Blacklisting IRGC to Drag US into Quagmire: Iran’s Zarif

Saul Bowman
April 9, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pushed for the change in USA policy as part of the Trump administration's tough posture toward Tehran.

In an unprecedented move that will doubtless stir interest in New Delhi, the United States on Monday announced that it would formally designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation.

"This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences", Mr. Trump said in a White House statement.

"We will answer any action taken against [the IRGC] with a reciprocal action", says a statement issued by a majority of Iranian lawmakers, according to Reuters.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had also earlier lambasted the US for its hostile policies against the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and warned of Tehran's robust response if Washington labeled the IRGC as a terrorist group.

The IRGC's involvement in Iran's banking and shipping industries could complicate matters with U.S. allies including the European Union. While the U.S. has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for their alleged affiliations with the Revolutionary Guards, the organisation has not been banned as a whole.

Nevertheless, according to Reuters, Washington has finally made a decision to designate IRGC as a terrorist group.

Iran's parliament has vowed to retaliate by passing an urgent bill putting American troops on its own terrorism blacklist, which already features the jihadist Islamic State group, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World. National security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are said to be leading supporters of making the move.

In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Zarif's request was based on the law to deal with USA human rights violations and provocative and terrorist acts in the region, ISNA reported.

The IRGC designation was warmly welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is up for reelection on Tuesday and who tweeted "Thank you, my dear friend, U.S. President Donald Trump. for meeting another of my important requests".

"Today's announcement should be followed by additional measures to do exactly that, as well as to hold the IRGC accountable for the full range of its additional malign and sanctionable activities, including ballistic missile proliferation, participating in Iran's drive for nuclear weapons, the war in Yemen, human rights atrocities, bolstering the murderous Assad regime in Syria, and financing Hezbollah", Cruz said.

Zarif and other Iranian officials sharply criticized the USA plan over the weekend, after news emerged that an official US announcement against the Revolutionary Guard was imminent.

As rumours swirled that the USA was close to making the designation official, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sunday that Israel had lobbied for it in order to drag the United States into the Middle East "quagmire".

Reducing the number of waivers will limit oil exports from Iran, the fourth-largest producer in OPEC, but the United States is unlikely to meet an earlier target of driving Iranian oil exports to zero.

"Trump's team clearly sees the clock on their Iran agenda expiring-which makes their approach ever more escalatory and risky", Abdi added.

Speaking to reporters, he rattled off a list of attacks dating to the 1980s for which the USA holds Iran and the IRGC responsible, beginning with the attacks on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.

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