Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Staff of Iranian armed forces. Undated

Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Staff of Iranian armed forces. Undated

'American Hegemony' Gone, Russia, China On Top - Iran's Chief Of Staff


Author: Mardo Soghom

China is a strong power and Russia has ended its decline, weakening “American hegemony”, the chief of staff of Iranian armed forces told officers on Thursday.

Major Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, a Revolutionary Guard officer, was speaking in Mashhad in northwestern Iran, two days after the visit of Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Tehran, during which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei endorsed his invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “praiseworthy initiative.”

The United States has warned that Russia is trying to procure military drones from Iran to use in Ukraine, although Tehran has offered a half-hearted denial.

Bagheri said that the United States’ expenditure of “ten trillion dollars in West Asia” was fruitless and US power is on decline, as the world has entered “a new transition period.”

The top military commander’s remarks were yet another sign of a clear tilt in Tehran toward a policy of relying on Russia and China to defy the West. After almost 16 months of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, negotiations remain stalled.

Tehran, which is able to export more than 700,000 barrels of crude per day, despite US sanctions, is apparently counting on high oil prices and a rapidly expanding nuclear program to create a new reality.

President Joe Biden in his recent trip to the region pledged with Israel and Saudi Arabia never to allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons, but he still insists on following the diplomatic path to reach an agreement to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA and to put Iran’s nuclear program “in a box.”

However, his administration relaxed enforcement of US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump as it embarked on the diplomatic path in early 2021. China taking advantage of the reprieve found illicit ways to increase oil imports from Iran.

Bagheri claimed that Iran used “the superiority of opportunities to threats” to gradually destroy the “foundations of [US] maximum pressure.”

He also highlighted that Iran defeated “enemy plots” near its borders to create threats against the Islamic Republic. Tehran uses the term ‘enemy’ primarily to point at the United States, and often also at its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

However, numerous attacks on Iranian nuclear and military installations and assassinations of key nuclear and military figures since mid-2020 point to a high degree of infiltration by what many believe is the Israeli Mossad. Tehran made significant personnel changes in its intelligence and counter-intelligence networks in June, after a high-profile assassination and other unexplained deaths among IRGC figures in May and June.

Nevertheless, Bagheri emphasized that the top priority of the armed forces to is establish deterrence. He told commanders of IRGC ground forces gathered in Mashhad that their job was important “as the fate of battles is decided on the ground, especially for a country that has no aggressive intentions and simply wants to defend security on its territory, although even in a foreign conflict, it is still ground forces that decide the final outcome.” He told the officers that “Your job is to prepare for an unequal battle with a superior foreign enemy, to fight terrorists and anti-revolutionaries…”

IRGC forces have been extensively used to suppress popular protests since 2017, with the most brutal crackdown in November 2019 when at least 1,500 protesters were killed.

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