The Algemeiner, by Heshmat Alavi, February 13, 2017:
The possibility of the Trump White House blacklisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is causing enormous tension in Tehran, as the regime understands the political, economic — and, perhaps most importantly — geopolitical consequences of such a move.
An Iranian opposition group has scheduled a Tuesday press conference to provide new information about the IRGC Quds Force “command headquarters for terrorist training of foreign mercenaries and a number of overt and covert training centers” across Iran, according to the online statement.
The IRGC was established supposedly to safeguard the “Islamic Revolution.” The FTO designation of this enormously important Tehran entity would further toughen US President Donald Trump’s push on Iran.
The IRGC is in full control of the mullahs’ cherished ballistic missile program, used especially to lift morale within the regime’s dwindling and highly fragile social base.
Washington has considered Tehran a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984, as the regime has continuously armed, trained and financed a conglomerate of terrorist groups in the Middle East — mainly Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen.
Designating the IRGC, an official armed force, rather than another militia group, would be unprecedented. It would send a signal to Iran that the new US administration is targeting the very core of its apparatus — one that also enjoys significant leverage over its economy.
The IRGC is the leading force behind Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile drive, involvement in Syria and other states and atrocious domestic human rights violations. The FTO designation would ban any economic transactions and relations with IRGC-affiliated companies, thereby significantly curbing its access to the revenue needed to pursue all the above-mentioned ambitions.
There are already signs of increasing concerns in this regard having a considerable effect.
The France-based international oil and gas French company Total has hinged its plans for a $2 billion project in Iran in the summer on US sanctions waivers, which now seem unlikely, to say the least, with the Trump administration imposing a major policy overhaul.
Companies across the world are already described as wary about doing business with Iran. The FTO designation would bring an end to all the leeway provided for foreign businesses to enjoy working with entities that may be connected with the IRGC.
And while some argue that an FTO designation for the IRGC would result in Iran’s abandoning ship on the nuclear deal reached with the P5+1 in July 2015, they are absolutely wrong. Tehran needs the accord more than any other party, as crippling international sanctions were taking their toll on its economy. And rest assured that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would never have blessed such a pact were better options available.
The Iranian opposition has a history of shedding important light on the IRGC’s destructive roles, and calling for necessary action in this regard.
The NCRI has welcomed the Trump administration’s recent round of sanctions against Tehran and earlier proposed measures aimed at “banning all deals and trade with IRGC-affiliated companies.”
The Trump administration is now facing a very important opportunity to deliver the message that the mullahs deserve to hear. In so doing, it will be on the right side of history where supporting the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy through peaceful regime change is concerned.