Hajizadeh: If Israel attacks Iran, it will be Destroyed

On Sunday, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Force gave a speech about Iran’s ballistic missile capability. At the very end of it, he said that if Israel attacked Iran (as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have repeatedly threatened to do), Iran would retaliate by destroying Israel.

The Irish Times has a good article on the speech.

Since Israel has 400 nuclear warheads, and Iran has none, this bravado is not, to say the least, justified.

The Brigadier General continued:

“Hajizadeh explained that if the Zionist regime attacks Iran, it will be destroyed. He said, “If those people make a move, it will hand us a justification to wipe them off the face of the earth.”

وی ادامه داد: این رژیم اگر بخواهد به ایران حمله كند باید مشاركت آمریكا را جلب كند اما با توجه به این كه پایگاههای آمریكا در منطقه زیر برد موشكها و سلاحهای ما هست قطعا زیر بار همكاری با این رژیم نمی رود.

فرمانده هوا فضای سپاه پاسداران خاطرنشان كرد: مقامات آمریكایی نیز بارها به رژیم صهیونیستی در این خصوص تذكر داده اند.

سردار حاجی زاده با بیان این كه اگر رژیم صهیونیستی به ایران حمله كند نابود خواهد شد، گفت: اگر آنها حركتی كنند، بهانه ای به دست ما می دهند تا آنها را از روی كره زمین محو كنیم.

First of all this is not a threat to commit an act of aggression. Iran has a ‘no first strike’ policy, repeatedly reaffirmed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Brig. Gen. Hajizadeh is threatening to retaliate with everything he has if Iran is itself the victim of a naked act of aggression.

In 2006 I got involved in a controversy over the translation of a phrase in a speech by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as quoted by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. The quote was, “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time”, which Ahmadinejad misquoted as “from the page of time.”

The wire services had earlier translated Khomeini’s phrase as “Israel must be wiped off the face of the map,” and this version was revived when Ahmadinejad quoted it in 2005. I simply pointed out that the translation was inexact and that Khomeini and Ahmadinejad had not put it as a threat of aggression but rather a wish. It isn’t a nice wish, but it isn’t Hitler threatening to roll tanks on Poland, which is what the wire service version implies. The verb vanish in this sentence is mahv shavad, which in Persian is intransitive. Shodan does not take an object. To “wipe out” would be mahv kardan, which is transitive.

Hajizadeh’s phrase is very different from Khomeini’s. He really does use “mahv kardan,” to “wipe out” with the transitive helping verb. And he actually mentions the words, “face” and “earth” in Persian.

Far from this speech disproving my earlier point, it confirms it. This is what a threat to wipe Israel off the face of the earth would look like. What Khomeini and Ahmadinejad said wasn’t a threat, it was a wish (a nasty wish, but a wish).

That Hajizadeh is using harsh language in response to Israeli harsh language is not exactly surprising,. But he is not talking about aggression, rather about a reply to an attack on his country. The UN Charter recognizes the right of self-defense when a country is attacked.

Since we now know that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told George W. Bush that if Iraq hit Israel with SCUDs, Israel would ‘escalate,’ i.e. nuke Baghdad, it is difficult to see what the difference is between that sort of talk and what Hajizadeh said, except that Sharon really did have nukes, and Iran does not.

Moreover, while Iran is not threatening to attack (i.e. launch a first strike against) Israel, Israel is daily threatening to attack Iran (i.e. launch a first strike against Iran). Actually Netanyahu in threatening a unilateral act of unprovoked aggression against Iran is violating the UN Charter, which forbids member states to menace one another with aggression. Hajizadeh’s statement is not nearly as bad, since he is only talking about retaliation. But what he said is highly objectionable from another point of view, insofar as it involves a disproportionate response.

Hajizadeh is not the commander in chief of the armed forces. That is Khamenei, who has pledged ‘no first strike.’ This bit of bluster doesn’t amount to anything.

The USG Open Source Center translates a different article on Hajizadeh’s speech, which does not include the language about Israel:

Iran: Guards Corps To Hold Exercise Using New Missiles
Mehr News Agency
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force is to start on Monday (2 July) three-day drills called Great Prophet, involving surface to surface missiles. Bases in the middle of a desert similar to extra-regional air bases will be used as targets during the drills.

According to a Mehr reporter, speaking about the great aerospace professional exercise at his news conference held today, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Force, said: In the sacred name of the Great Prophet, the IRGC’s surface to surface missile aerospace exercise will be held from Monday (2 July) for three days.

Brigadier General Hajizadeh added: During this exercise, long-range, medium-range, and short-range missiles will be used to strike 100 predetermined targets from various parts of the country.

He said: The major difference of this exercise with other IRGC exercises is setting up bases similar to the extra-regional air bases in the middle of desert. After shooting on the bases, experts will be able to measure the accuracy and effectiveness of warheads and evaluate the systems under the created conditions.

The commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force talked about the IRGC’s new achievements such as the Qyam missile and said: This missile is being produced on a massive scale and handed over to different units to be used in this exercise.

Brigadier General Hajizadeh mentioned the Khalij-e Fars missile and said: This missile is anti-floating and work on it has been completed. It is being produced at the Ministry of Defense.

He said: In this exercise, targets in the Semnan Desert will be aimed from various parts of the country, even from Sistan-Baluchestan Province.

(Description of Source: Tehran Mehr News Agency in Persian — conservative news agency; run by the Islamic Propagation Office, which is affiliated with the conservative Qom seminary; www.mehrnews.com)

19 Responses

  1. If Mr X came up to Mr Y and said “I fervently hope that you vanish off the face of the earth, but don’t worry, I won’t draw my gun first”, I don’t think anyone would expect Mr Y to simply shrug this off. It sounds pretty hostile.

    • Because the Israeli leadership hasn’t said they wish the Islamic Republic would vanish

    • If Mr. Y has stuffed his basement full of enough mortar shells to blow up every house in the neighborhood many times over, including Mr. X’s, and then lied about it repeatedly, Mr. X has a right to wish Mr. Y would go away.

  2. Or, to look at the predictable reactions from the powers that be, Iran’s voicing a right to self-defense will be painted as an Existential Threat: “See! There they go again: no secret what these people are up to!”

    Kind of like Iran’s “threat” to deploy an effective air defense system with those Russian S-300 missiles. (Sale delayed under pressure from guess who?)

    You realize, of course, this is all being quite successfully sold?

  3. “…..except that Sharon really did have nukes, and Iran does not….”

    Don’t be naive. Nukes are bought and sold commodity, don’t think for a moment that $100,000,000 million dollar will for sure be turned down by the store keepers.

    Do you think a country as cash flush as Iran, will permit a peanut sized hostile country nuke it and not get it back in kind.

  4. Hajizadeh’s threat (aside from, as you point out, being an empty one in the absence of nuclear capacity in the face of Israel’s incredible arsenal of weapons of mass destruction)is hardly different from other countries’ threats of “massive retaliation” against aggressors. This “MAD” policy constituted the essence of US and Soviet nuclear defense during the cold war. While such statements lend themselves to the service of anti-Iranian propaganda, it is not particularly surprising that Tehran would think in the same terms as Washington, Moscow, or – for that Matter – Tel Aviv.

  5. The view throughout the Middle East is that Israel is not a legitimate state but a colonial implant created through the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians and supported by the West. This is a legitimate view and it is shared throughout the Middle East, not only Iran.

    In order to change this view, the West must force a true reconciliation (not a “peace/bantustan process”) that will try to address the injustices of the past, including Palestinian refugees. That’s the only way to remove Middle Eastern hostility towards Israel – not by using it as an imperialist proxies to “put down” the “natives” in this form of neo-colonialism.

  6. And in the meantime, the Iranian regime continues to orchestrate terror attacks – much as it did in Argentina – against Jewish & Israeli targets. The latest evidence supplied in this AP story out of Kenya regarding the two Iranian operatives now in custody after they were apprehended.

    It’s a rough regime and now that they feel trapped, the west ought to keep up its guard.

    link to haaretz.com

    • Yeah… them Parsees be a rough regime, aye … the west better keep up its guard… and heaven forbid one might point out the kind of stuff that appears in the Israeli press every day, these days — sonorously reminiscent of the run-up to Iraqagainistan. Like link to haaretz.com, “A double-barrelled solution to Iran,” per an Israeli political scientist: “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” and try to sucker the other neighbors into making peace with Israel, all on the same weekend.

      You presumably know enough about “the west” to not really be even a tiny bit worried about “it” keeping up “its” guard. But it is so satisfying to “talk tough,” like real Great Game players, isn’t it? And who gives a rip if every iteration and re-re-re-interation of the “it’s a jungle out there, and winners never sleep” theme gets us that little bit closer to the Great End Game.

  7. “…this bravado is not justified”

    If Israel attacks Iran, there will be thousands of missiles from Iran, Lebanon and probably Syria directed at the cities as well as the infrastructure causing massive destruction and loss of lives – bravado??

    • Unless Israel begins to work toward peace the forces against it will focus their energies on growing stronger. Only theoretically is there no motion in one direction of the other.

      During the last big rocket and missile barrages, mostly from Lebanon, most were small, practically unguided (pointed in the direction of a city, running out of fuel and dropping), and had warheads hardly larger than a hand grenade, hardly catastrophic assuming they did explode and it was in some place other than a field. They causing far more casualties indirectly than directly, through car crashes and heart attacks as people panicked at the sound of end of the world air raid sirens: An honest use of the tactic and the word Terrorism.

