National Security

Iran’s Radical Leader Is Livid That Trump Is Pushing Back On His Country

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condemned President Donald Trump’s plan to push back on his country’s growing interference in the Middle East on Sunday, claiming it would be a failure.

Khamenei’s comments followed Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in late May, during which time the U.S. president claimed Iran was supporting militant groups. Trump’s statements came two days after Iran’s presidential election, which saw the so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani win reelection. The president signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia in an effort to counter Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East.

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“The U.S. president stands alongside the leaders of a tribal and backward system and does the sword dance, but criticizes an Iranian election with 40 million votes,” said Khamenei in a speech featured on state-run television, according to Reuters. “Even with a multi-billion dollar bribe to America, the Saudis cannot achieve their goals in the region.”

Khamenei pointed to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, saying the U.S. has ignored the deaths of civilians in the area. Saudi Arabia is currently leading an Arab coalition fighting the Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemen. The war-torn country is one of many in which the Iranians are attempting to increase their influence. Syria and Iraq have been two primary targets for Iranian leaders in recent years.

As supreme leader, Khamenei has the final say in Iranian governance. The supreme leader and his “hard-line” faction tends to be much more radical compared to the rest of the Iranian government and wields tremendous influence in the country’s military and economy. Their dominant status effectively marginalizes true reformers.

Trump entered the presidency promising to push back on Iran and to destroy the nuclear agreement it reached with the international community under former President Barack Obama in 2015. Trump has since abandoned that promise for now, but he has increased sanctions on Iran’s growing ballistic missile arsenal.

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