Over the weekend we reported that in the latest unspoken mockery of the Obama administration, the Iranian military had successfully carried out another two launches of short-range ballistic missiles - the Nazeat and the Fajr-5 - during ground forces exercises. As a reminder, Iran is technically not permitted (even if the prohibition is not enforced) to engage in such drills, because following the adoption of the JCPOA, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2231, which prohibits Iran from engaging in activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Which, as we wrote, is precisely why Iran keeps doing just that in its ongoing attempts to mock the Obama administration as one which no longer has any leverage over what Iran does, something Trump, who has repeatedly said he would immediately cancel the deal if he is elected president, will use to his full advantage in the coming months.
Well, what until now was an "unspoken mockery" of the US just became very spoken, because as Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported, cited by TOI, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Monday said the United States cannot "do a damn thing" about the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program, making it explicit that every preceding and future ballistic missile test is about one thing only: to humiliate the Obama administration.
Referring to the US, Khamenei said that "they have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing."
"The US and other powers are extremely sad at this issue and they have no other option; that is why they made huge efforts in order to bring the country’s decision-making and decision-taking centers under their control, but they failed and God willing, they will continue to fail," Khamanei added.
The supreme leader, who has final say on state matters, slammed "arrogant" Western powers, arguing that efforts to shut down its nuclear program and missile tests were a pretext to meddle in Iran’s affairs. "The nuclear issue and missiles are excuses and of course excuses are useless and they can do no damn thing," Khamenei said. "The point is Iran doesn’t follow arrogant powers."
"In this war, willpowers are fighting. The stronger willpower will win," Khamenei added.
Unless willpower is measured by the size of one's gold handicap, we doubt Obama would disagree.
Elsewhere, the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, general Qassem Soleimani, maintained that without the Islamic Republic, the Islamic State would now control all of Syria. The United States has been forced to back down in the region, he said, according to Iranian reports.
Iran also pivoted to its historic nemesis Israel. Last week, a senior Iranian military commander boasted that the Islamic Republic could “raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit al-Quds Force, said if Khamenei gave the order to destroy Israel, the Iranian military had the capacity to do so quickly.
A senior Iranian general on May 9 announced that the country’s armed forces successfully tested a precision-guided, medium-range ballistic missile two weeks earlier that could reach Israel, the state-run Tasnim agency reported.
“We test-fired a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers and a margin of error of eight meters,” Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi was quoted as saying at a Tehran science conference. The eight-meter margin means the “missile enjoys zero error,” he told conference participants.
He was referring to a potential Israeli strike, something which has not escaped the Israelis, who also realize that Khamenei is absolutely right that the US "can't do a damn thing" about the Iranian program, which may in turn lead to a return of the same concerns which emerged for the first time in 2010 and 2011 that Israel would launch a preemptive strike against Iran just to make sure Iran does not do the same.
For now, however, ISIS is providing a sufficient distraction to the much deeper and ongoing tensions in the middle east.