When the U.S. administration dropped its missiles on the Syrian base in retaliation for the chemical attacks on the Syrian people, officials took great pains to point out that they were trying to avoid any Russian personnel. Yet, they didn’t mention the units from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that were also present at the base.
It’s seems strange that the U.S. wouldn’t point that out, considering the country’s Congress is currently working on legislation geared toward sanctioning the IRGC. There have even been discussions about listing the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
The U.S. has a long history with Iran and its exporting of terrorism. President Reagan listed Iran itself as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984, which is a designation still in place today. In 2007, President George W. Bush named the Quds Force, which is a key part of the IRGC, as terrorists as well. The IRGC definitely qualifies as a terrorist organization, as they expand their influence outside of Iran itself.
One of the key areas where the IRGC has propped up a regime is in Syria. Assad would have fallen much soon, had Tehran, through the IRGC, given his government critical military and financial aid. The Guard has been advising or commanding Syrian military units and Hezbollah forces from Lebanon for years now.
Hezbollah was one of the first of the IRGC terrorist creations, built out of existing Shia terrorist groups in Lebanon. They received training, were armed and then directed by the IRGC. Guard officers were also key to guiding these terrorists in their October 1983 suicide attack against the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241.
But the IRGC hasn’t been active just in Syria and Lebanon. They have also been key in Iraq, as government forces used Guard forces to equip, train, advise, and even led Baghdad forces and Shia militias in recapturing largely Sunni-inhabited territories. Before the U.S. troop withdrawals in 2011, those same Shia militias were being trained by the IRGC to attack American troops in the country. While commanders wanted to retaliate, the IRGC remained safe within the borders of Iran.
The IRGC has not stopped here, but there is evidence of their influence in other countries as well. These include Afghanistan and Yemen. Keep in mind, all the decisions in Iran ultimately lie with Supreme Leader Khamenei, who is directly in charge of the IRGC. It has become an economic powerhouse within the country, and these funds allow them to support their activities throughout the region and internationally.
Iran’s biggest push is to become a nuclear power. To do this, they have become an equal-opportunity assistance as the international terrorism central banker, which includes aiding Sunni and Shia terrorists. The result is the funds needed for Iran to push toward its goal of nuclear capability.
With all of this information about the activities of the IRGC, not even counting the training camps for foreign forces that are being held in Iran, there is no question that the IRGC meets the FTO criteria. Yet, there are some in the U.S. government and Iran apologists who argue that this designation would destroy the 2015 nuclear agreement and endanger U.S. personnel advising the Iraqi government in their fight against ISIS.
By not designating the IRGC as an FTO, it is clear that they will continue their activities regionally and even try to ramp them up even more in countries struggling to remain stable.