Iran Military Chief Threatens US Warships

by Daveda Gruber:

On Thursday Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps leader, Major General Hossein Salami, claimed that his troops will “destroy any American terrorist force” that threatens his country’s ships in the Persian Gulf.

The statement was made on Iranian state TV by Salami after President Trump had tweeted out a message that warned Iran that he had instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.

Trump had been responding to incidents in International waters in the Persian Gulf  where Iranian ships repeatedly crossed in front and behind U.S. ships at exceedingly high speeds and very close range.

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels had made aggressive maneuvers near American ships, the Puller and the Maui, in International waters in the Persian Gulf. Iranian boats came within 10 yards of the Maui.

The Strait of Hormuz is the gateway to the Persian Gulf which is an important trade route and the United States has made efforts to protect it.

Reuters reported that on Thursday Salami said, “I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens security of Iran’s military or non-military ships. Security of the Persian Gulf is part of Iran’s strategic priorities.”

In alliance with Salami, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted this:

Zarif ‘s tweet was referencing former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who had gone to war with Iran before being overthrown by the United States. The tweet also shows a map that shows that most of Iran’s shoreline is the Persian Gulf.

War is never to anyone’s benefit. Lives are lost during hostile endeavors but the United States has  more military strength than Iran. It appears that Iran is flexing her power at Trump and the United States after Iran was the instigator with the U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf to begin with. Now that Trump has called Iran out for aggression, they want to make it like they are the victims.

Is Iran Looking for a War?

by Daveda Gruber:

News came to me on Wednesday morning by way of a tweet and yes, President Trump tweeted an interesting bit of information that might be a game changer.

When the United States Navy is instructed to “shoot down and destroy” any Iranian gunboats harassing American ships, that’s news.

There has been activity in the Persian Gulf and Iranian gunboats have been getting close to American ships in the area.

Trump tweeted:

Responses from Twitter users included:

Last week six U.S. warships were conducting drills with U.S. Army Apache helicopters in international waters. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels were harassing them.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet reported that the Iranian vessels “repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns” of the American ships “at extremely close range and high speed” They called the actions “dangerous and provocative.”

An Iranian ship came within 10 yards of a U.S. vessel’s bow.

The Navy has reported that the USS Paul Hamilton, USS Firebolt, USS Sirocco and USCGC Wrangell, as well as the Puller and Maui, which were the two ships that had the closest encounters, were involved in the exercises.

This harassment by Iranian gunboats on U.S. and allied ships has gone on for quite some time now.

The Strait of Hormuz is a key passage where a third of the world’s oil supply travels.

Could these actions lead to a war? That would depend on if Iranian leaders want to fight in a war against the United States and her allies.

In a statement, the Navy’s 5th Fleet said Iran hasn’t responded to U.S. crews issuing multiple warnings via radio, which includes five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-grange acoustic noise maker devices.

It appears that Trump isn’t going to stand for the rhetoric from Iran. Whether or not Iran will back down depends on if they are willing to show humility by way of backing down.

High-Ranking Iranian Official Dies from Coronavirus

by Daveda Gruber:

According to Iranian state media another high-ranking official, Hossein Sheikholeslam, has died from the coronavirus.

Sheikholeslam, who was sixty-eight years old, was the Iranian ambassador to Syria. He studied at the University of California at Berkely and later became a leader of the radical Iranian students who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and held hostages until January 20, 1981.

Sixty-six American citizens at the U.S. embassy in Tehrān were held hostage and fifty-two of them were held for 444-days, which is more than a year.

It was reported that Sheikholeslam died late Thursday. He had tested positive two days prior to dying but the Islamic Republic News Agency had announced that he was recovering.

Sheikholeslam is the sixth Iranian politician or government official to be killed by the virus in Iran. Before his death he was serving as an aide to Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Zarif called the U.S. strike on Iran’s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani, “an act of terror.”

Iran has rejected help with the coronavirus outbreak that was offered by the Trump administration.

The Iranian death toll from coronavirus reached 124 with 4,747 cases across the country being reported. Iran may enforce a travel ban between Iranian cities.

Iranian officials who have died fro the corona virus are:

Mohammad Mirmohammadi: Member of the Expediency Council which advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Mohammad Ali Ramezani: Member of parliament.

Mojtaba Pourkhanali: Agriculture ministry official

Ahmad Toyserkani: Adviser to the judiciary chief

Hadi Khosroshahi: Former envoy to the Vatican

Mojtaba Fazeli: Secretary to a senior cleric

A member of Tehran parliament, Fatemeh Rahbar, remains in a coma after being infected.

