Iran will continue its struggle until the destruction of “enemies”, the United States and Israel, the commander of its extraterritorial Qods Force said Friday.
As a new flare up of violence between Israel and Iran-backed Islamic Jihad began Friday, Esmail Ghaani (Qaani) was speaking at a memorial service for three servicemen killed in the Syrian war.
Ghaani repeated a recent refrain heard from other Iranian officials that Israel is in decline and said that “Hezbollah’s sons are making plans to bring down the last blow against the Zionist regime…and to realize the wish of Imam Khomeini to eradicate Israel from the map and the face of the Earth.”
But he also threatened the United States: “The enemies of [Iran’s] Islamic government, led by America and the Zionist regime should know that we will never stop self-sacrifice and will move forward on the path of resistance."
The Islamic Republic uses the terms “resistance” to refer to its regional foreign and military policy of arming and supporting militant groups, such as the Islamic Jihad, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Houthi forces in Yemen primarily for attacking Israel but also threatening Arab states friendly to the West.
“The honorable path of martyrs will be pursued until the complete destruction of the enemies of the Islamic system,” he said, meaning Iran’s Islamic Republic.
At the same time on Friday, the official Twitter account of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) wrote, “We clearly say that we interfere whenever there is the issue of opposing Israel. After this also, wherever any nation or group fights Israel, we stand behind them and support them.”
While Israel launched a series of air attacks throughout Gaza, killing about 10 members of Iran-backed Islamic Jihad including its military commander Taysir al-Jabari, the leader of the group was visiting Tehran.
During the week, Islamic Jihad’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah held meetings with several senior Iranian officials in Tehran including Supreme Leader's adviser Ali Akbar Velayati, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, as well as President Ebrahim Raisi.
Ghaani became commander of IRGC’s extra-territorial Qods (Quds) Force in January 2020, when its former notorious commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a targeted US air strike in Baghdad. The Qods Force manages most of Iran’s military, intelligence and even political affairs in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
The Qods commander did not mince words in his speech threatening the US and Israel. “These two traitor and murderous regimes will receive a response in the shortest time for each crime they commit,” and added, “The Islamic Republic makes plans to respond to all crimes that America and the usurper Zionist regime commit and will give its decisive answer at the appropriate time.”
Ghaani pledged to continue support for Hezbollah, saying, “the victors of this battle will undoubtedly be the sons of Islam.”
When Iranian officials use the word Islam, it often means Shiites, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is portrayed as the leader of ‘Islam’. For Sunnis, however, who comprise the vast majority of Muslims, Khamenei is mostly seen as the leader of a sect that opposes their beliefs and traditions.