There is confusion this morning over whether a top Iranian military commander has threatened Saudi Arabia with attacks “anywhere around the world”, following a bombing that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards troops on February 13.
Western media, led by Reuters, quote Gen. Qassem Soleimani (pictured), the head of the elite Quds Forces of the Guards: “Saudi Arabia is building its regional influence with money only. This is a false influence and a failure….We will take revenge for our martyrs….[and] it might be anywhere around the world.”
Iranian officials have declared that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the US and Israel, are connected to the car bombing of a bus in southeastern Iran near the Pakistani border — even though the regime says the attack was carried out by the Baluch insurgency Jaish ul-Adl. Guards commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said last week, “[The attackers] are backed by reactionary regional states, the Saudis and the Emiratis, under orders from the Israelis and the Americans…and we will certainly take retaliatory measures.”
But the editing of Soleimani’s remarks, shown by the ellipses in his quote, raise the question of whether the latest Guards comments have been distorted.
Press TV, the regime’s English-language outlet, portrays Soleimani’s target as the Jaish ul-Adl insurgency, as the general urged Pakistan to cooperate in breaking up the group:
Iran is a safe neighbor for Pakistan and we will not threaten this country. But we will exact revenge against the Takfiri mercenaries, who have the blood of our youths on their hands no matter where in the world they are.
Reuters cites the semi-official Iranian outlet Tasnim as its source, but Tasnim’s English-language site has no report on Soleimani’s statement.
Instead, Tasnim English focuses on an announcement by a provincial official that eight suspects have been arrested, including a woman who allegedly owned the car used to ram the bus with the Guards troops.
Bolstering its depiction of a possible showdown between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia, Reuters cite Soleimani’s assertion, “I am warning you: Don’t test Iran’s tolerance.”
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016, following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’a Muslim cleric and a crowd in Tehran attacking and burning the Saudi Embassy. The two countries are vying for influence across the Middle East and are on opposite sides in conflicts and civil wars such as those in Syria and Yemen.