“There is no doubt that, were it not for Martyr Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s efforts, you would not be enjoying calm in London today,” Rouhani said in a phone call with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, urging London to revisit its position on the matter.
Rouhani called General Soleimani a friend of all the regional peoples and a champion of the anti-terror struggle.
American people would one day know how many lives General Soleimani has saved – including Americans and Europeans – by defeating Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East. Such re-election (miss)calculations will certainly lead to disaster.#Solaimani— Seyed Abbas Araghchi (@araghchi) January 3, 2020
Targeting their vehicle in Baghdad on Friday, a United States airstrike assassinated General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), among others.
General Soleimani, who had won hard-earned reputation as the Middle East most revered anti-terror commander, would cooperate closely with the PMU and other regional counter-terrorism groupings against the most deadly of the terrorist outfits to ever take on the region, including the Daesh Takfiri outfit.
Johnson and former British foreign secretary and current MP, Jeremy Hunt, however, endorsed Soleimani’s assassination. The former said the British government did “not lament” the terrorist-style assassination, and the latter called it a “bold move” that could “quell” instability.
Soon after the assassinations, Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said Washington was to face a “harsh revenge” for the atrocity.
Early on Wednesday, the IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles at Ain al-Assad air base in the western Iraqi Anbar Province, and another outpost in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, both of which housed US forces.
IRGC targets US airbases in Iraq in response to assassination of General Soleimani Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has targeted US airbases in Iraq.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani told Johnson that in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Iran’s retaliation constituted “legitimate defense.”
Iran’s chief executive warned that the entire region was “at serious peril” from the United States’ acts of terrorism, but strongly advised the US against repeating its mistake against the Islamic Republic.
“Should the US perpetrate another blunder, it would receive a very dangerous response,” Iran’s president said, adding that regional security was something that had to be provided by regional countries alone.
“The Americans and the White House lack all understanding about [the state of affairs] in the region,” he asserted, noting that the popular outrage, passion, and unity that transpired across the regional nations following General Soleimani’s assassination made the Americans realize what a mistake they had made in assassinating the general.
In photos: Funeral held for Gen. Soleimani, his companionsIraq held a huge funeral procession for Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and his nine other companions who were martyred in a US drone strike in Baghdad Airport on Friday. High-ranking dignitaries attended the funeral cortege.
Rouhani said the recent upheavals that have befallen the region are unexceptionally the upshot of the US’ illegal actions, including its withdrawal from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran last year.
“This terrorist action by the United States defy all international regulations. They have been sanctioning the drugs and foodstuff needed by people for two years, and committed a grave crime by assassinating General Soleimani,” he noted.
The US left the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), last May although the agreement has been ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council resolution. Washington also re-instituted the sanctions that the deal had lifted.
Bowing under American pressure, Britain, France, and Germany have also stopped meeting their business and trade obligations towards Iran.
This May, Iran began a set of countermeasures in response to the US’s withdrawal, and also to prompt the Europeans to begin committing to the deal again. Tehran suspended all the limits set on its nuclear activities by the JCPOA following the US assassination of General Soleimani.
Rouhani advised Europe to go back to its commitments under the nuclear deal, and said Tehran would walk back its countermeasures too if they did so.
He, meanwhile, reminded that Tehran retains its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that the UN nuclear agency still monitored Iran’s activities.
Johnson, for his part, laid emphasis on the need for betterment of relations between Tehran and London.
He said safeguarding the JCPOA played a significant role in reinforcement of international security, and urged all-out effort aimed at preservation of the accord.
‘US killed anti-Daesh commander out of anger’
Later on Thursday, Rouhani called Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who expressed sympathy with Tehran over recent incidents.
Rouhani told Giuseppe that Lt. Gen. Soleimani’s assassination was rooted in the US’ “anger against a commander, who led the struggle against terrorism and Daesh in the region.”
Rouhani mentioned Washington’s terrorist actions as a major threat to regional security, saying, “The people of the region are, in their turn, are extremely enraged by the US and we must all try to contain strategic mistakes of the rogue US government, which is a result of their lack of information, to make this country abide by the law.”
Rouhani reiterated the assertion that the region’s predicaments have to be resolved by its own countries, citing the Iraqi parliament’s recent vote in favor of expulsion of the US-led forces as a decisive and clear response to the US’ intervention and acts of terrorism.
Iran’s president also urged Europe to adopt a course that is independent of the US’ wrongful policies that would enable it to contribute to regional peace and stability.