US-Iran Tensions: Iran Brands US Soldiers As Terrorists
Iran prepares to conduct the funeral ceremonies of its former Quds Force Commander, Qassem Soleimani on Tuesday. But while Soleimani’s life chapter is closed, new tensions arise as the war of words between Iran and the United States escalates.
The Iranian parliament responded to the US declaration of a major Iran-backed militia in Iraq as a terrorist organization by also passing its own resolution referring to US soldiers as “terrorists”. In a CNN interview yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reiterated the same position, calling the killing of Soleimani in a US drone strike as an act of “state terrorism”.
On Tuesday, Qassem Solemani was to be buried in a funeral ceremony that was to be attended by hundreds of thousands of people, including top members of Iran’s government. However, the funeral had to be postponed as the procession degenerated into a stampede. According to the online website of Time Magazine citing Iranian State TV reports, more than 56 people were killed and hundreds injured in the process.
Iran has issued several statements on what their response would be regarding Soleimani’s death, and has taken some steps in this direction. Yesterday, it announced that it was not going to respect the limits that had been set on its uranium enrichments. It has also seen suggested that Iran may target ships that pass through the Straits of Hormuz, a strategic ocean route for oil tankers and a vital pathway for ocean traffic. It is still unclear if Iran intends to mount some sort of military retaliation, but Chairman of Iran’s Security Council Ali Shamkhani says the country is preparing 13 different scenarios. According to a Bloomberg report, Shamkhani also said that the weakest of the retaliatory responses would be a “historical nightmare” for the US.
In response, the US government is strengthening its presence in the Middle East and troops have been deployed to the US embassy in Baghdad as well as other locations of interest in the Middle East. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ruled out any withdrawal of US forces, saying that US troops were being repositioned.