Iran warns US of ‘big risk’ if it blacklists IRGC
Iran’s top military official has warned the US of the repercussions which Washington’s possible branding of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization would have.
Last month, US senators passed a bill of sanctions that target Iranian individuals and entities after they called on the State Department to designate IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
“Tagging the Guards along with terrorist groups and imposing similar sanctions is a big risk for the Americans, their bases and their forces in the region,” Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said Monday.
The bipartisan US Senate vote, which is now to go to the House, is demanding major action from the Trump administration against the IRGC, Iran’s key arm to protect the Islamic Republic.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that Washington would support a “peaceful” regime change in Iran, and that the overall Iran policy was under development.
Baqeri warned the United States against “wrong calculations” regarding the Islamic Republic, including its planned sanctions and possible blacklisting of the IRGC.
“American officials are advised to talk somewhat wiser, more measured and mature to other countries, especially a country like Iran that has stood against all conspiracies with pride and strength, and no longer play with their honor.”
Washington’s measures against Iran fly in the face of a landmark nuclear accord which prohibits new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The US says the new sanctions target Iran over its missile program, the country’s support for resistance groups such as Hezbollah and its alleged human rights violations.
Baqeri stressed that Iran’s “missile power is defensive and not subject to bargaining and negotiation at any level.”
“The Iranian nation has always stood up to the system of domination and arrogance, especially America, and become more firmly established; hence, further sanctions will provide an opportunity for growth, self-reliance and attention to the indigenous and domestic capacities of the country,” he said.
Baqeri said Iran, which has weathered “about four decades of conspiracies and threats as well as an intensified anti-Iranian investment by the regional extras of America and the Zionist regime,” is facing new threats.
“The emergence of new security threats, which with the design and endeavors of the arrogant powers and reactionary regimes of the region and the negligence of some neighbors has targeted the Islamic Republic with the aim of moving the threats inside Iran, calls for more vigilance and readiness in order to counteract and neutralize them,” he added.
Baqeri was apparently referencing to Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman’s vague remarks in April that Riyadh would work to move “the battle” to Iran.
The Iranian official touched on the ongoing conflicts in the region, saying they were the result of “interference by arrogant powers, Zionist plots and the stupidity and treachery of some unpopular and oppressive regimes of the region.”
Threat of new war
Baqeri further said a planned referendum by Iraq’s Kurdish leaders on secession from the Arab country could lead to new challenges and problems in the region.
In April, representatives of the two main Kurdish parties of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) discussed the issue of a referendum and decided to hold the vote this year.
“That just after the defeat of Daesh and Takfiri terrorists following three years of war and displacement of the Iraqi people … there is this talk of a referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan and the separation of a part of Iraq does not seem to be normal,” Baqeri said.
“This is by no means acceptable to Iraq’s neighbors,” he said. “Preserving the independence and integrity of Iraq is in the interest of all the tribes, religions and different parts of the region,” he added.
Baqeri also said the region cannot bear another war, warning that a new conflict would definitely pave the way for “ill-wishers and aggressors” to establish a foothold in the region.
Another senior military commander, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, described the US as the main sponsor of terrorist groups and state terrorism in the Middle East.
“All evidences point to the formation and reinforcement of terror outfits in the region by the US and the United Kingdom,” said Jazayeri who is the deputy head of Iran’s chief of staff of the armed forces.
The official also said that “all the regimes that have helped the terrorists in Iraq and Syria are now suffering from the problems that will continue to plague them in the future and the United States is no exception.”