Iran’s Zarif Hits Back at Trump: ‘Never Threaten an Iranian’

By Patrick Goodenough | May 21, 2019 | 4:50am EDT
Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

( – Responding to President Trump’s weekend Twitter warning directed at the regime in Tehran, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hit back Monday with a message of his own: “Never Threaten An Iranian.”

Underlining an often-repeated refrain in recent weeks – that National Security Advisor John Bolton and a trio of Mideast leaders are conniving to push the U.S. into a war with Iran – Zarif drew attention to Persia’s long history of outliving aggressors, from Alexander the Great to the Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan.

Zarif tweeted that Trump, “goaded” by the B-team – his derisive epithet for Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed – “hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do.”

“Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone,” he continued. “Economic Terrorism & genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran.’”

“Never Threaten An Iranian,” Zarif tweeted. “Try respect – it works!”

Trump’s tweet on Sunday was direct and to the point: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

The tweet came after a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily secured Green Zone, adding to concerns cited by the administration about alleged plotting by Iran and proxies to target U.S. interests and troops in the region.

Trump’s warning marked a shift in tone from his comments last week indicating a willingness to talk to the regime, and optimism that the regime would want to enter talks “soon.”

On Monday, Trump tweeted again, dismissing as “false” reports that say the U.S. was trying to set up negotiations with Iran, adding that “Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse – very sad for the Iranian people!”

Zarif also picked up on another recent Trump comment, his remark – in a Fox News interview recorded last week and aired on Sunday evening – that the “military-industrial complex” is against his attempts to bring U.S. troops home from Mideast conflict zones.

Citing Trump’s own words, and a popular campaign slogan, Zarif tweeted that Trump “rightly deplores” the military-industrial complex.

“But all allowing B Team to trash diplomacy & abet war crimes – by milking despotic butchers via massive arms sales – achieves nothing but empowering that same complex. Time to #DrainTheSwamp?”

A senior advisor to Zarif, Behzad Saberi Ansari, on Monday dismissed Trump’s talk about talks as a “theatrical act,” saying U.S. policies were damaging the Iranian economy and endangering regional and international peace.

Democrats on Bolton

The claim that Bolton is pushing for a military confrontation with Iran is being raised on the campaign trail by some of the 24 Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a former Marine Corps officer, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that sending large numbers of U.S. troops to the region could “drag us into war,” adding that “this is exactly what John Bolton wants to happen.”

“He pushed America into Iraq under a weak commander in chief in George W. Bush and he’s pushing America into Iran today,” the Iraq war combat veteran said.

On the same program another presidential hopeful, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), pointed not just at Bolton but also at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president himself.

While Trump says he doesn’t want a war, Gabbard said, “the actions of him and his administration, people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, tell us a very different story.”

“They are setting the stage for a war with Iran that would prove to be far more costly, far more devastating and dangerous than anything that we saw in the Iraq war,” added Gabbard, who served in an Army National Guard field medical unit during that conflict.

(Tuesday’s edition of Iran Daily, an English-language official regime publication, has on its front page a Reuters report quoting Gabbard and Moulton’s remarks.)

Earlier, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a video message compared the Iraq war to a potential conflict with Iran, and also referred to Bolton.

“We should remember that one of the leading advocates for that war was John Bolton, who served then as a member of the Bush administration,” Sanders said. “Now, based on that disaster that he helped bring about in Iraq, it appears that John Bolton wants a war in Iran.”

Before he joined the Trump administration, Bolton advocated regime change in Iran, but he has said repeatedly since taking up the post that that is not this administration’s policy.

Last month he rejected claims he was stoking a conflict with the Iranian regime, telling Fox News that Trump’s policy on Iran – “maximum pressure” designed to compel a change of behavior – had been clear well before he joined the administration in April last year.

Meanwhile, Oman’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Monday night for talks with Zarif – four days after Pompeo spoke by phone to the sultan of Oman.

Iran’s foreign ministry said only that Zarif and Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah discussed “bilateral relations and the most important regional and international issues.”

Oman has better relations with Iran than other Arab Gulf states, and during the Obama administration provided a back channel for Iran-U.S. talks.

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