ISNA is reporting many other officials have been infected and are under quarantine.

Among them are:

Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar who is known in the West as “Screaming Mary” for her role as a spokeswoman during the hostage crisis.

Grand Ayatollah Musa Shobairi Zanjani, who is considered one of the country’s highest religious authorities.

Iraj Harirchi, who is the deputy health minister, tested positive last month right after downplaying the outbreak.

Revolutionary Guard General Hossein Salami falsely accused the U.S. created the virus in the midst of growing tensions between the two nations.

Salami told a crowd in the Iranian city of Kerman, “We will win in the fight against the virus, which may be the product of the American biological invasion, which it first spread to China and then to Iran and the rest of the world. The U.S. must know that if it did it, (the virus) will return to it.”

Islamic leaders are facing enragement and suspicion from the people of Iran because of the shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet in January. One hundred and seventy-six people died in the downing of the jet and most of them were Iranian citizens. Maybe this was Salami’s way of diverting the blame of the coronavirus to take concerns off the Iranian government, and in fact, change the dialoge.

Health minister Saee Namaki said, “This virus is highly contagious. It is a serious matter, do not joke about it.”

I agree that the coronavirus is not a joke but pointing fingers at a country which is not an ally, is not the answer.

I’d add that losing government officials in Iran is not a concern of mine but maybe KARMA may have played a part in it.

Did the Obama Regime Pay for the Missiles Fired at US?

by Daveda Gruber:

On Wednesday former President Barack Obama took some heat as President Trump blamed the last administration for money given by the Obama regime to Iran.

Trump has claimed that the money given to Iran by the Obama administration was used to pay for missiles that were aimed at U.S. troops in Iraq.

The nation listened and watched as Trump spoke the morning following the Iranian regime’s launching of more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases which house American troops.

The missiles were fired by Iran in a retaliatory attack for the U.S. strike last week that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

While referring to settlement money the U.S. paid to Iran in 2016, Trump said from the White House, “The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) is the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. withdrew from it in 2018.

Supporters of the deal claimed it kept Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Trump on the other hand renewed his assertion that it bolstered Tehran.

Trump said, “Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they chanted ‘Death to America.’”

He added that Iran went on a “terrorist spree” with that money “and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq.”

He went on to say that it was with that money that the missiles fired late Tuesday were funded.

Trump has never been a fan of the deal and zeroed in particularly on the money that was unfrozen or sent to Iran directly in the darkness of night.

It cannot be determined exactly how the missiles were paid for but some Republicans have connected the Iran settlement money to the attacks.

While on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Tuesday night, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, “In a very real sense, the missiles that we saw fired at U.S. servicemen and women tonight were paid for by the billions that the Obama administration flooded the Ayatollah with.”

The money that was paid in cash, was transferred with a planeload of $400 million delivered to Tehran on Jan. 17 2016. On the same day Iran agreed to release four American prisoners.

The payment of $1.3 billion that remained was reported to have been paid within weeks of that first payment.

Then there is $150 billion which is an estimated value of Iranian assets that had been frozen abroad in financial institutions as part of international sanctions. That money was unfrozen as part of the deal.

That money could generate about $55 billion in liquid assets.

After leaving the Obama-Iran deal, the Trump administration has put back sanctions on Tehran. Violations by the Iranian regime by stockpiling uranium has brought back the restrictions.

Trump has called for other countries to break away from the deal and secure a new one.

Trump said, “The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal or JCPOA. And we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”

Soleimani Funeral Causes Deaths in Stampede

by Daveda Gruber:

According to reports in Iranian state media, as many as forty people have died and about two hundred have been insured during the Tuesday funeral procession for Iranian General Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a U.S. led airstrike.

The meshing of people that led to the deaths and injuries occurred in Kerman, in southeastern Iran, which is the hometown of the deceased Soleiman.

The numbers were not reported initially and are still uncertain but Pirhossein Koulivand, who is the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, gave the casualty toll in an interview with state TV. The death total can go up due to injuries that are being treated.

Koulivand said, “Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions.”

Videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road while others were shouting and trying to help them.

Here is a video from BBC News:

This isn’t the first time that chaos irrupted during a funeral possession in Iran. In 1989 the funeral procession in Tehran of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In that incident the remains of the deceased half naked body tumbled out of an open coffin and the scene was captured on live state television. Mourners were seen blocking the path of a truck carrying the deceased leader of the Iranian revolution. His burial shroud was torn off and his body was knocked to the ground.

