- After the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was slapped with sanctions by U.S. President Trump, Iran's FM tweeted "[we] are all IRGC"
- Many Iranians denied that they are represented by the group, which has crushed dissent and supported terrorist organizations abroad
- Not all in Iran feel that way, however, with many being pushed to support the regime by Trump's words
- The U.S. President has also refused to recertify the 2015 nuclear deal
by Rosie Alfatlawi
After the U.S. moved to impose sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, its foreign minister was quick to tweet in the group's defense.
Responding to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the IRGC would be sanctioned as supporters of terrorism, Javad Zarif tweeted:
Today, Iranians--boys, girls, men, women--are ALL IRGC; standing firm with those who defend us & the region against aggression & terror.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) October 14, 2017
Many Iranians, however, flooded Twitter with objections to Zarif’s claim that “[they] are ALL IRGC”.
A branch of the Iranian armed forces separate from the conventional military, the IRGC was founded after the 1979 revolution and tasked with its protection.
The Guards have since extended its influence to, according to some, exceed that of the Shia clerical system.
No we are not! I never forget getting beaten down and tear gassed by IRGC in the streets. They are why we are suffering now!— Shaheenchev (@shaheenchevv) October 14, 2017
Trump stopped short of branding the IRGC a "terrorist organization" on Friday. Iran had previously warned such a move would be taken as "a declaration of war".
Nonetheless, he did describe it as the "corrupt personal terror force of Iran's leader".
Senior IRGC Commander Mohammed Ali Jafari had also threatened that U.S. military bases in the region would be vulnerable if the Revolutionary Guards were designated a terror group.
“If media speculations on a foolish [decision] by the U.S. administration to designate the Guards as a terrorist organization are correct,” Jafari indicated, “the Guards would treat the U.S. army similar to [the way it treats] Daesh in the world, particularly in the Middle East”.
Despite Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomenei’s dying wish that the IRGC remain a non-political force, it has been involved in suppressing dissent. In 2009, it helped to crush protests following the disputed presidential election result.
The Guards' Quds Force, which heavily supports Hamas and Hezbollah, has been designated a supporter of terrorism by the U.S. since 2007.
Trump also said on Friday that he will not recertify the landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran and six other nations.
The U.S. President is required to certify every three months that Iran is keeping its side of the agreement. He made the call despite international observers indicating that Tehran has not violated the pact.
It is now up to Congress to decide whether to re-impose sanctions and pull out of the deal.
Mr. Zarif, do not lie, you defend the terrorist. Sepah Pasdaran is the enemy of the Iranian nation. Kill the protesters. pic.twitter.com/0Y1jdp3ftU— آقای روشنفکر (@roshanfekr1) October 14, 2017
Despite the online reaction to Zarif’s tweet, reports suggest that Trump’s inflammatory speech may in fact strengthen public support for the regime, and the IRGC, in Iran.
One shop-owner in Tehran told AFP that: "This person hates Iran so much that even if we don't support the ideas of the regime, we find ourselves supporting them and the Revolutionary Guards."
"We have dissatisfactions, for example there are economic problems," a finance worker, who was cited in the same report, said.
"But if it comes to it, we will stand together to the end, and will defend even the Guards. Their efforts cannot be ignored. If it wasn't for them we would be like Syria or Yemen.
While Trump’s move on the nuclear agreement was anticipated, some have warned that this surprise decision on the IRGC could further increase tensions with Iran, pushing the two countries to the brink of war.
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