Iran, China to Continue Fight Against Donald Trump, Officials as Private Citizens

President Donald Trump may have left office, but the combative foreign policy that made him a reviled figure among America's enemies looks set to stick with the president and top former administration officials.

This week, China and Iran placed sanctions on Trump, and on Thursday Iranian state-aligned media even hinted that the country still intends to take personal revenge against the former president over his "maximum pressure" stance towards Tehran.

The tweet was later shared by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei along with his own threat.

American rivals—China and Iran in particular—commonly issued scathing denouncements of Trump and other key administration officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the past four years.

This, Trump allies said, was proof that the administration's strategies to contain and undermine the dictatorial regimes were working.

Both Beijing and Tehran hope that President Joe Biden's election will mark a more cooperative American strategy, but in the meantime appear set on continuing their public criticism of Trump and his departed administration.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters that a host of American officials would be sanctioned for their roles in the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani, alleged involvement in the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and their general "support for acts of terror" and economic sanctions against Iran.

Among the targets are Trump, Pompeo, former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, former Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, former CIA Director Gina Haspel, and former Special Representative to Iran Elliot Abrams.

Already-departed officials on the list included former National Security Adviser John Bolton, former Iran envoy Brian Hook, and former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

The sanctions—like several Iranian legal challenges brought against the Trump administration in recent years—are symbolic and will have no impact on the named officials given the absence of any business interests within the country.

China took similar steps on the day of Biden's inauguration, rounding off four years of testy Beijing-Washington, D.C. ties complicated by trade conflict, territorial disputes, human rights issues, and the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced the sanctions as Biden was being sworn in. It said Pompeo and 27 other top officials—including former trade chief, Peter Navarro; former national security advisers Robert O'Brien and John Bolton; Health Secretary Alex Azar; United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft; and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon—would not be allowed to do business in or travel to China, Hong Kong or Macau.

Pompeo and the others, the ministry alleged, "planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations."

Iranian leader Khamenei pressed the issue further on Thursday, retweeting an image shared by the Tasnim News Agency depicting Trump golfing under the shadow of a military aircraft. The caption warned: "Revenge is inevitable."

Khamenei shared the image, writing: "Revenge must be taken on those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried it."

Top Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened further retaliation for the American assassination of Soleimani, conducted via drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020.

Soleimani was the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' covert Quds Force, and responsible for Iranian foreign military activity. This included building and coordinating Tehran's potent regional network of proxy militias. Soleimani was a confidante of Khamenei and widely considered one of the regime's most powerful men.

The legacy of Soleimani's assassination could yet undermine Biden's efforts to thaw ties with Tehran and revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was shouted down by angry conservative lawmakers who condemned him for signaling to the U.S. he was open to fresh talks, just days after the first anniversary of Soleimani's assassination.

Trump, Melania step off Air Force One
Outgoing President Donald Trump and wife Melania step off Air Force One as they arrive at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, on January 20, 2021. ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty