Amid reports of a possible US strike on Iran-backed Houthis, IRGC’s commander-in-chief taunted Americans on Sunday, claiming that they’d leave the region soon.

“The US and Israel are reliving their bitter experiences,” said Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami. “Did they find victory in their occupation of Afghanistan? Were they able to stay in Iraq after its occupation? They are gradually packing up to leave this land.”

Iranian officials have been increasingly bullish in the past few weeks, banking, it seems, on the Biden administration’s apparent reluctance to confront the regime and its proxies in the Middle East.

Since mid-October, Iran-backed militias have launched 100 attacks on US bases (or interests) in Iraq and Syria, while Yemen’s Houthis –with Iranian drones and missiles– have forced five shipping giants to halt their traffic in the Red Sea, a major artery for global commerce.

The US response has been limited and largely defensive. A few IRGC-affiliated positions in Iraq and Syria have been targeted and some drones have been shot down before hitting commercial vessels or US warships. But the option of striking the Houthis has been crossed out so far by the Biden administration.

Instead, the US is trying to build an expanded maritime force involving Arab and other states to protect commercial shipping at the Red Sea, according to the Guardian.

The joint task force is yet to be announced. Whatever its brief, it’s hard to imagine the Arab states footing the Houthi bill, especially since the group has repeatedly (and starkly) warned against any such move. Even if a coalition is formed, the burden of military operation would fall on the United States and the alliance would remain a defensive force.

“If Saudi Arabia or UAE are part of a US coalition to bomb Yemen then we will destroy their oil and gas fields, ” a Houthi spokesman said to France 24 earlier this month.

Houthis say they would continue their operations as long as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, in which the US government is seen as complicit.

“Muslim nations hold an endless grudge against these criminals and US officials don’t dare visit Islamic lands,” General Salami said, just hours before US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Bahrain for his multi-day tour of the Middle East.

Austin will also visit Qatar and Israel, reportedly to continue discussing a timetable for ending the war’s most intense phase and define milestones for the war with Hamas.

On Monday, the UN security council will vote on a new resolution calling for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities” in Gaza –only days after President Biden warned Israel that it risked losing international support due to its “indiscriminate” bombing and killing of Palestinians.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, which has flattened large parts of the Strip and displaced 85 percent of the population, according to international organizations.

“We will stand with the beloved Palestine to the end,” Salami said Saturday, betraying the fact that the regime in Iran sees the current conflict as a battle in a much longer war, in which the main objective is not military gains but to isolate Israel and raise Hamas’ standing among Palestinians.

And to that end, Salami and his allies can see some success, if not victory.

“Israel will not win this war if its operations destroy the prospect of peaceful co-existence with Palestinians,” David Cameron and Annalena Baerbock, the foreign ministers of the UK and Germany, wrote in the UK’s Sunday Times.

Lending their voice to growing calls for a “sustainable” cease-fire, they said “the sooner it comes, the better. The need is urgent.”

The Israeli government, however, seems to be determined to continue fighting to dismantle Hamas. An Israeli military spokesman said on Monday, “it is important for me to make clear, the IDF [Israel army] is determined to complete the task of dismantling Hamas.

Source » iranintl