Iran’s parliament has approved a bill that designates the U.S. Department of Defense and all affiliated entities as terrorist organizations, which comes in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump ordering the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.
Soleimani was the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and covert operations, which have, through the use of its trained proxies, reportedly killed Americans in the Middle East, including U.S. troops in Iraq. Along with Iraq’s Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, the deputy commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units, known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, and fellow combatants, Soleimani was killed via a drone strike when leaving Baghdad airport on January 3.
U.S. President Donald Trump took credit for the operation, saying it was conducted on his orders on the grounds that Soleimani posed an “imminent threat” to American lives. The Pentagon considers Soleimani ultimately responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
On Tuesday, Iranian parliamentarians amended the bill whose title is translated as, “counter-measures against the designation of the IRGC as foreign terrorist organization by USA.” The original bill had been a response to the U.S. State Department declaring the IRGC, including the Quds Force headed by Soleimani, a terrorist group in April of 2019.
The bill had previously designated U.S. Central Command, whose area of responsibility covers Iran and the greater Middle East, as a terrorist organization. But Tuesday’s move added an amendment that widens the scope of the designation to include the entire U.S. Department of Defense and affiliated entities.
The bill considered any support for U.S. forces in any form, including intelligence, financial, technical, educational, service and logistics, as a terrorist action. Iran’s parliament also designated all U.S. military commanders and American personnel involved in the assassination of Soleimani as a terrorist.
In addition to designating the Pentagon as a terrorist organization, roughly $222 million was added to the Quds Force’s current annual budget. The Iranian calendar year ends March 19.
Meanwhile, millions of people took to the streets of Kerman on Tuesday to attend Soleimani’s funeral ceremony – the second-largest held after that for Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989. More than 55 people died and over 200 were injured due to stampedes.
Following Soleimani’s death, Iranian leaders and commanders vowed to retaliate against the United States.
“With his departure and with God's power, his work and path will not cease and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and the blood of the other martyrs of last night's incident” Iran's second and current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a statement on January 3.
“A very tough retaliation will await the Americans and they will pay a heavy price for assassinating Iranian commander which is demanded by all freedom-loving people in the world,” Iran’s police chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari said during the funeral ceremony, according to IRNA.
The commander-in-chief of the IRGC Major General Hossein Salami said at the ceremony held in Kerman that “our revenge will be hard, firm, regrettable, decisive and complete.”
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to Soleimani’s death on his Twitter feed, writing “What the U.S. has accomplished in its terrorist assassination of anti-ISIS heroes is to unleash global anti-U.S. fury and a worldwide rancor—on a scale not seen in recent memory. End of malign U.S. presence in West Asia has begun.”
Meanwhile, in his tweet on January 4, Trump warned that if Iran retaliates, the U.S. would target 52 Iranian sites, “some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
According to the American international affairs expert George Friedman, “Iran can’t afford to allow Iraq to become a bastion of anti-Iran forces, nor can it wage a conventional war against the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Iran must therefore use what it has used so effectively in the past: special and covert operations”.