Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (seated, centre) and members of parliament wear the uniform of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) in the legislature on April 9, 2019. Photo: handout/Iranian parliament/AFP
Sadegh Maleki is a former Iranian diplomat and political analyst. In an op-ed written for Rudaw, he argues that Iran should not react in kind to the US designation of the IRGC as a terror organization in order to avoid being drawn into a war.
Yesterday it was the United States withdrawing from the nuclear deal. Today it’s the designation
of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. Tomorrow there could be yet another move by Washington and its regional allies to try and trap Iran into a war.
Let’s not look for scapegoats in this time of crisis and floods. First, we need to prevent further flooding and losses and then we can launch into criticisms. Iran – the people, decision makers, and all those with influence on society – has two options in the face of American pressures. The first is to swallow national pride, surrender, and place the royal crown on Mahmoud Hotak [Afghan ruler who overthrew the Safavid dynasty to become king of Persia from 1722 to 1725]. The second choice is to show national unity, avoid war, and do not respond to idiocy in kind.
Out of shrewdness, we did not set the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on fire because we did not want to play this war game of the US. Now Trump and the Bolton-Pompeo team have devised Plan B for war by putting the IRGC on a terrorist list. We should not take the bait.
Trump’s America has named the IRGC, an important sovereign tool and vital element for maintaining Iran’s national security, a terrorist group in order to push Iran into a corner. The US is trying to force Iran to choose either surrender or war.
Exiting this corner is only possible by relying on people. When I say people, I mean everyone from any sex or creed. We need to understand that the implications of this threat are so grave that the perils for Iran are greater than the dangers of the Imposed War [the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988]. Inside Iran, we should trust each other and through our unity we will break the sanctions. But to do that, we need to be more inclusive and expand the scope of our vision across the breadth of Iran.
Despite all the critique that we have about the actions of reformists, conservatives and the parallel organs, today, when the integrity of Iran is threatened, we are all guards of the IRGC. This is not the right time to criticize how we got here. Everyone is aware of mistakes that were made, but this is an internal matter and has nothing to do with foreigners, especially a foreign enemy like Trump.
This generation and its officials will not repeat the bitter experiences that led to the invasion
of Mongols, Mahmoud
Afghan and the war that led to Turkmenchay.
If there is one thing that the Iranian people agree on, it is protecting the country despite disagreements over other things. Even if people dispute everything, no one has any disagreement when it comes to protecting Iran. This is a red line that could be used to reach consensus and unity. In the gridlock of war or surrender, it is the duty of the leadership to identify a third option.
It has been sometimes said that America started waging war against the IRGC in Syria by supporting Israeli attacks, of course in the face of Russian silence. In the same way that we did not fall for this trap, we should not take retaliatory action now because this is walking into a dangerous trap.
In the face of the US decision on the IRGC, we should react with dignity, through the prism of wisdom.
Sometimes avoiding war requires more audacity than entering a war. During the Imposed War [Iran-Iraq war], we did not fight Iraq under Saddam, but the whole world. We are war-tested and our heads are held high, but we are not naive to be provoked into a war that we know will end in defeat.
It is worth mentioning that for America the JCPOA should have been the beginning of a process, but for Iran it became a project. Perhaps we can find the silver lining of an exit from this gridlock somewhere in between these two visions.
Sadegh Maleki is a former Iranian diplomat and political analyst.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.