Earlier today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the unprecedented step of declaring the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the main force propping up the mullahocracy in Tehran, as a foreign terrorist organization.
This move is long overdue and has been telegraphed for a while. Last week the US government laid at the feet of the IRGC responsibility for the deaths of several hundred American servicemembers.
The U.S. military has revealed it believes Iran has helped kill 608 U.S. troops in Iraq since 2003, according to newly revealed and formerly-classified numbers.
“In Iraq, I can announce today, based on declassified U.S. military reports, that Iran is responsible for the deaths of at least 608 American service members,” Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, said during a State Department briefing Tuesday.
“This accounts for 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011. This death toll is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies.” Since 2003, more than 4,400 U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq.
Brian Hook: Based on declassified US military report that Iran is responsible for the death of at least 608 American service members. This accounts for 17% of all death of US persons in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.pic.twitter.com/lghJM40TsL
— Iranian American (@IranLionness) April 2, 2019
This is the announcement by Secretary Pompeo:
This is President Trump’s statement:
Today, I am formally announcing my Administration’s plan to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft. The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.
This designation will be the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as a FTO. It underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments. This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.
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.
This is what makes this different is that this is the first time an official branch, so to speak, of the armed
What makes this so significant is that, as President Trump’s statement says, this is the first time that a part of a foreign government has ever been so named. The IRGC is actually the only competent part of the Iranian military and serves as its thugs for assassinations and bombings worldwide. The second part of the equation is that President Trump elected to label them a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) rather than using his authority under Executive Order 13224. This is not semantic.
There are several differences between these two designation authorities. For example, while both FTO and E.O. 13224 designations trigger an asset freeze, the FTO designation imposes immigration restrictions on members of the organization simply by virtue of their membership, whereas E.O. 13224 restricts travel for persons who meet the criteria contained within the order. In addition, the FTO designation triggers a criminal prohibition on knowingly providing material support or resources to the designated organization. Another difference is that only E.O. 13224 designations provide the Department of the Treasury the derivative authority to designate additional individuals or entities providing support to already designated individuals or entities.
- It is a crime for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to or receive military-type training from or on behalf of a designated FTO.
- Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances removable from, the United States.
- Except as authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury, any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which an FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to Treasury.
The target of this operation is less the IRGC, proper, than European companies who currently have business deals with the vast web of companies and enterprises owned by the IRGC. Under these sanctions, those companies will have a choice between doing business with Iran or doing business with the United States. US companies who do business with German firms who have investments in IRGC-owned entities suddenly become liable for criminal sanctions. This is not, howver, to say that it will not increase the pucker factor for IRGC officials who now travel freely:
.@mdubowitz quoted in @WSJ on #IRGC #FTO designation: "Lots of IRGC officials travel around the world. This would make them the target of potential prosecution, either in friendly foreign jurisdictions or through extradition back in the U.S." https://t.co/AI47LT9Yw7
— FDD (@FDD) April 8, 2019
One of the reasons this has been so long in coming is that there are risks associated with it, risks that the intelligence community and the Pentagon have been willing to accept indirect or obscured Iranian attacks on US military personnel as a way of maintaining the fiction that we are not effectively at war with Iran (this, despite some 40 years of evidence to the contrary). It was reported during the Iraq War that the US military was not allowed to use direct action against Iranian advisers, bombmakers, and logisticians working to support the “Mahdi Army,” for fear that a full-fledged regional war might result. Even so, declaring the IRGC a terrorist group had congressional support and represents another of the opportunities missed by the Bush administration:
FLASHBACK: In 2007, 72 U.S. senators including Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton called on George W. Bush admin to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). https://t.co/T2nk2sdcQg
— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) April 8, 2019
This is how the IRGC responded to reports that this designation might be coming:
Separately, Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC’s commander, said US troops stationed in the Middle East would “lose their current status of ease and serenity” should Washington went ahead with “such foolishness” and warned of a “reciprocal move” from Tehran.
“If reports prove to be true that the stupid US administration intends to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, then the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] will also specify the US army as a group like ISIL in all parts of the world, specially the Middle-East,” Jafari said, using the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, also known as ISIS.
And they have:
The practical implications of this are limited. One would hope that no one was trusting the goodwill of the IRGC and taking force protection seriously. Now all that is left is for Iran and their odious mouthpiece in the US to blame the Jews.
To support Netanyahu in election, Trump designates IRGC as terrorist org. https://t.co/EeQteNkdh4
— Mehr News Agency (@MehrnewsCom) April 8, 2019
This won't put any real new economic pressure on Iran. But it will close yet another potential door for peacefully resolving tensions with Iran. Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable. That isn't a coincidence. 2/
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) April 8, 2019
Even if future admins want to resolve tensions, the spiderweb of sanctions and designations makes any meaningful breakthrough politically unfeasible.
This was clear during the #IranDeal since US political obstacles were main reasons as to why a bigger deal couldnt be reached 4/
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) April 8, 2019
Clearly, for some, losing Iran as an enemy is far more terrifying than conflict with Iran. Particularly when they aim to fight Iran to the last American…https://t.co/ZNVZHLabvZ
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) April 8, 2019