Iran hits back at USA after terrorist listing

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Iraq's prime minster says his government tried to stop the US from labelling Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a "foreign terrorist organization", saying the designation could have negative consequences for Iraq and the Middle East. While Trump attempts to defrost matters with North Korea, Iran has played the convenient bug bear.

The designation effectively means that anyone who deals with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could face prison in the United States. Such a effect may well be wishful thinking.

The message from Washington is that only the United States - and its clients - are allowed to project power across their borders, and when it comes to the Middle East, only America can play hegemon. Tensions between the two countries have continued to rise after Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. As before, the nature of the sanctions against the IRGC means foreign companies must conduct thorough checks when working with Iranian companies to ensure the latter have no ties with the IRGC lest the foreign companies incur USA financial penalties.

"Iran can not support them unless it brings the Fatimeyoun group in Afghanistan and continue intereferring in Afghanistan's internal affairs alongside that", said military analyst Atiqullah Amarkhail. US Central Command revealed a different figure: between November 2005 and December 2011, the number of US combatant deaths arising from EFP "events" stood at 196.

According to information that the National Security Archive recently revealed, Washington's allies in Europe and the Arabian Peninsula have issued warnings of the risks of the United States pursuing regime change in Tehran or stepping up its efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic.

The issue is complicated from another perspective.

The IRGC has moved from being treated as a supporting actor in providing backing for terrorism that its proxies undertake to an organization branded as directly engaging in terrorism itself.

It also sends a strong message to the European Union, which has indicated it wants to salvage some part of the 2015 nuclear deal, despite the USA pulling out previous year.

"This is trying to dry up the money source for the IRGC, they spend about a billion to two billion dollars a year funding terrorism, and the idea here is that we are putting on notice companies that deal with them, that if you deal with them, you are bankrolling terrorism as well", Singer added.

The concept is strikingly simplistic, ignoring the myriad of entanglements that follows from IRGC involvement in the Iranian economy proper.

The US move was also welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked Trump for "serving the interests of our countries and of countries in the region".

But the U.S. move can not be circumscribed to Israeli politics. The unprecedented move against another country's armed forces is bound to rachet up tensions with Tehran.

The US's tough stance on Iran can not work in isolation; it must be followed by concerted worldwide efforts to rein in terror where it threatens to destabilise an entire region. "Protecting the revolution" meant detaining, torturing and murdering thousands of students and activists who participated in it, but did not share Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's hardline Islamist vision.

"In the shorter term, (the terror designation) also represents an attempt to impose an "either with us or against us" approach to several governments in the region, namely Lebanon and Iraq", said Shabani. Now, following the new IRGC designation, pro-Iran factions in Iraq may see such statements as acts of aggression by the United States.

Rhetorical retaliation was not long in coming and seemed nearly casual.

Tehran retaliated against Washington's decision by naming the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organization and the USA government as a sponsor of terrorism.

China chimed in on the US designation and urged that countries outside of the Middle East to "promote peace and stability ... and avoid actions that may lead to further escalation of the situation".

Donald Trump's move on Monday marked the first time Washington has declared another nation's military wing a terrorist organisation - in the same category as non-state groups such as Isis or al-Qaida.

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