Iran Says U.S. Forces’ Withdrawal Only Way to Restore Regional Stability

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | May 22, 2017
Iran Says U.S. Forces’ Withdrawal Only Way to Restore Regional Stability

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces has blamed the United States for regional instability and claimed that the withdrawal of the U.S. forces would restore peace and security in the Middle East. “The only way to [restore] peace and tranquility to the region is the departure of the Americans and the renunciation of aggressive and terrorist operations by dependent and reactionary regimes against independent countries," Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Sunday. His remarks were a reaction to the latest comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who at a press conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh called on President Hassan Rouhani to take practical actions during his second term in office to halt Iran’s ballistic missile program, end support for regional terrorism, and improve human rights conditions for ordinary Iranians.

Rejecting Tillerson’s statements, Jazayeri said the U.S. top diplomat’s expectations from Tehran showed the "ignorance of the American officials with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran." He added: “The defense policies and objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran are being executed as part of a well-defined process and no factor can hinder them.”

Comment: As tension between Tehran and Washington is escalating, Iranian political and military leaders have increasingly been calling for the withdrawal of the U.S. military forces from the region.

In March, Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan depicted the U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf as armed intruders and called on Washington to leave the region. “What are the Americans doing in the Persian Gulf? It is better they leave this region and do not create trouble for the regional countries,” he said in a reaction to latest statements by U.S. military officials about Iran’s destabilizing role in neighboring Arab countries and harassment of the naval forces of the United States and its allies in the Gulf region. “Is it acceptable that an armed, insane thief breaks into someone’s house and expects the red carpet to be rolled out for him? This is one modern example of the 21st century barbarism,” he added.

The Iranian defense minister’s remarks were a reaction to comments made by the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, during a testimony to the House Armed Services Committee yesterday. Gen. Votel told lawmakers that Iran “poses the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the Middle East, and that the United States has "not seen any improvement in Iran's behavior” since Tehran signed the nuclear accord with world powers in July 2015. “Iran must believe there will be prohibitive consequences if it chooses to continue its malign activities designed to foment instability in the region,” he said, adding that the United States should hold Iran accountable for its actions. He also noted that Iranian boats regularly harass U.S. military and its allies in international waters – with about 300 incidents in 2016 alone. In another Congressional testimony on March 9, Gen. Votel, who is responsible for American security interests in the Middle East and Central Asia, had also said that Iran sought to be the “regional hegemon” through its proxies in the Middle East.

But in late April, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif defend the I.R.G.C.’s provocative actions in the Persian Gulf. "Breaking: Our Navy operates in — yes, correct — the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home," he tweeted, after American officials said a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer had fired a warning flare to deter an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) vessel approaching it in the Persian Gulf.