The Jerusalem Post

US seeks ‘quagmire’ with Tehran at behest of Israel and Netanyahu – Iranian FM

Trump expected to designate elite Iran’s Revolution­ary Guards as terrorist organizati­on


GENEVA (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign minister said on Sunday US officials, aiming to designate Iran’s Revolution­ary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist group, want to “drag the US into a quagmire” on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“#NetanyahuF­irsters who have long agitated for FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organizati­on] of the IRGC fully understand its consequenc­es for US forces in the region. In fact, they seek to drag US into a quagmire on his behalf,” Mohammed Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account. “@realDonald­Trump should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”

The US military will no longer have calm in west Asia if the United States designates the IRGC as a terrorist organizati­on, the head of the Guards, Jafari, was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency on Sunday.

“With this stupidity, the American army and security forces will no longer have today’s calm in the west Asia region,” Jafari said.

The US is expected to designate Iran’s elite Revolution­ary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organizati­on, three US officials told Reuters, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another country’s military a terrorist group.

The decision, which critics warn could open US military and intelligen­ce officials to similar actions by unfriendly government­s abroad, is expected to be announced by the State Department, perhaps as early as Monday, the officials said. It has been rumored for years.

Iranian state news agency IRNA reported Sunday that a majority of Iranian parliament­arians said Iran will take reciprocal action against the US if Washington goes through with the designatio­n.

“We will answer any action taken against this force with a reciprocal action,” a statement issued by 255 out of the 290 Iranian lawmakers said, according to IRNA.

“So the leaders of America, who themselves are the creators and supporters of terrorists in the [Middle East] region, will regret this inappropri­ate and idiotic action.”

The US decision, which critics warn could open US military and intelligen­ce officials to similar actions by unfriendly government­s abroad, is expected to be announced by the State Department perhaps as early as Monday, the US officials said last week. The move has been rumored for years.

The Pentagon has declined comment and referred queries to the State Department. The Department and White House also declined to comment.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a strident Iran hawk, has advocated for the change in policy as part of the Trump administra­tion’s tough posture toward Tehran.

The announceme­nt would come ahead of the first anniversar­y of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and to reimpose sanctions that has crippled Iran’s economy.

The administra­tion’s decision to make the designatio­n was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The United States has already blackliste­d dozens of entities and people for affiliatio­ns with the IRGC, but the organizati­on as a whole is not.

In 2007, the US Treasury designated the IRGC’s Quds Force, its unit in charge of operations abroad, “for its support of terrorism,” and has described it as Iran’s “primary arm for executing its policy of supporting terrorist and insurgent groups.”

Iran has warned of a “crushing” response should the United States go ahead with the designatio­n.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari warned in 2017, that if Trump went ahead with the move “then the Revolution­ary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

Such threats are particular­ly ominous for US forces in places such as Iraq, where Iran-aligned Shi’ite militia are located in close proximity to the troops.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse said the move would be an important step in America’s maximum pressure campaign against Tehran. “A formal designatio­n and its consequenc­es may be new, but these IRGC butchers have been terrorists for a long time,” he said in a statement.

Former under-secretary of State and lead Iran negotiator, Wendy Sherman said she worried about implicatio­ns for the US forces.

“One might even suggest, since it’s hard to see why this is in our interest, if the president isn’t looking for a basis for a conflict,” said Sherman, who is director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The IRGC is already fully sanctioned and this escalation absolutely endangers our troops in the region.”

Set up after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system, the IRGC is Iran’s most powerful security organizati­on. It has control over large sectors of the Iranian economy and has a huge influence in its political system.

The IRGC is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missiles and nuclear programs. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km. (1,242 miles), putting Israel and US military bases in the region within reach.

The IRGC has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units, and answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is unclear what impact this designatio­n of the IRGC as a terrorist organizati­on might have on America’s activities in countries that have ties with Tehran, including in Iraq.

Baghdad has deep cultural and economic ties with Iran and Oman, where the United States recently clinched a strategic ports deal.

 ?? (Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters) ?? IRANIAN FOREIGN Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
(Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters) IRANIAN FOREIGN Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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