U.S. listed IRGC as terror organization – TV7 Israel News 17.04.19


Shalom and good evening, this is TV7 Israel
News broadcasting to you from Jerusalem; And in today’s top stories;
Less than a day after a U.S. decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as
a terror organization has officially taken effect, the Iranian Parliament approved a
countermeasure to the American move by adopting a bill that labels the United States Military
in the Middle East as a terrorist entity. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut announced that
the United States provided military equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces valued at 14.3
million dollars. The Egyptian parliament in Cairo approved
changes to the country’s constitution that will grant President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
the legal backing to remain in power until 2030. Less than a day after the U.S. decision to
designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror organization has officially
taken effect, the Iranian Parliament approved a countermeasure to the American move by adopting
a bill that labels the United States Military in the Middle East as a terrorist entity. The Iranian bill, which was introduced by
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami, was voted on by 207 out of the 290-seat chamber. 204 Iranian lawmakers voted in favor of the
bill, while two voted against and one abstained. An Iranian political analyst told TV7 that
contrary to previous reports, Tehran’s Parliament, called the Majless in Farsi, designated only
part of the U.S. military on its terror list,, specifically the CENTCOMM, which is the U.S.
Central Command – tasked with American Military operations across the Middle East and southwest
Asia, excluding Israel. According to the contents of the bill, the
Iranian government was granted the necessary legal authorization to “act firmly in response
to (- what it termed -) terrorist actions by U.S. forces in the region.” Furthermore, the bill instructs the government
to actively pursue “legal, political and diplomatic measures to neutralize the American measure
vis-?-vis the Islamic Revolutionary Guards,” yet stopped short from elaborating on any
specific courses of action. That said, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif embarked on a vigorous campaign against the U.S. decision to designate the
Islamic Revolutionary Guards, commonly known by its acronym IRGC, as a terror entity. While the top Iranian diplomat consistently
avoids dissection of the IRGC’s actions that have led to Washington’s decision, Zarif stressed
during a visit to the Syrian capital Damascus yesterday that “Washington’s policies are
(clearly) based on serving the interests of (the state of) Israel.” During his visit to Israel’s northern neighbor,
the Iranian Foreign Minister met with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem and President
Bashar al-Assad, after which he declared that the two countries will continue to cooperate
to bolster their bilateral relations and implement additional measures “in order to improve the
economic situation in both (Syria) and Iran.” According to a Syrian political analyst, Damascus
and Tehran will work together to strengthen cooperation on the ground that will aim to
mitigate – what he termed as: “the negative impact of the (U.S.) decision on Iran.” “Syria will certainly condemn such a decision. Syria and Iran have close strategic relations. So for Syria, Iran’s IRGC is a state institution
and should not be labeled [as a terrorist organization]. Therefore, Syria definitely will condemn such
a decision and will work with Iran and its other regional allies to strengthen cooperation
to mitigate the negative impact of the decision on Iran.” While Iranian official are making extensive
efforts to mitigate the impact of the U.S. decision, those efforts clearly signal the
mounting pressure on the Islamic Revolutionary regime. The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei pointed to the IRGC as a prominent pillar in the regime’s operations on all levels,
yet stressed that the American measure will achieve nothing. “The Guards are a very prominent structure
in our country. If it’s to confront an enemy from a political
standpoint, the Guards are leading it. If it’s to confront an enemy in the field
and theatre of military operations, the Guards are leading it. If the enemy is already inside the country
and on our streets, the Guards are confronting it. That is why you see the Americans resort to
such tactics, which of course will achieve nothing.” With all of the Iranian efforts to counter
the U.S. decision, Washington does not appear overly troubled. Instead, during a Question and Answer session
of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Texas A&M University, the American top diplomat
warned of “vigorous” consequences to any international dealings with the IRGC. Question: “Mr. Secretary, with the new designation
of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization, I was wondering how
heavily the United States would be pursuing sanctions against companies with alleged dealings
with this organization?” Secretary Pompeo: “Vigorously. Our mission is to try and create peace and
stability in the Middle East. That’s the macro objective. And so we’ve worked on that by building
out an enormous coalition to defeat ISIS. We’re still working to take down the remnants
of ISIS. There are various estimates, from 5 to 12
to 21,000 members of ISIS who are still there, moving around in Iraq and Syria and Turkey. Our efforts to continue to prevent them from
attacking around the globe are real and serious and will continue. The second piece of that has been to identify
the other great threat, which is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which remains the largest
sponsor of terror.” / “So the second piece of this is to convince
Iran it’s not in their best interest to continue to foment terror and engage in malign
activity all throughout the Middle East. So a – so the next step down from that is
how do you do it. One of the pieces of that is our sanctions
effort. We have lots of efforts apart from that. With respect to the designation, which actually
came into effect just this week, some – the unclassified – some 20 percent of the Iraqi
economy is controlled by the IRGC. So my wisdom for those of you who are connected
to companies that might be doing business with them or if you’re the general counsel
for a European bank that’s doing business with a company that might have a 20 percent
shareholder, the IRGC, is you should check your work.” It is important to note that Iran’s Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps is comprised of an estimated 125,000-strong military with
army, navy and air units. It also commands the so-called “Basij”, which
is a religious volunteer paramilitary force, and maintains control over Iran’s missile
programs. The IRGC also controls a foreign branch, which
is called the Quds force, that oversees Iran’s proxy wars in the region, that also includes
the country’s efforts to entrenchment militarily along Israel’s northern frontier. Now with regard to Israel’s northern neighbor,
Lebanon; The U.S. Embassy in Beirut announced that
the United States provided military equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces valued at 14.3
million dollars. In a statement published on the Embassy’s
twitter account, it was revealed that the delivery included night-vision devices, radios
and other equipment, which is part of the U.S. ongoing support to the Lebanese Military. While Israel complained in the past of the
growing influence by the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah over the Lebanese armed forces; the Israeli
Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said it had no response to TV7’s request for comment. Nevertheless, an Israeli security official
who requested to remain anonymous told TV7 that concerns were voiced to relevant U.S.
officials, and that Jerusalem will continue to closely monitor the Lebanese arena, which
continues to serve as a hub for Iranian-backed terror organizations – including Hezbollah,
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Now to Israel’s Western neighbor, where;
The Egyptian parliament in Cairo approved changes to the country’s constitution that
will grant President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the legal backing to remain in power until
2030. In practical terms, the referred to amendments
will extend President Sisi’s current term to six years from four and then allow him
to run again for a third Presidential term, which would last six years, as well. The amendments would also bolster the role
of the military in political life and increase the president’s power over the judiciary system. Supporters of the amendments insist that the
changes are necessary to give President Sisi more time to complete major development projects
and economic reforms. His critics claim, however, that the changes
concentrate more powers in the hands of a leader accused by human-rights groups and
Islamist organizations of presiding over a relentless crackdown on freedoms. It is important to note, however, that even
though parliament had approved the amendments, a nation-wide endorsement in a referendum
is necessary to implement the changes. A date for the referendum has not yet been
confirmed, but authorities have launched a wide-scale public campaign to encourage Egyptians to participate.

Daniel Ostrander

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