The United States is designating as a foreign terrorist organization the military force charged with zealously guarding and advancing the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the designation against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — part of what he said is a “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran — would go into effect in one week.
The IRGC includes the domestic-centered Basij militia, which has violently suppressed peaceful protests against the regime, and the Quds Force, which concentrates on operations abroad.
“This is the first time that the United States has designated a part of another government as an FTO. We’re doing it because the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government. This historic step will deprive the world’s leading state sponsor of terror the financial means to spread misery and death around the world,” Pompeo said at the State Department.
“Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not connected to the IRGC in any material way,” he added. “It also gives the U.S. government additional tools to counter Iranian-backed terrorism.”
Pompeo said that the IRGC “masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled.”
“It regularly violates the laws of armed conflict; it plans, organizes, and executes terror campaigns all around the world. From the moment it was founded, the IRGC’s mandate was to defend and export the regime’s revolution by whatever means possible,” he said. “The IRGC institutionalized terrorism shortly after its inception, directing horrific attacks against the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the U.S. embassy annex in 1984 alongside the terror group it midwifed, Lebanese Hezbollah. Its operatives have worked to destabilize the Middle East from Iraq to Lebanon to Syria and to Yemen.”
Longtime “band of thugs” Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, Pompeo said, “doles out the regime’s profits to terrorist groups across the region and around the world.”
“The blood of the 603 American soldiers the Iranian regime has found to have killed in Iraq is on his hands and on the hands of the IRGC more broadly,” he said.
The IRGC “is also responsible for wrongly detaining U.S. persons, several of whom remain in captivity in Iran,” Pompeo said. “The American people should know that we are working diligently to bring each of those individuals home.”
The day before Monday’s announcement, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, “
#NetanyahuFirsters who have long agitated for FTO designation of the IRGC fully understand its consequences for US forces in the region. In fact, they seek to drag US into a quagmire on his behalf. @realDonaldTrump should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”
“A(nother) misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu. A(nother) dangerous U.S. misadventure in the region,” Zarif added on Monday.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council branded the U.S. a “terrorist government” and “advocates of extremist groups and terrorists in West Asian region” in response, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency, and said the designation poses a “major threat to regional and international peace and security and grossly violates the rules of international law.”
Pompeo dismissed Zarif’s reaction. “We have made clear both publicly and privately that an attack on the United States of America is something that they ought to think more than twice about,” he told reporters.
“What we’ve said before is we want Iran to behave like a normal nation. We hit on 12 things that they needed to do back in what would have been almost a year ago, May of last year. That’s the mission; that’s the mission of this designation as well. So that’s our purpose,” he continued. “If you said ‘what’s the intent,’ it’s to achieve the outcomes that we laid out back in May of last year to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to do the simple thing like not launch missiles into Saudi Arabia, risking American lives each and every day.”