Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani likened outgoing US President Donald Trump to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and repeated the Iranian regime’s vow to avenge the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, in a speech on Thursday.
“Trump was like Saddam. Saddam imposed eight years of war on us and was overthrown and Trump imposed three years of economic war on us, [and] he will be overthrown in the coming weeks. He will be a disgraceful person in history because of the crimes and oppression he committed,” Rouhani said.
Iran and Iraq fought a devastating 1980-88 war but the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that ousted Hussein prompted a long Sunni Islamist insurgency during which Iran’s regional sway rose at the expense of the United States.
Rouhani’s comments come days ahead of the first anniversary of Soleimani's assassination in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.
Iran had vowed to avenge Soleimani's death. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had said harsh revenge awaited the “criminals” who killed Soleimani and that his death, though bitter, would double the motivation of the resistance against the United States and Israel.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran, which have been increasing since 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, reached historic heights in January when the US killed Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Iran signaled it was hoping for better relations with the US under the administration of incoming President Joe Biden, and for him to lift the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
Biden has signaled a willingness to return to diplomacy with Iran.
- With Agencies