On Monday, the United States announced that it is officially designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organization.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this would put “maximum pressure” on Iran
According to a press release from the White House , this is “part of a broader effort to counter Iran-backed terrorism around the world.”
The White House said that the IRGC “provides funding, equipment, training, and logistical support to terrorist groups.” It also pointed to a 2011 assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. plotted by the IRGC’s notorious Qods (or Quds) force, the IRGC’s special forces arm. The Quds Force itself was “named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the Bush administration in 2007. Iran also has other armed forces that are not covered by this designation.
In February 2018, the Trump administration levied sanctions against “multiple entities and individuals” who had supported the Quds Force.
Former President Barack Obama took a more indirect approach, seeking to bolster more westernizing elements in Iran rather than targeting the IRGC head-on.
According to Monday’s press release, the Iranian government gives “nearly a billion dollars every year” to terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
This terrorist designation takes effect next week. The Associated Press reported that the “Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies” were concerned about the potential impact this could have on their ability to deal with foreign officials who were in contact with the IRGC.
After the U.S. announced this new designation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif promptly returned the favor by calling on Iran to designate the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) as a terrorist organization. USCENTCOM “directs and enables military operations and activities with allies and partners to increase regional security and stability in support of enduring U.S. interests” in a region stretching from Egypt across the Middle East north to Kazakhstan and east to Pakistan.
He also wasted no time in blaming the Jews for somehow being behind this development. Zarif tweeted on Sunday that the terror designation was the work of “Netanyahu Firsters” who “seek to drag US into a quagmire on [Netanyahu’s] behalf.” The Iranian government, of course, has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. In 2001, current Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that it was “the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.”