Battered by American sanctions on Iran, its open-ended involvement in the Syrian conflict and Lebanon’s economic collapse, Hezbollah is relying more and more on the global drug trade to finance its political and military activities. And Canada appears to be an increasingly important part of its efforts to boost its finances through illicit activities, such as drug smuggling and money laundering.
Though it has been slow to react to Iranian and Hezbollah activities on Canadian soil, Ottawa has now reportedly launched an investigation into their Canadian money-laundering operations. While the government should be commended for taking action, to be more effective, Canada should address the root of the problem and designate the Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, as it would allow law-enforcement agencies to take aggressive action against it.
The IRGC is responsible for commanding and co-ordinating Hezbollah’s global activities, including drug smuggling and money laundering, so it makes sense for the investigation to target both organizations. And Canada has many reasons to sanction the IRGC, especially as it is responsible for shooting down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752, which resulted in the death of 176 people, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.
The IRGC and senior Iranian officials have refused to provide answers about the incident, with United Nations investigator Agnes Callamard stating that, “Inconsistencies in the official explanation and the reckless nature of the mistakes have led many, including myself, to question whether the downing of Flight PS752 was intentional.”
Ottawa has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, yet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to give the IRGC the same designation, despite a 2018 motion passed by the House of Commons, and backed by the Liberals, calling on the government to do so. Trudeau has so far provided no rationale for his government’s lack of action on this file.
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