President Donald Trump officially labeled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a “foreign terrorist organization” on Monday, which is part of the administration’s attempts to increase pressure on Iran. Per Fox News, the move is the first time that Washington has designated a foreign government entity a terrorist organization.
“This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and should surprise no one,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled.”
Trump’s designation will impose sanctions on the organization, such as freezes on assets that the IRGC has within United States jurisdictions. In addition, it bans U.S. businesses from working with it and allows the U.S. to prosecute individuals that have supported the organization or deny them entry to the country.
According to Trump, the move is designed to highlight Iran’s actions as dangerous and “fundamentally different” from the actions of other governments.
“If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism. This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences.”
Per CNN, the move could increase U.S. tension with allies like Iraq, where the IRGC has connections to officials and militias, as well as Lebanon, which backs Hezbollah — a proxy for Iran in their conflict with Israel.
In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif suggested that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani place U.S. troops operating under United States Central Command (CENTCOM) onto the country’s list of terrorist groups along with ISIS and al Qaeda.
Pompeo claims that the designation will take effect on April 15.
“This historic step will deprive the world’s leading state sponsor of terror the financial means to spread misery and death around the world.”
He added that any business operating in Iran or with companies in the country must be cautious to ensure that they do not violate U.S. sanctions.
According to Brian Hook, a senior policy adviser to Pompeo, the IRGC controls almost 50 percent of Iran’s economy.
Not everyone supports Trump’s move. Some, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, suggest that the move will pose risks to U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East. Defense officials claim that U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria often work close to IRGC forces.
But Hook claims that the decision was made in conjunction with all measures necessary to ensure that the designation is enacted as prudently as possible. He added that the U.S. is not deterred by the threats of Iran, who he claims behaves “like a mafia organization.”