Just to be clear: Donald Trump is inviting disaster with his decision on Iran.
We’ve outlined this extensively over the past several days and for those interested in the background and details, you’re encouraged to read our post from Friday morning (which includes a good Op-Ed) as well as the following pieces:
- John Kerry: If Trump Backs Out Of Iran Deal, It Will Be Washington, Not Tehran That’s Isolated
- Trump To Declare Iran Deal Not In America’s Interests, Setting Stage For Epic Disaster
- Trump Is About To Poke The Iran Hornet’s Nest: Here’s What Happens Next
Most of what Trump said in his speech was known ahead of time, but the rhetoric was even more inflammatory than expected.
For one thing, Trump recounted about 40 years of history in what was a rather blatant attempt to justify something that’s not justifiable on the merits. Basically, he had someone dig up each and every grievance the U.S. has ever had with the Iranians and then that was rolled up into a speech designed solely to make it seem, to Americans who don’t know any better, that his decision isn’t baseless.
But of all the things he said, the biggest problem (well, outside of throwing the entire nuclear deal into question) is this:
- TRUMP ANNOUNCES SANCTIONS ON IRAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS
That is just asking for trouble. Here’s the official release from Treasury.
There now appears to be some confusion:
WH tells CNN Trump IS designating IRGC terror org under "Treasury Dept authorities". BUT State Dept is not designating IRGC For. Terror Org. https://t.co/DhN2mjqJJg
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 13, 2017
Basically, it looks like Trump is declaring the IRGC a terrorist organization but trying to hedge his bets (as usual). Here’s a bit of on-the-fly color:
NSC official tells me that yes, Trump administration is now designating Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. 1/
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 13, 2017
2/ Trump administration is NOT doing so via State Department, but rather through Treasury Dept.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 13, 2017
It makes little difference. Longer-term, the nuclear deal is obviously the most important aspect of this whole debacle, but make no mistake, in the near-term, designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization is the more critical component.
It isn’t about the sanctions. They’re already sanctioned. It’s about what this means for the security of U.S. personnel in the region. In that regard, the English language is not a sufficient tool when it comes to communicating how truly dangerous of a decision this is.
Say what you will about the merits, but there is no question that he has just significantly increased the danger for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. On top of that, he is imperiling the already tenuous effort to build a workable government in Iraq, where officials will now be forced to decide between angering Trump or angering Tehran. It is by no means clear which route they will go in that regard.
Also note that contrary to what Trump said in his speech and very much contrary to his entire “tough on ISIS” mantra, this actually undercuts the fight against Sunni extremism. Hezbollah and IRGC-backed militias in Syria and Iraq are the single most effective deterrent when it comes to fighting ISIS in the Mideast, with the possible exception of the Kurds. Trump is undermining that fight.
Here’s Rouhani’s official response in bullet points:
- ROUHANI: TRUMP DOESN’T KNOW NUCLEAR DEAL ISN’T UNILATERAL
- ROUHANI TO TRUMP: ONE COUNTRY CAN’T DICTATE TERMS OF IRAN DEAL
- ROUHANI: U.S. IS NOW MORE ISOLATED THAN EVER ON IRAN DEAL
- ROUHANI: REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS POPULAR AMONG IRANIAN PEOPLE
- ROUHANI: WILL REMAIN IN DEAL AS LONG AS SERVES OUR INTERESTS
- ROUHANI: IRAN WILL BE MUCH MORE DETERMINED TO DEFEND ITSELF
And here is the full article from Iran’s PressTV published earlier today:
Iran has lashed out at the United States for supporting terrorist groups in the region, vowing to retaliate against any action targeting its Armed Forces, including the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
The Iranian Armed Forces, including the IRGC, are the symbol of power and defenders of security and are supported by the Iranian government and nation, an informed source at Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The statement came a few hours before US President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a speech to criticize the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries more than two years ago.
- “Any move against the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, will be met with Iran’s fitting and strong response,” the statement added.
It emphasized that Iran’s core policy is to support regional peace and stability and confront any destabilizing and divisive measures aimed at creating tensions and conflicts in the region. The statement added that a resolute fight against terrorist groups such as Daesh was among the Islamic Republic’s main priorities.
“This is while, the US policies, particularly the country’s support for terrorist groups and repressive regimes, are among the main factors behind instability in the region. The US cannot shirk its responsibility by leveling accusations against others and it must answer for its wrong policies,” it said.
According to the statement, the US support for Israel and other “repressive” regimes in the region over the recent decades has caused war and conflicts on one hand and created “the ominous phenomenon of terrorism” on the other.
The source warned the US that the continuation of its policy would be a “historic strategic mistake” and deal a heavy blow to the region and the entire world.
Iran to boost defense power
The statement reiterated the defensive and deterrent nature of Iran’s missile program and said the country’s missile capabilities have so far played an “effective” role in improving regional peace and stability.
- “The Islamic Republic of Iran is serious to maintain and boost its defensive and security capabilities, and in so doing, will only pay heed to its national security considerations and the interest of the Iranian people,” the Foreign Ministry statement pointed out.
Iran’s core and constant policy is to counter weapons of mass destruction across the world and take steps towards global disarmament, it said, adding that such a policy serves as the basis for the landmark nuclear deal.
It emphasized that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as the only authorized supervisory body, has so far verified Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA in eight reports, saying Washington’s lack of commitment to its obligations and its repeated violation of the deal’s “spirit and letter” were evident.
Iran has a “very broad” range of options for any breach of the JCPOA and would “end all its commitments in this regard if deemed necessary,” the source added.
The deal, agreed between Iran and the six permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia – plus Germany lifts economic sanctions imposed in 2005 in exchange for curbs to Tehran’s nuclear program. It was later endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Trump has called the deal an “embarrassment” to the US, and is expected to refuse to certify Iran’s commitment to the deal during a White House speech later on Friday.
If Trump refuses to certify the agreement, the US Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to restore the anti-Iran sanctions Washington has agreed to waive.
- The source also pointed to political differences between Iran and the US on many regional and international issues and said, “The main reason behind the US rulers’ hostility towards Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] is his anti-hegemony [stance] and explicit opposition to the US administration’s regional and global policies… that resulted in nothing but bloodshed and misery for world nations.”
The statement also advised the new US statesmen not to forget “lessons” of the past four decades.
Despite the US hostile policies against Iran, including threats and sanctions, the Iranian nation has continued its patch to achieve independence and justice, it said.