To complement the policy of escalation: the Revolutionary Guards on the US terrorism list

To complement the policy of escalation: the Revolutionary Guards on the US terrorism list

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On April 8, US President Donald Trump declared that the United States has classified Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, saying that this military faction is “the main instrument of government to direct and carry out its global terrorist campaign.” Because the decision also involves economic sanctions and travel bans on every party dealing with the organization under this classification, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned “all companies and banks around the world” and urged them to ensure that “the institutions with which they conduct financial transactions have no material relationship with the Guard ».
This is not the first time that the US terrorism lists have targeted the Revolutionary Guards, noting that there are dozens of individuals and entities associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have already been listed, but this is the first time a regular army has been classified as a terrorist organization. According to the White House statement, this is the first time that the United States has identified a unit of a foreign government as a “terrorist organization.” The Iranian response came quickly; Tehran listed the US Central Command as a terrorist organization. The Fars news agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guard, issued a statement of the National Security Council saying that the Islamic Republic of Iran, in response to the illegal and unwise step of the American administration today, considers the US regime as a state sponsor of terrorism and the US Central Command and all its forces a terrorist group, and the statement indicated that this leadership bears responsibility for the implementation of the terrorist policies of the US administration against the West Asia, and exposed the Iranian national security to the risk in order to pass hostile policies of the United States.

US President Donald Trump called the decision “an unprecedented step to reinforce the fact that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is heavily involved in financing and encouraging terrorism as a tool for governance.” According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the resolution is coming into force within a week. Statements of US administration officials have sent messages that this definitely demonstrates the risks of financial dealings or provide the support in any way to the IRGC, and this will put the governments and individuals under the indictment to support terrorism, which would undermine European efforts to maintain the nuclear agreement and find a mechanism to implement its provisions on the lifting of sanctions.

With the classification of the US administration, Donald Trump, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard terrorist organization as aterrorist organization , the confrontation between the United States and Iran enters a new level of escalation .Washington is apparently aiming to attack the economic empire of the Guard, including construction corporations , vehicle manufacturing, mineral and mining, Mehr banking, and others. This is the first time that Washington has targeted the armed forces of a foreign country, or parts of it, by classifying it as a terrorist organization, indicating how far Washington is preparing to go in pressing Iran. US policy against Iran is led by three Trump Hawks, Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Stephen Minocin, and National Security Adviser John Bolton. At a lower level, officials in charge of the Iranian and Syrian portfolios at the State Department, Brian Hawk and James Jeffrey. This action comes within a series of steps aimed at exerting maximum pressure on Iran as part of a strategy aimed at overthrowing the regime from within or forcing it to surrender. This team believes that it has to end the problem of Iran, which began four decades ago and was not resolved by five US administrations (Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Jr. and Obama). US pressure is expected to intensify further in the coming period, as the team puts in its account that it may not have much time to do so if Trump fails to win a new mandate.

