TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A former military intelligence officer with the CIA said the Trump administration is “competently wrong in assessment” to label Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “terrorist group”.

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“In my opinion, the United States is completely wrong in its assessment. According to the definition provided by the United Nations and under international law, a terrorist group must be actively working to target civilians to weaken and destroy a legitimate government. The IRGC is a military organization which acts in response to direction by the legitimate government of Iran, just as the United States military acts on direction of the White House. To say that the IRGC is terrorist because Washington disapproves of Iran and its involvement in Syria using the IRGC as its instrument is completely inappropriate,” Philip Giraldi told Press Shia.

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even handed policies by the US government in the Middle East.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Press Shia: The Trump administration on Monday labeled IRGC as a terrorist group and said, “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft”. What is your take on the move?

Giraldi: In my opinion, the United States is completely wrong in its assessment. According to the definition provided by the United Nations and under international law, a terrorist group must be actively working to target civilians to weaken and destroy a legitimate government. The IRGC is a military organization which acts in response to direction by the legitimate government of Iran, just as the United States military acts on direction of the White House. To say that the IRGC is terrorist because Washington disapproves of Iran and its involvement in Syria using the IRGC as its instrument is completely inappropriate.

Press Shia: Later in the day, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in turn designated US forces in West Asia, known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), as a terrorist organization. What are your thoughts on this?

Giraldi: Also completely inappropriate but I believe it is a clear response to the Washington decision and should be seen in that light. Military units are not terrorists as they do not target civilians, which is what terrorists do. They are a part of legitimate governments even when they carry out orders that other nations believe to be inappropriate.

Press Shia: As you know, Trump announced the decision on the eve of Israel’s election. Netanyahu took credit for the move and said, “Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump,” Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew, “for answering another one of my important requests”. What do you think?

Giraldi: The decision to list the IRGC was all about Israel’s election as it serves no purpose whatsoever in terms of US interests. Trump delivered a hard line position to help Netanyahu win. Whether it worked or not, we will know shortly. The decision on the Golan Heights was also made to help Netanyahu. Netanyahu will be expected to return the favor next year when Trump is running by delivering Jewish votes and money for his campaign.