Iran’s commander of IRGC’s Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani. (IRNA)

April 11, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s decision to classify Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization has culminated the campaign of mounting pressure on Tehran.

But this decision takes the confrontation to unprecedented levels and raises questions about its timing and implications.

In an interview with Fox News, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the commander of the Quds Force, Iran’s commander of IRGC’s Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani will be viewed the same way as ISIS’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He called Soleimani “a terrorist” and saying he and the IRGC would be targeted like any other terrorist organization.

“Qassem Soleimani has the blood of Americans on his hands… as does the force that he leads, and America is determined each time we find an organization, institution or an individual that has taken the lives of Americans, it is our responsibility. It’s indeed President Trump’s duty.”

The Secretary reported that IRGC has already killed over 600 US soldiers, warning that “you can’t have peace, you can’t have stability, you can’t have security in the Middle East without weakening the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

Pompeo explained that increased pressure will save US lives and create greater stability, peace and security throughout the Middle East.

“We’re confident this increased pressure will save American lives and create more stability, more peace, more security throughout the Middle East.”

Several US circles indicated that Tehran was attempting to use time in its favor, hoping it could lead to a change in the behavior of the new administration. It was also hoping Trump will be sacked, relying on the open investigation into the case of the assumed Russian intervention in the 2016 elections.

But the immediate reaction to Trump’s decision gave a conclusive signal that these stakes could be a failure as there were no serious objections from US political forces against it.

White House officials cited a Senate bill prepared by Republicans and Democrats together in 2007, during the former President George W. Bush, to classify the Guards as a foreign terrorist organization.

Then Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also co-sponsored the law a year before Obama was elected as president.

On Monday, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who is preparing with other members to welcome a draft resolution to impose new sanctions, especially on Iran-funded organizations, praised the Trump decision.

Cruz who has been pushing for this designation applauded the President and his administration for taking the long overdue step of designating the Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“Today’s announcement should be followed by additional measures to do exactly that, as well as to hold the IRGC accountable for the full range of its additional malign and sanctionable activities, including ballistic missile proliferation, participating in Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons, the war in Yemen, human rights atrocities, bolstering the murderous Assad regime in Syria, and financing Hezbollah.”

The decision would impose extensive economic and travel sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards as well as organizations, companies, and individuals linked to it.

Sources in the US State Department said details of the decision would be announced in the coming days.

While the implementation of the resolution is expected to take effect on the fifteenth of this month, the defense ministry said that new measures will be adopted to ensure the security of US forces in the region and the proper implementation of the resolution.

Top American intelligence and military officials, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, opposed Trump’s action which they argued would allow Iranian leaders to justify operations against Americans overseas, especially Special Operations units and paramilitary units working under the CIA.

The New York Times reported that “the designation was opposed by some top Trump administration national security officials who said it could incite retaliation by Tehran against American troops and intelligence officers.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.