Trump blacklisting of Iran's elite Guard could backfire

Trump blacklisting of Iran's elite Guard could backfire

President Donald Trump on Monday said he would direct the U.S.to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, an unusually direct rebuke of a foreign government's military that experts and analysts believe will reshape the security situation throughout the Middle East.

Trump said in a statement Monday that the move "recognises the reality" that Iran is a state-sponsored supporter of terrorism and that the Revolutionary Guard is an active participant.

Following up the announcement, USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the designation makes clear that the IRGC is not just a behind-the-scenes enabler of terrorism but a direct participant in planning and carrying out terrorist attacks.

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

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.

"Although Iran has not been and will not be seeking tension, but should the USA decide to implement the move, Iran will take reciprocal action", Khoshroudi quoted Zarif as saying.

The statement read: "Today, I am formally announcing my administration's plan to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a FTO under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act".

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

It is the first time the USA has labelled a state entity anywhere in the world as a terrorist organisation.

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Netanyahu, an ally of Trump, thanked the USA president and said it would help in "keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism".

"Thank you, my dear friend, US President Donald Trump", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a tweet, a day before what could be a close election.

"We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behaviour".

The move blocks any assets that IRGC entities may have in US jurisdictions and bars Americans from any transactions with it. The unprecedented move against another country's armed forces is bound to rachet up tensions with Tehran. "If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism", he said. "Iran's influence in the Middle East and its success in fighting against Islamic State are reasons behind this designation", state TV said, without quoting a specific official.

The IRGC oversees the country's ballistic missile program and has conducted several tests since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The announcement comes at a bad time for Iranian moderates, including President Hassan Rouhani, who have been trying to reduce the role of religious hardliners, including the members of IRGC.

Bahrain's Foreign Ministry welcomed the USA decision. Tehran denies the charges.

The SNSC's statement described the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a force spearheading the fight against U.S. backed terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIL, al-Nusra Front etc. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2000km, putting Israel and United States military bases in the region within reach. The IRGC is Iran's most powerful security organisation which also has control over large sectors of the country's economy and political system.

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