Regionally, this decision will increase the escalation between the two countries, US and Iran. So Iran is unlikely to accept this classification easily, and may responds to this decision, but it is difficult to predict when or how Tehran will respond to this American step. Militarily , Iran may launch missiles and makes maneuvers to show the “Revolutionary Guards”‘ s strength to withstand against the US and possibly to increase the harassment of the US naval forces in the Arabian Gulf and may attempt to seize small boats if they enter the Iranian regional sea( as it did I the January 2016 ) . In December, Iran showed pictures taken by unmanned aircrafts (drones) showing the USS Stennis aircraft carrier group being harassed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, claiming that 30 boats followed the US tanker after its entry the Gulf water. In October , two Iranian attack boats approached to a few hundred meters from the Amphibious attack ship ,USS Essex , in the Gulf at a time when the commander of the US Central Command , General Joseph Fotel , was on board . Iran may also detain more foreign nationals on charges of “espionage” as a bargaining paper with the USA. This tactic has been used against US citizens repeatedly over the past few years, and in the coming period, has been focused on the arrest of persons with direct or indirect links to the US army, hoping to bring charges of “terrorism” to them.
Iran has many options in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and the Gulf, and that thousands of US troops deployed in the region will be potential targets if Tehran decides to respond militarily to this resolution, especially US forces deployed in Iraq and Syria working near militias that Supervised by Iran or members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It may be difficult to control the cycle of mutual revenge, given the absence of channels of diplomatic or military communication between the two countries that could prevent the escalation of any incident into serious military conflict.
On the other hand, both the Pentagon and the CIA are aware of the seriousness of this situation, they reject the decision to include the IRGC on the list of terrorist organizations. Military officials are concerned that more US troops are at risk and ignite a conflict with Iran that could contribute to undermining the campaign against the terrorist organization ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as Washington’s diplomatic relations in the region. They added that this new sanction similar to the previous ones can not force Iran to subject to the American dictations.
According to experts, Pompeo and Bolton know that time is running for the Trump administration and that their chances of overthrowing the Iranian regime will evaporate within 18 months if the president is not reelected. Trump. They say that the most interesting matter is the ability of these “hawks ” who are as obstinate and stubborn to manipulate Tramp as they did about the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and putting pressure on Trump to propose a nuclear disarmament deal that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could not accept. They wonder whether Trump will remind his advisers that he is the president, as well as whether he will make it clear that he does not want to engage his country in a war of strategic ambiguity with Iran that could be bloody and unpredictable and destructive to US interests in the region . Globally , the European Unit will find big obstacles facing its endeavor to find new economic mechanism to remove the obstacles of bank dealing with Iran and this decision will put the future of nuclear deal in the wind . and this decision will prevent many companies from dealing economically with Iran
As for the expected effects of the American decision on the inside of Iran, the resolution will strengthen the political bloc’s anti-negotiating power with the United States. It will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Iran to meet the demands of the Financial Action Task Force ( FATF) and money laundering, noting that the parties which oppose the agreement where the government defends it , will find the resolution an additional incentive to reject the demands of FATF as a condition for lifting the name of Iran from blacklisting . Despite a consensus on support for the Guard among the various Iranian political orientations, this decision will sharpen debate on the external role for the Revolutionary especially the Qods force which might reintroduce the proposal to integrate the IRGC into the state’s military institutions by integrating the Guard into the army as a full institution to comply with its governing laws, a proposal dating back to the late presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani, who supported the integration of some of the Guard forces in the army to ensure the formation of the doctrine of combat in line with the line of revolution and to exceed the loyalty to the Shah, but a proposal finds great opposition, especially with maximizing the role of guards in the Iranian army and not vice versa. The decision will have negative consequences for thousands of Iranian citizens working in the Guard institutions, especially economic ones. This challenge may raise the level of the Guard’s presence politically, which may increase its influence. And will make the task of the Iranian Foreign Ministry to follow up the implementation of the nuclear agreement is very difficult. The decision will have an impact on the tightening of sanctions.
On the international and regional level, the resolution will escalate the escalation between the US and Iran, which may be found its echo in Syria in particular, and in Afghanistan, where Washington is trying to reach a secure formula to withdraw its troops from there. The Gulf region is at risk of this escalation, especially with the crisis of Saudi-Iranian relations and with the Iranian decision to consider US forces in the region as a “terrorist threat to Iranian security.” The EU will find significant obstacles to its quest for a new economic mechanism to remove obstacles to banking dealings with Iran. The decision makes the future of the nuclear agreement in the wind. The decision will prevent many companies from dealing economically with Iran. The resolution will tighten the noose on Hezbollah and its position in Lebanon, which is also placed on the list of terrorism, as well as the Palestinian resistance movements, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have close ties with the Revolutionary Guard especially the resolution comes as the talk was escalated about the “deal of the century” and the settlement of the Palestinian issue and the rise of the Israeli threat to carry out military action against Gaza.

It was no secret that Trump’s timing of his decision coincided with the Israeli election, to serve as the second gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is engaged in a fierce survival battle threatened by a serious coalition of retired generals as this is because the official application of the classification of the Revolutionary Guards in the list of terrorism was scheduled on 15 of this month, but Trump hastened his announcement specifically for this purpose, and he received from Netanyahu a tweet in Hebrew addressed to him : «Thank you for agreeing to another important demand I asked you».

This is happening as Moscow prepares to exploit Iran’s increasing vulnerability to limit its influence in the Syrian arena, and perhaps take it out entirely, as part of a deal that could also include America’s exit from eastern and south-eastern Syria. Therefore, Moscow is expected to increase its readiness to ignore Israel’s targeting of Iran in the Syrian arena in the next stage. This means that Iran may be heading for its toughest battles, and its “patience” strategy may not be helpful in the hope that Trump will come up with orphan term, because the time may be too late.
In summary, despite the seriousness of the American decision, the Revolutionary Guards are unlikely to act without the approval of Iran’s Supreme leader Ayarollah Ali Khamenei, who controls the Iranian state. He is known for his careful approach to decision making. Perhaps some elements of security in the Iranian regime will urge him to escalate militarily against US interests and presence in the Arab environment, but he is absolutely aware that doing so could be a major reason for declaring war by the administration of US President Donald Trump

Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies