April 16 (UPI) — Iranian lawmakers voted Tuesday to list U.S. forces in western Asia as a terrorist organization in retaliation of the United States giving the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps with the same destination earlier this month.
The near-unanimous vote of the Iranian Consultative Assembly approved the measure, which declares that any support of the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, will be considered by Iran as an act of terrorism, state-run Mehr News Agency reported.
On April 8, the Trump administration formally designated the IRGC as a terrorist group, accusing it of sponsoring and participating in terrorist activities around the world to bolster its government. It marked the first time that any army from a foreign state has been designated a terrorist entity.
The U.S. designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization took effect Monday, which comes with a range of economic and travel sanctions.
CENTCOM, which was established in 1983, covers the Middle East and Central Asia with major responsibilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Iran Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that the U.S. move to name the guard as a terrorist organization was evidence that U.S. sanctions against Tehran were failing.
“The IRGC is a glorious defense institution that along with its comrades in the Army and other forces has played a significant role in securing and preserving the territorial integrity and independence of the country and supporting the oppressed people of the region against terrorists,” Hatami said.
Iranian officials said the terrorist designation has unified the Iranian people against the United States.
The IRGC has about 125,000 members with its own ground forces, air force and naval units. What probably makes the military organization unique is that it’s also involved in Iran’s economy. The guard has the power to engage in its own commercial activities and controls about 20 percent of the country’s economy.