The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force has vowed to continue to “lead” militias across the region as nuclear talks stalled over a U.S. designation of terrorists.
Brigadier General Esmail Ghani spoke strongly to supporters in Tehran on Thursday, saying his Quds Force would continue to support any anti-American and anti-Israel movement in the world.
“this. . .[US]Zionists should know that this path is our only path,” Ghani said at a ceremony attended by the top commander of the Guard, which also received little access to foreign media.
“Islamic Revolution [of Iran] He knows how to lead young, motivated Muslims to defend themselves,” he said, adding that all Islamic militias would “undoubtedly” be supported by Iran.
The United States has designated the Quds Force as a terrorist organization since 2007, and further added the entire Revolutionary Guard to its list in 2019. The expeditionary force is the foundation of Iran’s ideology and security strategy to prevent the United States from expanding its presence in the Middle East.
The Islamic republic has built a network of proxies across the region with unprecedented influence, stretching from the Gulf to the Mediterranean, particularly in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine.
The U.S. and its regional allies have accused Tehran of supporting armed groups to incite instability and conflict. Former US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic commander of the Quds Force, in Baghdad in 2020. Ghani succeeded Soleimani.
Diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have stalled after Iran demanded that the guard and its Quds Force be removed from the terrorist list before withdrawing its nuclear progress, analysts said.
Ghani’s speech came a day after the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet announced that it would create a new multinational task force focused on combating arms smuggling, drug and human trafficking in critical waters around the Red Sea, the Gulf of Mander and the Gulf of Aden. Yemen.
For two decades, the U.S. Navy has led a multinational maritime task force in the region. But Commander Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, told the Financial Times that the US was “restructuring the multinational partnership to bring greater focus and alignment between partner navies”.
The task force will be used to “detect, deter and disrupt destabilizing activities,” he said.
The creation of the task force comes after the United Arab Emirates pressured the United States to strengthen and institutionalize security cooperation to counter threats from the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen.
Relations between the UAE and the US were angered by the tepid response of the UAE leadership to a series of missile and drone strikes by Washington on the Gulf capital Abu Dhabi in January and February. Saudi Arabia has also been seeking more U.S. support to counter the Houthis, which routinely fire missiles and drones at the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been fighting the Houthis since Riyadh formed the Arab League in 2015, which intervened in Yemen’s civil war after the rebels overthrew the government. Gulf states and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with missile and drone technology, as well as advising and training the insurgents.
Ghani said the Houthis were building missiles with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, which he called the “new kid” of the Islamic Republic. “In the basement under bombardment, they are building their own missiles,” he said.