NATO ally France has warned that if the U.S. designates Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a ''terrorist'' organisation it could further destabilize the region. But a reciprocal move by Iran could also have its own consequences. Matthew Larotonda reports.
Only days remain until U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to roll out a more aggressive plan for containing Iran, including the fate of a favorite punching bag: the 2015 nuclear deal. But he's also expected to designate an entire branch of Iran's military as terrorists: The Revolutionary Guard. Iranian officials threatening a "reciprocal" move in turn. These labels are more than just words. For one thing, a terrorist designation for the Guard would likely bring with it sanctions across the whole organisation; Iran's most powerful force with its own ground, naval, and air divisions. The U.S. government has sanctioned individuals and entities with ties to the Guard in the past, including a special forces unit in 2007. But historically Washington has shied away from labelling as terrorists any military belonging to a recognized government, partly because it would open up American troops to the same label. Analysts say the move can be risky as it means soldiers on both sides lose protections granted by the Geneva Convention. For example, American civilians detained in Iran have often received long and harsh treatment in the past, but when a U.S. Navy crew was captured in Iranian waters last year it was an embarassment, but the sailors were released the next day. NATO allies France and Germany have urged the White House to show restraint, warning that any escalation could further destabilize the region. The U.S. and Iran are backing opposing forces there, but with a mutual enemy: Islamic State. Iran says labelling its forces as terrorists would only aid the jihadists.