Zarif No Moderate, Says Pompeo After Iranian FM Implicitly Links US to Bombing of IRGC Personnel

By Patrick Goodenough | February 14, 2019 | 6:32pm EST
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and President Hasan Rouhani with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Photo: Office of the Supreme Leader)

( – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed his supposedly “moderate” Iranian counterpart on Thursday for insinuating that the U.S. and its allies were linked to a suicide bombing that killed at least 27 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel in southeastern Iran.

“It’s not moderate to accuse the Israelis and the Americans of murder,” Pompeo told the U.S.-funded Farsi-language broadcaster Radio Farda, expressing the hope that when European officials meet with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, they confront him over his words.

Pompeo, speaking in Warsaw where the U.S. co-hosted a ministerial conference focused on Iran and other Mideast challenges, said the U.S. “had nothing to do with” the bombing on Wednesday.

Jaish-al Adl, a minority Sunni group, claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on a bus transporting the Shi’ite IRGC troops, at least 13 more of whom were injured.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused intelligence services of enemy powers of having a hand in the bombing, and President Hassan Rouhani declared that, “the main root of terrorism in our region is the U.S. and Zionism.”

“Is it no coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day that #WarsawCircus begins?” Zarif tweeted.

“Especially when cohorts of same terrorists cheer it from Warsaw streets & support it with twitter bots?” he added. “US seems to always make the same wrong choices, but expect different results.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, in Warsaw, Poland on February 14, 2019. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Responding to the tweet, Pompeo questioned the fact Zarif – like President Hassan Rouhani – is held up by some to be a moderate in the Tehran regime.

“Many countries, including European countries, meet with this man Zarif,” he said. “He is actually headed to Munich, where many European countries will meet with him [at the annual Munich Security Conference this weekend].”

“I would ask those countries when they meet with Mr. Zarif to ask him why he would say such an outrageous thing,” Pompeo continued. “Sometimes he is posited to be a moderate. It’s not moderate to accuse the Israelis and the Americans of murder.”

“That’s not moderate. I think it shows the signs that Mr. Zarif and Mr. Rouhani are revolutionaries in the same way that the other leaders inside of Iran are as well.”

In his statement on the bombing, Khamenei said, “It is evidently certain that the perpetrators of this crime are connected to the intelligence services of some of the countries inside as well as outside the region.”

He said “disgraceful and wicked terrorists” had attacked “righteous and selfless young men … who had dedicated themselves to the protection of the frontiers and guarding the security of the people.”

The U.S. considers Iran the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, and accuses the IRGC – specifically its Qods Force, headed by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani – as the main perpetrator.

At the Warsaw gathering, Arab states joined Israel and Western nations to discuss Iran, Mideast peace efforts and other regional issues.

“Not a single person, not a single country, denied that this threat from Iran is real, whether they were Arab countries or countries that were here from Asia or from South America or from the Middle East itself,” Pompeo told a press briefing afterwards. “All understood the threat that the Islamic Republic of Iran presents to their citizens.”

Pompeo said the objective when targeting the regime’s economy was “to ensure that Qassem Soleimani has as few dollars as possible to create death and destruction throughout the world.”

“And so we are attempting to choke off the regime’s money that is going towards terrorism,” he said. “That’s the objective.”

Rouhani has vowed to “take revenge for the blood of our martyrs,” a pledge echoed by IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who promised “harsh revenge against the evil enemies who are linked with the global arrogance” – a regime epithet for the United States.

Wednesday’s attack occurred in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province, which shares borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Jaish al-Adl (“Army of Justice”) was established in 2012 by members of an older group, Jundallah, which had been weakened when Iran captured and executed its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, in 2010. Later that year the U.S. government designated Jundallah as a foreign terrorist organization.

Like Jundallah, Jaish al-Adl claims to represent the interests of Balochs, a mostly Sunni minority in southeastern Iran accounting for around two million of Iran’s 70 million predominantly Shi’ite population.

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