US declares Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Where could this lead?

As the U.S. labels Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization how do you read this move? Is it justified and do you think that Iran will react somehow as it will put some additional pressure on the regime? Read few comments.

Barbara SlavinDirector of the Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

As Brian Hook said, ‘this is just another chapter’ in the Trump administration’s policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to alter Iranian policies in the region or domestically and will make it even harder to conduct needed diplomacy with Iran to resolve regional conflicts. Given that the IRGC is already sanctioned by the US Treasury, this step is both gratuitous and provocative. It will also put countries such as Iraq and Lebanon in even more difficult situations as they have no alternative but to deal with the IRGC. It will strengthen calls by pro-Iran groups in Iraq to expel US troops.

Gabriel Ben-Dor, Professor, Head of the National Security Studies Program, University of Haifa

Labeling the IRC as a terrorist organization is amply justified, given that the agents of this outfit train, support and finance additional terrorist organizations, among them Hamas and Hizballah.

Iran is likely to react in a verbal way, making declarations, pronouncements and condemnations, but it does not have the power to do much beyond this.

Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

The move is justified. The IRGC is not Iran’s regular army and so is not the equivalent of the Slovak military, the U.S. Army, or any other NATO force. Rather, the IRGC is an elite force which attacks both Iranians and those outside on purely ideological grounds. Consider Beirut 1983, Buenos Aires 1994, Khobar Towers 1996, the 2011 Washington assassination plot, Burgas 2012, Bangkok 2012, etc., etc.

The biggest pressure on the regime will be economic. After the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, the IRGC did not want to forfeit the power and privilege it accumulated during the war and so sent its engineering units into the civilian economic sphere. Fast forward three decades and the IRGC’s economic unit Khatam al-Anbiya controls by some estimates more than 30 percent of Iran’s economy. Most heavy industry, manufacturing, and import-export is now in IRGC hands. Therefore designation means Europeans investing in Iran’s economy are, in all likelihood, by U.S. law cooperating with a terrorist group. That in turn makes them liable in U.S. courts.

Jamsheed Choksy, Distinguished Professor, Department of Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University Bloomington

There has been mounting pressure from within the US and from America’s foreign allies, for several years and across the past three US presidential administrations, to blacklist the IRGC. Previous US administrations have hesitated because of the monumental nature of designating a central portion of another nation’s military as a terrorist organization—but the Trump administration has decided to move ahead. By invoking this designation, now the US treasury can move to economically cut off the IRGC and its many corporations, subsidiaries, and holdings plus corporations and individuals around the globe that do business with the IRGC and IRGC holdings directly and indirectly.

The US can now request others to freeze suspected IRGC assets and even isolate IRGC commanders and family members and ban their travel. The Trump administration’s move certainly ups the ante in US-Iran geopolitical tussles, plus adds much more economic pressure on the entirety of Iran because of the commanding role that the IRGC plays within Iran’s domestic economy, foreign policy, and external power-projections. Moreover, now even IRGC commanders could potentially become targets for US strikes. The IRGC specifically and Iran’s leadership broadly will take the US action very seriously but it is unclear how much they will be able to circumvent it let alone counteract it directly. So this action by the US further isolates Iran—and not merely because of the nuclear tensions but because of Iran’s and the IRGC’s involvements in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, etc.


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