In an unprecedented move, the United States designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, the extraterritorial branch of the IRGC, as a terrorist organization on Monday. It is the first time that the U.S. has designated another nation’s army as a terrorist group.
“The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” the White House said  in a statement, explaining the decision which is seen as part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic that saw the U.S. withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear accord and the reimposition of sanctions.
“This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime,” the statement notes. “It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.”
The White House said the Trump administration would “continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior.”
More than 970 Iranian entities and individuals affiliated with the IRGC were already under U.S. sanctions. The State Department designated the IRGC for sanctions in 2007 due to “proliferation activities and support for terrorism” and has described it as Iran’s “primary arm for executing its policy of supporting terrorist and insurgent groups.”
In addition to the control it exerts over Iran’s economy, the IRGC supports terror groups and militias throughout the world through its Quds Force, which is commanded by Gen. Qassem Suleimani. IRGC-Quds Forces have been reported in Syria supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad and work closely with the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah. The Quds Force is also behind many of the brutal Shiite militias that are fighting in Iraq and Yemen.
Iran warned  Sunday that it could respond in kind, listing the U.S. military as a terror organization. “If the U.S. takes this step and endangers our national security we will take reciprocal measures, based on the policies of the Islamic Republic,” said IRGC Chief Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari. In October 2017, President Hassan Rouhani told his cabinet that, “If the U.S. makes the next mistake and adopts a measure against the IRGC, it will be the worst mistake.”
[Photo: Commandernavy / Wikimedida Commons]