The body was airlifted by military helicopter and the TV broadcast cut short. The remains were then rewrapped in traditional Muslim burial attire and then placed in a metal casket for burial.
Soleiman was killed on Thursday at Baghdad International Airport. He was the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who was the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces and five other people were also killed in the U.S. airstrike.

On Monday, the death of Soleimani led to a procession in Tehran which drew over one million people in the Iranian capital. The funeral procession continued into Iran’s holy city of Qom. Another huge crowd turned out for that.

Soleimani’s remains and those of the others killed in the airstrike were brought to a central square in Kerman where the stamped occurred where he was set to be buried Tuesday. Those plans have now been delayed.

The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, spoke in Kerman and threatened to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States over the killing of Soleimani. The crowd of supporters chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel!”

Iran has promised retaliation to American interests for the death of Soleimani.

The chants of death, in themselves, would seem to be a promise of retaliation of sorts, but then again, Iranian extreme Muslims have been chanting threats of death for as long as I can remember.
Only time will tell what is yet to come. I can you, my readers, that Soleimani and his cohorts were very evil men and had the blood of Americans on their hands.

Sometimes the killing of those who are so evil is the only way to stop them from continuing their reign of terror that would continue to take innocent lives of Americans, our allies and even their own people.

Iran Blamed for US Embassy Attack in Iraq

by Daveda Gruber:

On Tuesday, Iran has been accused of coordinating the attack at the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq and the accusation came directly from President Trump.

Trump has promised to hold the regime “fully responsible.”

In retaliation to U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi Shiite militia supporters allegedly smashed down a gate and gained entrance to the compound.

Trump made it clear that the strikes were in response to the killing of an American contractor.

On Tuesday morning Trump tweeted this:

Although this break into the compound was allegedly made by dozens of Iraqis, there were hundreds of them who tried to break through in an earlier attempt.

Twenty-five fighters from Iran backed Shiite militia Kataeb Hezbollah were killed in U.S. led airstrikes earlier this week and funerals were being held and this may have led to unrest from other militia.

The airstrikes by U.S. military were prompted by a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that killed an American contractor and his death had been blamed on the militia.

A chaotic scene with flames coming from the inside of the embassy and at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the embassy on Tuesday was reported. Chants were described as a crowd on the ground shouting “Down, down USA!”

Fortunately, there were no reports of casualties but the attack was seen to be one of the worst on the embassy.

With Iran and the U.S. both allies of the Iraqi government, the pressure is on to maintain a balance.

The Iraqi government did not react well to the U.S. airstrikes and didn’t prevent the protesters from reaching the U.S. Baghdad embassy. Iraqi security forces had made an effort to stop the protesters who marched to the heavily fortified Green Zone.

It was reported that a man on a loudspeaker who was with Iraqi security, urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying, “The message was delivered.”

There is now a major deterioration in Iraqi-U.S. relations but Iraqi security forces

Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller was not evacuated from the embassy but reports revealed that he has been out of the country on a previously planned vacation.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined Trump in blaming Iran for the attack.

Rubio tweeted:

The embassy attack brings to mind the Benghazi embassy attack where four men lost their lives. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs all died on September 11, 2012.

Trump Slaps Heavy Sanctions on Iran

by Daveda Gruber:

On Friday President Trump announced that the U.S. is hitting Iran’s national bank and that he believes sanctions against Iran are working.

Tehran is being blamed for the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities and Trump is not ruling out military action if it becomes necessary.

Trump spoke to reporters from the Oval Office and said, “These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country. We’ve never done it to this level.”

On Wednesday ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “substantially increase sanctions” on Iran.

Trump tweeted:

Mnuchin stood by the president on Friday as Trump said that the sanctions mean that the U.S. has now cut off all sources of funding to Iran.

Trump stated, “This will mean no more funds going to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] or to fund terror, and this is on top of our oil sanctions and our financial institution sanctions.”

He called the move “very big.”

Trump added, “Right to the top,” before saying that Tehran is now “ broke” in the wake of the U.S. maximum pressure campaign.

Trump claimed, “It’s going to hell, doing poorly, they’re practically broke ˗ they are broke.”

On Friday afternoon, during a joint press conference at the White House with visiting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump said, “We are by far the strongest military in the world. Going into Iran would be a very easy decision.”

Trump went on to say,  “Iran could be a great country, could be a rich country, but they are choosing to go a different way. There will be a point in which they will be very sorry for that choice.”

The president continued, “I think I’m showing great restraint. Most people thought I’d go in within two seconds. But plenty of time, plenty of time.”

The strength of sanctions set in place will no doubt put a halt to Tehran’s sponsorship of terrorism if only for a lack of deep financial means.

