Iranian Special Forces Chief Tells Trump to Threaten Him, Not Rouhani

ANKARA (Reuters) -
Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps.
(Sayyed Shahab)

A senior Iranian military commander said on Thursday that Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him, and he mocked the U.S. president as displaying the ethics of “a gambler,” the Iranian Young Journalists’ Club reported.

The comments by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who heads the Quds Force of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, were the latest salvo in a war of words between the two countries which has reached a new level of bellicosity.

“As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to Trump’s threats. If he wants to use the language of threat, he should talk to me, not to the president [Hassan Rouhani],” Soleimani was quoted as saying in the central city of Hamedan.

“You know that this war will destroy all that you possess. You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our republic,” Soleimani said.

“You know our power in the region and our capabilities in asymmetric war. We will act and we will work,” he said.

Iran has dismissed a warning from Trump that Tehran risked dire consequences if it made threats against the United States.

On Monday, President Trump said in a tweet responding to comments from Rouhani: “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!”

Soleimani, who as Quds Force commander is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations also said that the Red Sea was not secure while U.S. troops were deployed in the area, Iran’s Arabic-language Al Alam channel reported.

“Trump should know that we are a nation of martyrdom and that we await him,” Soleimani was quoted as saying.

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb after an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Yemen, where a U.S-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for three years, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.