Iran's supreme leader was in a supremely sarcastic mood Tuesday as he gave a speech to a sea of military officials. His target: Trump's first foreign policy moves.
“We actually thank this new president! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to a transcript posted on his official website. “… Now, with everything he is doing — handcuffing a child as young as 5 at an airport — he is showing the reality of American human rights.”
While Khamenei's intended point about the ramifications of Trump's executive order on immigration was probably broader, his choice to highlight the alleged handcuffing of a 5-year-old Iranian boy at Washington Dulles International Airport imbued his speech with a tinge of fake-news fever. A viral photo of the boy with his arms locked together has been shown to be from an incident in Kentucky two years ago.
The Trump administration has taken a hard line against Iran. At Tuesday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said: "The ayatollah is going to realize there’s a new president in office. [Trump] will continue to take action as he sees fit. I think Iran is kidding itself if they don’t realize there’s a new president in town."
Iran was one of seven countries whose citizens were banned from entering the United States for 90 days per Trump's original order, which has since been suspended. Separately, in response to an apparent missile test by Iran, Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn declared that the United States was putting the country “on notice.” The statement was followed by the imposition of a targeted round of sanctions on 25 of Iran's citizens and companies.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump tweeted that Iran was “#1 in terror.” And last Friday, he tweeted: “Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”
In his speech Tuesday, Khamenei resorted to sarcasm in responding to Trump's Friday tweet, too. “The new U.S. president says Iran should thank Obama!” he said. “Why?! Should we thank him for [creating] ISIS, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria, or the blatant support for the 2009 sedition in Iran?” He referred to domestic protests against a presidential election that the opposition said was marred by fraud.
The 38th anniversary of the revolution that turned Iran into an Islamic republic is Friday. Khamenei hinted that Iranians should use the opportunity to join him in denouncing the United States, saying, “The Iranian nation will respond to your comments with a demonstration on the 10th of February: They will show others what kind of stance the nation of Iran takes when threatened.”