Trump declares Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group at Netanyahu's request
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a hotly contested bid for a fourth term, tweeted Monday (April 8, 2019) that the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization at his request, Los Angeles Times reported from Jerusalem.
“Thank you, my dear friend, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, for having decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization,” he wrote in Hebrew on Twitter on Monday. “Thank you for responding to another of my important requests, which serves the interests of our countries and countries of the region.”
The Los Angeles Times said Netanyahu English-language thank you note posted later omitted taking credit, but said of Trump, “Once again you are keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism.”
President Donald Trump said in a statement that the "unprecedented" move "recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft."
"The IRGC is the Iranian government's primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign," Trump said.
It is the first time the United States has designated part of a foreign government a terrorist organization, rather than guerrilla groups or other more informal entities, according to AFP.
The Trump administration argues that Iran's government, which is locked in a deeply hostile standoff with top US ally Israel, cannot be trusted and should face "maximum pressure."
Addressing reporters following Trump's announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned all banks and business of consequences to dealing with the Revolutionary Guards from now on.
"The leaders of Iran are racketeers, not revolutionaries," Pompeo said. "Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not conducted with the IRGC in any material way."
A senior Trump administration official was quoted by AFP as saying that the new measure would criminalize contact with the Guards and "enable our prosecutors to bring charges to those that bring material support to the IRGC."
"The IRGC is interwoven into the Iranian economy.… The safest course is to stop doing business with the IRGC. If you do business with the IRGC you run the risk of bankrolling terrorism," said the official.
Another official said the force has "been a principal driver of violence on a vast scale for many decades" in an attempt "to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor."
Los Angeles Times said U.S. military and intelligence officials have raised concerns that the designation may bar them from meeting foreign officials in contact with Revolutionary Guard personnel. Those concerns are one reason previous administrations did not make the move, which was considered for more than a decade.
But administration officials said Monday that exceptions would be made for U.S. personnel as needed. U.S. diplomats talk with the Taliban in Afghanistan, another group listed as a foreign terrorist organization, noted Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism.
Some military experts warned the decision could endanger U.S. troops, one reason for long-standing concerns at the Pentagon, the LAT said.
In response to Washington’s decision, the Iranian Supreme Security Council declared the US a “terrorist government” while calling the US CENTCOM a terrorist group as well.
Following what it called an “unlawful and unreasonable action” of the US, Tehran officially declared the US “a terrorist government and the US Central Command known as CENTCOM as well as all its affiliates a terrorist group,” a statement of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council headed by President Hassan Rouhani said.
The statement blamed CENTCOM for harming Iran’s national security as well as ruining the lives of “innocent Iranian and non-Iranian individuals” to promote the US' “aggressive policies” in Western Asia.
It also specifically mentioned that the US is “involved” in the killing of people in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition wages a brutal military campaign against the Shia Houthi rebels.
The US and its allies “have always been advocates of extremist groups and terrorists in the Western Asian region,” the council said, adding that Washington has to take responsibility for “the dangerous consequences of its adventures.”
In a tweet, Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, called it a “misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu. A(nother) dangerous U.S. misadventure in the region.”
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the guard, warned that “the American army in West Asia will see the end of tranquility,” according to the Iranian Fars news agency.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com