How will the revolutionary guard’s ‘terrorist’ designation affect Iran?
This marks the first time the United States has officially branded another state’s military as a terrorist outfit. With its own air, ground and naval units, the IRGC comprises the most powerful component of Iran’s armed forces.
Partly meant to boost Trump’s domestic profile with a sizable constituency of right-wing and pro-Israel voters, the decision will also make engagement with Iran harder for actors such as the European Union – and raise the political costs of staying in the 2015 nuclear deal for the “centrist” government of President Hassan Rouhani.
Global military target
Blacklisting the IRGC was raised by Trump in a landmark 2017 speech, in which he called for “tough sanctions” against the entire organisation. The US Treasury Department identified the IRGC as a terrorist group, making any dealings with it subject to secondary sanctions.
As such, the new designation as a foreign terrorist organisation will not have a substantial economic impact on the IRGC, or by extension, Iran. But the branding renders the corps and all its members a legitimate global military target, on a par with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group.
This will likely maximise political pressure on the major European powers – Britain, France and Germany – to further shy away from working with Iran on various policy matters. The same pressure applies to Iraq and Lebanon, two influential regional actors close to Tehran.
The European desire to engage in diplomacy with Iran is partly tied to the aim of keeping alive the nuclear agreement, which was dealt a severe blow last May, when Trump unilaterally withdrew from the multilateral accord and reinstated comprehensive sanctions against Tehran.
Read More: Middle East Eye
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