Next week Trump will be at the U.N. General Assembly where Iranian leaders will also be in attendance.

Trump has indicated that war is not to his liking but that he feels the country is prepared for whatever comes.

Trump said, “Iran knows if they misbehave, they’re on borrowed time.”

Iran Releases Video of Iranian Commandos Rappelling from Helicopter

by Daveda Gruber:

On Saturday a video was released by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that shows commandos in black ski masks rappelling from a helicopter onto a British oil tanker that was seized in the Strait of Hormuz.

The British-flagged Stena Impero was intercepted late Friday by Iran’s IRGC. The ship’s owner is Stena Bulk.

The vessel was seized with a crew of 23 crew aboard it but it is reported that none aboard the vessel are British nationals.

The video shows the ‘Stena Impero’ tanker being surrounded by smaller boats. The Revolutionary Guard Corps commandos in the video are wearing black ski masks, which disguises their identity.

The smaller boats or Guard boats are said to be surrounding the ‘Stena Impero’ tanker in the video as a helicopter hovered above and the commandos rappelled onto the tanker.

The video is of high quality and it appears to have been taken by two cameras, one from a small boat that appears to be a speed-boat. The video aired on Iranian state TV.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned Iran that it’s on a “dangerous path.” He added that a response would be “considered but robust.”

Hunt also said that Iranians’ behavior is “illegal and destabilizing” and warned of “serious consequences” after the tanker was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.

In comments on Twitter he said that he spoke to Iran’s foreign minister and express extreme disappointment that the Iranian diplomat had assured him Iran wanted to de-escalate the situation but “they have behaved in the opposite way.”

See tweets here:.

Senior officials said that their seizure of the Stena Impero as well as the brief detainment of a second UK-flagged vessel were a “reciprocal” measure amid economic sanctions.

The British navy seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar two weeks ago. That came about amid suspicions of shipping oil to Syria in violation of sanctions imposed by the European Union. Maritime trackers show it was headed to a port in Saudi Arabia.

Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, who is a spokesman of Iran’s Guardian Council, allegedly said that the seizure of the tanker was warranted on the basis reciprocity as the British navy seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar two weeks ago amid suspicions of shipping oil to Syria in violation of sanctions regime imposed by the European Union.

On Friday, President Trump said that Iran is “nothing but trouble” soon after the news of the seized tankers broke. Trump remained hopeful the standoff will work out “very nicely.”

The president added that the (Iranian) regime “is showing their colors” by seizing the tankers and that it’s in “big trouble right now” due to the crushing sanctions imposed by the U.S.

Here is a video of the Helicopter incident:

Security in the Strait of Hormuz has been deteriorating. There have allegedly been six attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. has blamed on Iran  and the Tehran government denies.

These episodes have shaken up the shipping industry. Some of the 2,000 companies operating ships in the region are now on high alert. Many have ordered their vessels to use the Strait of Hormuz only during the daylight hours and to travel at high speed.

There are only a small amount of companies that stopped transit altogether.

Personally, I’m not looking forward to seeing a war break out. I hope that tensions in the area will ease but then, that’s not up to me. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Nation

by Daveda Gruber:

On Monday Iran got a strong message from President Trump and the United States of America. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was formally labeled as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Officials say that the announcement would put the military organization on the same level as terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

This is Washington’s first such designation for an entire foreign government entity and is the latest administration step to increase pressure on Iran.

The IRGC’s ties to terror plots was brought to light by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said the designation recognizes a “basic reality.”

Pompeo said, “This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and should surprise no one. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled.”

Sanctions are to be imposed including freezes on assets the IRGC may have in U.S. jurisdictions. It would also ban Americans who would do business with it.

The move would also allow the U.S. to deny entry to those people who have been found to have provided the Guard with material support or prosecute them for sanctions violations.

Trump gave a statement that the unprecedented move “underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments.”

What sounded like a warning from the president, Trump said, “If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.  This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences.”

Implementing these new sanctions would further isolate Iran. Administration officials have said that the U.S. won’t tolerate Iran’s continued support for rebel groups and others that destabilize the Middle East.

Iran has threatened to retaliate. American personnel in the region could face consequences.

Diplomacy will also be impacted. U.S. troops and diplomats could be barred from contact with Iraqi or Lebanese authorities who interact with Guard officials or surrogates. The alternative could be exclusions or waivers to the designation.

One of the biggest reasons for previous administrations not taking these actions, which has been considered in the past decade, is the impact of the designation.

This move by the U.S. does not allow contact with foreign officials who may have met with or communicated with Guard personnel.