02:03 GMT06 August 2020
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    Earlier, the US president took to Twitter to suggest that Iranians “never won a war” but “never lost a negotiation.”

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has answered President Donald Trump over his latest claims about Iran’s record of winning or losing wars, tweeting that “For millennia, Iranians have outlasted every aggressor.”

    Meanwhile, Zarif added, “the US has spent $7 trillion and rivers of blood in our region, in its biggest failure since Vietnam,” referring to President Trump’s own remarks from 2018 about the US having “spent $7 trillion – trillion with a T - $7 trillion in the Middle East” in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere since 2001.

    Appealing directly to Trump via his @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle, Zarif urged the president to “reject #B_Team’s fake history and its thirst for #ForeverWar,” adding that “Diplomacy = Prudence; never weakness.”

    Zarif has repeatedly used the #B_Team hashtag in the past, referring to White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed,  all of whom have the letter ‘B’ in their names.

    Zarif’ tweet was a direct response to a mysterious Trump tweet on Monday in which the president asked followers to “Just remember, the Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” Trump did not elaborate on his comments.

    Iran's Military Record

    Iran, the home of one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, has fought over 60 major wars since the time of the Median Empire in the seventh century BC. The country has not invaded any country since at least 1795, when Persian troops captured and sacked Tbilisi, Georgia before being beaten back and ceding most of its territories in the Caucasus to Russia after the Russo-Persian War of 1804.

    The last major war involving Iran took place between 1980 and 1988, when the country waged a brutal war with neighbouring Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded the fledgling Islamic Republic to try to seize the oil-rich Khuzestan province in the chaos following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The war led to the deaths of as many as 600,000 Iranians and 500,000 Iraqis, and ended in a stalemate and ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. Iraq used chemical weapons during the war, but Iran did not retaliate in kind, despite its right to do so under existing treaties, and would end up eliminating its chemical weapons arsenal completely in the 1990s.

    An Iranian soldier wearing a gas mask during the Iran-Iraq War
    An Iranian soldier wearing a gas mask during the Iran-Iraq War

    Tehran-Washington Tensions

    Long-standing tensions between Iran and the US escalated sharply in May 2018, when President Trump announced the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which promised the country sanctions relief in exchange for a commitment from Tehran not to pursue nuclear weapons. In May 2019, Iran announced that it would begin withdrawing from its uranium enrichment commitments under the deal until its remaining signatories could find an effective way to nullify the effects of US sanctions, while maintaining that it will not pursue nuclear weapons.

    In early May, the US sent a carrier strike group to the Middle East, citing an unspecified ‘imminent Iranian threat’ to US interests. In mid-May and mid-June, multiple tankers were attacked off the Emirati coast and the Gulf of Oman. The US immediately blamed Iran, while Iran denied the claims and accused the US and its regional allies of attempting to inflame tensions. On June 20, a $220 million US drone was shot down over Iranian airspace, leading President Trump to consider airstrikes against the country before changing his mind, and saying the expected casualties of such strikes would not be “proportionate.” Last week, the Pentagon said it had shot down at least one Iranian drone operating within “threatening range” of its warship. Iran denied the claim, calling US statements “quite a big lie” and saying all its drones were accounted for.

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