Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters

National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters during a meeting of his cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House February 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Critics Warn Designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as Terrorist Organization Is Trump Itching for War

"There is an urgent need for Congress to rein Trump in on Iran before he can start a war that will devastate the U.S., Iran, and the Middle East for generations to come."

Andrea Germanos

Foreign policy observers said the Trump administration is sowing the seeds of war on Monday after it designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organization."

The new desingation for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told media, "an important step to counter the Iranian regime's terrorism." The IRGC, which is a branch of the country's armed forces, merely "masquerades as a legitimate military organization," he added.

The White House acknowledged that it was an "unprecedented" move, as it's the first time the U.S. has ever slapped the designation on part of another government.

The IRGC, as ABC News explained,

is already designated as a terrorist entity under the U.S. Treasury Department—a move that President Trump made in October 2018. Designating the IRGC on the State Department's foreign terrorist organization does not impose additional economic penalties, but it makes it a federal crime to do business with the IRGC or its leadership.

The New York Times also reported:

Top Pentagon and C.I.A. officials oppose the designation, which they argue would allow hard-line Iranian officials to justify deadly operations against Americans overseas, especially Special Operations units and paramilitary units working under the C.I.A.

An interagency lawyers group concluded the designation was too broad, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, pushed for it, said a Trump administration official.

On Twitter, Pompeo's Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, suggested that neocons like Bolton were behind the move, and that it served as gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

The move was indeed noted by Netanyahu:

Not only does the move "it much harder to forge a peace with Iran," said journalist Glenn Greenwald, it also provides "evidence that maniacs like Bolton & David Friedman are dominant."

Greenwald wasn't alone in that assessment. Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), called the new designation "a well-advertised step in the playbook of Washington hawks who seek to provoke Iran into leaving the nuclear deal and sow the seeds of an eventual military conflict with Iran."

And this should send a urgent message to lawmakers, he said.

"Trump's team clearly sees the clock on their Iran agenda expiring—which makes their approach ever more escalatory and dangerous," Abdi added. "There is an urgent need for Congress to rein Trump in on Iran before he can start a war that will devastate the U.S., Iran, and the Middle East for generations to come."

In a Twitter thread, author and NIAC founder Trita Parsi said the development would "close yet another potential door for peacefully resolving tensions with Iran. Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·


Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·


10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·


Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo