Recently, several media outlets have been discussing a new draft bill in the U.S. to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. This new initiative could be nothing more than just a new gambit by U.S. President Donald Trump, who from the outset of his campaign up to now has done nothing to conceal his hostility toward Iran, a position that could lead to open conflict between the U.S. administration and the Iranian regime.
Closer analysis, however, reveals that these moves are just the opening salvos in a media standoff between Tehran and Washington. Such skirmishes normally drag on for a while, and in many cases, they never move beyond the media domain. So far, Washington’s new approach seems to be based on standing up to the aggressive posture of the Iranian regime in the Middle East and across the globe and to Iran’s direct and indirect support for terrorist groups and extremism. If that is indeed the case and this leads to the Revolutionary Guard being designated as a terrorist organization, the important thing to note is that if this designation remains words on paper and does not involve any real deterrent measures, it will not bring about any change in the Iranian regime’s orientation.
This prediction is neither far-fetched nor mere conjecture. History teaches us that the story always repeats – the same general outline but different names. A case in point is the Lebanese organization Hezbollah. The group, particularly its military wing, has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union. Moreover, in March 2016, the GCC adopted a resolution designating Hezbollah’s militias, including all leaders, factions, and organizations subordinate thereto or emerging therefrom, as a terrorist organization – a resolution that received support from Arab interior ministers. Despite this, the organization still operates freely in Lebanon and Syria and is growing and expanding its role in Iraq and elsewhere. So what benefit has this designation brought about, if it involves no practical application or appropriate measures reducing the risk posed by the terrorist-designated entity?
If the U.S. administration that is now taking an aggressive posture toward the Iranian regime is serious about taking action, then it must be resolute in confronting the behavior of the Revolutionary Guard and eradicating the danger that it poses. Real determination in this regard would involve constricting the organization’s activities by placing its various branches under a strict monitoring regime. This would place the organization under strain and exhaust its resources until the threat it poses gradually drops to zero.
The Revolutionary Guard has four main branches that would need to be targeted:
The first is the military wing, including both its associated militias as well as mercenaries brought in from Pakistan and Afghanistan. This branch receives millions of dollars in equipment and arms from the Iranian government and is then deployed in several countries in the region, such as Iraq and Syria.
The second branch is the economic wing, which includes the Revolutionary Guard’s massive investments around the world. The U.S. administration could track members of this branch who appear in civilian guise, and then place them on wanted lists restricting their movements, threatening their investments, and turning off the spigot of funds flowing into Revolutionary Guard coffers. This would entail negative economic effects for Revolutionary Guard leaders and important figures in the Iranian regime, and most importantly, it would impact the Revolutionary Guard’s ability to pay for arms and mercenaries.
The third branch that the U.S. administration should eradicate at the root is the ideological activity of the organization. Working through so-called “cultural centers” set up by Iran in countries across the world and in universities built by the regime, this branch seeks to disseminate the regime’s ideology and win over converts to the mullah’s doctrine of vilayet-e faqih (guardianship of the jurisprudent). These centers are also effective instruments for planting spy cells in other countries.
Finally, the fourth branch of the Revolutionary Guard is the “charitable” wing, consisting of associations that the Iranian regime claims to be charitable organizations involved in humanitarian work, but in reality, they provide cover for the Revolutionary Guard’s recruitment efforts and its interference in various communities worldwide.
Accordingly, if the U.S. administration and President Trump are serious about engaging in a campaign of open confrontation toward the Iranian regime, this stance will only be effective in the short and long term if it is translated into resolute and decisive action that cripples the four branches of the Revolutionary Guard. Such measures would seek to dry up the economic resources that allow it to purchase weapons and finance terrorist militias. The leaders and members of the Guard, whether they are Iranian or of other nationalities, would be flagged as terrorists so that they would feel a real sense of danger, particularly alongside the economic crisis that the organization would face. There would also need to be cooperation with the various countries where the Revolutionary Guard’s “charities” and “universities” operate in order to at least place them under strict surveillance, or close them outright if necessary, so as to stop the spread of the Revolutionary Guard’s ideology in these places. Without such measures, designating the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization – whether it happens or not – will remain mere words on paper.
Translated Article: Watan Daily
Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS