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New provocation against Tehran Bush to brand Iranian force as "terrorist"
Thursday, August 16, 2007 :In a move with ominous implications, the Bush administration, according to articles in yesterday’s New York Times and Washington Post, has resolved to brand the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “specially designated global terrorist” organization. In doing so, Bush will use powers provided under a presidential order signed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The highly provocative step not only sets the stage for intensified economic pressure on Tehran, but also formalises a potential casus belli for US military action against Iran.
The decision to unilaterally criminalise a major branch of the military of a sovereign nation is unprecedented. The IRGC, which was formed after the 1979 Iranian revolution, has an estimated 125,000 soldiers and other personnel in its land, sea and air forces.
The designation will place the IRGC in the same category as Al Qaeda, Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups, all of which have been attacked either by the US military or its Israeli allies, and their members detained and tortured as “terrorist” suspects.
The pretext for the move is the unsubstantiated US claim that the IRGC is “interfering” in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporting “terrorist” groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Bush administration and Pentagon officials have been engaged in an escalating propaganda offensive in recent weeks claiming that the IRGC, in particular its elite Quds Force, has been arming, training and directing Shiite militias engaged in attacking US troops in Iraq. Washington further alleges that the IRGC has been assisting the Taliban and other anti-occupation forces in Afghanistan.Read More
Washington's reported plan to name Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a "specially designated global terrorist" organization may be less about raising pressure on Tehran than about raising pressure on U.S. allies to support a tougher line with Iran. In fact, the move reflects Washington's relative isolation on the question of how to deal with Iran. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the move is primarily directed at appeasing Bush Administration hawks and U.S. legislators who have been agitating for a more aggressive posture on Iran, and at turning the screws on European allies who are reluctant at this stage to escalate U.N. sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.
Naming the IRG as a terrorist group could be used to pressure foreign corporations whose business ties with Iran potentially involve dealings with the IRG, which is extensively involved in Iran's economy. The rationale offered for the move is to curb an organization that has long been at the forefront of Iranian support for Hizballah and other radical groups in the region — and, the Administration alleges, is playing an active destabilizing role in Iraq.
In fact, it is Tehran's role in Iraq and other neighboring countries, rather than the state of its nuclear program, that has been the focus of much of the Administration's recent statements on Iran. U.S. officials from President Bush on down have sought to portray Iran, and organizations associated with the Revolutionary Guards specifically, as the prime source of trouble in its neighborhood. U.S. officials now routinely blame Iran for many of the attacks on U.S. forces inside Iraq — despite limited evidence to back the claim — and accuse it of destabilizing the Iraqi government by supporting radical Shi'ite militia. The Administration also insists that Iran has been working to destabilize the Karzai government in Afghanistan, and accuses it of funneling weapons to the Taliban.