      It’s the missiles than WILL eventually come, regardless of what they do if they stay with their current course, that Israel really needs to recognize and worry about. Security through intimidation is not security. The combination of cost decreases and weapon effectiveness increases will not be something they can defeat forever. Forever is just a bit too long to be an effective planning horizon. Unless, of course, Israel figures their opponents are too feckless and inhuman to harbor a grudge and can be waited out for thousands of years: it whatever time frame you specify, a very, very poor bet.

  8. The real threat to Israel is its demographics and Iran can make it so that most Israelis would prefer to live somewhere else.

    “We will not let ourselves be distracted and lose our way just because a thief has thrown a stone at our house and run away” – Ayatollah Khomeini

    The Iranian response is likely to be more subtle but effective in the long term.

  9. So much hand-wringing over the maybe-possibly Iranian nuclear weapons as a response to incessant Israeli threats against their country. One wonders why the Iranians do not set to work on some really nasty chemical and biological weapons than could be delivered with less complex technology yet render contemporary Israel a wretchedly unpleasant place to live. And as a plus they could be a lot easier to deliver to the US as well.

    Far from advocating this I think it is long-overdue that the US take a really hard look at the dangers Israeli aggressiveness toward Iran creates for this country. Everyone can feel quite macho letting computer viruses loose in Iranian nuclear facilities. When the Iranians shut down air traffic control in the USA we will be singing a different song. And if that song is “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” how will we feel with massive plague outbreaks in a half-dozen American cities?

    • Really. The barriers to deploying truly devastating technolgies are dropping and will be even more effective against the vulnerabilities of the West. The only real security for the West will come from relationships based oh fairness, equity and respect.

  10. Russia today is reporting that the Iranian Parliment is considering a bill that would attempt to close the straits of Hormuz to ships going to ports in countiries refusing to buy Iranian oil.
    It seems to me that disscusion of such a bill is insane.
    This proposed bill could also easily be seen as a decleration of war. If it were to pass the powers that be in the US would not have much difficulty convincing the American people that it is only a matter of time, perhaps days, before Iran begins to implement such a policy. If the US leadership then ordered an attack on Iran international support support for Iran would be greatly reduced. The passage of this bill would suggest that the Iranian leadership wants war just as much as the US leadership. Even discussions of such a policy could be seen to indicate that there are powerful supporters of war inside Iran.

    • What if the Iranians have come to the conclusion that there is nothing they can do to prevent a US/Israel attack and it is now only a matter of time before it happens and they should plan on making the attack as painful as possible for the US/Israel?

      This might not be a declaration of war on the US, but an acknowledgment that the US/Israel have already secretly declared war on Iran.

      It is important for Americans to remember that Iran has been preparing for US attack for over 30 years, especially after the US gave Iraq billions of dollars of WMD support during the Iraq war on Iran and then the US later invaded Iraq.

      At this point in time, Iran is pretty much just waiting for the attack so they can punish the US/Israel to the maximum amount (and Americans will quickly discover to their utter despair just how stupid they have been and how their lives will be much worse for generations because of their foolish actions).

    • Yeah, that’s one way to look at it.

      On the other hand, there’s a virtual plethora of “powerful supporters of war” in both Greater and Lesser Israel. All the contingency plans and attack routes and target lists are in place, all the forward deployment has already been done, and OUR crop of “western warmongers” is pounding the drums and sending out the emissaries to Congress and “our allies,” some of whom seem just a little bit leery of getting sucked into another set of doomed, losing, asymmetric, trillion-dollar, dinosaurian “It’s MY oil” exercises, with dissolution of the “West” as the likely endpoint.

      In the emergency room, the doctors, with their finely honed skills, concentrate on the patient’s right arm, shattered in a motorcycle wreck. Some dumb orderly or nurse points out that there’s a gallon or two of blood on the floor, bled out of a little slit next to the shoulder blade, and that there hasn’t been a palpable pulse in a couple of minutes. Looking up from the neat, highly skilled re-build of the arm bones, one trauma ortho surgeon looks around the table and says, “Who’s gonna call it?” The vascular specialist and the neurosurgeon flip a trochar, and the losing neuro guy says “Ok, time of death, 11:11.”

      Stupid humans.

  11. Iranian leaders have really screwed up. Had a tanker or even a warship been attacked in the Persian Gulf or near the Gulf and been blamed by the western MSM on Iran a huge number of Americans would have believed that it was a false flag operation. Now that the Iranian Parliment is actually discussing attacking ships in the area it will be taken by granted by all but a few people that it really was Iran which attacked the ships, yours truely included?
    In the war that follows Iran will try to make it about US hegomony and the US will try to make it about freedom of travel in International waterways. Iran can not win such a debate because the US position will simply be, We are the world’s ruler so what? Is it not clear that our rule which protects freedom of the high seas and the international trade which goes with it and the worlds economy which goes with that a better deal than you would get from any realistically possible alternative? Iran will bot get much support with their slogans. The future looks bleak for evwryone except US Arms Manufactures and Harry Mulisch, Alfred Hitchcock, John Lenon, and other dead people.

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