The slate of sanctions slapped on Iran by the new Trump White House in response to Tehran’s January 29th ballistic missile test is a welcome development. There are hopes such a move will signal to the mullahs to begin curbing, and eventually ending, their support for global terror, testing of ballistic missiles and the ongoing domestic crackdown.
While the Trump administration’s actions to this day may be considered lacking the necessary might to make Iran’s regime truly feel the pain, they represent a key U-turn from his predecessor’s appeasement drive. And now, while long overdue, there is serious talk of labelling Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
This necessity has become more vital following a press conference held Tuesday by Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Washington.
Citing based on information obtained by the social network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside Iran, NCRI US Representative Office Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh revealed with details and specific locations how the IRGC Quds Force has assigned a major branch to increase the number militia members trained to take part in Tehran’s proxy wars already threatening Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan and beyond.
“Daesh (ISIS) and the Tehran regime armed with its Revolutionary Guards are two sides of the same coin, with the distinction that the Revolutionary Guards has at its disposal a nation state with all its strategic resources,” Jafarzadeh said.
The IRGC’s role in fomenting crises across the region and terrorism on a global scale is undeniable. This includes provocative meddling in Saudi Arabia, and goes in line with the necessity to designate this entity as an organization focused on global terrorism.
Iran has a long history of aggravating instability and shedding blood. The 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon that left over 240 dead and the 1994 Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, resulting in 85 deaths and hundreds injured, are two hallmarks of the Iranian regime’s terrorist nature.
Iran’s mullahs are the godfathers of the Lebanese Hezbollah, the force behind many of its international terrorist attacks, and it is only a logical conclusion that the entity providing the arms, training and finances would be none other than the IRGC.
As we entered the new millennium, and the presence of international troops led by the United States became ever more present in the Middle East, the IRGC launched intensified countermeasures by resorting to organizing and dispatching Shiite militias on a mission to wreak havoc.
Iran’s involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon are different fronts coordinated by the IRGC as unconventional means to tilt the region’s balance of power in its favor, boosted by a failed appeasement policy during the Obama presidency.
The IRGC was also able to take advantage of the Obama doctrine to advance Iran’s nuclear program and ballistic missile drive, emboldening the mullahs into testing the new Trump administration with a medium-range ballistic missile test.
By taking advantage of loopholes in the Obama administration’s ironically cherished nuclear accord with Iran, the IRGC has pursued the nuclear program – now claiming to have tested new centrifuge designs – and their troubling ballistic missile aspiration threatening US interests and strategic allies across the Middle East.
Parallel to all these troubling activities, and not of any less importance, has been the IRGC’s leading role in the mullahs’ domestic crackdown. The main IRGC entity in implementing this policy is the paramilitary Basij militias that roam the streets to enforce a climate of fear and oppression, leading to an array of violations of human rights in Iran.
Iran continues to top the list in executions per capita, and such a trend has intensified during the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Rowhani. Iran’s jails are also known as dungeons where many such executions are performed, and the IRGC enjoys specific wards used to torture inmates for coerced confessions.
Iran as a regime is designated as the leading state sponsor of terrorism by the US State Department, and also described most recently by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The IRGC, known as the main entity pursuing the mullahs’ policies, meets the necessary legal index of a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designation.
a) A foreign organization
b) Involved in terrorism or terrorist engagement, or retaining the ability and intention to engage in terrorism or launch terrorist activities
c) US nationals and/or national security is threatened through the organization’s terrorism or terrorist engagements.
Initiatives have also been instigated in both chambers of Congress, as the “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Terrorist Designation Act” underscores how the IRGC meets the designation criteria of an FTO.
Tuesday’s revelations by the NCRI in Washington according to MEK-obtained information highlight the major role the IRGC enjoys in Iran’s vast terrorism apparatus, and the utmost necessity for the Trump administration to issue an FTO designation for the IRGC as it rightfully deserves.
Such a move will have the new US administration stand along its allies in the Middle East and signal to the Iranian people the true support they now enjoy in America.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime's support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program. He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary.