The Trump administration warned those working with the Iranian military -implicated in a series of terror plots across the Middle East- they too will face new US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Without exclusions or waivers to the designation, US troops and diplomats could be barred from contact with Iraqi or Lebanese authorities who interact with Guard officials or surrogates. The Iranian Supreme National Security Council, in retaliation, has recognized the US Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organization. The US was branded as a "state sponsor of terrorism" with its military elements in the Middle East duly designated as "terrorist groups". It also side steps the possibility that the Trump Organization, in signing contracts in 2012 with developers behind the Trump Tower Baku project, had indirect dealings with Azarpassillo, an Iranian construction company controlled by the IRGC. The move, suggested Iranian state TV, had as much to do with usa dislike of Tehran's influence in the region as it did with its success in "fighting Islamic State".
Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC's commander, called the decision "foolishness" and said US troops in the Middle East would "lose their current status of ease and serenity" should the decision go through.
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". Adding the IRGC to the watchlist is a significant step and should act as a deterrent for organisations which enable Iran and its proxies to carry out their expansionist agenda. And this goes not just for voters for the Likud party, or the right-wing parties that are expected to join Likud in the next government, but even for Blue-and-White, which largely echoed Netanyahu's positions on important foreign-policy and national-security questions.
With hundreds of thousands of members, the Revolutionary Guard oversees the country's ballistic missiles and nuclear programs as well as having its hand in lucrative businesses, including Iran's banking, shipping and oil industries.
Monday's move by the United States government is an unprecedented declaration against a foreign administration and may prompt retaliation, making it harder for America to work with allies in the region.
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Smith-Schuster winning the Steelers' most valuable player award, as voted on by teammates, seemed to make matters worse. He showed support for his fellow wide receiver from the Pro Bowl but made clear he wouldn't be involved.
"We oppose power politics and bullying by any countries", China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said when asked about the USA designation. Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, also maintains strong ties with the IRGC.
Aside from Iraq, where some 5,200 American troops are stationed, and Syria, where some US 2,000 troops remain, the USA 5th Fleet, which operates in the Persian Gulf from its base in Bahrain, and the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, are potentially at risk.
"With this designation the Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality", said Pompeo.
Despite the risks, Iran hard-liners on Capitol Hill, such as Sens. Trump a year ago pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions on the country, mainly targeting Iran's vital oil sector.
But, in addition to the potential for Iranian retaliation, it complicates a delicate balance for us personnel in at least two key countries- Iraq and Lebanon.
"You use terrorist groups against the peoples of the region and yet claim to have been fighting terrorism?"