Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that Iranians were standing firm “against aggression and terror” alongside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a powerful branch of the Iranian military which has been targeted by resident Donald Trump for harsher sanctions as part of a new US strategy toward Tehran announced on Friday by the White House.
In a tweet on Saturday, Zarif wrote, “Today, Iranians –boys, girls, men, women — are ALL IRGC; standing firm with those who defend us & the region against aggression & terror.”
His words echoed phrasing adopted on social media by those who seek to express support for victims of terrorism. This began after the 2015 terror attack in Paris at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo where al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists killed 12 people, after which the slogan “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” was circulated widely.
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
In a much-anticipated speech on Friday, Trump said he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal to Congress and announced new sanctions on the IRGC, though he stopped short of designating it a terror organization, as he has previously threatened to do.
The threat had prompted a number of Iranian officials to attack the US president and warn of dire consequences should the terror label be applied.
On Friday, ahead of Trump’s speech, Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said designating the IRGC a terror group was “tantamount to a declaration of war.”
Salehi said Friday, just before Trump’s speech, that “given that the army and [other] armed forces of a country are guarantors of its security, the (possible) move (by the US to designate IRGC forces as terrorists) is tantamount to a declaration of war,” as quoted by Iranian media, echoing statements a day earlier by the Iranian defense minister.
On Thursday, Iran’s defense minister Brig. General Amir Hatami said designating the IRGC a terror organization would be perceived as an attack on Iran as a whole.
Hatami said the “IRGC, the [Iranian] Army and the country’s other forces stand united and integrated in the face of the US government’s hostile and provocative policies and measures,” according to a translation published in Iranian Front Page news.
Hebrew media reported that Hatami said any designation of the Guards as a terror group would be a declaration of war.
“We will not allow Washington to endanger the region’s security by spreading proxy wars and terrorism,” Hatami said, adding that labeling the IRGC a terror group would be a “terrorist act” in itself, according to the Mehr news agency.
“The IRGC is the most powerful anti-terror organization and is at the forefront of fighting terrorism,” he was quoted as saying.
“Any move to undermine this anti-terrorism organization will help the spread of terrorism and insecurity in the region and the world,” he added.
Agencies contributed to this report.