Written by Memri
In response to the possibility of a U.S. military strike against Syria following reports that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens, Iran has voiced a series of threats against Arab countries in the region and also against Israel and the West, in an attempt to prevent attacks on its ally Syria and to ensure that Assad remains in power.
While Assad's promise to retaliate for such an attack was not particularly emphatic, and Hizbullah barely responded at all, most of the Iranian officials' statements on the matter threatened a Syrian response that would set the region ablaze. Only a few Iranian threats specifically referred to retaliation by Iran itself – and even those were issued prior to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's August 28 statements (see below).
It appears that, as on previous occasions, Iran's promises of regional conflagration are empty threats aimed solely at intimidation, and it is not clear that they will actually be carried out.
The following are excerpts from some of the Iranian threats.
On August 28, 2013, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that a U.S. attack on Syria would be a "disaster for the region," adding that with such an attack, the U.S. would not only set the entire region on fire but would itself be harmed: "Intervention and warmongering [in Syria] will no doubt harm those who fan the flames. If this intervention happens, the Americans will no doubt be harmed, as they were harmed in Iraq and Afghanistan. An intervention in [Syria] by powers from outside the region will only ignite the flames [of war] and increase the nations' hatred towards [these powers]. Such warmongering is like a spark in a gunpowder depot, and its dimensions and consequences cannot be estimated."
In an August 28, 2013 interview with the Tasnim website, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari threatened: "The Americans have had much bitter experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. If they carry out a military attack on Syria, the chain of their defeat will be complete, and they will experience their most shameful historic defeat of all; in addition, Syria will become a slaughterhouse and a war arena much more dangerous than Vietnam [ever was]. In fact, Syria will become a second Vietnam for the U.S.
"The Zionists must know that a U.S. military attack on Syria will not rescue [their] regime from the talons of the resistance, but will bring about the imminent destruction of Israel... Certain governments in the region and reactionary Arab regimes that support the military attack on Syria must know as well that the flames [sparked by] this warmongering will not be confined to Syria, but will spread to all those who ignited and supported the war [that will result from the attack]."
Iranian Army deputy chief of staff Masoud Jazayeri said: "Anyone collaborating with the U.S. and the Zionist regime in the terrorist war against Syria will encounter problems, and those who fan these flames will not be spared the revenge of the nations... The U.S. knows where the red lines are on the Syrian front, and any crossing of this red line will have dire consequences for the White House."
On another occasion, Jazayeri said: "In the event of a military operation on the part of an anti-Syrian front, the Syrian people will resist, and the outcome of their resistance will be victory... and, with God's help, the flames of this war will [end up] setting the Zionists on fire."
On August 29, 2013, a message for the U.S. forces from Qods Brigades commander Qassem Suleimani was made public; it stated: "Every paratrooper who is supposed to jump from an airplane, every rifleman who is supposed to disembark from a warship, and every commando fighter who is supposed to climb into an armored personnel carrier must remember to first take his own coffin. Syria is the red line of the Islamic Revolution; it is the place [from which] we ascend to heaven, and your graveyard."
Iranian Army chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi said on August 28, 2013: "Any military operation against Syria will burn the Zionists... The U.S., U.K., and the rest of their allies will be harmed in a show of military power in the region and in Syria... The outcome of the resistance of the Syrian nation in any further war will be victory..."
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said: "The outcome of the uncalculated and unwise move will be a conflagration that will grab the innocent countries of the region by the throat... You can begin the operation against Syria, but you will not be the ones to finish it. You must fear for your illegitimate Zionist offspring in the region."
In its August 29, 2013 editorial, the daily Kayhan, which is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, listed the targets of a possible Syrian counterstrike – oil installations and strategic interests of countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel, as well as American and European facilities and interests – that will be struck by Syria's massive missile arsenal, which includes Russian Yakhont missiles.
The editorial stated: "A potential war will involve the U.S. and several European and regional countries, who will therefore... be perceived as belligerent countries, or as countries that are intervening in the war. Therefore, in accordance with Article 51 of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, there will be a Syrian military attack on the military, economic, and other centers and facilities of these countries that make their military capabilities available for the attack on Syria and play a role [in this attack]...
"Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar have officially announced their participation in the military coalition against Syria. Therefore, their strategic and military centers can be included in the list of targets of a Syrian military strike, if the attack is carried out.
"Obviously, the regime that is occupying Jerusalem, which is the American military base in the region, will have a special place on this array [of targets]. The Syrian government has already announced that it is aiming its long-range and mid-range missiles [at Israel], and that they will cause great damage when they explode. The Dimona nuclear plant, and Tel Aviv, as well as several airports and other strategic centers of the regime that is occupying Jerusalem, are among the predetermined targets of Syrian missile strikes.
"According to Article 51 [of Chapter VII] of the U.N. Charter, military headquarters and installations, army camps, airports, and other strategic [facilities] of certain countries that are regional partners of the U.S. in a potential war can and should be attacked. As part of this, an attack on Saudi oil installations, ports, and oil tankers in the Persian Gulf will be of ever-increasing importance and have a paralyzing effect... Considering Syria's military capabilities, and especially its missile capabilities, and the proximity of the targets, which are within Syria's range, [the attack] is highly feasible.
