Why is the U.S. calling Iran's Revolutionary Guard 'terrorists'?

Erika Holt
April 10, 2019

After the USA designated Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization on Monday, Iranian lawmakers made a symbolic gesture to show their support to the country's military elite -- they wore Guards' uniforms to parliament on Tuesday as Iran marked the annual National Day of the Revolutionary Guards.

Riyadh has repeatedly slammed the IRGC, founded in 1979 in order to counter left-wing opposition groups, as terrorists, calling on the United States to recognize it as a terrorist organization.

The US may have a bone to pick with Iran, but labelling a state's military unit as "terrorists" is unusual; even during the height of the Cold War the US did not use such terms for the Red Army, and vice versa.

Rouhani announced that US Central Command (Centcom), the Pentagon wing dealing with US operations in most of the Middle East and Iran, would be classified as a terrorist organisation and the US government as a sponsor of terror.

The IRGC commander dismissed Washington's decision and said the Guards would upgrade their military capabilities.

Mr Rouhani hailed the Guards for fighting terrorism since their creation in 1979, and accused USA forces of having always been involved with terrorist groups or acts of terrorism.

The IRGC is believed to be active in some of the most unstable parts of the Middle East, particularly Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and Iranian officials have referred to the IRGC and the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah as "a single apparatus jointed together".

"Since past year, we have acquired kind of missiles that you can not even imagine", Rouhani said, referring to Iran's determination to continue expanding its missile program despite mounting United States pressure to curb it. The session coincided with the country celebrating the National Day of the Revolutionary Guard.

The United States has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the Guards, but not the organisation as a whole.

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The president added that the move was meant to "significantly expand the scope and scale" of pressure on Iran.

He said the move "underscores the fact that Iran's actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments", and warned: "If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism".

"Our clients have been taken hostage in Yemen by the Houthi rebels who are funded by the IRGC", Singer told CBN News.

As the "waivers window" is shrinking as we approach early May, buyers may be rushing to buy what they can before April to squeeze in under the current waiver in case waivers are not extended, according to analysts.

Image copyright Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Image caption Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (left) seen at the 21st Nationwide Assembly of the IRGC in 2015 What is the IRGC?

"Rest assured that today the IRGC is more popular than ever before in the hearts of the Iranian nation as well as in the region".

The 125,000-strong elite force, comprised of army, navy and air units, answers directly to the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and controls major businesses in Iran as well.

The IRGC exerts influence elsewhere in the Middle East by providing money, weapons, technology, training and advice to allied governments and armed groups through its shadowy overseas operations arm, the Quds (Jerusalem) Force.

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