(Persia Digest) - Iran’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved a bill labelling US forces in the Middle East as terrorist, a day after Washington’s terrorism label for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard formally took effect.
The Guardian reports that the defence minister, Gen Amir Hatami, introduced the bill on Tuesday authorising the government to act firmly in response to “terrorist actions” by US forces. It demands authorities use “legal, political and diplomatic” measures to neutralise the American move, without elaborating.
Donald Trump and the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, announced last week that the US had designated the guards as a foreign terrorist organization, marking the first time Washington has formally named a branch of the armed forces of a foreign government as a terrorist group.
The US move aims at “thwarting Iran’s influence” and shows that America’s longstanding sanctions against Iran have become ineffective, Hatami told lawmakers.
During the debate, some hardline lawmakers had demanded listing the entire US army and security forces as terrorist.
The TV report said 204 lawmakers approved the bill, out of 207 present at the session in the 290-seat chamber. Two lawmakers voted against the bill and one abstained.
However, it remains unclear how the bill’s passage in parliament would affect the Guard’s activities in the Persian Gulf, where the US navy has in the past accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships.
The Revolutionary Guard has forces and wields influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and is in charge of Iranian missiles that have US bases in their range.
The Guard’s designation – the first-ever for an entire division of another government – adds another layer of sanctions to the powerful paramilitary force and makes it a crime under US jurisdiction to provide it with material support.
Depending on how broadly “material support” is interpreted, the designation may complicate US diplomatic and military cooperation with certain third-country officials, notably in Iraq and Lebanon, who deal with the Guard.
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