Iran airs chilling fake propaganda video showing a missile blowing up the US Capitol as Republicans tell Biden not to surrender by lifting sanctions
- Iran on Sunday aired horrifying propaganda video on state-run television
- It depicted the United States Capitol being blown up by an Iranian missile
- Video by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards also depicts ‘liberation of Jerusalem’
- Clip aired as reports indicate US, Iran nearing resumption of nuclear deal
- US, UK deny reports they agreed to pay cash in exchange for release of hostages
- Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, demanded Biden keep sanctions in place
The Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) broadcast the video on Iranian state-run television on Sunday before a televised speech to the nation by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The video shows armed IRGC troops marching in formation. In the next image, a missile is seen being launched at an undisclosed location.
The next frame shows the US Capitol being blown to bits. Moments later, Iranian clerics are seen walking toward Jerusalem, the holy city at the crux of the Israel-Palestine dispute.
According to Kasra Aarabi, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute, the video includes a nationalistic song playing in the background.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards released a chilling propaganda video which depicts the United States Capitol being blown up
The Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) broadcast the video on Iranian state-run television on Sunday before a televised speech to the nation by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The video shows armed IRGC troops marching in formation
In the next image, a missile is seen being launched at an undisclosed location
Moments later, Iranian clerics are seen walking toward Jerusalem, the holy city at the crux of the Israel-Palestine dispute
Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, reacted to the video by demanding that the Biden administration resist Iranian calls to lift sanctions put in place by the Trump administration
The lyrics to the song describe the Capitol as a ‘palace of oppression’ which was ‘destroyed by the Alavi (Imam Ali’s) IRGC, and the good news of the liberation of Quds (Jerusalem) arrives from Iran.’
Imam Ali is considered a central figure of Shi’ite Islam. Shi’ites view Ali as the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad while Sunnis consider him as fourth in line, prompting the Sunni-Shi’ite split within Islam.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has been a sworn enemy of Israel, which was created after the Zionist movement prevailed over the Palestinian Arab population as British rule over Mandatory Palestine was coming to an end.
Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, reacted to the video by demanding that the Biden administration resist Iranian calls to lift sanctions put in place by the Trump administration.
The propaganda video was released as reports indicate the United States and Iran may be moving closer to an agreement on resuming the 2015 nuclear deal. President Joe Biden is seen left. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen right
In leaked audio, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he had ‘zero’ influence over Iran’s foreign policy. He said the elite Revolutionary Guards had more influence in foreign affairs and Tehran’s nuclear dossier than him
‘Last week, Iran’s chief diplomat allegedly admitted the IRGC calls the shots in Tehran,’ the senator tweeted.
‘Now, Iran releases a fake video of the IRGC blowing up our Capitol.
‘The Biden admin’s priority should be ensuring Iran cannot carry out such an attack, not capitulating by removing sanctions.’
After the video aired, Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday criticized the country’s foreign minister, who said in a leaked interview that the elite Revolutionary Guards had more influence in foreign affairs and Tehran’s nuclear dossier than him.
In the interview, aired by the London-based Iran International Persian-language satellite news channel last week, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he had ‘zero’ influence over Iran’s foreign policy.
In that same leaked audio, Zarif revealed that he was told by former Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel conducted strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
That revelation prompted Republicans to demand that Kerry resign as Biden’s climate envoy. Kerry denied revealing any sensitive information about Israeli military operations.
Zarif has been the public face of Iranian diplomacy as it deals with a host of issues, including talks with world powers on how to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord that Washington abandoned three years ago.
A flurry of diplomatic contacts and reports of major progress suggest that indirect talks between the United States and Iran may be nearing an agreement.
That’s despite efforts by US officials to play down chances of an imminent deal that would bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
With the negotiations in Vienna on hiatus, the US and Britain on Monday denied Iranian reports that any agreement was at hand with Iran for a swap of American and British prisoners.
Such an exchange could be a confidence-building measure to revive the nuclear deal.
Zarif describes former Secretary of State John Kerry telling him that Israel launched 200 attacks on Iranian forces in Syria in comments picked up in a leaked recording. Zarif (left) and Kerry (right) are seen above in New York in this 2016 file photo
A US return to the deal would be the biggest and most controversial foreign policy initiative in the early months of Joe Biden’s presidency.
