Trump designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group is long overdue – Washington Examiner
President Trump’s decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group is a long overdue step that will help put the squeeze on one of the leading drivers of instability in the Middle East.
The IRGC is a special branch of Iran’s armed forces that exists to protect the regime’s Islamic government and its global interests. Over the decades, IRGC has helped to squash internal dissent, built up terrorist groups abroad (especially Hezbollah), helped oversee the nuclear program, and played a destabilizing force through proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Whenever Iran is working against United States interests, the IRCG is playing a central role, and this includes using terrorism as a tactic.
That IRGC has played an active role in sponsoring terrorism is not particularly controversial. Iran itself has been designated as a sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department since 1984, by both Democratic and Republican administrations. The most recent State Department report covering 2017 said, “Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to provide support to terrorist organizations, provide cover for associated covert operations, and create instability in the Middle East.”
Even the Obama State Department, which had a drastically more accommodating posture toward Iran, wrote in its 2013 report, “Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its regional proxy groups to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.”
As Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies reminded us in 2007, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, when they were in the Senate, “cosponsored a bill known as the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act that called on the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to report on its efforts to designate the Revolutionary Guard as an [foreign terrorist organization].”
Though the IRGC’s malignant influence is well-known, prior administration’s have feared the potential backlash of taking the step the Trump administration just did. However, in taking this action, they have allowed the U.S. to bring more pressure to bear on the regime.
While in the past the U.S. has targeted the Quds Force of the IRGC, as Dubowitz noted, “The flagging of the Quds Force’s accounts, however, does not go far enough. As the war in Syria demonstrates, the Quds Force is not a separate entity but an integral part of the IRGC. Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard units operate in tandem, with personnel routinely rotating back and forth within one command structure. Further, the Quds force play only a small role in the IRGC’s vast business ventures, which it uses to fund its terrorist activities.”
Because the IRGC is so important within Iran’s economy, and because its dealings overseas, particularly in Europe, help finance its work, designating them as a terrorist group would make it more difficult for them to operate, since any companies and individuals would be barred from engaging with them. A European business or individual doing business with the IRGC or one of its entities will, under the designation, be considered to be providing material help to a terrorist group.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who has been pushing for this designation, said it should be followed by “additional measures … to hold the IRGC accountable for the full range of its additional malign and sanctionable activities, including ballistic missile proliferation, participating in Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons, the war in Yemen, human rights atrocities, bolstering the murderous Assad regime in Syria, and financing Hezbollah.”
One of the main arguments that Trump administration officials made when pulling out of Obama’s disastrous Iran deal was that the pact had handcuffed the ability of the U.S. to apply adequate pressure on Iran, because policymakers were living in fear that Iran would pull out of the deal. In effect, after deceiving the international community for decades about its nuclear program, Iran won in the deal the ability to make sure the global community overlooked every other way that the regime was destabilizing the world — and that was even if it complied with the deal. In pulling out, Trump administration officials said the U.S. was now liberated to take appropriate actions against Iran, so it’s good to see them taking this important step.