Archive for April 7, 2019

Iran threatens to respond in kind if US labels Revolutionary Guard terrorists

April 7, 2019

Source: Iran threatens to respond in kind if US labels Revolutionary Guard terrorists | The Times of Israel

Majority of MPs in Tehran warn Washington against reported plans to apply label to entirety of special military force

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran on September 22, 2018. (AFP/STR)

Iranian lawmakers warned on Sunday they would respond in kind if the United States designated their country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terror group.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported such a move by Washington could come as early as Monday and would be the first time the US has designated a state entity as a terrorist organization.

Responding to the report, a vast majority of lawmakers in Iran’s parliament issued a statement threatening to designate elements of the US military a terror group, state-run news agency IRNA reported.

“We will answer any action taken against this force with a reciprocal action,” Reuters quoted the statement, signed by 255 out of the parliament’s 290 members, as saying. “So the leaders of America, who themselves are the creators and supporters of terrorists in the (Middle East) region, will regret this inappropriate and idiotic action.”

According to IRNA, the lawmakers also called the IRGC one of Iran’s greatest achievements since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The US has accused the IRGC of supporting terror groups and militias throughout the Middle East that threaten allies such as Israel.

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps are seen at an annual military parade in front of the mausoleum of the late Ayatollah Khomeini just outside Tehran on September 22, 2014. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi/File)

The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed officials, said US President Donald Trump’s administration would announce the long-mulled decision as soon as Monday and that concerned defense officials were bracing for the impact. Reuters said three US officials confirmed the plan.

It would be the first time the US has designated another nation’s army as a terror organization.

Iran warned that it could respond in kind, listing the US military as a terror group.

“If the Revolutionary Guards are placed on America’s list of terrorist groups, we will put that country’s military on the terror blacklist next to Daesh [Islamic State],” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, tweeted on Saturday.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was formed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution with a mission to defend the clerical regime, in contrast to more traditional military units that protect borders. It exists in parallel to Iran’s regular military. The Revolutionary Guards have amassed enormous power within Iran, becoming owners of significant industries and other economic interests on behalf of the regime.

In this file photo from October 31, 2017, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks to journalists after his speech at a conference called ‘A World Without Terror,’ in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

The Guards’ prized foreign operations unit is the Quds Force, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, which supports forces allied with Iran around the region, including the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.

The Trump administration has already imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran after withdrawing last year from an international agreement under which Tehran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

A foreign terrorist designation would make it harder for businesses and institutions to interact with the IRGC and its assets, as many such interactions would carry punishments under US law.

The Pentagon and CIA reportedly have reservations about the planned move by the Trump administration, with officials saying it could increase risks for US troops in the region without doing much more to damage the Iranian economy than existing sanctions and restrictions are already doing.

Reuters noted that in 2017 IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said such action by Washington would lead the Guards to “consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse spoke in support of the move, saying, “A formal designation and its consequences may be new, but these IRGC butchers have been terrorists for a long time.”

 

Israels 1982 War in Lebanon 

April 7, 2019

From the TV series “Modern Warfare.”

( The first War I fought in on a Dabur class patrol boat off Sidon, Tyre and Beirut. – JW )

The 1982 Lebanon War, dubbed Operation Peace for Galilee (Hebrew: מבצע שלום הגליל, or מבצע של”ג‎ Mivtsa Shlom HaGalil or Mivtsa Sheleg) by the Israeli government, later known in Israel as the Lebanon War or the First Lebanon War (Hebrew: מלחמת לבנון הראשונה‎, Milhemet Levanon Harishona), and known in Lebanon as “the invasion” (Arabic: الاجتياح‎, Al-ijtiyāḥ), began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invaded southern Lebanon, after repeated attacks and counter-attacks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operating in southern Lebanon and the IDF that had caused civilian casualties on both sides of the border.[16][17][18] The military operation was launched after gunmen from Abu Nidal’s organization attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin blamed Abu Nidal’s enemy, the PLO, for the incident,[19][20] and treated the incident as a casus belli for the invasion.[21][22][i]

After attacking the PLO – as well as Syrian, leftist, and Muslim Lebanese forces – the Israeli military, in cooperation with the Maronite allies and the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State, occupied southern Lebanon, eventually surrounding the PLO and elements of the Syrian Army. Surrounded in West Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, the PLO forces and their allies negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of United States Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers. The PLO, under the chairmanship of Yasser Arafat, had relocated its headquarters to Tripoli in June 1982.

Trump’s blacklisting of Iran’s Guards bodes tougher US oil sanctions, more IDF air strikes in W. Iraq as well as Syria – DEBKAfile

April 7, 2019

Source: Trump’s blacklisting of Iran’s Guards bodes tougher US oil sanctions, more IDF air strikes in W. Iraq as well as Syria – DEBKAfile

President Donald Trump’s planned designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization on Monday, April 8 , will add to US steps for maximizing the economic pressure on Iran in the coming two months.

It is the first time a government military entity has been branded terrorist. The US can expect Iran to retaliate at once by proclaiming the American army a global terrorist organization on a par with the Islamic State and calling on allied regimes to follow Tehran’s example, such as, for instance, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Closer to home, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah and the pro-Iranian militia conglomerate in Iraq, may well act in solidarity with Iran, in which case, violent clashes may erupt between the proxies Iran has scattered across the Middle East and US forces. Conscious of the threat, on Friday, April 5, American army units in the region were placed on the alert for Iranian-orchestrated reprisals.

DEBKAfile’s military analysts suggests that Trump’s latest move against the IRGC may take practical form in various ways:

  1. Does it mean that that US forces are henceforth licensed to attack IRGC forces in their different regional sectors of operation? Or was it a general directive to open the door for such attacks in the future?
  2. More realistically, blacklisting the IRGC as a terrorist organization is likely to bear more significantly on the Corps economic power, rather than its military functions. The Guards are not only Iran’s most powerful security organization, with control over its missiles and nuclear programs; they also rule essential sections of the economy, with responsibility for the country’s oil exports and import of energy products. The IRGC, moreover, manages the mechanisms set up with foreign governments, such as China, Russia, Turkey, Iraq and some western Europeans, to bypass or blunt the existing US sanctions against Iran. Therefore, Trump’s next action against the IRGC is likely to be the tightening of oil sanctions, which is expected to be announced on May 8, to mark the first anniversary of his decision to take the US out of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Those sanctions will be made more painful by Washington recalling the waivers granted to a number of nations, such as India, China and Iraq, allowing them to purchase certain quantities of Iranian oil while it was under embargo. Three weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told an energy conference in Houston that the purpose of the administration’s sanctions against Iran was to “drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero.”
  3. Israel will be empowered to step up its aerial assaults on Iranian forces in Syria and extend them to western Iraq, where pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias have piled up under IRGC command.