This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
A group of Iraq’s Shi’ite militias say they strongly reject Washington’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
The Tehran-backed groups on April 13 said from the home of Iran’s consul-general in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf that the IRGC had helped prevent four or five states from falling to Islamic State (IS) militants.
Some of the militia groups themselves have been designated as terrorist organizations by Washington.
“This is laughable coming from the No. 1 sponsor of terrorism, America,” said a spokesman for the Badr Organization, which was part of the volunteer forces that helped to defeat IS along with Iraqi government troops and U.S.-backed Western coalition forces.
Badr is led by Iraqi militia commander and politician Hadi al-Amiri, whose Fateh coalition of militia groups has the second-largest number of seats in the Iraqi parliament.
“We reject this action from America and say we have honor to be in the Islamic resistance that fought and beat terrorism,” a spokesman for the wider Fateh coalition said.
President Donald Trump on April 8 announced the decision to place the IRGC on the State Department FTO list, the first time the United States has designated a state entity of another government as a terrorist organization.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on April 9 that the United States had made “a vicious move,” adding that the IRGC was at the “front line of confronting [the] enemies” of the Islamic republic.
The estimated 100,000-strong IRGC is a branch of the military that also plays a major role in Iran’s economy.
Trump said the designation “underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments” and warned that anyone who does business with the IRGC “will be bankrolling terrorism.”
The IRGC has been involved in enforcing Islamic codes and crushing dissent at home, experts say, while taking part in covert operations, arms smuggling, and other efforts aimed at expanding Iran’s influence abroad. It answers directly to Khamenei.
The United States has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the IRGC, but not the organization as a whole.
In his statement on April 8, Trump said that Washington will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on Iran “for its support of terrorist activity.”