One day after the White House warned Iran against harming any Americans, the commander of IRGC said Monday that revenge for the killing of Qasem Soleimani is not yet complete.
In a ceremony in Tehran, Hossein Salami without referring to the warning by US national security advisor Jake Sullivan, said, “We have taken part of the revenge and part of it is still unfulfilled, and everyone certainly knows it. American officials should know that they cannot conduct aggression against a nation and avoid revenge.”
General Soleimani, who was Iran’s top military and intelligence operator in the region organizing militant proxy forces, was killed by a decision of the United States in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. Iran retaliated by firing ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq hosting US troops five days later.
On Saturday, Iran issued a new list of Americans it considers responsible for Soleimani’s killing after senior officials had repeatedly mentioned revenge all week, on the second anniversary of his death.
Sullivan in his Sunday statement warned Tehran of “severe consequences” if it attacks Americans. "We will work with our allies and partners to deter and respond to any attacks carried out by Iran," he said. "Should Iran attack any of our nationals, including any of the 51 people named yesterday, it will face severe consequences."
Salami on Monday did not mention Sullivan’s statement. In fact, government-controlled media and officials were silent Monday morning, ignoring the White House warning. But Salami’s explicit remarks about unfinished revenge seems to be an indirect response to Sullivan’s warning.
In his speech, Salami also claimed the Islamic Republic has succeeded in uniting “Muslims in the region” against the United States. Often when Iranian officials use the word ‘Muslims’ the underlying meaning is Shiites, not necessarily Sunnis, who do not regard Iran’s clerics as their religious leaders.
Except the Palestinian Hamas, most of Iran’s allies and proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen are Shiites or sects close to Iran’s brand of Shiism.
The IRGC commander also took credit for strengthening the Lebanese Hezbollah and “arming Palestine”, which was able “to fight big wars with Israel.”
Overall, Salami’s remarks included more religious metaphors than ever before, abundant praise for “martyrs” and “jihad”. He said the battle against “arrogance”, a term used mainly to refer to the United States, has gone beyond Iran’s borders and has united Muslims.
In an implicit reference to Tehran’s influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, Salami said, “The Islamic revolution has conquered large expanses of territory and many hearts and the enemy is in retreat.”