KHAMENEI TERMS GUARD BLACKLISTING ‘VICIOUS MOVE’
LONDON, April 9, (Agencies): Iran’s armed forces chief of staff on Tuesday warned US forces in the region of a “firm” response, a day after Washington designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation. “The Islamic Republic and its powerful and sacred state will certainly not remain silent about this unwise decision. If the US forces in the Western Asia … do anything wrong, we will firmly respond,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States had made “a vicious move” in designating the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organisation, and Tehran vowed to take action against US forces in the region. US President Donald Trump designated Iran’s Guards a foreign terrorist organisation on Monday — a step that will raise tensions in the Middle East.
“They wish to plot against our Sepah (the Guard corps) … it is in the frontline of confronting enemies of our (1979 Islamic) revolution and has always defended the country … America has failed to block our advances,” Khamenei, who controls the Guards, was quoted as saying by the state media. “In spite of all the pressure over the past 40 years, Americans have failed to do a damn thing and their vicious move will bear no fruit.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also defended the corps as protectors of Iran, saying in a televised speech that the United States “holds a grudge” against the Guards who have “sacrificed their lives to protect our people, our revolution”.
Comprising an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units, the Guards also command the Basij, a religious volunteer paramilitary force, and control Iran’s missile programmes. The Guards’ overseas Quds forces have fought Iran’s proxy wars in the region. The US has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the Guards, but not the organisation as a whole. The head of Revolutionary Guards dismissed Washington’s designation of the force as a terrorist organisation and said the Guards would increase their military capabilities. “This US move was quite laughable since the Revolutionary Guards are in people’s hearts … The Revolutionary Guards will increase its defensive and offensive capabilities in the coming year,” commander Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that his country is continuing to build its maximum pressure campaign against Iran. Pompeo made his remarks to reporters while announcing Washington’s intent to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
He said the designation will take effect one week from today, noting that businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not connected to the IRGC in any material way. “This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and surprise no one, and it builds on the more than 970 Iranian individuals and entities that the Trump administration has already sanctioned,” he stressed.
Pompeo added that with this designation; the Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality. “The IRGC will take its rightful place on the same list as terror groups its supports,” and that “the long list of IRGC backed terrorist incidences is ample justification for today’s decision,” he said. The US top diplomat also affirmed that this designation makes clear to the world that “Iranian regime not only supports terrorist groups, but engages in terrorism itself. “This designation also brings unprecedented pressure on figures who lead the regime’s terror campaign, individuals like Qasem Soleimani,” said Pompeo. “He doles out the regime’s profits to terrorist groups across the region and around the world,” he added.