"Syria can also target U.S. and British warships in the Mediterranean with its long-range supersonic Yakhont missiles. Hizbullah in Lebanon has similar missiles, with which it destroyed the Israeli Sa'ar warship in the Mediterranean in the 2006 Lebanon war. These and other ballistic missiles, of which Syria has a large [arsenal], can also be launched at strategic [targets] in countries that act on behalf of the U.S. in the region and that have joined the coalition [formed for the purpose of] an attack on Syria. Syria needs no permission to use the airspace of the country that lies between it and Saudi Arabia [i.e. Jordan] in order to attack Saudi army centers and oil installations – because Jordan is itself part of the possible military coalition against Syria, and its strategic centers may be attacked by Syria as well...
"If war breaks out, the U.S. will insist on using the tactic of firing long-range [missiles]. Hence, Syria will be obliged to attack the American warships and other American and British interests in the region, as well as the military, economic, and strategic facilities and centers of the regional countries that are participating in the coalition. This could mean that Syria will have the upper hand in a potential war... As one of the dominant members of the resistance axis, Syria must not miss this historic opportunity."
On August 28, the day before the publication of the editorial, Kayhan promised that Israel and the other U.S. allies in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Qatar, would be targeted in a counterstrike: "It is highly likely that the recent uproar is [nothing but] psychological warfare aimed at wringing concessions from Syria in the upcoming Geneva conference... The U.S. can start the war [against Syria], but its end will not be determined by [the U.S.] or by its allies...
"Israel is the Achilles heel of the U.S. and its European allies. There is no doubt that from the minute an attack on Syria begins, thousands of missiles will land every day in the occupied lands and on [Israel's] strategic facilities...
"The Islamic world is fed up with the warmongering of the U.S., Israel, and certain Arab states, and it is counting the minutes to a direct confrontation with the Zionists... An attack on Syria will give the Muslim nations surrounding Israel a golden opportunity.
"Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and other countries have officially announced their participation in a military operation against Syria, so if a war breaks out, they will obviously be targets of a Syrian counterstrike, since they will be hostile states. Because these countries have for the past few years been facing a popular uprising rooted in an Islamic awakening, their possible involvement in the war will no doubt provide their people with fertile ground for ousting their governments, which are working on behalf of [the U.S.]. In Qatar, which is more like a shopping mall [than a state], the situation is doubtless even more volatile... Every sign indicates that zero hour is nigh..."
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 The Lebanese daily Al-Safir, which is close to the Syrian regime, claims that Iran considers Damascus the "twin" of Tehran, and it sees a war against Syria as a war against Iran. According to a source close to senior Iranian officials, Tehran has informed Russia and China that it intends to stand by Syria "to its very last breath" and will not relinquish it even if they will. Al-Safir claims that the moment it became known that there could be an attack on Syria, Iranian plans prepared in advance for just such a scenario were placed on Khamenei's desk. Iran's intention is to convey the clear message to the U.S. and the West that any such escapade, regardless of its scope, will end in a quagmire for all those participating in the attack, and that after the attack the world will never be the same. Al-Safir (Lebanon), August 28, 2013.
 Hizbullah MP Walid Sakariya assessed that if the Western attack was limited in scope and not aimed at toppling the Assad regime, Hizbullah would not be interested in intervening and widening it into a regional conflict. However, he said, if the U.S. did seek to bring down Assad and to besiege the resistance and deliver a serious blow to Iran and Syria, the Israeli front would be activated. Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), August 29, 2013. The Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, which is close to the March 14 Forces, reported, citing sources close to decision-makers in Hizbullah, that Hizbullah was continuing its policy of keeping its cards hidden and not revealing how it might respond to an attack on Syria. Al-Nahar (Lebanon), August 29, 2013.
 On August 24, 2013, Majlis National Security Committee Chairman Ala Al-Din Boroujerdi said: "Syria's regional allies will not sit idly by in the face of a potential attack [on Syria]." Press TV (Iran), August 24, 2013. The next day, August 25, during a visit to the Strait of Hormuz, IRGC Commander Ali Jafari said: "Our moves depend on the positions and measures of the enemy. So far, we have not been attacked by any state, but if the enemy's measures, either direct or indirect, take the form of threats, we shall regard it our undeniable right to defend ourselves... The role of the Zionist regime in the bloody events in the region is becoming clearer by the day, but the final outcome [of these developments] will surely not benefit this [Zionist] regime..." Fars (Iran), August 25, 2013.
 Leader.ir, August 28, 2013.
 Tasnim (Iran), August 28, 2013.
 Fars (Iran), August 25, 2013.
 ILNA (Iran), August 28, 2013.
 Afsaran.ir, August 29, 2013.
 ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2013.
 Fars (Iran), August 28, 2013.
 Kayhan (Iran), August 29, 2013.
 Kayhan (Iran), August 28, 2013.