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10 Apr, 2019 08:33

Trump’s policy may lead to US troops ‘treated as terrorists, not soldiers’ if captured by Iran

Trump’s policy may lead to US troops ‘treated as terrorists, not soldiers’ if captured by Iran

The US’ designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group and Tehran’s tit-for-tat response puts American troops at greater risk, as Iranians may now treat them as terrorists, not combatants, analysts told RT.

In 2016, 10 US sailors strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf and were briefly held by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iran returned the vessels and the sailors, who later said the Iranians treated them with respect and dignity. But what if a similar incident happened today?

“The approach will be much different... the American soldiers would be treated as terrorists and not as soldiers of a [state-run] army,” Ali Rizk, a Middle East-based journalist and writer, said.

Terrorism is a criminal offense under Iranian law, and so “Iran could have taken the toughest action, including imprisonment and a subsequent trial,” Vladimir Sazhin, senior research fellow at Russia’s Institute for Oriental Studies, stated.

As the story developed, some US military and intelligence leaders opposed the White House’s decision to add the IRGC to the list of foreign terrorist organizations. They argued that this would affect troop safety in the Middle East, according to the New York Times. 

Tehran responded to the designation earlier this week, labeling all members of US Central Command as terrorists. Senior Iranian officials accused Washington of aiding and abetting terrorism in the region.

But the heated exchange is only a pretext to boost propaganda campaigns against each other, Sazhin said, calling it the continuation of a “40-year Cold War between Iran and the US.” Moreover, neither side wants to cross the line, as “the risk of sparking a [military action] would be too high.”

Rizk, who frequently comments on Middle East affairs, also said it is unlikely that Washington and Iran want to be on a collision course. US President Donald Trump is unwilling to engage in military action against Tehran, but his aides, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, “have an obsession with Iran.”

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At the same time, according to Rizk, this could lead to “some miscalculation and... potentially catastrophic scenario” should Trump allow Pompeo and Bolton “to drag him in this direction.”

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