12:35 GMT20 September 2020
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    Ahead of Wednesday’s retaliatory strike in response to the US killing of General Soleimani, Javad Zarif spoke to an American edition unambiguously stating that Washington cannot stay in the region any longer after yielding few results, if any, and only infuriating the locals.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has posted a link to his sit-down interview with CNN on the sidelines of the Tehran Dialogue Forum 2020 (TDF2020), in which he explicitly described the US role and reputation in the Middle East. “Donald Trump has to realise that the US has been fed misinformation", Zarif stated.

    He explained to what extent the Iranians and other people in the region do not want the US there, contending that “beautiful military equipment that you spent 2 trillion dollars on do not [sic] rule the world, but people do". “And people of our region want the US out", he unambiguously remarked, noting that people are enraged.

    Responding to a reporter’s question, Zarif mentioned that it makes no sense to speak to President Trump about this as he “has to realise” how things are in the region, wake up to reality, apologise “and change course” as it has so far “been making it worse” even for America. “Is the United States more secure today because of that [after spending 7 trillion dollars in the region]?”

    Separately, Iranian diplomat Zarif branded US President Donald Trump's decision to order a drone strike that killed the country's top military commander an act of "state terrorism", vowing a proportionate response, as a “disproportionate one is a war crime".

    "We will respond lawfully, we are not lawless people like President Trump", Zarif remarked, apparently referring to a tweet Trump sent Saturday in which POTUS said that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, the United States has 52 Iranian sites targeted - a reference to the number of Americans taken hostage in the 1979 revolution - "some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture", he wrote.

    Zarif hit back, arguing that such comments signal that Trump "has no respect for international law and is prepared to commit war crimes - attacking cultural sites is a war crime".

    Shortly after the comments, in the early hours of Wednesday, Iran retaliated for Quds General Qasem Soleimani’s death with fire, launching rockets at two US airbases in Iraq. POTUS later commented that the US forces stationed there were not in any way harmed, basing the US killing of Soleimani on allegedly obtained data that the general was preparing attacks on American personnel in Iraq in the near future.

    He also bragged about the US Armed Forces "big and accurate" missiles and boasted about their achievements during his tenure.

    He praised "new powerful economic sanctions" against Iran, promising that they would be in place until Iran "changes its behaviour", said that he would ask NATO to be "much more involved" in the situation, and refrained from warning about any military response to Iran’s attack on the US bases. 

    Tensions initially arose after over New Year’s Day, Iran-backed Shia Iraqi militias raided entrances to the US Embassy in Baghdad, battering down doors and busting out windows, raising security concerns and prompting Trump to reinforce the US presence in Iraq by 750 soldiers.


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