Iranian-US relations have always been tenuous at best. Accusations around nuclear weaponry, sanctions around military commanders, and threatening measures against the Iranian foreign minister have continued to escalate the tumultuous nature of the two countries' relationship.
Recently, however, the political has taken a turn for the personal. Following the imposition of sanctions by the US on Iran's Supreme Leader, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani stated that President Trump has a mental disorder.
Rouhani's ire is a direct result of Trump imposing sanctions against Supreme Leader Ali Khameni, the top political and religious authority in Iran. Trump's executive order imposes sanctions denying the supreme leader and members of his office access to important financial documents. A treasury statement regarding the sanctions stated that senior officers of the naval, aerospace, and ground forces of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were also targeted by the sanctions, which seem largely to have been put in place in an effort to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, who coordinated the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and has spearheaded most Iran-US diplomatic relations since.
“These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” President Trump stated. “We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”
While the sanctions were enthusiastically supported by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic analysts are unconvinced they will have much of an impact on the already heavily sanctioned Iran.
“The newly announced Iran sanctions are symbolic… the newly sanctioned people and entities are already insulated from the international financial system,” former senior state department official and current Carnegie Endowment for International Peace official Jarrett Blanc stated.
President Rouhani seems to agree with Blanc. Upon hearing of the sanctions, he was quick to point out their ridiculousness-the 80-year-old Khameni has no overseas assets nor any plans to travel to the United States, making the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic”.
Rouhani took his criticisms one step further: he said that Trump is “afflicted by a mental disorder”, and his enforcement of sanctions is evidence of this.
Naturally, the president was deeply offended by this statement and took to Twitter to trash Rouhani, as is his modus oprendi at even the most mild of criticisms.
“Iran leadership doesn’t understand the words ‘nice’ or ‘compassion,’ they never have. Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone,” Trump tweeted ominously.
He followed up a couple hours later, with yet another melodramatically aggressive tweet: “The U.S. has not forgotten Iran’s use of IED’s & EFP’s (bombs), which killed 2000 Americans, and wounded many more … Any attack by Iran anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”
Trump's reference to Iranian killing of 2000 Americans seems to be in reference to American casualties in Iraq as a result of Iranian involvement. However, the Pentagon's estimate is much lower than the President's—according to them, 600 troops were killed, not 2000.