Iran designates U.S. defence force as terrorist organisation
The Iranian parliament has branded the U.S. a State Sponsor of Terrorism and designated Centcom, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, as a terrorist organisation, state broadcaster IRIB reported on Tuesday.
The development comes a week after the U.S. angered Tehran by putting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) force on a list of foreign terrorist groups.
Lawmakers defended the IRGC – a paramilitary organisation commanded by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – as an integral part of Iran, according to the IRIB report.
President Donald Trump announced the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organisation on April 8 in a White House statement that called the corps the Iranian government’s “primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”
The designation recognises not only that the IRGC, part of Iran’s military, is a state sponsor of terrorism, but that it “actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a “central tool of statecraft,” he said.
In response, Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani said the IRGC had been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, including against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
The IRGC has fought alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria since the start of that country’s conflict in 2011.
In 2018, Trump imposed a range of sanctions on Iran after he withdrew from the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal.
Similarly, Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Zarif met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday in Damascus, where they denounced the recent U.S. decision to recognise the Israeli annexation of the occupied Golan Heights.
Zarif, who was on a one-day visit, said U.S. President Donald Trump’s pronouncement on Golan was of a piece with the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and the terrorist designation against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“It indicates the failure of Washington’s policies in the region and the weakness of the American administration,” the Syrian state news agency SANA quoted Zarif as saying.
Israel seized the strategic Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Israel annexed the territory in 1981, although this move has not been recognised internationally.
Iran is a major ally of al-Assad and the Revolutionary Guards has been fighting alongside Syrian government troops since 2011.
Al-Assad, for his part, stressed that the “misguided” U.S. policies “can be seen as one of the major destabilising factors in the region.”
On Feb. 25, al-Assad travelled to Iran on an official visit, a rare trip abroad since Syria’s multi-sided civil war began with anti-government protests in 2011.
On the same day, Zarif made headlines in February when he suddenly resigned.
Reports at the time indicated that his resignation was in protest over being left out of meetings with al-Assad in Tehran.
His resignation was later rejected by Iranian President Hassan Rowhani.