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Iran Supreme Leader Appoints New Military Commander Who Vows to Wage War Against Israel, US

04-22-2019
Credit: Associated Press

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei appointed a new commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Sunday (IRGC) to replace Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who led the military since 2007.

Brig. Gen Hossein Salami is the new Major General of Iran's military force and he has already vowed to "cleanse the planet" of Israel and America.

In a speech aired Feb. 19 on Iran's IRINN TV, Salami said Iran's sword has been "drawn out of its sheath" and the Islamic regime is preparing to fight Israel, America, and their allies.

"We will break our enemy. We have decided to do so. We have a plan. We are organized and motivated. We have faith. We have martyrdom. We have Jihad. Our nation's sword has been drawn out of its sheath. Our enemies should know that we will never let them be," he said.

Salami also said Iran is preparing to fight its enemies "on the global level, not just in one spot. Our war is not a local war. We have plans to defeat the world powers."

Khamenei's decision to promote Salami to the head of Iran's military comes weeks after US President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a "foreign terrorist organization."

"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," President Trump said in a statement.

The designation is the first time the United States has labeled another country's military a terrorist group.

Iranian leaders promptly responded with anger and chants of "Death to America."

"You think if you speak against the Revolutionary Guard you can trigger a difference in Iran?" asked Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. "You think the guards' popularity will decrease? Be aware that, from today, the popularity of the guards in the hearts of the Iranian nation and in the region will be more than ever."

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has hundreds of thousands of members and oversees the country’s ballistic missiles and nuclear programs. It is also an extremely powerful economic entity with influence in Iran's banking, shipping, and oil industries.

The US's designation of Iran's military as a terror organization could make businesses, individuals, and NGO's who provide material support to the IRGC subject to US sanctions.

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has granted exceptions to foreign governments, firms, and NGOs so that they do not automatically face sanctions.

A State Department spokesman told Reuters that officials from countries like Iraq who have dealings with the IRGC will not necessarily be denied visas to the US.

Exceptions are also granted to foreign executives who do business in Iran and humanitarian groups in northern Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

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