Trump branding IRGC terrorists threatens to escalate regional tensions

Sunday, 2019-04-14 15:43:11
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Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade in Tehran September 22, 2011. (Reuters)
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NDO – Over recent days, “waves” have resurged in the Gulf as a result of tensions between the United States and Iran, after US President Donald Trump took an unprecedented step in dealing with Iran, labelling the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organisation. The US move has triggered fears that Tehran would apply retaliatory blows. A new “fire pan” is at risk of breaking out if the parties concerned do not take moves to cool down tensions.

Continuing the tough steps against Iran aiming to pressure Tehran into abandoning its “ambitions” on the nuclear programme and missiles carrying nuclear warheads as claimed by Washington, President Trump recently decided to consider IRGC as a foreign terrorist organisation. This is the first time the US has listed a nation’s military force on the terrorist list. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of measures to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran. Accordingly, President Trump will continue to increase pressure on Iran to force the Islamic nation to change its behaviour. All banks and businesses will suffer severe consequences if they continue to carry out transactions with IRGC. Previously, the US government imposed new sanctions on a network of companies and individuals in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stating that the network provided billions of dollars for IRGC. Twenty-five individuals and organisations were placed on Washington’s “blacklist” for being claimed to be the “screen” of IRGC and the Iranian Defence Ministry.

As the most powerful security organisation with huge influence on Iran’s political and economic system, IRGC insisted that it would use all means to combat the United States Central Command (CENTCOM). In response to the US move, IRGC declared CENTCOM and related forces in the West Asian region as terrorist organisations. The IRGC commander warned the US Navy to maintain the distance between its warships and IRGC’s high-speed vessels in the Gulf. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani affirmed that IRGC is a force that serves to protect the Islamic Republic of Iran. He stressed that the IRGC members sacrificed their lives to protect the people and the Islamic Revolution in 1979. President Rouhani considers the US decision a mistake, while other Iranian officials warned that the new US move would jeopardise Washington’s interests in the region. The Iranian leader also warned that, if the US puts pressure on Iran, Tehran will manufacture a series of IR8 centrifuges. At the moment of escalating tensions with the US, IRGC commanders repeatedly stated that US bases in the Middle East and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within the range of Iranian missiles. Tehran also warned that it would prevent oil tankers from passing through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, if the US seeks to pressure Iran’s economy via preventing it from exporting oil.

Analysts have stated that the US labelling IRGC as a “foreign terrorist organisation” could disrupt US economic and diplomatic links globally and escalate tensions in the Middle East. Many countries have called on the parties concerned to avoid actions that escalate tensions in the region. There are warnings that the US move may cause Washington’s rival nations to apply similar measures against US intelligence and defence officials. Even the Pentagon and the US intelligence community also fear that President Trump’s move could lead to a backlash aimed at US forces in the region without “damaging the Iranian economy as planned”. Analysts worry that retaliation from Iran and the Shi'ite Islam forces in Middle Eastern countries will escalate regional confrontation and complicate the duties of US forces and diplomats, who are in charge of working with governments with close ties to Iran and even Iran itself to addresses a range of sensitive issues.

Along with the tightening of sanctions against Iran, the new move of US President Trump aimed at IRGC has made relations between the two countries worsen, triggering fears of further complicating the situation in the region. The international community has called on the parties concerned to avoid creating dangerous precedents causing confrontation in relationships because the Middle East region already has so many “hot spots” and is in desperate need of actions to ease tensions.