The growing US-Iran acrimony does not bode well for the world, particularly the Middle East. The US has already imposed sanctions on Iran after withdrawing last year from the 2015 nuclear deal that the Islamic republic reached with P5+1.
And now there are reports that the Trump administration is gearing up to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation. While the US has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for their alleged affiliations with the Revolutionary Guards, the organisation has not been banned as a whole. If it happens, it will be the first time for Washington to formally label another country’s military a ‘terrorist group’.
While there has been no official US response to the reports of a looming designation for the Iranian Guards, Trump has been quite loud about his plans to contain Iran under a hawkish strategy — of which the nuclear deal withdrawal is a clear illustration.
Tehran too has warned of a ‘crushing’ response should Washington go ahead with blacklisting its elite 125,000-strong armed force — featuring army, navy and air units — set up after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 to protect the clerical ruling system.
Iran’s most powerful security organisation, the Revolutionary Guards are in charge of the country’s ballistic missiles and nuclear programmes, and enjoy a huge influence in the country’s political system as well as control over large sectors of economy.
So the curbs on Iran’s all-important force are unlikely to go without a response. Iran is on record to have warned the US that in case of a ban on its Guards, it would treat the American troops around the world just as it treats the Islamic State terrorist group.
Even among the US think-tanks, it is a general opinion that any such move by the US would increase risks for American troops without doing much more harm to the Iranian economy. It would be particularly threatening for US forces in places such as Iraq, where Iran-aligned militias are located in close proximity to US troops.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2019.
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