DUBAI (Reuters) – The successor to the Iranian commander killed in a U.S. drone strike would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path by killing Americans, the U.S. special representative for Iran said, according to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
Washington blamed Qassem Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against U.S. forces in the region. President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike in Iraq after an escalation that began in December with missile strikes that killed an American contractor, which Washington blamed on an Iran-aligned militia in Iraq.
Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani by launching missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq on Jan. 8, although no U.S. soldiers were killed.
After Soleimani’s death, Tehran swiftly appointed Esmail Ghaani as the new head of the Quds Force, an elite unit in the Revolutionary Guards that handles actions abroad. Ghaani has pledged to pursue Soleimani’s course.
“If [Esmail] Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” U.S. envoy Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat.
He said in the interview in Davos that Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.”
“This isn’t a new threat. The president has always said that he will always respond decisively to protect American interests,” Hook said. “I think the Iranian regime understands now that they cannot attack America and get away with it.”
After his appointment, Ghaani said he would “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani and said the goal was to drive U.S. forces out of the region, Iran‘s long stated policy.