FIGHTER jets of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have taken part in joint aerial drills over the Persian Gulf waters ahead of the massive parade slated for yesterday.
Various combat, tactical, reconnaissance, transport, and tanker aircraft of the IRIAF and the IRGC were present at the Friday morning drills.
The exercises, held for the second day, were aimed at increasing the preparedness of the military units for the massive drills due to be held on Sunday on the anniversary of Sacred Defence Week, which marks the beginning of the eight-year war imposed by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iran in 1980.
Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian warplanes took off from Shahid Abdolkarimi Airbase in the port city of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran on the first day of the preparatory drills.
Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi, the lieutenant commander of the IRIAF, said on Thursday the parades send the message of peace and friendship to neighbouring countries.
In addition to the jet fighters, 200 frigates and speedboats will also display the country’s naval power during yesterday’s parade.
‘The parade will be held to display the strengths and capabilities of the Armed Forces, and to boost unity and sympathy among the Army and IRGC forces,’ General Vahedi said.
He praised the Islamic Republic’s role in maintaining the sustainable security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, saying that only regional countries can secure the strategic bodies of water.
The parade is to be held at a time when the US is forming a naval mission, already joined by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in the Middle Eastern waterways.
Copying Saudi Arabia, the UAE has joined a US-led naval mission purportedly aimed at protecting Middle Eastern waterways.
The United States has been trying to persuade its allies to join the international coalition with the declared aim of providing ‘security’ for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic shipping lanes in the Middle East.
Washington moved to set up the coalition after pinning the blame on Tehran for two attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in May and June. Tehran rejected the claims, saying the attacks seemed more to be false-flag operations meant to exert pressure on Iran.
Meanwhile, a top military adviser to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and a senior IRGC general warned the US against any anti-Iran move, saying that the Islamic Republic would respond to any plot by the US from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.
‘If the Americans think of any plot, the Iranian nation will respond from the Mediterranean, to the Red Sea and to the Indian Ocean,’ said General Yahya Rahim-Safavi.
He said any move against Iran will totally transform the region. ‘The Americans well know we enjoy a brave leadership and powerful Armed Forces.’
A senior Iranian official has said the country’s strategic policy is to reduce tensions but the Islamic Republic will give a crushing response to any aggression.
‘Our policy is based on the creation of peace and sustainable security in the region, and the withdrawal of foreign troops,’ the senior general said.
‘We hope our ultra-regional foes would know Iran is not after aggression and expansionism, and rather seeks peace and sustainable security,’ he added.
- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed the US’ proposed ‘Coalition for Peaceful Resolution’ seeking to ‘counter’ Iran.
Zarif compared the US-backed initiative to a list of eight peace initiatives proposed by Tehran in a tweet on Friday.
Among the list were the Iran’s recently proposed Persian Gulf region non-aggression pact, the 2017 Astana accord for Syria and a 2015 peace plan for Yemen.
‘Coalition for Peaceful Resolution’
Iran’s diplomatic initiatives:
‘85 Security in Persian Gulf
‘97 Dialogue Among Civilisations
‘13 World Against Violence
‘13 Syria Peace Plan
‘14 Regional Dialogue Forum
‘15 Yemen Peace Plan
‘Iran’s military drills
‘17 Astana Process
‘19 Regional Non-Aggression Pact.’
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 20, 2019
Zarif made the tweet a day after Washington said it was seeking to create an anti-Iran coalition. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had described the initiative as a ‘coalition aimed at achieving peace.’
Washington’s so-called ‘coalition’ announcement came in response to an attack led by Yemeni Armed Forces against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities over the weekend.
The attack effectively halved the kingdom’s oil production.
Washington and Riyadh rushed to blame Tehran for the air raids, prompting an outright rejection from Iranian officials.
Tehran dismisses Washington’s claim of involvement in the recent Yemeni drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, saying the accusation is part of a new campaign of deceit.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating western-backed war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Resistance by Yemen’s armed forces, led by Ansarullah, has, however, pushed the Saudi war to a stalemate, with Yemeni forces increasingly using sophisticated home-made weaponry in retaliatory strikes against the coalition.
Earlier on Friday, Zarif also slammed US hypocrisy regarding the war on Yemen, highlighting that Washington effectively valued oil more than the Yemeni lives lost amid the ongoing aggression against the country.
Iran’s top diplomat made the remarks shortly before leaving Tehran to attend to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is also scheduled to go to New York today.
Zarif’s departure comes after a long visa delay for the Iranian delegation had prompted wide speculation regarding possible cancellation of the foreign minister and the president’s trip.
The US-imposed sanctions on the Iranian foreign minister in late July, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming that the top Iranian diplomat is a ‘key enabler’ of Iran’s policies throughout the region and the world.
The move was seen as part of Washington’s campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ against Tehran in a bid to isolate and weaken the country after Trump withdrew from the Iran 2015 nuclear deal May last year, and re-imposed sanctions lifted under the landmark agreement.
Asked about whether Iranian officials would be banned from taking part in the UN General assembly on Wednesday, Pompeo had suggested that Washington may consider the measure.
‘I would say this: If you’re connected to a foreign terrorist organisation, it seems to me it would be a reasonable thing to think about whether they ought to be prevented to attend a meeting which is about peace,’ he said.
Zarif, however, slammed his remarks on Thursday, reminding him that Washington was obligated to issue the visas.
Zarif tweeted: ‘Pompeo tries to dodge US obligations to issue visas for UN delegates by resorting to self-arrogated designations.
‘A history lesson, perhaps, for my novice counterpart.
‘Nelson Mandela was on US Terrorist Watch List until 2008; 15 years after receiving Nobel Peace Prize.’
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 19, 2019
Despite Pompeo’s earlier remarks, President Trump said he would ‘let them come’ when asked about the matter on Thursday, raising speculation that the president was unaware of the visa issue.
‘I’ve always felt the United Nations is very important. I think it’s got tremendous potential. I don’t think it’s ever lived up to the potential it has, but I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come.’
Zarif’s departure on Friday also came shortly after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the international body had intervened to solve the matter.
‘We have been in contact with the host-state to solve all outstanding visa problems in relation to delegations and I hope that this will solve the problem,’ he said.
Trump has repeatedly signalled his apparent willingness to meet with Iranian officials in a bid to ‘renegotiate’ the 2015 nuclear deal, with some analysts floating the idea that a meeting could have taken place in the upcoming UN General Assembly.
Iranian officials have, however, dismissed any prospect of talks as long as the US doesn’t adhere to the previously multilaterally-agreed nuclear deal.
Last Tuesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran will not engage in negotiations with the US ‘at any level,’ and that Washington’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran had failed to achieve its goals.