An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader who is a possible 2021 presidential candidate is warning that any American attack on the Islamic Republic could set off a “full-fledged war” in the Mideast in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Hossein Dehghan strikes a hard-line tone familiar to those in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, a force he long served in before becoming a defense minister under President Hassan Rouhani.
“We don’t welcome a crisis. We don’t welcome war. We are not after starting a war,” Dehghan says. “But we are not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations either.”
While discussing the world Iran finds itself in, Dehghan’s points mirrors many of Khamenei’s. The former head of the Guard’s air force who achieved the rank of brigadier general says any negotiations with the West could not include Iran’s ballistic missiles, which he described as a “deterrent” to Tehran’s adversaries.
Propaganda involving Iran’s missile program has surged in recent weeks. The front page of the English-language Tehran Times on Wednesday showed a map of Iran’s missile ranges with red stars marking American bases across the region under the words “Back off!” printed in big, bold letters. A headline above warned Iran would respond to “any melancholy adventure by Trump.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power … with anybody under any circumstances,” Dehghan says. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is in our experts, young people and industrial centers.”
While stressing he wanted to avoid conflict, Dehghan claims Israel was expanding its military presence in the region, in what he described as a “strategic mistake.” Israel just reached normalization deals with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
“It is opening an extensive front,” he alleged. “Just imagine every Israeli in any military base can be a target for groups who are opposed to Israel.”
Iran is involved in conflicts across the Middle East, backing fighters in Iraq and Yemen, and funding the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group as well as Palestinian terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.
— AP, with Times of Israel staff