The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) Navy the Iranian people that the United States would not dare to take military action against Iran despite the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric lately. “For more than three decades since the [1979 Islamic] Revolution, the hostility of the enemy led by America has only been increasing day by day, but they don’t have the courage to take action against us,” Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said on a television talk show. He said the I.R.G.C. is now the second strongest power in the region, and that the U.S. naval forces are no longer considered “an uncontested power in the sea.” 

The commander also criticized the Rouhani administration for not relying on the country’s military and deterrence power. “The negotiators should understand our power and the enemies’ weaknesses,” he emphasized, adding that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on several occasions instructed him to inform government officials of Iran’s latest progress in the military field. “Officials can bring the shadow of war on the country if they act passively and humiliate the country’s deterrence power,” he stressed – warning government officials against giving Iran’s enemies the confidence that the country cannot protect itself or retaliate. 

Comment: The I.R.G.C. general’s remark was directed at President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking a second term in the May 19 elections. Rouhani has been trying to convince the Iranian voters that the landmark nuclear deal he signed with the United States and five other world powers in 2015 has reduced the possibility of a military attack against Iran. He is also telling voters that continued engagement with the West would benefit Iran economically as it would further open up Iran to foreign investment.

But the president’s hardline rivals are saying that despite Rouhani’s nuclear deal, international banks and companies are still reluctant to do business with Iran because of remaining non-nuclear sanctions. They also reject Rouhani’s argument that the nuclear accord has defused tension with Washington – citing the Trump administration’s tougher policies vis-à-vis Tehran.

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also rejected Rouhani’s claim that his administration’s engagement with the West has removed the “shadow of war” over Iran. “Sometimes we hear and have heard in the past that certain individuals say, ‘when we came along and assumed responsibility, we managed to take away the shadow of war over the country,’” Khamenei at an event marking the International Workers’ Day. “No. These statements are not right. It is the presence of the people that has removed the shadow of war, and not the authorities,” he stressed. “When you see that the impertinent and bull-necked enemies are refraining from taking any harsh action against the Islamic Republic, it is because of the presence of the people. They fear the people. They are literally afraid.”