Tensions flared between the United States and allies of Iran after the drone attack that killed three American soldiers and injured more than 40 at Tower 22, a military outpost in northern Jordan on January 28, 2024. The Biden administration vowed decisive retribution. In response, Iran and its allies in the so-called Axis of Resistance, a network of militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, released their own warnings. Governments in the region that have good relations with Tehran also issued statements attempting to navigate the escalating crisis. The following are collected comments by major players.
President Ebrahim Raisi on February 2: “We will not start any war, but if anyone wants to bully us they will receive a strong response.
“Before, when they (the Americans) wanted to talk to us, they said the military option is on the table. Now they say they have no intention of a conflict with Iran.”
“The Islamic Republic's military power in the region is not and never has been a threat to any country. Rather, it ensures security that the countries of the region can rely on and trust.”
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on January 31: “The U.S. must stop using the language of threat and blame shifting and focus on a political solution.”
Revolutionary Guards Major General Hossein Salami on January 31: “We hear threatening words from American officials…You have tested us and we know each other, we will not leave any threat unanswered. We are not looking for war, but we are not afraid of it either…We are not warmongers, but we defend ourselves and our glory.”
U.N. mission on January 30: “There is no group affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces, whether in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere that operates directly or indirectly under the control of the Islamic Republic of Iran or acts on its behalf. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran is not responsible for the actions of any individual or group within the region.”
Diplomatic “messages have not been exchanged at all. Nevertheless, it constitutes a principled policy of the Islamic Republic to respond decisively and forcefully to any hostile move against the country, its interests, and its nationals.”
Iranian Armed Forces on January 31: “Regardless of such negative forces, Iran remains unwavering and resolute against any potential attack on the nation, its interests, or its citizens…The self-awareness and identity cultivated by the Islamic Revolution have not only revitalized Iranians but also resonated across the Islamic world…
Amid irreversible battlefield defeats, global arrogance now faces condemnation in the court of awakened consciences worldwide. However, under the leadership of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the people have consistently thwarted sinister plans and safeguarded the lofty ideals of Ayatollah Khomeini.”
Former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on January 30: Iran's “genuine support” for such militant groups in the region, dubbed the “Axis of Resistance”, a brainchild of Iran’s Supreme Leader. “The Islamic Republic can play an important role in supporting the resistance.”
Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Hussein al Hamidawi on January 30: “We announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government. Our brothers in the Axis, especially in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they do not know how we conduct our Jihad, and they often object to the pressure and escalation against the American occupation forces in Iraq and Syria…
We will continue to defend our people in Gaza in other ways, and we recommend to the brave Mujahideen of the Free Hezbollah Brigades to [carry out] passive defense (temporarily) if any hostile American action occurs towards them.”
Islamic Resistance al Nujaba Movement on January 29: “Let the occupier know that the balance of deterrence is in the hands of the resistors who mock his threats, as resistance is not a luxury or a temporary whim, but rather a fixed and established belief that is not intimidated by changes or threats, and it is only an extension and confirmation of the saying of our Imam, peace be upon him, “Does death threaten me, O son of the freedmen?” Death is our habit and our dignity. From God is the martyrdom, and with this doctrine the resistance has greatness in God and from God, but there is no greatness for you.
Then let the world see how evil America is reckless in our region to the point that its senile president does not know whether his miserable soldiers are in Syrian or Jordanian territory, and this, if that indicates, only indicates their recklessness, and that they are moving between... Countries without respect for their sovereignty and that they violate all lands based on their arrogance and colonialism, which leads them to steal the goods of those countries and peoples, so that the crumbling, arrogant America also knows that it will not stop us from our goal, and that its mercenaries and soldiers will leave our lands, and humiliation and poverty have been decreed upon them.
And murder and torment in this world and the hereafter.
What we say we do, and the enemy has attested to that before the friend, and your camps and barracks know that we say and do, as we previously rained lava from our missiles on them and they tasted what they did not want, and they must learn the lesson and leave today before tomorrow. For every day that passes, they will pay a heavy price for it.”
Government spokesman Hisham al Rikabiz on January 30: “Kataib Hezbollah’s decision came as a result of the action taken by the prime minister internally and externally, to prevent escalation, and to ensure the smooth completion of negotiations on completing the process of the international coalition’s withdrawal from Iraq. We hope that all parties will listen to the government’s call in order to reduce tension and ensure that there are no hot spots of tension in the region, and in Iraq in particular.”
Prime Minister Mohammed Sudani’s office on January 29: “The Iraqi government condemns the ongoing escalation, particularly the recent attack on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and is closely monitoring with a great concern the alarming security developments in the region. Iraq urges for an end to the cycle of violence and expresses its willingness to collaborate on establishing fundamental rules to prevent further repercussions in the region and curb the escalation of conflict.
The repercussions of these developments pose a threat to regional and international peace and security, jeopardizing efforts of combating terrorism and narcotics and put at risk trade, the economy, and energy supplies.”