March 20, 2022 | Israel Hayom

Dropping IRGC from blacklist would be boon for terrorism

When Former US President Donald Trump designated Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, the White House explained that this move recognized a reality in which Tehran not only funds terrorism but actively participates in it and uses the organization to advance its political goals.
March 20, 2022 | Israel Hayom

Dropping IRGC from blacklist would be boon for terrorism

When Former US President Donald Trump designated Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, the White House explained that this move recognized a reality in which Tehran not only funds terrorism but actively participates in it and uses the organization to advance its political goals.

The US decision to remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from its foreign terrorist organization blacklist would not only be a distortion of truth and adoption of a double standard distinguishing between terrorism and terrorism but worse yet: an American show of surrender to Iran and a reward to the main perpetrator of terrorism of its time, the one that sows chaos in the Middle East and the entire world, from Syria and Lebanon to Argentina.

And yes, it will also be a blow and put sticks in the wheels of Israel and America’s other allies in the region, who deal with destructive terrorist plots daily, courtesy of the Revolutionary Guards.

At the time these lines are written, Washington has not yet made a decision in this regard. The very fact that this discussion is taking place at Iran’s demand, raised by the regime moments before the suspension of nuclear talks, is already a form of insult to the United States.

Were it not for steps previously taken by the Biden administration, one could have suspected that the discussion on the matter was a tactical move by Washington designed to provide them with an opportunity to respond negatively and assume an uncompromising stance, to dull down the arrows of criticism pointed at them for surrendering to Tehran’s demands.

Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to think of such a possibility seriously, when one recalls the words of Russia’s main negotiator in Vienna about Iran’s achievements during the talks. Iran got much more than it expected – Mikhail Ulyanov said.

Moreover, removing the Revolutionary Guards from the blacklist does not seem far-fetched when remembering that one of the first decisions the Biden administration made was removing the Houthis from the same listing only two days after they attacked Saudi Arabia and refrains from adding them back onto the list ever since, despite the fact that rebels conducted more attacks, this time against the United Arab Emirates as well.

In 2019, when then-US President Donald Trump decided to designate the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, the White House explained that this move recognized a reality in which Iran not only funds terrorism but actively participates in it and uses it to advance its political goals, through this organization.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was familiar with the organization’s misdeeds also due to his work as director of the CIA, said it best.

“For 40 years, the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has actively engaged in terrorism and created, supported, and directed other terrorist groups. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled … From the moment it was founded, the IRGC’s mandate was to defend and export the regime’s revolution by whatever means possible … The Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality. The IRGC will take its rightful place on the same list as terror groups its supports,” like Hezbollah, and others.

The Revolutionary Guards was founded in 1979 by order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as a counterweight to the Iranian military which he did not trust because of the American education its senior commanders had received and due to their closeness to the shah. It is organized and operates as a parallel military.

It has ground forces, aerospace forces, a navy, and a special force called Quds Force, an intelligence arm and a Basij mechanism that is used to maintain internal security and brutally oppress opponents of the regime. The Guards also operates Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal.

The Revolutionary Guards serves not only as the main means of ensuring the survival of the ayatollah regime but as the main means to achieving its ambitious vision: to establish Iranian hegemony in the region and to spread the idea of the Islamic Revolution throughout the world.

The Quds Force is the main Iranian group that manages the military forces and the Shiite militia outside the country. Its work extends to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf States, the Far East, Africa, South America and reaches as far as the Gaza Strip.

The US-led assassination of Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani gave the world the opportunity to understand the scope of the organization’s activities and high regard in Iran.

It has a special status in the Iranian regime that comes from the combination of its military, economic and political power and a special closeness to the leader. Had Iran developed a nuclear weapon, it would most likely be kept and operated by the Quds Force.

Adding an organization to the terrorist listing is not just a symbolic move, it is an essential means to denounce its legitimacy, limit contacts with it and impose heavy economic sanctions on it.

As such, removing the Revolutionary Guards from the list will pave the way for its economic growth, which it will use for military and political growth. And all of this will happen, together with the gain that Iran will get with the release of billions of dollars, following the signing of the nuclear agreement.

And what is Iran required to do in return? – Commit to de-escalation! A commitment that even with regard to its content and characteristics the Iranians are still bargaining over. There is no need to delve deeper into the validity of such a promise.

To understand how much it is worth, taking a brief look at the symbol of the Revolutionary Guards and the Koran verse chosen as its motto will suffice: “Prepare against them whatever you are able of power.”

How is this seen within the context of the US? – It is very interesting to read this within the context of the tweet of Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who “cynically awaits” such an American decision. Individuals like him are familiar with the winds in domestic politics in Washington and understand that such a decision could cause an explosion on both sides of the political map.

In any event, anyone who believes that Iranians will achieve their nuclear aspirations can also believe that “relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere” (Book of Esther, 4:14).

Brig. Gen. (Res.) Professor Jacob Nagel is a former national security adviser to the prime minister and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Meir Ben-Shabbat, a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, served as Israel’s national security adviser and head of the National Security Council between 2017 and 2021. FDD is a nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism Sanctions and Illicit Finance