“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
This was the incendiary all-caps tweet President Donald Trump posted to the Iranian president late Sunday, in response to earlier comments from Hassan Rouhani warning the U.S. would suffer the “mother of all wars” if it continued to threaten Tehran.
“Do not play with the lion's tail or else you will regret it," Rouhani said during a televised speech. “Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars.”
The sudden escalation comes amid ongoing fallout from the White House decision in May to withdraw the U.S. from the Iranian nuclear deal, labeled by Trump as the “worst deal in history.”
Possibly responding to Trump's bluster, Supreme Leader of IranAli Khamenei posted a cryptic tweet Monday, dismissing the "Deal of the Century."
Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, the chief of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s volunteer Basij force, offered a more direct appraisal, saying Monday that Trump’s comments were nothing more than “psychological warfare” and he “won’t dare” take military action against Iran, according to reports from the semi-official ISNA news agency.
The official IRNA news agency labeled Trump’s tweet a “passive reaction” to Rouhani’s comments, and pointed out the U.S. president was copying Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who had in the past warned the West to “never threaten an Iranian.”
But Trump’s comments seem to form part of an administration-wide push to antagonize the Iranian leadership. Hours before Trump’s tweet, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted Iran’s clerics for lining their own pockets and funding terrorism.
"The level of corruption and wealth among Iranian leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government," Pompeo said, before making the startling allegation that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has a personal hedge fund worth $95 billion.
Together with national security adviser and Iran hawk, John Bolton, Pompeo and the Trump administration have used increasingly bellicose rhetoric towards Tehran since they pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear accord.
Speaking on Fox News Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's posture towards Iran was a strategy of "peace through strength."
The president's latest rant echoes similar threats he made last summer to Kim Jong Un, when he threatened to rain down “fire and fury” on Pyongyang. That exchange eventually led to the high profile summit in Singapore last month — and some people are predicting Trump will hold a similar meeting with Rouhani in the future.
One Twitter users also noted that Trump had a long history of predicting his predecessor Barack Obama would launch an attack on Iran when his poll numbers were dropping.
Trump’s average weekly approval rating since he took office 18 months ago is, according to Gallup, just 39 percent.
Cover image: Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Four Seasons Arena on July 5, 2018 in Great Falls, Montana. President Trump held a campaign style 'Make America Great Again' rally in Great Falls, Montana with thousands in attendance. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)