US, Iran exchange tough messages amid rising tensions

NEW YORK, May 20 (APP):US President Donald Trump and Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif Monday exchanged sharply-worded tweets as the ongoing tensions between the two countries escalated.

Trump warned Iran early on Monday not to threaten the United States again or “it’ll face its official end”, shortly after a rocket landed near the US Embassy in Baghdad overnight.

Zarif quickly responded in kind on twitter asking Trump to avoid threatening Iranians, advising him to try respect as it was the only approach to the Iranian nation that might bear fruit.

“NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!” Zarif said in a post on his official Twitter account on Monday.

Trump’s tweet comes after he seemingly sought to soften his tone on Iran following days of heightened tension sparked by his administration’s sudden deployment of bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf over still unspecified threats.

In the time since, officials in the United Arab Emirates allege four oil tankers sustained damage in a sabotage attack. According to media reports, Yemeni rebels launched a drone attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia.

The tweet from Trump early on Monday came just hours after a Katyusha rocket fell in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone near the statue of the Unknown Soldier, less than a mile from the US Embassy, causing no injuries. Iraqi military spokesman Brig Gen Yahya Rasoul said the rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad, according to the reports.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump tweeted. “Never threaten the United States again!”

On Wednesday, the State Department pulled all non-emergency personnel from Iraq, citing possible threats from sectarian militias with ties to Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran has announced it will back out of some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, while the US has designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, the first time the designation has been applied to a governmental entity. In response, Iran applied the same designation to US troops in the Middle East.

US lawmakers have increasingly accused the Trump administration of leaving them in the dark on the situation with Iran, with Democrats in particular demanding briefings on the issue.