The war of words continued between the United States and Iran over the weekend, with President Trump threatening to “End Iran” as a country, and President Rouhani claiming that Iran will not be forced into talks as a result of “bullying” from the U.S.
So far, President Trump has not been nearly as quick to call for aggression against Iran as his top officials, but this weekend he did issue a new threat. He took to Twitter and said, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
Trump then appeared on Fox News, where he was asked about current tensions in the Middle East, and he claimed that Iran is to blame for all of the war and problems in the region.
“One of the first meetings I had was at the Pentagon with generals. They were showing me the Middle East and they had 14 or 15 sites where there was nothing but war, problems,” Trump said. “Every single one of those sites was instigated by Iran. It was Iran military, it was people paid by Iran, it was, you have no idea. I said this is terrible. They were so strong.”
While Trump accused Iran of creating problems, he did not address how U.S. involvement has influenced tensions in the Middle East.
Iran’s foreign minister also took to Twitter, and he claimed that Trump is being influenced by the “B team” which he refers to as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He said that Trump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis and other aggressors failed to do. He argued that “economic terrorism and genocidal taunts” will not end Iran, and that the U.S. should try showing respect instead.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also addressed the possibility of holding negotiations with the US.
“We must not give up against an enemy. We welcome negotiations but we do not negotiate with the party which says that they bring us to come and to negotiate,” Rouhani said. “Like a bully who takes a knife out of his pocket and forces to have negotiations. We do not do such negotiations with anybody. Not only the US, but also if all powers in the world get together, we will not give up.”
The UK’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also spoke out, and he repeated a similar claim to what Trump has said, which is that the U.S. does not want to go to war with Iran, but if U.S. forces are attacked, then they will retaliate.
“Well I would say to the Iranians, do not underestimate the resolve of the US side in this situation,” Hunt said. “They are not seeking a conflict, they don’t want a war with Iran, but if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians need to think about very, very carefully.”
Saudi Arabia has also said that it does not want war in the region, but it will defend itself. The kingdom’s foreign minister said that “the ball is in Iran’s court” to avoid conflict with the U.S.
This comes as Iraq’s parliament could soon vote to expel all U.S. troops from the country. It has been 16 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq, and while more than 5,000 troops remain in the country, the U.S. has already said that Iran has too much influence, and if Iraq attempts to force American troops to leave, then that could further increase tensions in the region.