Iran Places US CENTCOM on Terrorism Blacklist
EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Supreme National Security Council placed the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, on Iran’s list of terrorist groups in response to the US move to blacklist the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
“In a reciprocal action in response to the illegal and unwise move by the US [against the IRGC], the Islamic Republic of Iran regards the US regime as a state sponsor of terrorism and the US Central Command and all forces linked to it as a terrorist group,” SNSC said in a statement on Monday, ISNA reported.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif had earlier proposed that the US Central Command be blacklisted in response to the US hostile measure, according to Financial Tribune.
In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani on Monday, who is also the head of the Supreme National Security Council, the top diplomat called for US military forces based in the region, known as CENTCOM, to be added to the list of terror groups “due to their covert and overt support for terrorist outfits and their direct involvement in terrorist activities.”
In a statement posted on the website of the White House earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump announced the US administration’s plan to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, including its Quds Force, which is in charge of overseas operations, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
The designation is the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as an FTO.
“This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian [government]. It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism,” the statement contended.
“This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its [alleged] support for terrorism has serious consequences. We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian [government] for its [alleged] support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior.”
Zarif had on Sunday warned that Washington’s likely decision to designate the IRGC a Foreign Terrorist Organization would have disastrous consequences for the United States.
Zarif posted the tweet referring to “NetanyahuFirsters”—those in the American administration who prefer the Israeli president’s interests to those of their own country—as advocates of such decision who are knowingly creating a perilous situation for the US.
“#NetanyahuFirsters who have long agitated for FTO designation 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,” he tweeted.
The foreign minister posted the image of an article that suggested US President Donald Trump is becoming a puppet of Sheldon Adelson, an investor with a history of financing and supporting Israeli policies.
American official sources had told the media that the decision was strongly supported by National Security Adviser John Bolton, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both strident Iran hawks.
There also appeared in Zarif’s tweet a picture of Bolton in the screenshot of an article discussing how he defends President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq that plunged the country into lingering trouble.
“@realDonaldTrump should know better than to be conned into another US disaster,” Zarif wrote, warning that the same repercussions would arise from the decision to blacklist IRGC.
The US had already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliation with IRGC, but the organization as a whole was not.
Parliamentarians were the first to react after the news of the likely designation emerged.
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said in a tweet that Iran would reciprocally place US military forces on the list of terrorist groups alongside the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
The parliament later prepared a bill to immediately blacklist American troops after the announcement and over 250 lawmakers signed a statement in support of the plan.
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari had also described the expected move as “idiocy”, stressing that it would entail Iran’s appropriate response.
“If Americans perform such a foolish act and threaten our national security, we will put on agenda and carry out reciprocal action in accordance with the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Jafari added that the military and security forces of the US “will no longer enjoy the peace they have today in West Asia” under those circumstances.
The US currently has troops in Iraq and Syria as well as in Afghanistan. It also has military bases in most Persian Gulf Arab countries.
Pentagon and CIA officials have reportedly cautioned against the move, fearing that it could lead to a backlash against US forces stationed in the Middle East.