U.S. designates Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group

U.S. designates Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group

U.S. designates Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group

The IRGC has always been implicated in terrorist plots against the US military throughout the Middle East and provides major financial support to other known terrorist organizations such as Lebanese Hezbollah.

Iran has threatened to retaliate for the decision.

No waivers or exceptions to the sanctions were announced, meaning US troops and diplomats could be barred from contact with Iraqi or Lebanese authorities who interact with Guard officials or surrogates.

Critics have warned that the move could open USA military and intelligence officials to similar actions by unfriendly governments.

The group also oversees the Basij, a volunteer force of several million that draws its members from among the poor, uneducated young men from rural areas and city outskirts.

Iran immediately condemned the decision as an illegal act prompted by Tehran's regional influence and "success in fighting against Islamic State", according to state television. "Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable".

The Revolutionary Guard recruits and trains thousands of fighters overseas through its Quds Force, headed by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a shadowy but prominent figure whose fighters have fought alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and against Islamic State militants who view Shiites as heretics.

The Pentagon declined to discuss what the USA military was doing to protect American troops from any retaliation by the IRGC or Iran-aligned militia in places like Iraq. "He could call for them to take actions against US assets in places like Baghdad's Green Zone", he continued, referring to the Iraqi capital's diplomatic and governmental enclave.

When it takes effect, it will allow Washington to deny entry to people found to have provided the IRGC with "material support" or prosecute them for sanctions violations.

The IRGC is an elite wing of the Iranian military that was established in the aftermath of the country's revolution in 1979.

It has since become a major military, political and economic force in Iran, with close ties to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and many other senior figures hailing from its ranks. It has control over large sectors of the Iranian economy and has a huge influence in its political system.

The designation is part of a well-crafted game plan that Bolton and Pompeo have been peddling for years: apply enough economic, diplomatic, and military pressure to force the Iranian regime to either capitulate to American demands or fall apart. If we went after their military or diplomats, they would go after ours.

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Iran immediately responded to the designation with its Supreme National Security Council designating the U.S. Central Command, also known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as terrorist, and labeling the U.S. a "supporter of terrorism".

Zarif appeared to be implying that classifying the Guards as terrorists would draw them into conflict with USA forces in the region. It defended the IRGC, which has fought Islamic State fighters, as being a force against terrorism.

Critics had warned that such a move could leave U.S. troops in the region more vulnerable as a result.

Bahrain's Foreign Ministry welcomed the U.S. decision.

Iran's state-run TV said the decision contradicted worldwide law.

"The Trump administration is ratcheting up confrontation, undercutting diplomacy and putting American troops at risk", he said.

Reaction from those who favor tougher engagement with Iran was quick and welcoming.

Trump's decision comes a day before a hotly contentious election in Israel, perhaps the most hard yet for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces charges of corruption and bribery that he has dismissed as politically motivated. "Thank you for answering another of my important requests that serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region". Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said in a statement.

"This designation ends the façade that the IRGC is part of a normal military", Mr. McCaul said in a statement. "Under the cover of the Syrian war, the IRGC is now trying to plant military roots in Syria and establish a new strategic base to threaten Syria's neighbors such as Israel", Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, told reporters last Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailed the President's decision hours after the announcement; citing the group's involvement in terror plots across the Middle East and beyond.

The president, in a White House statement, said he "is holding the Iranian regime accountable by targeting the primary entity that carries out its global campaign of terror".

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