CSP, by John Bauer, July 6, 2018:
The Trump administration is considering naming the powerful Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. The final decision comes from the State Department; the internal debate within the administration has been going on for months and may soon be coming to an end. One main issue that arises here is the problem with blacklisting an official military body, especially one that has the regional influence and global reach of the IRGC.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was founded in 1979 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The IRGC’s purpose is to preserve the Islamic Republic of Iran and the ideals from the 1979 revolution. The IRGC combines military and secret police roles in order to carry out its work of exporting the Islamic Revolution around the world. The IRGC is organized into two divisions: the Basij militia and the Quds Force (IRGC-QF). The Basij militia works within the country of Iran to suppress anti-regime activity as well as provide defensive military training to protect from foreign invasion. The Quds force provide training and support to several non-state military entities including the jihadi groups Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are designated terrorist organizations by the United States.
Since IRGC’s founding in 1979, the group has been engaging in terrorist attacks around the world. In the 1980’s the IRGC worked to integrate multiple Lebanese Shiite groups to form the organization Hezbollah, currently Iran’s most viable proxy. Hezbollah is responsible for carrying out various violent attacks against the United States over the last several decades including the 1983 Beirut U.S. Marine barracks bombing that killed 238 service members as well as the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that left 19 Americans dead. Further, in 2011 the IRGC conducted its first attack within the United States. They attempted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US at a popular restaurant in Washington D.C.
The government of Iran spends billions of dollars a year bank rolling foreign operations. Pro-Iranian Iraqi forces are known to get around $150 million a year while the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group is known to receive around $800 million annually. The largest cost to Tehran right now is the war in Syria that cost them around $15 dollars per year. The IRGC has also been a main pillar of support of the Syrian military and of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the duration of the civil war in Syria. Another $150 million is sent to various organizations. All told Iran spends over $16 billion helping fund terrorist organizations around the world
Given all the support for terrorist organizations that IRGC has engaged in over the years Secretary of State Pompeo is supportive of adding the IRGC to the terrorist organization list. If the United States does list IRGC as a terrorist organization it would allow both the Justice Department and US Treasury to freeze assets of the IGRC, a move that would restrict travel for the group and provide arguably the best way for the United States to diminish the influence of the IGRC.