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US may label Iranian Guards as terrorists

By Liu Xuan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-08 08:19

A member of military units of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fires a rocket launcher as they launched war games in the Gulf, Dec 22, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Teheran vows to take reciprocal action against Washington, media reports

The US government may designate an arm of Iran's military a terrorist group, which would be a first for Washington. Iran vows to fight back.

According to three unnamed US officials cited by The Wall Street Journal, US government disclosed the decision on Friday and is expected to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IGRC, as a terrorist organization, perhaps as early as on Monday.

The anonymous sources also said that concerned defense officials were bracing for the impact.

This will be the first time for the United States to label a branch of a country's military as a terror group, a move that some critics warn could open US military and intelligence officials to similar actions by unfriendly governments abroad, Reuters said.

The Pentagon declined to comment and referred queries to the State Department. The State Department and White House also declined to comment.

The CIA had reservations about the move, saying it would increase risks for US troops without doing much more to damage the Iranian economy, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Massoud Pezeshkian, a senior member of Iran's parliament, stressed on Sunday the full support of the nation for the Revolutionary Guard, according to Iran's state news agency.

Founded after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the 125,000-strong paramilitary group define their role as protecting the Islamic system. The Guard answer solely to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia had also labeled the Guard a terrorist organization.

Pezeshkian commented on the issue in answer to a question by a lawmaker about US anti-Iran actions, saying that the US has been plotting anti-Iran forces for 40 years now but the Iranian nation has stood against these measures and will strongly support the Revolutionary Guards.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said Iran may react in kind and designate US armed forces as terrorist if Washington puts the IRGC on its terror list.

"If the Guards is put on America's terror groups list, we will put American military personnel on the terrorist blacklist beside Daesh," he said on Saturday through his social media account, cited by Teheran Times, Iran's leading international daily.

Cited by Reuters, Wendy Sher-man, former undersecretary of State and former lead Iran negotiator, said she is worried about implications for US forces.

"One might even suggest, since it's hard to see why this is in our interest, if the president isn't looking for a basis for a conflict," she said. "The IRGC is already fully sanctioned and this escalation absolutely endangers our troops in the region."

Zhang Zhixin, a researcher from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said US President Donald Trump's decision was to fulfill his promise made during his election to continue suppress the Iranian government after withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear agreement last May.

Zhang also said the action could substantially increased the possibility of regional conflicts, especially after Trump announced the recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"At a time when the relation between the US and Iran is becoming increasingly tense, the announcement may provide an excuse for Israel to launch military operations against Iran."

The US has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the Revolutionary Guard, but the organization as a whole is not.

In 2007, the US Treasury designated the Guard's Quds Force, its unit in charge of operations abroad, "for its support of terrorism", and has described it as Iran's "primary arm for executing its policy of supporting terrorist and insurgent groups", according to Reuters.

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