This is the first time that the U.S. government has ever designated another country’s military as an FTO. This is a bold move but one that many people have been pushing for. The Iranian regime is the number one threat to peace and security in the region and the top state sponsor of terrorism.
The IRGC has a huge amount of control over the country. As well as military control, it controls a large portion of the country’s economy and maintains significant political influence.
When explaining why he would be designating the IRGC as an FTO, Trump explained that the group participates “actively” in terrorist activities and that it “finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft”.
The IRGC has given extensive training and support and has heavily financed numerous terrorist groups including the Lebanese Hezbollah group. It has also been providing support to the Shia militias in Iraq, Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
With regards to the economic aspect, the IRGC is in control of companies that do tens of billions of dollars’ worth of business ever year, and even more outside of the country. Future sanctions on the IRGC, which seem inevitable at this point, will have a great impact on many of these businesses.
Iran’s allies, in particular Iraq, are rather concerned about what this new designation will mean. Iraq, for instance, relies on the support of Iran and it will affect relations between the countries.
On the other hand, a number of Iran’s regional rivals are very happy that Trump made this announcement. The IRGC presents a threat to the international community as a whole given the global scale of its operations, but Israel and Saudi Arabia are particularly affected by the threat.
The Al Quds Force is an elite branch of the IRGC that focuses on foreign interventions. It carries out illicit activities across the world, gathering information about members of the opposition and planning assassinations. It was involved with the attempted assassination of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. It was also involved with the assassinations of U.S. military personnel in 2007 in an attack in Iraq.
The IRGC has been led by Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari for the past decade. The leader of the Quds Force is Major General Qassim Suleimani. These two leaders are notorious for their anti-American stance and have led their forces into horrific bloodshed.
The FTO designation will perhaps make the European Union consider the role of the IRGC more carefully. The United Kingdom recently listed the entire Hezbollah group as a terrorist organisation. Although this is a positive move in the fight against Iran’s influence, there is still a long way to go.