THE US and Iran have now officially declared each other as ‘terrorists’, sparking further fears that the two countries could be spiraling towards an all-out war.
The bill was passed by Iranian parliament last week in retaliation for President Trump’s decision this month to designate Iran’s Jihadist-linked Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization.
It is currently not clear what the impact of the new Iranian law might have on U.S. forces or their Middle East operations.
Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’, Rouhani, instructed the ministry of intelligence, ministry of foreign affairs, the armed forces, and Iran’s supreme national security council to implement the law declaring America as terrorist enemies, state media reported.
The law specifically labels as a terrorist organization the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“These two forces that are designated as terrorist groups reciprocally might confront (each other) in the Persian Gulf or any other region” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying. “The United States will surely be responsible for such a situation,”
The United States has already blacklisted dozens of groups and individuals for their extreme affiliations with the Guards, but until Trump’s decision, not the organization as a whole.
Comprising an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) also command the Basij, a religious radical volunteer paramilitary force, and control Iran’s ballistic missile programs.
Long-tense relations between Tehran and Washington took a turn for the worse in May 2018 when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, reached before he took office, and reimposed sanctions.
Revolutionary Guards commanders have repeatedly threatened war, reminding America that U.S. bases in the Middle East and U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian missiles.
Rouhani said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will continue to export oil despite U.S. sanctions aimed at reducing the country’s crude shipments to zero.
The United States on Monday designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization” in a move to increase pressure on the country that could also have significant military, diplomatic and economic implications throughout the Middle East and beyond.
It is the first time that the U.S. has designated a part of another government as a terrorist organization. The designation sparked retaliation from Iran, whose Supreme National Security Council designated the United States Central Command and all its forces as terrorist, and could potentially open hundreds of foreign companies and business executives to U.S. travel bans and possible prosecution.
“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, 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,” President Donald Trump said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move is part of an effort to put “maximum pressure” on Iran to end its support for terrorist plots and militant activity that destabilizes the Middle East.
The designation blocks any assets that IRGC entities may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from any transactions with it. When it takes effect next week, it will allow the U.S. to deny entry to people found to have provided the Guard with “material support” or prosecute them for sanctions violations. Those could include European and Asian companies and businesspeople who deal with the Guard’s many affiliates.
“It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC,” Trump said. “If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.”
Pompeo said the action should serve as a warning to corporate lawyers to ensure any business their companies do in Iran is not with any entity affiliated with the Guard.
The State Department currently designates more than 60 organizations, including as al-Qaida and the Islamic State, Hezbollah and numerous militant Palestinian factions, as “foreign terrorist organizations.” But none of them is a state-run military.
Iran had threatened to retaliate for the decision, and shortly after it was announced foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on President Hassan Rouhani to include Mideast-based U.S. forces on Iran’s own terrorist list, the official IRNA news agency reported. Zarif also sent a protest note over the U.S. designation to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which looks after the U.S. interests in Iran.
Responding to Iran’s threats against US personel and territories, Trump said that if it happened, it would be the “end of Iran”.