An Iranian general appeared on television, calling to drive the US from the region with cries of “Death to America!”. He invoked the Hidden Imam, the Shia Messiah while citing the US debacle in Afghanistan as an opening to regional domination.
“The US will take a beating to the end”
Esmail Qaani, an Iranian brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of its Quds Force, threatened the US in a speech on Iranian Ofogh TV on December 2, saying that driving the US out of the region was the first step towards bringing about the Islamic Messiah.
A report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) recorded the speech that Qani directed at “the enemies of Islam and the Islamic revolution.”
”Gone are the days when you had the audacity to what you wanted in the world,” Qaani said. “Your ‘hit and run’ days are gone. If you hit us, you will have to stand and take a beating to the end.”
Qaani replaced General Qasem Soleimani after he was assassinated by a Trump-ordered targeted US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport in January 2020.
“We said to the Americans, we repeated the message, and we say it once again. You still have time to decide on your own to leave our geographic region, having been humiliated. If you do not leave, you will be driven out of this region in worse shape than your banishment from Afghanistan.”
“Allahu Akhbar (Allah is greater)! Khameini is the leader. Death to those who oppose the jurisprudent. Death to America! Death to England! Death to the hypocrites and infidels! Death to Israel!
“The blessed blood of our martyrs was shed and they sacrificed their lives on the path that has the final goal of eliminating your existence from the region…[The Americans] understand that if they make even the slightest mistake they will be punched in the mouth so hard their teeth will shatter. They understand this. This capability was created in our country, Allah be blessed.
“With the help of the Lord, this path of the martyrs will conquer all relevant targets, one phase at a time. And, as I have said, it will reach the final goal of establishing the global rule of the Hidden Imam. Inshallah (Allah willing).
“Jews understand when someone says ‘Death to Jews’, they mean it.”
Dr. Mordechai Kedar has a deep understanding of the Arab mindset. A senior lecturer on Arabic culture at Bar-Ilan University, he served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena. Fluent in Arabic, he is one of the very few Israelis appearing on Arab television, frequently debating Arab thought leaders and imams in their native tongue.
“The Hidden Imam is the Shia concept of Messiah,” Dr. Kedar explained. “The Shia are very involved in the concept of Messiah, emphasizing it much more than the Sunni. The Shia were oppressed and went through hard times and wars. Their concept of Messiah reflects this oppression.”
“Just like us, they pray that one day the Messiah will come and make everything good. For them, it means that everyone is Muslim. Also, the difference between us and them is that in order to bring Messiah, they are willing to slaughter a lot of people. We don’t do that anymore.
Despite Qaani’s statements on Iranian TV, the US is currently engaged in negotiations with Iran in an effort to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was brokered by President Obama in 2015. President Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.
“Death to America is not a euphemism,” Dr. Kedar said. “They mean precisely that. Israel should know better. Jews have learned throughout history that when someone says they want to kill us, they entirely intend to do so.”
Dr. Kedar noted that the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan has had a profound influence on Iranian relations with the Taliban. In fact, early in his career, Qaani was instrumental in the Iranian opposition to the Taliban.
“It is true that Iran and the Taliban were at odds,” Dr. Kedar said. “But Afghanistan has a lot of natural resources, especially minerals, and could be a great asset and potentially a very rich country. If both sides see their interests lie in cooperating, they could cooperate.”