It would revive a deal that top Biden aides put together during their years in the Obama administration, only to see then-President Donald Trump pull out and try to prevent the US from ever returning.
Rejoining it – and making the concessions required to do so – would enrage Republicans and likely unsettle Israel and Gulf Arab allies.
Even as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab rejected the prisoner swap reports at a news conference Monday in London, senior American diplomats were in the Middle East meeting Gulf Arab leaders.
And two of the nuclear deal’s biggest proponents in Congress – Democratic Senators Chris Coons and Chris Murphy – were touring the region.
Those discussions follow a week of top-level meetings in Washington between Biden; his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan; Blinken; his deputy, Wendy Sherman; special Iran envoy Rob Malley; and others with the head of Israel’s spy agency and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top national security aide.
Top Republicans on Tuesday urged the Biden administration to play hardball with Iran.
‘Freeing American hostages in Iran should continue to be a top priority for the US government, but the administration must not pay ransom in any form,’ Senator Tom Cotton tweeted on Tuesday.
‘That would only beget further hostage-taking by the terrorist Iranian regime.’
Relations between pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani’s government and the Guards are important because the influence of the hardline force can disrupt any rapprochement with the West.
Khamenei, speaking in a televised speech, did not call Zarif out by name but said of his comments: ‘This was a big mistake that must not be made by an official of the Islamic Republic.’
HOW US TENSIONS WITH IRAN HAVE ESCALATED
An American drone strike on Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020 killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force and one of the country’s most powerful men, and brought Washington and Tehran to the brink of all-out war.
While the strike marked a sudden and violent escalation of tensions between the two countries, trouble has been brewing since early 2018 – when former US president Donald Trump tore up the nuclear deal signed under Obama.
Here is the series of events that left the Middle East teetering on a knife-edge:
May 9: Donald Trump announces that the US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, calling it ‘defective at its core’, and says strict new sanctions will be imposed on Tehran
May 21: The US issues a list of 12 demands that it says Iran must comply with – including the complete abandonment of its nuclear energy program – or else face sanctions. The list is rejected by Tehran
Donald Trump signs an executive order reimposing sanctions on Iran and effectively tearing up the nuclear deal signed by Obama
August 7: America imposes the first round of sanctions, including cancelling a multi-billion dollar deal for Boeing aircraft and banning the sale of gold to Tehran
November 5: Second round of sanctions announced, this time against Iranian oil exports – Tehran’s primary source of income – and cutting off access to banking markets
April 8: Donald Trump designates the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s domestic military force, a ‘terrorist group’, imposing travel bans and economic sanctions against its leaders
May 5: National Security Adviser John Bolton announces a Carrier Strike Group and Air Force bombers are being deployed to the region to combat ‘a number of troubling and escalatory indications’
May 8: On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Trump tearing up the deal, Iran says it will stop complying by increasing it stockpiles of Uranium and enriching to near weapons-grade levels
May 12: Four oil tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia, Norway and the UAE are hit by explosions near Fujairah in an attack that America blamed on Tehran
An oil tanker burns in the Strait of Hormuz – one of two belonging to Japan and Norway that were attacked on June 13
June 13: Two more tankers, this time belonging to Norway and Japan, are rocked by explosions which Washington again attributes to the Iranian regime
June 19: A US Navy drone is shot down by Iranian anti-aircraft missiles over the Strait of Hormuz, prompting Trump to order and then rapidly cancel airstrikes against Iranian targets
July 4: British Marines seize the Grace 1, an Iranian oil tanker which they said was bound for Syria, off the coast of Gibraltar as it sailed into the Mediterranean
July 10: British Heritage tanker is harassed by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, but they are driven back by a Royal Navy warship
July 20: British-flagged tanker Stena Impero is seized by the IRGC and towed to Bandar Abbas, where it is kept under armed guard by gunboats
August 15: Britain agrees to release the Iranian tanker after seeking assurances that it will not head to Syria
September 14: Drones and cruise missiles are used to attack a Saudi oil field at Khurais and the country’s largest refinery at Abqaiq, knocking out a third of the world’s oil supply. The US and Saudis blame Iran, which denies responsibility
