While the Israeli government and Obama administration debate the merits of a preemptive strike on Iran’s clandestine nuclear facilities, turns out the Iranians are considering making the first military move themselves, threatening to strike U.S. bases along with Israel – which a senior commander predicts could escalate to a new world war.
Aerospace commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, predicted to Iran’s Arabic language television Al-Alam on Sunday that Israel and the U.S. will not fight a war with Iran “independent from each other, meaning that either one of these two starts the war, it will be joined by the other one.” As translated by Iran’s Fars news agency, he said (emphasis added):
“We see the US and the Zionist regime standing fully on the side of each other and we cannot imagine the Zionist regime initiating a war without the US backup. Due to the same reason, if a war breaks out, we will definitely wage battle on both sides and will definitely be engaged with the US bases,” he said.
“In case such conditions arise, a series of incidents will take place which will not be controllable and manageable and such a war might turn into a third world war. That means, certain countries may enter the war for or against Iran,” added the general.
The IRGC commander warned that in case such war is waged on Iran, the US bases in “those countries around us and inside the neighboring countries will be targeted and they will even be threatened by the nations of these very states”.
The Times of Israel adds that Hajizedeh also stated:
“There will be no neutral country in the region,” Hajizadeh said. “To us, these bases are equal to US soil.”
The general’s words follow a flurry of strident statements coming out of Tehran over the weekend. On Saturday, the head of the Revolutionary Guard Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said that war between Iran and Israel was inevitable, though he couldn’t predict when it would occur. He also said he believes that conflict will destroy Israel, which he called “a cancerous tumor”:
“If they [Israel] start something, they will be destroyed and it will be the end of the story for them,” Jafari said.
AFP writes that this is the first time a senior Iranian official has stated publicly his belief that war is likely. In mid-September, Jafari earlier made the annihilation threat, stating that “nothing will remain of Israel” should the Jewish state strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
On Sunday, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy to Jafari, said that the Islamic Republic’s defense strategy assumes it “will engage in a war, a massive battle against a global coalition led by the US” which would provide “a historical opportunity for the Islamic Revolution to wipe them [Israel] off the world’s geographical history.” AFP further reports:
He said the Islamic republic had made preparations to “crush” the enemy by hitting “enemy bases in the region, the security of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the energy market, as well as the lives of enemy forces.”
Unlike his colleague Hajizadeh, who on Monday suggested the preemptive strike, Salami said Iran won’t fire the first shot: “We will not start a war. But if someone wages war against us, we will launch continuous offensives.”