By INU Staff
INU - Because of the threat that the IRGC poses to regional stability in the Middle East, the U.S. Congress targeted it for sanctions in H.R. 3364- Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The House of Representatives bill expanded on the Russia sanctions that passed the Senate 98-2. The President reluctantly signed the legislation into law on August 2nd. This action against the IRGC is a step forward for U.S. foreign policy and the promotion of human rights for the Iranian people.
In his article for the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), Cameron Keyani, Iranian American writer and graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, who interned at the Woodrow Wilson Center as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, and volunteers for the Organization of Iranian American Communities, writes, “The IRGC was instrumental in the foundation of Hezbollah, and more recently has flexed its regional influence in sectarian conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Within Iran, the IRGC has sent countless Iranians and foreign nationals to grisly fates in the notorious Evin Prison, often on frivolous charges of espionage."
The Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) held a briefing recently, in the Hart Senate Office Building, that examined the regional activities of the IRGC and possible next steps. Dr. Ramesh Sepehrrad of George Mason University moderated
Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, was the keynote speaker, and he discussed the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). That the Iran Deal lacks long term vision, lacks verification standards, and has not reduced the destructive regional influence of the IRGC any substantive way, were some of the factors he noted.
Also on the panel was Washington Institute visiting fellow Nader Uskowi, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council Dr. Ilan Berman, and Hudson Institute fellows Michael Pregent and Lee Smith.
The recent history of the IRGC, and next steps for the Trump administration and 115th Congress were talking points. Opinions of the Iran Nuclear Deal differed, but they agreed that it had done nothing to curb the regional influence of the IRGC.
Specific concern was levied at Annex ii of the Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), that delisted many members of the IRGC as targets of sanctions, including the notorious Quds Force commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani.
H.R. 3364 was helpful in isolating the IRGC and curtailing its regional influence, the panelists all agreed. However, sanctions have serious limitations. As Ambassador Joseph and Mr. Smith clarified – sanctions are a tool, not a strategy.