Part 8: International Reaction to IRGC Designation

April 10, 2019

International reactions to the State Department’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization varied widely by country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Donald Trump for the move in a pair of tweets in English and Hebrew. “Thank you, my dear friend, U.S. President Donald Trump. Thank you for answering another important request of mine that serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region,” Netanyahu, who contested a parliamentary election on April 9, tweeted in Hebrew.

Rouhani and Adil Abdul-Mahdi
Iranian President Rouhani with Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi in March 2019

In a press conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said that Iraq tried to dissuade the United States from proceeding with the designation: “We tried to stop the American decision… We and the governmental team [said] that such a decision might have negative ramifications for Iraq and the region. [But] they went ahead with their decision.” Abdul-Mahdi added that Iraq hopes to maintain good relations with both Iran and the United States.

Most European countries did not immediately issue statements. A French foreign ministry spokesperson said, “Individuals and entities linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard are subject to E.U. sanctions because of terrorism offences.” The spokesperson reaffirmed France’s commitment to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang criticized the U.S. move. “We hope relevant countries, especially non-regional major powers, will do more to contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East and refrain from actions that might lead to further escalation of tensions in the region,” Lu said in a press briefing. 

The Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers criticized the designation in a joint press conference in Ankara. “These kinds of decisions will pave the way for instability in our region,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to AFP. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry reportedly welcomed the U.S. move. The following is a roundup of international reactions to the IRGC designation.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“Thank you, my dear friend, U.S. President Donald Trump. Thank you for answering another important request of mine that serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region.”

―Apr. 8, 2019, in a tweet in Hebrew (translated)

 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi

“I won’t hide it from you. We tried to stop the American decision. We called all the friends. I spoke with [Jordan’s] King Abdullah. We spoke with the Egyptian leadership, all the friends. We spoke to the American administration. We called and spoke with all these parties. We and the governmental team [said] that such a decision might have negative ramifications for Iraq and the region. [But] they went ahead with their decision.”

“Iraq wants to distance itself from any rivalry. We will continue to make use of our good relations with the two sides and everyone. We have good relations with both, with Americans and with Iranians. And we are going to deploy all our efforts to ease and calm down the situation. It is not in the interest of any of the parties engaged.”

―Apr. 9, 2019, in a press briefing

 

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova

“The U.S. administration has decided to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an official Iranian state institution, as a terrorist organisation. This decision fits in with the U.S. line to demonise Iran and to exert maximum possible pressure on it. This policy also includes large-scale sanctions being imposed by the U.S. in circumvention of the U.N. Security Council, Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which facilitates the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear programme, and efforts to oust Iranian forces from Syria (where they are stationed at the invitation of the country’s legitimate government).”

“We have repeatedly noted that the US policy of confrontation with Iran is unconstructive and short-sighted. It is impossible to build a solid regional security system in the Middle East and to ensure a stable situation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan without Tehran’s involvement.”

―April 11, 2019, in a press briefing
 

French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson

QUESTION: U.S. President Donald Trump decided to put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as its elite unit, the Quds Force, on the international terrorist organization blacklist. Could you comment on this decision? Are you thinking of following the U.S. example by adding the IRGC to the list of terrorist organizations?

SPOKESPERSON: Individuals and entities linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard are subject to EU sanctions because of terrorism offences. The organization and the individuals and entities linked to this organization have also been subject to EU sanctions since 2010 because of their support for Iran’s ballistic missile program.

We will continue to support the JCPOA as long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear obligations.

We call for efforts to prevent any further escalation or destabilization in the region.

―Apr. 9, 2019, in a press briefing

 

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang

QUESTION: US President Donald Trump officially announced in a statement on April 8 that his administration will designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). It is the first time the US formally designates a country's military force an FTO. Iran's Supreme National Security Council said in a statement that this measure is "a major threat to regional and international stability and peace". As a retaliatory measure, Iran has labeled the US Central Command's forces as a terrorist organization. Do you have any comments? 

LU: We have taken note of relevant reports. When it comes to state-to-state relations, China always calls for countries to abide by the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and opposes power politics and bullyism. We hope relevant countries, especially non-regional major powers, will do more to contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East and refrain from actions that might lead to further escalation of tensions in the region.

―Apr. 9, 2019, in a press briefing
 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

“These kinds of decisions will pave the way for instability in our region.”

―Apr. 10, 2019, in a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart

 

Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry

“The U.S. decision translates the Kingdom’s repeated demands to the international community of the necessity of confronting terrorism supported by Iran.”

―Apr. 9, 2019, in a comment made by a Foreign Ministry source to Saudi state media
 

John Caves, a research assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace, contributed to this roundup.