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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Trump will be 'ousted from life', Rouhani says as Iran mourns slain commander Soleimani

Rouhani reiterated Iran's threat of retribution for Soleimani's assassination [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 December, 2020

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Iran is marking the first anniversary of the assassination of its top military commander, General Qasem Soleimani.


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reiterated earlier threats to the United States over its killing of General Qasem Soleimani, as Iran prepares to mark the anniversary of his death.

Soleimani, who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force  was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January.

In televised remarks, Rouhani said US President Donald Trump "will be disgraced for his crimes…will not only be ousted from power, but also life in the next few weeks". Trump is due to leave office next month as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office as US president.

Last week, the head of US Central Command (Centcom), General Kenneth McKenzie, said the US was "prepared to react" if Tehran launches an attack to mark the first anniversary Soleimani's killing.

"We are prepared to defend ourselves, our friends and partners in the region, and we're prepared to react if necessary," General McKenzie, who was on a tour of the Middle East, told journalists in a video conference.

"My assessment is we are in a very good position and we'll be prepared for anything the Iranians or their proxies acting for them might choose to do," he added.

The Centcom commander said he had recently visited Baghdad, where he met with the head of the anti-jihadist coalition, American General Paul Calvert, as well as the Iraqi army chief of staff, General Abdul Amir Yarallah.

McKenzie said he had also gone to Syria to meet with American forces deployed in the small southern base at Al-Tanf, near the border with Jordan and Iraq.

In an apparent sign of US military leaders' concerns about Iranian intentions after Soleimani's killing, McKenzie's tour was not announced in advance.

Similarly, last week's visits by General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Afghanistan were kept secret until he had left the region.

"I talk to my commanders about it every day and I think we will be ready," McKenzie said.

Even as the US Army continues troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan ordered by President Donald Trump - with a goal of drawing down to 2,500 in each country by January 15 - the Pentagon has substantially reinforced its posture around Iraq to dissuade Iran from launching any attack.

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November, and two American B-52 bombers recently overflew the region in a demonstration of strength clearly aimed at Iran and its allies.

Still, a volley of rockets exploded Sunday near the US embassy in Baghdad, causing material damage but no casualties, according to Iraqi security forces.

It was the third attack on American military and diplomatic installations there since an indefinite truce was agreed with pro-Iranian groups in October.

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