I.R.G.C. Leaders to Trump: We’ll Continue to Confront U.S. and Its Allies in Mideast

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Oct 19, 2017
I.R.G.C. Leaders to Trump: We’ll Continue to Confront U.S. and Its Allies in Mideast

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) will defy U.S. pressure, expand its regional influence, enhance its defense power, and confront the United States and Israel, several top Iranian military officials warned in reaction to President Donald Trump’s anti-Iran speech. “Trump made a mistake by threatening us and our nation will slap him on the ears so forcefully that even his predecessors have not experienced,” said Mohsen Rezaei, an I.R.G.C. general now the secretary of Expediency Council. “America is angry at Iran’s influence in the region because this influence has placed America’s allies, that are Israel and Saudi Arabia, in a difficult position,” he added.

I.R.G.C. Chief Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the Iranian nation and government officials for their support to the I.R.G.C. in the wake of Trump’s speech and stressed that bolstering the country’s defense power remains a top priority. He said the United States “understands the language of weapons” and Iran’s growing defense capabilities will serve as a deterrence.

Separately, Deputy I.R.G.C. Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami assured the Iranian public that the country’s military forces are powerful enough to defend Iran against any foreign aggression. “The revolutionary front has been exported from the Karkheh and Karun [two rivers in western Iran close to Iraqi border] to the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa and Hejaz peninsula and the enemy has shrunk,” he added. “In this new speech, you no longer saw any talk about the military option because all options are closed and the logic of unity with Europe has been shattered.” He further claimed that Iran turns threats to opportunities and added that America’s interventions in the Middle East have benefited Iran’s strategic goals in the region.

Echoeing a similar note, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior aide to Khamenei, emphasized that Iran’s regional policies and actions or the country’s missile program are non-negotiable. He downplayed the Trump administration latest measures to counter Iranian malign activities in the region, and said: “Trump should ask about the I.R.G.C.’s military power from his soldiers in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.”

Comment: The Iranian military officials’ reactions came after Trump declared last Friday that he will not certify the Iran nuclear agreement, arguing the deal does not serve U.S. national security interests. “I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” he said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakthrough.” He further threatened that his administration will walk away from the accord – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – if the White House fails to “reach a solution working with Congress and our allies” to fix loopholes in the deal. "History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes," Trump added – perhaps in a reference to North Korea.

In addition, Trump said the U.S. government will take punitive actions against the I.R.G.C., Iran’s elite force that supports militant groups in South Asia and the Middle East. Just an hour before the president’s speech, the Department of Treasury announced that it has designated the I.R.G.C. under terrorism authority and targeted IRGC and its affiliates under counter-proliferation authority. A statement by the Treasury said: “Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.  OFAC designated the IRGC today for its activities in support of the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on October 25, 2007, for providing support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban.”