As early as Monday, the Trump administration will announce its decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday night.
The move will reportedly be the first time the U.S. has ever designated a branch of a foreign country’s military as a terrorist group.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the IRGC was founded toward the end of Iran’s 1979 revolution due to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s distrust of the Iranian military. Today, the organization numbers 125,000, is in charge of the country’s ballistic missiles and nuclear programs, and has significant economic power.
The WSJ also reported that U.S. officials claim “national security advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been strong proponents of the move, which is intended to help the U.S. crackdown on businesses in Europe and elsewhere controlled by the IRGC.”
While speaking at a conference in 2017, prior to joining the Trump administration, Bolton said that designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization “should have happened ten years ago.”
Various officials in the government, including the military and the Central Intelligence Agency, reportedly have reservations about the move. Reuters reports that some critics believe the move could create a precedent which could prompt governments hostile to the United States to take similar action against U.S. military and intelligence.
Jason Blazakis, the former director of the State Department’s Counterterrorism Finance and Designation Office, told the WSJ that the move would have profound ramifications.
“The designation of IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is precedent setting. Never before has the FTO sanctions tool been directed at a state-body. The future ramifications of this decision will be profound,” Blazakis said.
In response to the policy change, Reuters reported that the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee tweeted that Iran would add the U.S. military to their own terror blacklist.
“If the Revolutionary Guards are placed on America’s list of terrorist groups, we will put that country’s military on the terror blacklist next to Daesh [Islamic State],” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh tweeted.
The policy change has been rumored for years and in 2017, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari reportedly said if it was implemented, “then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”
The WSJ also reported: “The U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East, is planning to issue a regional alert to U.S. troops in the coming days, a precaution in case the move spurs Iran or the Shiite militias it supports within the region to retaliate, a defense official said.”
The new designation of the IRGC would allow the U.S. to act against companies and individuals who do business with the IRGC.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said he supports the move in a statement.
“A formal designation and its consequences may be new, but these IRGC butchers have been terrorists for a long time,” Sasse said.
In October, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain labeled the IRGC as an organization suspected of involvement in terrorism, Reuters reported.
In February, The Daily Wire reported that the IRGC claimed it successfully took control of seven to eight U.S. drones flying over Syria and Iraq and monitored the intel the drones were collecting and broadcasting back to U.S. forces.
The Fars News Agency claims it received video proof of the IRGC’s claim. “The footage shows a U.S. flying drone starts malfunctioning and makes a rough landing in a desert area 10 kilometers away from its base,” Fars stated.”The footage that displays the IRGC’s penetration into the U.S. spy drone’s intel has been recorded by an IRGC drone flying above the scene.”
IRGC is also the group responsible for capturing and interrogating ten U.S. sailors after two of their boats entered Iranian waters in 2016.
Last month, the Trump administration hit the Iranian regime with a new round of sanctions on 31 people involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile research programs, The Daily Wire reported.