As the Iranian capital Tehran reels from twin terrorist attacks that have left 12 dead and dozens injured, the American president has released a strange statement of condolences: “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
Trump has long taken a hardline stance against Iran, which only intensified during his first foreign trip last month, when he met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. In Riyadh, Trump gave a speech were he essentially endorsed the Saudi governments view that Iran is the principle instigator of instability and terrorism in the region. He said Iran is “responsible for so much instability in the region,” adding, “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”
Trump’s response Wednesday to the Tehran attack is in keeping with this position, but intensifies it. Not only is it an exercise in victim-blaming, but it also carries the implied threat that it’s open season on Iran. It’s easy to imagine American allies in the region reading the statement and thinking they have a green light to foment political violence in Iran. After all, didn’t the American president say Iran was asking for it?