Iran vows to treat CENTCOM, affiliates as 'terrorists'

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Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, met members of the Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday, telling them: "Americans imagine they are designing and making trouble against the guard - in fact against the revolution and Iran - but their evil designs will not harm [the force]".

The session comes as Iran marks the annual National Day of the Revolutionary Guard.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani denounced the USA decision as the "climax of stupidity and ignorance".

Monday's USA move, formally under the State Department's purview, has been made as part of the White House's increasingly aggressive strategy towards Iran.

The US has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the Guards, but not the organization as a whole.

The IRGC, which has roughly 125,000 military personnel and enjoys growing public support, is also actively cooperating in construction, infrastructure and relief projects.

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Pro-Israel advocacy group Christians United for Israel (CUFI) commented on the news, saying that "in 2017, we welcomed the Treasury Department's designation of the IRGC for their support of terrorist organizations, and we now welcome the Trump Administration's designation of the IRGC as an FTO".

The US may have a bone to pick with Iran, but labelling a state's military unit as "terrorists" is unusual; even during the height of the Cold War the US did not use such terms for the Red Army, and vice versa.

"The U.S. government's move to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group is a desperate attempt to take revenge and cover up its failures in the region", the Iranian Armed Forces' statement said.

President Trump is forcing other countries to make a choice. It will increase financial pressure on Iran and isolate it more from the rest of the world.

President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech on state television in which he angrily rejected the White House's decision, AFP reported.

AIPAC called the IRGC "the principal instrument of the Iranian regime's policy of worldwide terrorism and regional aggression." .

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The April 8 designation of the IRGC is thus the first time the United States has labeled an entire unit of a foreign military a foreign terrorist organization.

"We oppose power politics and bullying by any countries", China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said when asked about the USA designation.

"Secretary Pompeo will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to press the regime to change its destructive policies for the benefit of peace in the region and for the sake of its own people, who are the longest-suffering victims of this regime", Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, said this week. To that point, Iraq's pro-Iranian factions will feel increasingly emboldened when demanding expulsion of American troops from their country.

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.

Iran has so far continued to comply with the nuclear deal, but Tehran's clerical rulers have threatened to withdraw from it and to resume the suspended nuclear work if other signatories of the pact fail to protect Iran's interests.

A future US administration that possibly seeks to chart a new course in US-Iran relations by bringing back diplomacy will have a harder time doing so because of this IRGC terrorist designation. "Be aware that, from today, the popularity of the guards in the hearts of the Iranian nation and in the region will be more than ever".

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