By Mahmoud Hakamian
The US formally designated the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) last week and struck a major blow to the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
Now, all of the IRCG forces, including the Qods Force, Basij Organization, Aerospace, Navy, and Ground Forces, are listed as terrorist groups by the US with all the penalties that this rightly brings. The US deserves credit for taking this long overdue action and penalising Iran’s principal apparatus for domestic repression and regional terrorism.
It shows that the US is willing to confront Tehran’s malign activities in the Middle East and belligerence around the globe; something also seen at the recent summits in Warsaw and Munich, where the need to build a trans-Atlantic consensus on Iran was seen.
This pressure campaign means that IRGC-affiliated militia groups are not getting the resources (i.e. money, weapons, training, or fighters) they were promised by Iran, which limits the militia’s ability to target coalition military forces.
Recently, the Pentagon reported that the Iranian Regime is responsible for the deaths of at least 608 US service members in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, while it is common knowledge that Iran spends $12-15 billion dollars each year to prop up the Assad dictatorship in Syria, at the expense of defenceless Syrians.
The IRGC controls over half of Iran’s economy, so nations or businesses that were considering working with an Iranian entity should now think about whether they want to be linked to a terror group and face the consequences.
And while US sanctions have wreaked havoc with Iran on the international stage, it’s it the opposition that has caused drama inside the country. Over the past year, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have helped the Iranian people to organise nationwide anti-regime protests, which have encouraged the international community to re-examine their belief that the Regime is the only option for Iran.
The White House decision to designate the IRGC as a terror group gives more opportunity to fight the regime’s belligerence, at home, in the region, and around the world. However, the scope should be widened to include the IRGC’s offshoots in other areas in order to achieve “maximum pressure” on Iran. The US should next designate Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) as an FTO for its role in the foiled terror plot in Europe in 2018.
More US sanctions would strengthen the MEK’s hand and increase the Regime’s problems, which is why designating all affiliated entities of the IRGC would ensure that Iran does not find a loophole to avoid the consequences of their designation.