September 27: Iran releases the Stena Impero and its crew
Smoke is seen billowing from Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refinery at Abqaiq, after and attack that Riyadh blamed on Iran
October 11: Iranian oil tanker sailing off the coast of Jeddah is rocked by two explosions which Iran says were caused by guided missiles fired by Saudi Arabia
December 27: An American military contractor is killed in a rocket attack near the city of Kirkuk, Iraq, in an attack which Washington blames on Iran
December 29: America launches retaliatory strikes against Kataeb Hezbollah, part of pro-Iran People Mobilization Forces in Iraq, killing 25 people
December 31: American embassy in Baghdad is attacked by PMF forces led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who is pictured among camouflage-clad protesters outside
January 3: Qassem Soleimani arrives in Baghdad airport on a jet from either Lebanon or Syria, is hit by missiles fired from an American Reaper drone and killed. Muhandis is also killed, along with Mohammed Ridha Jabri, a senior PMF figure
The burning wreckage of a car believed to have been carrying General Soleimani at Baghdad airport after being hit by a US drone
Pictured: Officials stand near the wreckage after an Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 carrying 176 people crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, killing everyone on board; in Shahriar, Iran, 08 January 2020
January 8: Iraq’s Al Asad Airbase, which hosts U.S.-led coalition troops, was attacked with ballistic missiles as a part of Iran’s ‘Operation Martyr Soleimani’, named for general Qasem Soleimani. It was also reported that the airbase in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan was attacked as well.
Hours after the attack, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed just after taking off from Tehran International Airport, killing all 176 passengers and crew, including 82 Iranian and 63 Canadian citizens.
March: More rocket strikes in Iraq. One strike kills two Americans – a soldier and a contractor – and a British soldier.
April: Revolutionary Guards chief Hossein Salami says he has ordered Tehran’s naval forces to destroy any US warships that threaten the ‘security’ of Iranian vessels, after Trump said he had told the US Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea.
October: US threatened to close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks stopped.
December: Spray of rockets are launched at the US embassy. Trump vows that if one American is killed he will launch a massive bombing campaign.
January 4: Iran seizes a South Korean-flagged tanker in the Gulf, the first such seizure in more than a year. Iran cited ‘environmental reasons’ and demanded money for its damage to the environment.
January 22: Iran’s supreme leader appeared to threaten Trump with revenge on Twitter, before the social media platform suspended the ad-hoc account.
February 15: Rocket fire targeted Erbil Airbase in Iraqi Kurdistan; one US-led coalition civilian contractor was killed and eight others, including a US soldier, were wounded in the attack.
February 26: U.S. President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah facilities in the town of Abu Kamal, Syria in retaliation for a recent rocket strike in Erbil.
The attack left casualties among Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, with the dead ranging from 1 to 17 or as high as 22 militants, with varying reports.
‘Nowhere in the world the foreign ministry determines foreign policy. There are higher ranking officials that make the decisions and policies. Of course, the foreign ministry is also involved.’
In an Instagram post after Khamenei’s speech, Zarif apologized for comments that had ‘annoyed’ the country’s top authority, who has the last say on all state matters.
Iran has imposed travel bans on 15 people for alleged involvement in the leaked audio recording, which authorities have said it was produced for state records rather than for publication.
Using language rarely heard in politics in Iran, Zarif in the interview complained about the extent of influence of the late leader of the Guards’ clandestine overseas Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, had over foreign policy, hinting that Soleimani tried to spoil the 2015 nuclear deal by colluding with Russia.
Soleimani was a pivotal figure who built up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. He was killed in a US drone attack in Iraq last year.
‘The Quds Force has been able to put into action the independent policy of the Islamic Republic in the region, which is based on honor,’ Khamenei said.
Although Zarif has repeatedly said he has no intention of running in a presidential election next month, his name has been suggested by moderates as a possible candidate for the election.
Several prominent Guards commanders are also running for the top executive post.
Some critics said Zarif’s comments in the tape were aimed at attracting votes from Iranians disillusioned by a stalled economy and lack of political and social freedoms.