Iranian Parliament Labels Entire US Military As Terrorist

Iran’s parliament has approved a bill that labels all US military forces as “terrorist”, state TV reported, a day after the White House announced it will no longer grant sanctions exemptions to Iran’s oil customers

The legislation is a step further after Iranian lawmakers last week approved a bill labelling US troops stationed in the Middle East as “terrorist”, a day after the US “terrorism” designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard came into effect.

Out of Iran’s 215 lawmakers at the session, 173 voted for the bill on Tuesday, with four voting against and the rest abstaining.

The bill confirms Iran’s earlier label of the US Central Command, known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as “terrorist”. Any military and non-military help to CENTCOM that can be detrimental to the Revolutionary Guard will be considered a “terrorist action”, the semi-official ISNA news agency said.

The bill also demands the Iranian government take unspecified action against other governments that formally back the US designation, which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel.

The lawmakers also requested Iran’s intelligence agency provide a list of all CENTCOM commanders within three months so that Iran’s judiciary can prosecute them in absentia as “terrorists”.

The bill requires final approval by Iran’s constitutional watchdog to become law. It is unclear what impact the bill could actually have, either in the Gulf region or beyond.

The recently appointed chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, has previously warned that Iran could use its Gulf capabilities – among them cruise and ballistic missiles, mines and speedboats – to confront the US.

Sanctions

The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran – including on its energy sector – last November, after pulling America out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Backed by Saudi Arabia and Israel, the unilaterally imposed sanctions aim to choke off Iranian revenue so as to reduce the clerical regime’s regional clout, notably its support for militant group such as Lebanon’s Hizballah.

The US designation against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – the first-ever for an entire division of another government – added another layer of sanctions to the powerful paramilitary force, making it a crime under US jurisdiction to provide the guard with material support.

Monday’s White House announcement exposes the eight countries which benefited from sanctions waivers to US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil. This is part of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports.

The eight countries were initially given six-month reprieves from the unilateral US sanctions on Iran. They include India, which has warm ties with Washington but disagrees on the US insistence that Iran is a threat.

Other countries that will be affected include China and Turkey, opening up new friction in contentious relationships if the US goes ahead with sanctions over buying Iranian oil.

The others – Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – have already heavily reduced their purchases from Iran.

Hours before Trump’s announcement, Iran reiterated its long-running threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if it’s prevented from using the crucial waterway in the Persian Gulf through which about a third of all oil traded at sea passes.

AFP