Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is warning the West that targeting his country with sanctions and destroying the economy will have disastrous consequences for Europe, unleashing a "deluge" of drugs, refugees, and the proliferation of terrorist elements.
“I warn those who impose sanctions that if Iran’s ability to fight drugs and terrorism are affected ... you will not be safe from a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism,” Rouhani said in a televised speech, according to Reuters.
It's rhetoric similar to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's consistent refrain throughout the war, who predicted that the West-Gulf alliance push for regime change in Damascus would unleash refugee chaos on EU shores, and result in terrorists wreaking havoc in European cities, much of which actually came to fruition. Pundits in the US and UK had subsequently accused Syria and Russia of "weaponizing" the refugee crisis, which they will now no doubt accuse Tehran of doing as well.
Rouhani touted Iran's role in counter-terrorism, something which will fall on deaf ears in the West:
“We have been just as determined in the fight against terrorism ... sacrificing hundreds of valuable troops and spending millions of dollars annually,” he said.
“We don’t expect the West to pay their share, but they should know that sanctions hurt Iran’s capacity to fight drugs and terrorism,” Rouhani added.
Iran sits between Afghanistan, the world's largest opium producer, and Pakistan, a major central Asian transit hub for the global drug trade.
Rouhani continued, “We spend $800 million a year to fight drugs which ensures the health of nations stretching from of Eastern Europe to the American West and North Africa to West Asia. Imagine what a disaster there would be if there is a breach in the dam.”
The Iranian president's words may not be mere hyperbole or empty threats, as Reuters acknowledged based on U.N. data that "In 2012, Iran accounted for two thirds of the world’s opium seizures and one fourth of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures, a U.N. report published in 2014 showed."
Advancing the same message Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated separately that it's the United States that's destabilizing the Middle East, flooding with arms and making it a "tinderbox".
Concerning the potential for a refugee crisis, especially should military intervention result from US-led economic warfare after pulling out of the 2015 JCPOA, Rouhani's prediction could easily become reality. Reuters concluded that an exodus is already beginning based on Iran's collapsing economy after fresh rounds of sanctions:
More than 700,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Iran this year as the Iranian economy tightens, according to data from the U.N.’s migration agency, and Iranian media said some Afghans were seeking to enter Turkey to reach Europe.
Meanwhile, US rhetoric on Iran has only grown more jingoistic of late. In recent comments over Iran's developing ballistic missile program, the State Department's special representative on Iran, Brian Hook, said the "military option" is on the table.
“We have been very clear with the Iranian regime that we will not hesitate to use military force when our interests are threatened. I think they understand that. I think they understand that very clearly,” Hook said late last week.
“I think right now, while we have the military option on the table, our preference is to use all of the tools that are at our disposal diplomatically,” he added.
Given that Iran has a population of over 80 million people, any future war — which Iran hawks like National Security Advisor have been gunning for for years — would most certainly dwarf the migrant and refugee shocks that Europe's shores have already experienced.