting with US officials.
“The German chancellor, the prime minister of Britain and the president of France were in New York and all insisted that this meeting take place and America says that it will lift the sanctions,” Rouhani said, according to his official website. “It was up for debate what sanctions will be lifted and they (the US) had said clearly that we will lift all sanctions.”
Rouhani claimed that France and Britain prodded him to meet US President Donald Trump. French President Emmanuel Macron, he said, warned that this would be a lost opportunity if he did not.
Nevertheless, Trump said on the same day that he had rejected Iran’s request to lift sanctions.
“Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them to meet. I said, of course, NO!” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
Nobody knows whether the US had proposed to lift the sanctions it imposed on Iran or the Iranian president was making this up.
However, Rouhani’s claims come at a time his nation, which has military presence in four Arab countries, seems to be emboldened into more action to press the US to end the sanctions or at least reduce their intensity, analysts say.
This is especially true after the US and the international community had failed to bring Iran to account for its September 14 attack on two oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Iran insists that the Houthi militia of Yemen perpetrated the attacks in a desperate attempt to shrug off accusations in this regard.
This does nothing to prove the Islamic Republic innocent because the Houthis are an Iranian proxy after all, analysts say.
Masjedi said his country would respond to any aggression against it.
“We have an endless list of self-defence options,” the Iranian diplomat said.
He called for kicking US troops out of the region. This leaves the door open to all possibilities in the coming days.
Fearing no consequences and frustrated with the effects of the US economic sanctions on Iran, the country’s mullahs have a free hand to try and strike at either the US or its allies in the region.
This is so far happening through Iran’s proxies, namely the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, and the Houthis of Yemen.
The Houthis are stepping up their attacks on Saudi Arabia, claiming to have taken 2,000 Saudi troops hostage during a September 27 operation in northern Yemen, near the restive country’s border with Saudi Arabia.
Iran may also strike at other US regional allies, which explains the high state of alert within Israel and regional fears that the Islamic Republic can hit in the coming days wherever nobody expects, including in countries that have not come under attack before.