WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.
The Trump administration step is part of the US’s already far-reaching attempts to undermine the Iranian government.
President Donald Trump said in a statement that the “unprecedented” move “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
“The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” Trump said.
It is the first time the United States has designated part of a foreign government a terrorist organization, rather than guerrilla groups or other more informal entities.
The move comes on top of Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of an international deal with Iran that was meant to lift crippling economic sanctions in return for the government allowing its nuclear technology to be restricted and kept under close supervision.
The Trump administration argues that Iran’s government, which is locked in a deeply hostile standoff with top US ally Israel, cannot be trusted and should face “maximum pressure.”
Israeli’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warmly welcomed the move by his “dear friend” Trump.
Another official said the force has “been a principal driver of violence on a vast scale for many decades” in an attempt “to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor.”
The dramatic escalation of Washington’s attempt to undermine Iran’s leaders comes on the eve of Israeli elections where close Trump ally Netanyahu is seeking to extend his 13 years in office.
Trump, who describes himself as the most pro-Israeli US president ever, has recently recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, as well as previously moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem.
“Thank you, my dear friend, US President Donald Trump, for having decided to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued minutes after the White House announcement.
“Thank you for responding to another important request of mine, which serves the interests of our countries and countries of the region.”