May 24, 2019
Iran’s armed forces Chief of Staff Gen Mohammad Bagheri has issued a new stark warning as tensions between Tehran and Washington continue to rise, threatening a shocking retaliation to any US “adventurism.”
The escalatory war of words between the US and Iran has worsened with no signs of it winding down anytime soon. Tehran’s clerical regime, however, sought to reassure economically ailing Iranians that despite threats, it’s not looking for war.
Nevertheless, these reassurances have fallen on deaf ears with the people registering unprecedented levels of anxiety.
According to Reuters, the nerves of ordinary Iranians who already face hardship from tightening sanctions are being strained by worry that the situation could slip out of control.
In interviews conducted from outside the country by telephone and online, Iranians described heated discussions at home, on the streets and on social media.
The prospect of war is now the main topic of conversation in workplaces, taxis and buses, Nima Abdollahzade, a legal consultant at an Iranian startup company, told Reuters.
“Apart from the deterioration in the Iranian economy, I believe the most severe effect” of confrontation with the US “is in the mental situation of ordinary Iranians,” he said. “They are sustaining a significant amount of stress.”
This month tensions have risen sharply, with Washington extending its sanctions to ban all countries from importing Iranian oil. A number of US officials led by National Security Adviser John Bolton have made hawkish remarks, citing Iranian threats against US interests. President Donald Trump himself tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”
Meanwhile, Iranians cope with the day-to-day implications of sanctions and tension. Worries over access to products have prompted some Iranians to stock up on rice, detergent and canned food, residents and shopkeepers said.
An advertisement on state TV discourages stockpiling. A middle-aged man heading home after work is drawn to a supermarket when he sees people panic shopping. He buys anything he can put his hands on, causing shelves to be emptier.
Shahin Milani, a 38-year-old who tweets about Iranian politics to more than 7,000 followers on Twitter, believes military intervention could never bring democracy.
“The people should do it themselves … If someone is truly worried about the threat of war, they should work to create a democratic, secular government in Iran … As long as the Islamic Republic is in power, the shadow of war will loom over Iran.”