A powerful commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps escalated Thursday's tragic duel with President Trump, calling his threat to the Iranian president "cabaret rhetoric" in comments that political analysts described as worrying.
The Commander, Major General Gen. Qassim Suleimani, who has tremendous influence in Iran, may turn out to be the future leader and is considered a United States terrorist leader. He said that Mr. Trump should start a dispute directly with him and not with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
In a Twitter message on Sunday, written in capital letters, Mr. Trump warned Mr. Rouhani that he would suffer "consequences of which few in history have ever suffered" when he threatened the United States.
Mr. Rouhani's top advisers dismissed Mr. Trump's warning and obviously regarded him as an attempt by the American president to replicate his strategy of threatening another opponent, North Korea.
But General Suleimani's public challenge to Trump seemed to signal that the Iranian hierarchy was committed to sending a more assertive response.
"It is under the dignity of our President to answer you," General Suleimani said in a speech in western Iran reported by state media. "I as a soldier react to you."
General Suleimani addressed Mr. Trump directly and said, "They are threatening us with an action that is" unprecedented "in the world – this is cabaret rhetoric – only a cabaret artist speaks to the world in this way."  General Suleimani explained what he called the history of American failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region. Trump has been unable to issue threats Iran
"We are near you, where you can not even imagine," he said. We are ready, we are the man of this arena. "
While the possibility of a war between Iran and the United States is considered extremely low, political analysts fear that escalating threats could lead to something more serious.
Suleimani's words and deeds are scrutinized for being one of Iran's most crafty and autonomous military personnel responsible for his secret services and covert military operations.
"His fire-breathing response to Trump is important and worrying," said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultant in Washington
"Suleimani derides the US president directly, and he scolds US policy "Mr. Kupchan said. "Suleimani tells Trump to read his words and reminds him that Iran has both Middle East power and strong capabilities for asymmetric warfare, which is an implicit threat to US assets in the Middle East."
General Suleimani is a former shadowy personage of the hardliners conservatives in Iran. She leads the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps unit, which is responsible for Iranian operations outside the Iranian borders. Quds is the Persian word for Jerusalem.
The General is known for having the personal support of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is considered the chief strategist behind Iran's military operations and influence in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region and beyond.
The United States has regarded General Suleimani as an annoying enemy for many years. He accused him of planning attacks on American soldiers in Iraq after the US-led invasion of 2003 overthrew Saddam Hussein.
The Treasury put him on a blacklist of sanctions in 2011, accusing the commander of a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
But the United States is also in the uncomfortable position of working with General Suleimani in Iraq, where the Americans and Iranians have both worked to reverse the profits of the Islamic State  the northern (Iraqi) city of Tikrit and commanded Iraqi Shiite militias who attempted to recapture them from Islamic state fighters before American fighters later joined this campaign.