Iran’s supreme leader calls Trump, Pompeo ‘clowns’ during Friday sermon
Tehran (dpa) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called US President Donald Trump a “clown” as he delivered a rare sermon during Friday prayers in Tehran.
Khamenei’s remarks at the prayers – which he led for the first time in eight years – comes as the Islamic Republic finds itself in the military cross-hairs of Washington and on the defensive over the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet by a surface-to-air missile.
The top leader, who has a final say on all strategic matters under Iran’s constitution, described Trump’s order to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike as a “cowardly act of terrorism.”
He then praised the Revolutionary Guard’s attack on US forces at two Iraqi military bases in retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination.
No US soldiers were killed in the January 8 strikes, but US Central Command acknowledged on Thursday that several were treated for symptoms of concussion.
“Even more important than the courageous military strikes that night was the resulting damage to the image of the United States,” Khamenei said in the sermon that aired live on multiple TV channels.
He described Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “clowns” who claim to be on the side of the Iranian people.
“They are lying, because in reality they would stab a poisonous dagger in the back of Iranians,” he said.
Khamenei said recent anti-government protests in Iran, which Trump and Pompeo have expressed support for, will not change the country’s political course.
“The Iranian people love and want resistance to the world powers and no capitulation, even 41 years after the revolution,” he said, adding that the Iranians who took to the streets demanding the resignation of senior leaders had been victims of deception by foreign media.
Anger about the Ukrainian jet’s downing, which killed 176 people, and the perceived cover-up have fueled another round of anti-government protests, which last flared up in November because of a hike in fuel costs.
Iran has disputed accusations that it tried to conceal the facts of the downing.
Khamenei said those demonstrations, which he characterized as relatively small, would not change the opinion of the vast majority of Iranians.
According to Iranian media, tens of thousands of people attended the Friday prayers in Tehran. Many reportedly chanted slogans such as “death to America.”
The supreme leader also mentioned the announcement this week by Germany, France and Britain that they were triggering a dispute resolution mechanism under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
He said the trio had shown themselves to be unreliable partners, and reached back into the past to make his point.
“We should not forget that both Germany and France supported Iraq in the war against us,” Khamenei said.
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