by Shahriar Kia
The White House these days continues to discuss designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a major sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. Congress has been weighing a number of different bills proposed for this purpose. In response, Iran and its lobbies have been distorting the truth in the media by claiming such a move will lead to a backlash from Iran. The truth is quite the opposite, and the Middle East will actually begin enjoying peace and stability, as the IRGC blacklisting will shorten the mullahs’ reach outside its borders.
Washington can seek this end through two different methods: a presidential executive order or a bill being passed by Congress enshrining such a move into U.S. law.
The designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization will a) place all IRGC assets in the U.S. under the threat of being confiscated; b) no American individual or entity will receive authority for any transaction with the IRGC; c) financial transactions with the IRGC will be banned for American banks; and d) IRGC ships and boats—known to smuggle arms and other such ordinance—in international waters can be subject to confiscation by U.S. forces.
Being the main pillar of Iran’s regime, an IRGC terror designation will have severe impacts on the regime in its entirety. The IRGC is in charge of forces imposing domestic crackdown inside the country, and spreading the malign of Tehran’s terrorism globally. Such a blacklisting will obviously limit the IRGC’s abilities and thus decrease both its domestic crackdown ability and foreign meddling. This will no doubt begin to inject long-needed stability into the Middle East.
It is common knowledge the IRGC enjoys vast control over Iran’s economy, including the country’s oil and gas industry and other major industries. Estimates float between 20-40%—812 companies and 1,700-2,000 state contracts. The IRGC economic empire renders an annual average sale of $10-12 billion, according to Reuters.
Iran is known for its meddling in countries across the Middle East, an effort led most specifically by the IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani. To this end, an IRGC terrorist designation will hinder the mullahs’ efforts in different countries including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and others. The IRGC has been in charge of recruiting, training, arming and financing proxy groups to join the ground fight in Syria and Iraq, under the bogus pretext of fighting Daesh. The irony is that such efforts have actually increased violence, sectarian conflicts, death and destruction.
While the IRGC presence and role in Syria have caused horror in the past six years, especially the massacre before the fall of Aleppo, Iran’s atrocities in Iraq, led again by the IRGC, have mainly gone unnoticed. The Popular Mobilization Unit is a conglomerate of Shiite proxy groups, all supported by Iran, claiming to have formed with the goal of taking on Daesh. Unfortunately, the extremist PMU has been more focused on killing innocent members of the Sunni minority than battling Daesh terrorists.
And to provide a look inside Iran, the IRGC paramilitary Basij has from day one played a major role in the domestic crackdown imposed on the Iranian people, especially the women and youth that resulted in horrendous human rights violations. With a possible IRGC blacklisting inflicting a major defeat to the mullahs’ regime, the Iranian people will gain a boosted readiness to raise their voices more than ever before.
With the IRGC weakened by a major blacklisting, rest assured more Iranians will feel encouraged to rise in protest. Internal unrest is considered by the mullahs a red line and at times a nail in the coffin. One such episode was seen in the 2009 uprisings where former U.S. president Barack Obama missed the opportunity to support the Iranian people’s demands as he continued to seek his appeasement policy with the mullahs.
And to those claiming an IRGC terrorist designation will backlash with Iran resorting to retaliation, it needs reminding that Iran and the IRGC have been attacking their neighbors and Western interests across the region for nearly 40 years. It is high time to respond by designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, as such a measure will curb Iran’s warmongering abroad and crackdown abilities inside the country.
This is in the interest of the Iranian people, nations across the Middle East and around the globe.