TURKEY TELLS U.S. IT OPPOSES SANCTIONS ON TEHRAN
TEHRAN, July 24, (Agencies): Iran’s armed forces chief of staff on Tuesday warned the US of a robust reaction if it continued to threaten Iranian interests. “They will receive a firm and strong response to an unbelievable degree in the places and interests where they are based in the region and around the world,” said Major General Mohammad Bagheri, according to the official IRNA news agency.
“The vain and useless imaginings of the US president will never be realised,” he said. Washington and Tehran have been trading angry threats since Sunday, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the US “not to play with the lion’s tail” and that conflict with Iran would be the “mother of all wars”. His US counterpart Donald Trump responded with an all-caps tirade on Twitter: “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Bagheri said Iran had “never instigated war” and “wanted peace and stability in the region”. But, he added: “All plots against the Iranian people will be strangled at birth and the enemies will receive an unforgettable lesson.” Trump’s explosive Twitter threat to Iran’s leader comes as his administration is ratcheting up a pressure campaign on the Islamic republic that many suspect is aimed at regime change. No one is predicting imminent war.
But Trump’s bellicose, all-caps challenge addressed to President Hassan Rouhani followed a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he accused Iran’s leadership of massive corruption and widespread rights abuses and urged Iranians to rise up in protest. Both the tweet and the speech landed less than two weeks before the administration will begin re-imposing sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.
In the meantime, the US is stepping up Farsi-language outreach that is intended to support Iranians demonstrating against the policies of their government. Trump’s tweet doesn’t appear to have been prompted by any notable shift in rhetoric from Iran. It could have been an impulsive reaction to reports from Tehran quoting Rouhani as giving the US an oft-repeated reminder that conflict with Iran would be “the mother of all wars.” Yet animosity directed at the Iranian leadership is an established part of the administration’s broader foreign policy.
Tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday: “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them — albeit more civilized ones — for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!” Asked at the White House if he had concerns about provoking Iran, Trump said simply, “None at all.” Tehran is already aware of what is coming from the administration as consequences of Trump’s May withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord take shape.
As Pompeo noted in his speech to Iranian- Americans and others in California on Sunday, the centerpiece will be the reimposition of US economic sanctions; the first batch will go back into force Aug 4, targeting the Iranian automotive sector and trade in gold and other metals. A more significant set of sanctions that will hit Iran’s oil industry and central bank by punishing countries and companies that do business with them will resume Nov 4. “Right now, the United States is undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off the funds that the regime uses to enrich itself and support death and destruction,” Pompeo said in his speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.
Turkey has told American officials it opposes US sanctions on Iran and is not obliged to implement them, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday. President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and ordered US sanctions on Tehran, while a senior State Department official said Washington has told allies to cut imports of Iranian oil by November Turkey has criticised Trump’s move to withdraw from the nuclear pact and has publicly resisted the US call to cut oil imports from Iran. “We do not have to adhere to the sanctions imposed on a country by another country. We don’t find the sanctions right either,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Azerbaijan. “We held meetings with the United States in Ankara and told them openly: Turkey gets oil and gas from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Iraq. If I don’t buy from Iran now, where am I supposed to meet that need from?” Cavusoglu said.
Last week US Treasury and State Department officials met Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss sanctions on Iran. Ankara said authorities were working to prevent Turkey being hurt by the measures. Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its energy needs. In the first four months of this year, Turkey bought more than 3 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran, almost 55 percent of its total crude supplies, according to data from the Turkish energy watchdog (EPDK).
Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues including several legal cases.
A Turkish court last week ruled to keep American pastor Andrew Brunson in jail, in a case that has deepened existing rifts and jeopardised the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets by Turkey.
The US Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying the jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system, which are incompatible with NATO systems.
Cavusoglu, however, said there were no issues with the procurement of the jets and the United States could not exclude Turkey from the project. “The United States needs to understand that it is not possible to get a result from Turkey through sanctions. They will see results if they approach Turkey with dialogue and respect,” he said. “We will not bow down to such pressures, sanctions or threats. Everyone will get used to the new Turkey.”