On April 8, US President Donald Trump designated Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. This is the first time that the US has formally labeled a country’s armed force as foreign terrorist group. In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said that the move would increase the scope and intensity of the US “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
Some international public opinion analyses hold that this kind of move will not only seriously undermine the final settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, but also lead to more instability in the Middle East. The designation enables the US to take a series of measures against IRGC, including freezing the assets of the IRGC in the US, arresting and extraditing members of the IRGC to the US if they leave Iran, prohibiting US and foreign companies or individuals from providing substantial funding or resources to members of the IRGC and their affiliates.
Founded in 1979 after the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the IRGC, together with the Iranian Defense Forces, form the regular armed forces of Iran. The IRGC is Iran’s most elite armed force, with an estimated 125,000 troops including navy, ground force and air force. Its primary responsibility is to defend the Islamic revolutionary regime. Besides, the IRGC is also heavily involved in Iran’s political and economic fields. A number of Iran’s companies in transportation, energy, trade, finance and other fields are affiliated with the IRGC, or have close economic relations with the IRGC.
According to reports by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iran’s Supreme National Security Council responded on the evening of April 8, labeling the US military forces as a terrorist organization. Prior to the announcement, IRGC Chief Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari announced on April 7 that such accusation by the US is unreasonable. If the US insists to take this step and endanger Iran’s national security, the IRGC will take reciprocal measures. Jafari particularly stressed that in case the US takes such a step, its forces in western Asia will lose peace and quiet.
Analysts pointed out that once the US lists the IRGC as a terrorist organization, it will unite its allies to increase economic sanctions against the IRGC, thereby straining its capability in military development, political power consolidation, and external operations, and reducing its influence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other places, thus to increase the difficulty and challenge of the Iranian government.
Facing challenges and provocations from the US, Iran will not sit and await its fate. Instead, it will pursue the promotion of productivity to cope with the increasing economic sanctions. It will actively develop relations with other countries, or take some actions in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other places to ease the domestic pressure. Unless in a desperate situation, Iran will not easily give up the Iranian nuclear deal as it is a window of communication with the international community.
The Iran nuclear deal is an important achievement of multilateralism and an international agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council. It should be fully and effectively implemented because it is conducive to peace and stability in the Middle East, and is also in line with the common interests of all countries. The “maximum pressure” imposed by the US will not only aggregate the Iranian society and the people to bear the more consequences of these sanctions, but will also add resistance to the efforts of the international community in maintaining the Iran nuclear deal.
Recently, the US government repeatedly acted irresponsibly in the Middle East and even breached the bottom line, which have completely shocked the international community. The US involvement ranges from the status of Jerusalem, the sovereignty over the Golan Heights to the IRGC labeling. The game played by the US may complicate issues further and exacerbate instability in the Middle East.