Announcing the Trump administration's designation of an Iranian military branch as a terrorist organization on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "The Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality.”
But, as ABC News reports, critics argue that this is anything but a "basic reality"—it is part of a narrative to provide enough justification to go to war with Iran.
“I am troubled that the administration can’t unequivocally say that you haven’t been given power. I can tell you explicitly, you have not been given power or authority by Congress to have war with Iran," Republican Senator Rand Paul responded to Pompeo on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Trump administration decided to recognize the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran as a foreign terrorist threat, making the IRGC the first government organization to be on the State Department list. But heavy sanctions through both the Treasury and State Departments are already in place against the IRGC, and the Treasury already labeled the group as a terrorist entity.
As a result, the State Department's action, some experts argue, is more symbolic because it doesn't give authorities in finance, prosecution, or immigration any more power that they didn't already possess. But others are concerned that the move is one step closer to American strikes on Iranian forces, especially in areas in Syria or Iraq where the two sides may come in contact.
“Iran continues to allow al Qaeda operatives to reside in Iran, where they have been able to move money and fighters to South Asia and Syria," the State Department announced.
In response, former Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council of President Barack Obama Tessa Bridgeman said, “What the Trump administration is doing here though is that this seems to be part of a continued drum beat trying to create a narrative of a nexus between Iran and al Qaeda that started well before this FTO designation. The Trump administration seems to be priming the public for an argument that the 2001 AUMF covers Iran."