Will US Troops Be At Greater Risk After Tit-For-Tat 'Terrorist Org' Designations With Iran?

Following the US decision to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, and Iran's decision to do the same with US Central Command in response, Russia's RT has suggested that the escalation in tensions may put American troops at greater risk while operating in the Middle East. 

For example, the 2016 detention of 10 US sailors who strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf may have gone differently today than it did three years ago. 

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

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. -RT 

And while National Security John Bolton is undoubtedly a huge fan of the new terrorist designation pissing match, the last two administrations were hesitant to do the same, according to the New York Times

The George W. Bush administration considered a range of tough actions on Iran during the Iraq war, but held back.

The potential blowback vastly outweighs the benefits,” said Jeffrey Prescott, a senior Middle East director under President Barack Obama.

Wendy R. Sherman, a former top State Department official, said the Obama administration considered designating the Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization, but decided against it because there would be no practical payoff given the risks to Americans and the fact the group was already under other sanctions.

By designating a foreign military as a foreign terrorist organization, we were putting our troops at risk, particularly our troops in Iraq, next door to Iran,” she said.

The Revolutionary Guards oversaw the previous Iranian nuclear program, and some of the top officers were placed under United States and United Nations sanctions. -NYT

Meanwhile, many Iraqi officials have opposed the terrorist labeling, as it could restrict the movement of some lawmakers in the Shiite-led government as well as other officials who have ties to Iranian leadership. According to the Times, this could impact the movements and actions of some 5,000 American troops based in Iraq - a popular proposal among some Iraqi lawmakers.

According to Russia's Sazhin, the escalation between Washington and Tehran is only a pretext to boost propaganda campaigns, calling it the continuation of a "40-year Cold War between Iran and the US," however neither country actually wants to cross the line and risk sparking military action.