WASHINGTON- In an extraordinary pace to ramp up pressing on Tehran, the Trump organisation is planning to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization.” The move is expected to further isolate Iran and could have widespread consequences for U.S. staff members and plan in the Middle eastern and elsewhere.
The Trump administration has intensified rhetoric against Iran for months, but this will differentiate the first such nickname by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity. Sections of the Guard , notably its nobility Quds Force, have been targeted previously by the United States.
Officials informed of the gradation said public announcements was expected as early as Monday.
Two U.S. officials and a congressional aide confirmed the proposed move. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of obscurity. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, seemed to anticipate the designation, saying in a tweet Sunday aimed at President Donald Trump that Trump “should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”
This would be merely the most recent developments move by the Trump administration to isolate Iran. Trump withdrew from the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and in the next few months that followed, reimposed punishing sanctions including those targeting Iran’s oil, send and banking sectors.
The Revolutionary Guard designation, planning for which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes with sanctions, including solidifies on resources the Guard may have in U.S. jurisdictions and a ban on Americans doing business with it or provisioning material expressed support for its activities.
Although the Guard has wide-reaching hold and influence over the Iranian economy, such penalties from the U.S. may have limited wallop. The moniker, however, could greatly complicate U.S. military members and diplomatic work , notably in Iraq, where numerous Shiite militias and Iraqi political parties have close ties to the Guard. And in Lebanon, where the Guard has open ties to Hezbollah, which is part of the Lebanese government.
Without exclusions or waivers to the designation, U.S. military members and diplomats could be barred from contact with Iraqi or Lebanese sovereignties who interact with Guard government officials and surrogates.
The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies have raised concerns about potential impacts of the designation if the move does not allow contact with foreign officials who may have met with or transmitted with Guard personnel. Those concerns have in part dissuaded previous administrations from participating in the step, which has been considered for more than a decade.
It was not immediately clear whether the designation would be covered by such carve-outs.
In addition to those complications, American commanders am worried that the designation may cause Iran to retaliate against U.S. armies in the region, and those commandants plan to warn U.S. troops remaining in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere of that possibility, according to a third U.S. official. This official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Aside from Iraq, where some 5,200 American troops are stationed, and Syria, where some U.S. 2,000 troops remain, the U.S. 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.
A similar inform is also expected from the State Department of possible Iranian retaliation against American interests, including canadian embassies and consulates, and anti-American demonstrations, the first two U.S. officials said. Similar notifies were issued at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 and most recently when the Trump administration announced it recognized under Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite health risks, Iran hard-liners on Capitol Hill, such as Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark ., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and elsewhere have all along been advocated for the designation. They say it will send an important message to Iran as well as cope it a further jolt after Trump plucked out of the 2015 nuclear bargain and reimposed economic sanctions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national protection consultant John Bolton have taken up the call and have in recent months spoken stridently about Iran and its “malign activities” in the region.
Pompeo has made clear in public statements that pressure on Tehran will only increase until it changes its behavior. Just last week, Pompeo’s special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, alleged Iran and its agents of is in charge of the death of 608 U.S. troops in Iraq between 2003 and 2011. He cited freshly declassified Defense Department information for the claim, which is expected to be used in the justification for the Guard designation.
“Secretary Pompeo will continue to use all the tools at our dumping to press the existing regime to be amended destructive policies for the best interests of the quietnes in the area and for the sake of its own people, who are the longest-suffering victims of this regime, ” Hook said, in an indication that new action is coming.
The department currently labels 60 groups, such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State and their various affiliates, Hezbollah and numerous militant Palestinian cliques, as “foreign terrorist organizations.” But nothing of them is a state-run military.
Once a moniker is announced by the secretary of state in coordination with the Treasury secretary, Congress has seven days to review it. If there are no dissents, it then will take effect.
Associated Press reporter Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.