Huge crowds in Iran for the commander's funeral, his daughter warns us about the dark day
DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Tens of thousands of Iranians invaded the streets of Tehran on Monday for the funeral of the Quds Force commander, Qassim Suleimani, who died in an American air attack last week and his daughter said his death would bring a dark day for the United States.
Crazy Trump, don't think it all ended with my father's martyrdom, Zeinab Suleimani said in his speech on state television after U.S. President Donald ordered the Friday attack that killed the Iranian general.
Iran has promised to avenge the assassination of Qassim Suleimani, the architect of Iran's impulse to spread its influence throughout the region and a national hero among many Iranians, including many who did not consider themselves devout supporters of the clerical rulers of the Islamic Republic .
The scale of the crowds in Tehran shown on television reflected the masses that gathered in 1989 for the funeral of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In response to Iran's warnings, Trump has threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites, including cultural objectives, if Tehran attacks Americans or US assets, deepening a crisis that has raised fears of a great conflagration in the Middle East.
Iranian General's coffins and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who also died in Friday's attack on Baghdad airport, passed through the heads of the mourners in mass in downtown Tehran, many of them Singing Death to America.
One of the main regional objectives of the Islamic Republic, namely to expel US forces from neighboring Iraq, took a step on Sunday when the Iraqi parliament backed a recommendation from the prime minister to order the departure of all foreign troops .
Despite the internal and external difficulties we might face, it is still the best for Iraq in principle and practically, said Iraqi provisional prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November amid anti-government protests.
The rival Shia leaders of Iraq, including those who oppose Iranian influence, have joined since Friday's attack to call for the expulsion of US troops.
Esmail Qaani, the new head of the Quds Force, the unit of the Revolutionary Guard in charge of overseas activities, said Iran would continue on the path of Suleimani and said that the only compensation for us would be to eliminate the United States from the region .
ALLIES IN FUNERAL
Prayers at Suleimani's funeral in Tehran, which will then be moved to his hometown of Kerman, in the south of the country, were addressed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Suleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran behind Khamenei.
The funeral was attended by some of Iran's allies in the region, including Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, who said: I declare that the martyr commander Suleimani is a martyr from Jerusalem.
In addition to the tensions, Iran said it was taking a step back from the commitments under a 2015 nuclear agreement with six major powers, a pact from which the United States withdrew in 2018.
Since then, Washington has imposed severe sanctions on Iran, describing its policy as maximum pressure and saying it wanted to reduce Iranian oil exports, the main source of government revenue, to zero.
Speaking to reporters aboard the Air Force One on the way to Washington from Florida on Sunday, Trump kept his comments to include cultural sites in his list of possible targets, despite criticism from American politicians.
They are allowed to kill our people. They are allowed to torture and maim our people. They are allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we are not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It's not like that? It doesn't work that way, Trump said.
Democratic critics of the Republican president have said Trump was reckless in authorizing the strike, and some said his comments about attacking cultural sites amounted to threats of committing war crimes. Many asked why Soleimani, long seen as a threat by US authorities, had to be killed now.
Republicans in the United States Congress in general have backed Trump's decision.
Trump also threatened sanctions against Iraq and said that if US troops were required to leave the country, the Iraqi government would have to pay Washington for the cost of an extraordinarily expensive air base there.
He said that if Iraq asks US forces to leave in a hostile way, we will impose sanctions on them as they had never seen before. It will make Iranian sanctions seem a bit tame.