The Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Quds Force as a terrorist organization earlier this week. The move in which a portion of Iran’s military has been targeted is rather unprecedented. As the Trump administration explains it, Iran is a major state sponsor of terrorism, and the IRGC is an active participant in the finance of terror, and in promoting terrorism as a tool of statecraft. President Trump pointed out that, “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”
The IRGC was formed in 1979 as part and parcel of the Islamic revolution and was tasked with defending it. The IRGC functions as the Ayatollahs, as well as the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s “praetorian” guards. The regime does not fully trust its own military and relies of the IRGC for its survival. Iran’s regular army does not receive the funding or equipment that is lavished on the IRGC. Moreover, the IRGC controls a large portion of the Iranian economy. The regular army on the other hand, was assigned to protect Iran’s borders.
According to Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard scholar of Iranian decent, the senior officers of the IRGC have the final say on Iran’s foreign and domestic policy. They decide on the level of support for Iran’s proxies such as the Lebanese terrorist organization cum party, the Hezbollah. The IRGC is fully engaged in suppression of free speech, the freedom of the press and free assembly. The IRGC also imprisons opponents of the clerical regime. Importantly, the IRGC oversees Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,242 miles), putting Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within reach
Rafizadeh stressed that the Trump administration move to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization “bears significant and serious legal, political and economic implications on dealing with the Islamic Republic and the IRGC.” He added, “designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization is much more powerful and has much more severe consequences on the Islamic Republic and its leaders, in comparison to only amending the nuclear deal which is providing sanction relief for the Iranian leaders and the IRGC.”
In the U.S. administration’s view “if you are doing business with the IRGC, you are bankrolling terrorism.” In the recent past, the U.S. has blacklisted numerous organizations and individuals for their affiliation with the IRGC, but not the IRGC as a whole. The new designation would effectively penalize those who do business with the IRGC with up to 20-years in prison, and deny those people and organizations permission to enter the U.S. or do business in the U.S.
Aside from the IRGC global terrorist enterprise, Iran has one of the worst records on human rights in the world. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Iran has the highest number of executions in the world per capita under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, who was thought to be by many a “moderate.” Amnesty International website documented serious human rights violations in Iran including detention of human rights defenders, and other prisoners of conscience, unfair trials, torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody, and the application of the death penalty. Iran executes more people than any country in the world. Ethnic, religious and linguistic minority communities face persistent persecution.
The U.S. has yet to settle the score with the Islamic Republic of Iran. For now, however, the Iranian reaction to the U.S. designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization was expectedly aggressive with the intent to intimidate the U.S. Back in 2017, the IRGC commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, threatened that the IRGC “will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, told Iranian State TV that “The U.S. military bases and their military forces in the region will be considered terrorist bases and terrorist forces that will be dealt with and confronted accordingly.”
This arrogant talk by Iranian officialdom should be taken seriously given the Iranian regime past attacks on U.S. personnel. Perhaps it was the U.S. reluctance to engage the Tehran regime militarily that has enabled the regime to feel invulnerable. In 1979, elements of the revolutionary Iranian regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 U.S. diplomats as hostages, holding them for 444 days. In 1983, the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group, on orders from Tehran, conducted two suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. In April the American embassy was targeted, killing 17 Americans. Six month later, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was attacked while the Marine peacekeepers were asleep, killing 241 servicemen. In 1996, Hezbollah, once again, under orders from their masters in Tehran, attacked the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia while U.S. Air Force personnel were asleep. 19 Americans were killed.
Iran knowingly permitted members of al-Qaida, including several of the 9/11 hijackers, to transit Iranian territory on their way to Afghanistan for training. In April, 2018, a U.S. judge ordered Iran to pay $6 billion to the families of 9/11 victims for supporting the hijackers. Between 2003 and 2011, Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq killed hundreds of U.S. service members and civilians. Iran provided training and material support for repeated attacks on U.S. personnel with conventional weapons and missiles, as well as sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and explosively formed projectiles (EFPs).
This is merely a short list of Iranian sponsored attacks on the U.S. and American personnel. The Iranian’s have never suffered the consequences of their bloody attacks on the U.S. The U.S. administration must insure that the Iranian regime will pay a painful price for any terror attacks on Americans personnel or American interests. Should the Ayatollahs regime attack U.S. personnel once again, America should respond militarily with determination and fury against the oppressive clerical regime.
Reacting to the U.S. administrations decision on the IRGC, the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), based in France, called it, “An imperative for Middle East security, peace, and stability, and an urgent and necessary step to end war and terrorism throughout the region and the world.” U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the decision “overdue,” and said it should be followed by additional sanctions.
In summarizing the Trump administration decision of the IRGC, the White House statement pointed out, “This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences. We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran, led by the IRGC, has gotten away with decades of terror throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Latin America (Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center and the Israeli Embassy bombing) and the U.S. It is time for payback from the U.S. and its true allies.
* * *